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Meaning of proverbs in African Traditions

Proverbs are common features of conversation eloquence in many African cultures, especially in Nigeria such "wise sayings" are usually acquired and learnt from listening to the elders' talk. Given the vintage position that the elders Occupy in various African traditions as the human repository of communal or primordial wisdom; they are the masters of eloquence, rhetories and meaning. They are the ones who know how to impregnate short expressions with vast meanings, implicating the proverb, "it is the elder's mouth that determines a ripe kola nut".

Several definitions of the term "proverb" abound in literature. The central idea in the definitions is that a proverb is "an adage, saying, maxim, precept, saw or any synonym of such that expresses conventional truth". According to Webster's New Universial "short saying in common use expressing a Unabridged Dictionary (1972), a proverb is a well-known truth or common fact ascertained by experience". It is our contention, based on above definitions, that a proverb is any wise saying or epigram that addresses the heart of the matter in a given context, truthfully and objectively, and is ascertained by world knowledge.

Proverbs exist in all languages with similarities in terms of their reliance on vivid images, domestic allusions and word play. Yet they are scantily encountered in many Europeaan Languages (Crystal, 1997:53). On the contrary proverbs feature prominently in interpersonal, transactional and ideational language used in Africa.

And since African writers articulate African ethos that "enable a compelling release of African aesthetics," Nigerian writers want to suffuse their committed literary enterprises with abundant proverbs as a way of underscoring cultural consciousness and evoking penetrating meanings.

Content created and supplied by: Nigeriancomics (via Opera News )

African African Traditions Nigeria


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