Indigenous knowledge and sustainable development in the novels of Daniel Fagunwa

Master's Thesis, 2016

110 Pages







List of Acronyms

1.0 Introduction
1.1 Statement of the problem
1.2 Objective of the study
1.3 Significance of the study
1.4 Scope of the study
1.5 Research Methodology
1.6 Evolution of Yorùbá Novels

2.0 Introduction
2.1 The Concept of Indigenous Knowledge
2.2 The Concept of Sustainable Development
2.3 Indigenous Knowledge and Sustainable Development
2.4 The Novels of Fágúnwà
2.5 Source of Indigenous Knowledge
2.6 Classification of Indigenous Knowledge
2.7 Erosion of Indigenous Knowledge
2.8 The Indigenous Knowledge System
2.10.2 Two Model of Sustainability

3.0 Introduction
3.1 Global Relationship and Partnership for Sustainability
3.1.1 Indigenous Exposure for sustainability
3.2 Community Development for Sustainability
3.2.1 Individual Contribution to Community Development
3.2.2 Communal Contribution to Community Development
3.3 Poverty Alleviation for Sustainability
3.3.1 Polygamy as causes of poverty
3.3.2 Entrepreneurship and Self-reliance for poverty eradication
3.4 Agriculture and Hunting for Sustainability
3.4.1 Indigenous Farming Subsistence Farming Food Cropping Poultry farming
3.4.2 Horticulture
3.4.3 Indigenous Hunting
3.5 Indigenous Healthcare and Medicine for Sustainability
3.5.1 Negligence toward Health Issues
3.5.2 Indigenous Knowledge on Hygiene
3.5.3 Indigenous Knowledge on Dietary or Human Nutrition
3.5.4 Indigenous Energizing Medicine
3.6 Indigenous Technology for sustainability
3.6.1 Building Construction and Improvisation
3.7 Zoology for Sustainability

4.0 Introduction
4.1 Indigenous Education for Sustainability
4.1.1 Formal Education
4.1.2 Informal Education
4.1.3 Indigenous Guidance and Counseling
4.1.4 Indigenous Knowledge about the Unknown situation
4.2 Indigenous Entertainment for Sustainability
4.2.1 Indigenous Festival as means of Entertainment
4.2.2 Indigenous Gamesas means of Entertainment
4.2.3 Indigenous Musicas means of Entertainment
4.2.4 Indigenous Tales for Entertainment
4.3 Indigenous Religion
4.3.1 Belief in Olódùmarèand Deities
4.3.2 Propitiation
4.3.3 The use of Indigenous Medicine and Magic
4.4 Indigenous Governance and Politics
4.4.1 Indigenous Judiciary System
4.4.2 Leadership
4.5 Indigenous Social life
4.5.1 Indigenous Cosmetology
4.5.2 Indigenous Clothes
4.5.3 Indigenous Hospitality
4.5.4 Indigenous Marketing

5.1 Conclusion
5.2 Recommendation 102 References


I certify that this work was carried out under my supervision by Kohode, Oluwadamilare Raphealin the Department of Linguistics and African Languages, University of Ìbàdàn, Ìbàdàn.

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This work is dedicated to the Almighty God who gave me an unspeakable grace and opportunity to embark on this work despite all odds. His grace has been sufficient for me.


ToMr and Mrs Kohode Gabriel Grace, my beloved parent s .


Mrs Ayọ̀délé Ìgè, Financial Controller Zartech Nigeria Limited..


ToGod be the glory and adoration for counting me worthy to be a living soul. I acknowledge His divine grace over me and the opportunity given to me to complete yet another chapter of my academic pursuit despite all trials. I say, God you are awesome.

I am sincerely grateful for the support of my supervisor, Prof. Dúrótoyè Adélékè, for his assistance and guidance during the cause of this research, his suggestions and contributions were very helpful to the completion of this work. I also appreciate other lecturers in the Department who in a way or the other have added to my knowledge. I really appreciate the Headof Department, Prof. Àrìnpé Adéjùmọ̀ for her teaching, love and ‘motherly concern’ towards me in all ramifications. I say ‘thank you ma’. Theimmense contributions and efforts of all kinds from Prof. Ògúndèjì, Prof. Ọlátẹ́jú, Dr. Bọ́lárìnwá can never go unnoticed. I would be an ungrateful fellow if I fail to acknowledge the unending support, contributions and words of advice rendered by Mr. Òdòjé Clement – my lecturer and my beloved brother.

