Gasping for breath: indigenous epistemology and the politics of knowledge production in Yoruba proverbs

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Oluwole Coker

Among the Yoruba, a linguistic-cum-cultural group found in the Western part of Nigeria, knowledge production resides in the proverbial lore of the people. The generative capacity of the intrinsic resources of Yoruba proverbs is eminently visible across several frontiers of epistemological precincts. However, it has been increasingly difficult to exploit these resources for contemporary appropriation as a result of factors such as counter-culture, gaps in educational planning and the erosion of indigenous values by waves of modernisation. To fully understand the objective of this paper is to adequately locate proverbs in the knowledge production enterprise in African consciousness. Of course, owing to Africa’s non-scribal tradition, which compelled the transmission of communal ethics via oral means, it naturally follows that each society would naturally evolve oral forms to serve the multifarious purposes in the social equation.