Academic journal article Nebula

Sokoro Sakara: A Contextual and Gender Analysis of Some Offensive Yoruba Proverbial Songs

Academic journal article Nebula

Sokoro Sakara: A Contextual and Gender Analysis of Some Offensive Yoruba Proverbial Songs

Article excerpt


This paper examines the use of offensive Yoruba proverbial songs and how these songs reflect on gender construct as expressed in Olatubosun Oladapo's latest ewi (chanted poetry) album titled Sokoro which is an example of dialogic offensive proverbial songs. The study of Oladapo's musical ewi rendition shows that classification of Yoruba proverbial songs (orin owe), and by extension Yoruba proverbs in general, by sexes is possible. Relevant songs were selectively picked from Oladapo's album for analysis and interpretation. The analysis in this paper shows that contextual applications of these songs have some cultural implications which are found unique to Yoruba traditional experience. The paper further reveals that contrary to the general belief that women are more adept in using abusive songs, men could also be prolific in matching women's ingenuity on the direct use of abusive proverbial songs.


Proverbs and gender are fundamental academic subjects of discourse throughout the world. On one hand, every society of the globe has its own proverbs. Though the use of proverbs may differ from society to society what is common to proverbs everywhere is that they touch on a wide a range of human concerns and activities. Most often proverbs are used not only to reflect on established norms and ethics but also as a means to bring back to memory past events and historic happenings concerning peoples, images and characters of periods and epochs. Among the Yoruba, proverbs and maxims are traditionally frequently used to teach moral and honourable behaviours known by the people as iwa omoluabi. This may be in the form of a (an) corrective, didactic, abusive or even eulogistic measure. Whichever way proverbs are used among the people, there is always a message to be passed across and a lesson to be learnt. Proverbs among the Yoruba are wisdom lore of every moment either in times of peace or in times of war. That is why it is required of every Yoruba person to be versed in the use and understanding of proverbs. It is believed that only the wise is able to use and understand proverbs in conversations and dialogues and that those who are versed in proverbs are usually good orators.

Discourses on gender also occupy a central place in contemporary scholarship. Unlike sex which is biologically defined, gender is socially constructed and has changing variables. Gender refers to the social relationships between men and women and the way those relationships are made by society. It can also be described as the division of society into biological, occupational and social roles. Such roles include reproductive, productive, community management, politics, and other domestic and civic life participation (Aina: 2006). Gender construct among the Yoruba is, similar to what is obtainable in most traditional societies in Africa. In a patriarchy obsessed society like the Yoruba, women are regarded as "weaker vessels" although when it comes to the realm of spiritual powers they are regarded and esteemed as the owner of the world (awon iya alaye). This is because of the general belief that they possessed superior clairvoyant and spiritual powers. . It is pertinent to say then that the concept of "weaker vessel" is only applicable to physical ability and strength. This again may be subjective, in actual fact, some women are even stronger than men though the percentage may be insignificant. , According to Ogundipe (2002), if the essence of power or strength is the ability to get what one wants, then women cannot be reasonably reffered to as weaker vessels.

In a typical Yoruba traditional setting particularly during quarrels and the attendant altercations between husbands and wives or among feuding parties abusive proverbial songs usually flow freely most especially from the women. Sometimes, the men who also have some singing skills do match such women with retaliatory proverbial songs. It is believed from the point of view of a Yoruba proverb that when there is a quarrel or rancour, songs usually become proverbs ija lo de lorin d'ow". …

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