International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

By Their Proverbs we shall Know Them: Understanding the Yorùbá’s Perception of Wisdom in the Context of Proverbial Expressions
Olajuyin Oyebanji Anthony

In spite of the huge number of past and present researches on wisdom, more about this construct remains cryptic. Various approaches have been adopted by the Cognoscenti to understand the nature of wisdom. One of such approaches is the implicit theory of wisdom. This is concerned with the search for an understanding of people‟s folk conceptions of what wisdom is. The goal of this work is to examine the perception of wisdom among the Yoruba with a view to understand its characteristic features from proverbial perspectives. Fifteen Yoruba proverbs and idiomatic expressions that fulfill the study criteria were collated and analyzed. The study noted that Yoruba perceives wisdom as a distinct virtue that grows and develops with life experiences. It reaffirmed the universality of wisdom and that nobody has monopoly of wisdom. However, the findings show the tendency to exploit or cheat under the guise of being wise. To this end, the Yorùbá in their wisdom had coined proverbs to teach the cheat that what he or she considers as wisdom is in fact stupidity. Overall, the Yoruba perceives wisdom as a universal virtue that helps human being to understand deal with and succeed in the world without hurting the soul of mankind.

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