Forever shall I be grateful to the entire family of Fẹ́mi-Àmàó a.k.a Lábúlé, for their suppprt, hospitality and advice.To Lábúlé himself, I say big thank you for trusting me and making me your Personal Assistant and your beloved son. My profound gratitude also goes to my wonderful and amiable aunty and mother—Mrs Fẹ́mi-Àmàó Olúbùnmi, (Portable Aya Lábúlé). I pray you shall live long to reap all your good deeds. I will not but also acknowledge my wonderful Grandmother- Mrs Àmàó Margret, Fèyíkẹ́mi, Fọláhàn and Fẹ̀yìntọ́la Fẹ́mi-Àmàó, I love you all and I pray you shall continue to grow in wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. My appreciation also goes to Àmàó Blessing (Bule) for your care, as well as Uncle P, for his numerous pieces of advice.

I, equally, appreciate my classmates. My profound respect first goes to my Fathers, Mr Ajíbádé Stephen a.k.a Tálógajù, Mr Tairu Ọmọtáyọ̀ and my amiable Rev. Oyèdélé Adéfẹ́mi, and also my Mothers, Mrs Fẹ́mi-Àmàó Olúbùnmi, Mrs Akíntànmíwá Folúshọ́ and Mrs Sàngójìnmí, I thank you all for your parental care. Also to all my beautiful damsels, Òjó Olúwasèyí Grace, Olóyèdé Dámiláre (my sake), Fádáhùnsí Helen, Fábọ́rọ̀dé Adéjọkẹ́, Ìfárájìnmí Janet, and my male friend, Bákàrè Ayọ̀bámi, and my wonderful course Rep. Kíaríbẹ̀ẹ́ Lukman Abísọ́lá, I say big thanks to you all.

I, also, appreciate the immense contributions of Mr Fẹ́mi Akínṣelọ́yìn, my brother, mentor and colleague whose assistance, attention and words of advice have sharpened me. In the same vein I recognise the support of my brothers, and senior colleagues Mr Ọládélé Emmanuel Fọ́lọ́runsọ́, Fáṣakin Kẹ́hìndé, and Ògúntádé Wasiu, the Lord shall grant you all your heart desires. I will not but also appreciate my friends who has in a way or the other contributed to this work, Olúpọ̀na Olúwatúnmiṣe, Adélékè Ṣeun (my editor), Tótóọlá Ayọ̀ọlá, Adébáyọ̀ Esther, Adélàjà Tèmítọ́pẹ́, Mr Ọládàpọ̀ Tóbi, Alága Ìyábọ̀dé, Oyèdìji Adépéjú (my co-editor), Ọmọtọ́shọ̀ọ́ Káyọ̀dé, a.k.a Ó nàró and Ismail Adétúnji a.k.a. T.J for your assistance in all way.

I am forever indebted to my parents, Mr and Mrs Kohode Gabriel Grace, and my siblings, for their uncountable and immeasurable love, care, prayers and advice that guides me up to this moment. Kohode Olúwatóyin Grace, you are the best woman and mother in the world. Also, Kohode Ajéwọlé Gabriel, you are just a father that supersedes all fathers, ordinary words cannot just express how much I love you. May the Lord grant you long life to eat the fruits of your work. To my only elder brother, Kohode Tèmitáyọ̀, I say thank you sir; you are such a wonderful brother indeed. In addition, Kohode Olúwakẹ́mi, Kohode Títílọpẹ́, and my baby, Kohode Ìyanuolúwa, thank you all for your sacrifices, endurance and support, you guys are one in a million, and I love you all.

Lastly, I appreciate scholars whose works serve as floodlights to make this research an easy ground, with bearable difficulties, to walk on. Most especially, I appreciate late Chief D.O. Fágúnwà, Emeritus Professor Ayọ̀ Bámgbósé and all others cited in this work.


The Yorùbá society has profound indigenous knowledge which is portrayed in various literary creations such as in Fágúnwà’s novels. Many scholars have interrogated Fágúnwà’s novels, especially his fantastic and didactic style of writing, based on his reliance on the rich Yorùbá indigenous background. Thus, Fágúnwà’s novels have commanded a lot of research in the areas of its philosophical, social, cultural and futuristic community development impacts but much attention has not been paid to the projection of sustainable developments through the appropriation of indigenous knowledge in Fágúnwà’s novels. Therefore, this study fills this gap of examining, critically, the projection of sustainable developments through indigenous knowledge in the oeuvre of Fágúnwà.

