18 October 2011

Proverbs are the Palm-oil with which Words are Eaten

Ever since I was young, I've always enjoyed listening to Proverbs and relating them to situations in real world. Proverbs are powerful and they serve as mirrors of the cultural values of communities.

"Like several other African peoples, Yoruba proverbs are used to drive home a point, to show the credibility or the foolishness of a person or a situation, and to issue warnings, among others" - Anthonia Yakubu

So according to the Yoruba believes, the older you are, the wiser you are (which I personally don't agree with because I've met foolish old people). This is a culture where respecting the elders is even infused in the language. Since the elderlies are the ones who say proverbs then proverbs are "wise words." Owe l'esin oro (Proverbs facilitate the understanding of one's speech).

As we all know in many African cultures, women are treated as minors and are seen as inferior beings compare to men. Even today, women are still way off the mark and one of the reasons for this is Yoruba proverbs. Gendered proverbs is on of the major tools used in conditioning men and women. Some of these proverbs, across various cultures ridicule women, giving them degrading traits such as; envy, gossip, fickle-mindedness, wickedness, greediness and materialism. Women are even considered to be sexually insatiable.

35092 Three Yoruban Women Nigeria Africa.jpg

These are a few examples of proverbs that belittle women:

Obinrin l'eke, obinrin l'odale (The woman is a gossip; the woman is a traitor)

E ma je ka finu han obinrin; ibi ti oju re o to enu re debe (We should desist from revealing our secrets to a woman; her mouth speak more than her eyes see)

B'obinrin ba gbon l'agbon ju, penpe laso oko re mo (A husband's undersized clothes indicate his wife's excessive cunning)

Gbogbo obinrin lo ngbese; eyi to ba se tire lase ju laraye n pe lasewo (All women are sexually voracious; but it is the one that does hers in excess that people call a prostitute)

Basically, these are warnings to men that women are gossips, cunning and promiscuous (Really? Only women do these things *raised eyebrows*)

My question is, are we still willing to conform to this status quo?


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