The gods are wise: Environmental sustainability in the Yoruba Sacred Orature


African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships


Linguistics and African Languages


How should the present generation seek to meet their material and economic needs while ensuring “an environment that permits a life of dignity and wellbeing” for future generations? Answering this globally debated question is the driving motivation for this research. Unlike similar research undertaken from purely scientific perspectives, this research takes the view of ecocriticism to examine themes of environmental stewardship and inter-generational responsibility in Yoruba sacred orature to articulate a distinctively indigenous account of eco-justice. This perspective has much to contribute to a core claim of Yoruba’s vision of eco-justice, that the imperative of economic development should not obscure the community’s moral responsibilities for conservation and a sustainable environment. Reading the sacred orature of Ifa, Sango, and Oya in light of Buber’s “I and Thou” idea, I argue that Ifa, Sango, and Oya-inflected morality allows us to regard nature as a living entity that has life, existence, and being.