The theories employed in this study are: Two pillar of sustainability and the Indigenous Knowledge System. Two pillar of sustainability centres on sustainable development in four major areas namely environmental, societal, economic and cultural goals. However, The Indigenous Knowledge System, as a theoretical perspective, justifies the existence of a corpus of knowledge peculiar and indigenous to each and every society. Thus, the oeuvre of Fágúnwà is purposively selected to achieve the objectives of this study. Therefore, Fágúnwà’s novels are subjected to thorough analysis, based on the areas of interest in this study.

This study reveals that Fágúnwà in his five novels, consciously adresses the issue of sustainable development through the use of indigenous knowledge. Fágúnwà, for instance, emphasises the utilisation of the Yorùbá indigenous knowledge, such as its medicine and health care, the indigenous corpus of folktales and fables, the indigenous technology among others, for sustainable development. His inclusion of the moonlight tales in his novels is a weapon for sustainable development by inculcating the right virtues in the children and ensuring the subsistence of their indigenous culture. This will help the children to become good future leaders and members of the community. He encourages subsistence farming by all households in order to reduce hunger, unemployment and to inculcate hard work in the children. This will lead to sustainable development of self-reliance in every family. Fágúnwà also espouses relationship with neighbouring and far away towns in order to acquire more knowledge for sustainable development. He supports voyage to gain knowledge on administration, management and peaceful existence. Àkàrà Ògùn, Olówó-aiyé, Ìrèké and Àdìtú all embark on expeditions to sustain their communities. These, among others, are Fágúnwà’s ways of projecting sustainable development through the Yorùbá indigenous knowledge.

Hence, this study concludes that Fágúnwà’s novels through its reflection of the Yorùbá indigenous knowledge project sustainable development. This means the Yorùbá indigenous knowledge if well employed will aid sustainable development. Therefore, the focus of this study on the reflection of indigenous knowledge and sustainable development in Fágúnwà novels, is believed, will instigate scholars to study more on the concept of indigenous knowledge, its significance and relevance to sustainable development.

Keywords: Indigenous knowledge, Indigenous knowledge system, Sustainable development, two model of sustainability, Fágúnwà’s novels.

Word Count: 4 64


CESDEV: Center for Sustainable Development

UNESCO: United National Education Scientific and Cultural Organization

WB: World Bank

WHO: World Health Organization

UN: United Nation

UNEP: United Nations Environmental Program

UNSTT: United Nation System Task Team (comprises 60 United Nation Organization body)

MDG’s: Millennium Development Goals

ASUDNET: African Sustainable Development Network

NSDSN: Nigeria Sustainable Development Solution Network

UNSDSN: United Nation sustainable development Solution Network

IKS: Indigenous Knowledge System

IK: Indigenous Knowledge

IKAD: Indigenous Knowledge and Development

IISD: InternationalInstitute of Sustainable Development

WCED: World Commission on Environment and Development

ICSU: International Council for Science

IDRC: International Development Research Centre

SFEU: Scottish Further Education Unit


1.0 Introduction

There have been several opinions, research and answers based on the question of how the indigenous people have been governing themselves before the advent of the Westerners and how they have been running their day-to-day affairs evenly in harmony without any form of external disruption. Hence, the Yorùbámaxim which says “Ó lóhun t’ád ì y ẹ ń jẹ k’ágbàdo tó dáyé” that is “the fowl had had something eaten even before the advent of corn” goes a long mile and seems to be a perfect answer for such question.

Eminent scholars such as Adélékè and Mobọ́lájí (ND), Grenier (1998), Desta (1998) Warren (1991), Dei (2000),Adélékè (2008), Akíndé (2008), Oageng (2012), Njoki (2013), Adéríbigbé (2015), Olúmúyìwá (2015) among few and various organisations such as Word Bank (1998), UNESC and NUFFIC (2002), ICSU (2002), and WHO (2003) deem it fit that there is a need to search into the various mechanisms in which the local people employ in administering their communities before the advent of the scientific knowledge.After a wide range of research, they found out that the local people had based their administration on a well profound set of knowledge which they formulated for themselves and was passed from one generation to other through several means.Such means are songs, folklores, rituals, legends, stories and even laws.Hence, these bodies of knowledge are called indigenous knowledge.

These sets of knowledgeare often referred to as traditional, local, folk or indigenous knowledge and are the intangible heritage of numerous societies around the globe. They comprise the understandings, skills and philosophies that span the interface between ecological and social systems; and intertwine nature and culture. Dei (2000:5), sees indigenous knowledge:

the common sense ideas and cultural knowledge of

local people concerning day-to-day life, which is

critical to the way communities regard and live in

their environment and presents communities with

ways of managing their environment – be it natural,

cultural or political, and which takes many forms to

reflect the culture and geographic location as well as

historic influences introduced from outside forces

Hence, Indigenous Knowledge (IK) has become the accepted term to express the beliefs and understandings of non-western people acquired through long-term association with their place. It is knowledge based on the social, physical and spiritual understandings which have informed the people’s survival and contributed to their sense of being in the world. Indigenous knowledge, therefore, plays an important role to all of humanity as the wellspring from which all knowledge originates; this was supported by Nicolas (2002) who cited James D. Wolfensohn, the President of World Bank, once said:

Indigenous knowledge is an integral part of the culture and history of a local community. We need to learn from local communities to enrich the development process.

James D. Wolfensohn (2002)

For a long time, indigenous knowledge has been subdued by western knowledge that was thought to have all the answers in dealing with human problems. However, things are now changing because it is slowly becoming clear that indigenous knowledge is important and indigenous people hold a wealth of knowledge and experience that represents a significant resource in the aspiration for sustainable development. It is no wonder thatthe United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) combines the broader approach defining indigenous knowledge with the recognition of the varieties of knowledge systems that exist in different indigenous communities. As a matter of policy the UNEP states definition thus:

The knowledge that an indigenous (local) community accumulates over generationsof living in a particular environment. This definition encompasses all forms of knowledge – technologies, know-how skills,practices and beliefs – that enable the communityto achieve stable livelihoods in their environment.

In a nutshell, this, invariably, connotes that indigenous knowledge is that knowledge used to run or manage all the sectors and sub-sectors of the traditional, local or rural economies and society and that, the indigenous people of the world possess an immense knowledge of their environments, based on centuries of living close to nature.Therefore, other United Nations’ agencies, governments, academic institutions and scholars see it as an essential need to understand and record the knowledge and intellectual traditions of indigenous peoples on a diverse range of topics such as architecture, irrigation, health, nutrition to child rearing, botanical sciences, forest management and astronomy. Interpreting and understanding indigenous knowledge systems are often revealed in indigenous languages, rituals and cultural practices.

In addition, development is a continuous concept in which every society strives to attain, but, since after independence, Nigeria has been in the course of achieving a sustainable developed society basing its means only on Western and scientific knowledge, whereas more sustainability can also be achieved through the use of traditional knowledge. Scholars and oraganisations like Bossel (1999), Hartmut (1999), Jonathan (2003), Davis (2007), Adébáyọ̀ (2012), UNSTT (2012) submits that sustainability can be interpreted in many different waysbut its core is an approach to development that looks to balance different, and often competing, needs against an awareness of the environmental, social and economic limitations we face as a society. Therefore, based on research,the focus of sustainable development is far broader than just the environment, the social aspect of societies andthe economic aspect but in which the cultural aspect is also important.

The novel, as a genre of literature, and a literary creation, isthe mirror of the societywhich novelists employ to reflecttheir milieuand their society.This made Fágúnwà in his novels to propose ways which societies can adapt in order to realise sustainable development goals. Fágúnwà, therefore, projects several means for sustainability through the source and relevant areas of indigenous knowledge as discover in this study which will be shown later in the subsequence chapters

Hence, it is quite glaring that we cannot discuss the concept of indigenous knowledge without addressing the issues of sustainable development.The two are inter-related phenomena which researchers have made clear that a community can only achieve sustainable development goals through revisiting their local knowledge.Also, indigenous knowledge (IK) constitutes the basis of global or scientific knowledge. Therefore, this study examines the projection of the Yorùbá novelists on these concepts. We shall, carefully, study the reflection of indigenous knowledge and the propagation of sustainable development in Fágúnwà’s novels in order to portrays him as an advocate of traditional knowledge and sustainability.

1.1 Statement of the problem

The vastness of the concept of indigenous knowledge and its relationship with sustainable development has drawn the attentionof a numbers of scholarsfrom diverse perspectives.Some of the works include:Desta (1998),Grenier(1998),Rebort et al (2005), Ashish (2007), Davis (2007),Akíndé (2008), Meryvn (2010),Oageng (2012), Mákindé and Olúdáre (2013),Njoki (2013),Aderibigbe (2015) and Olumuyiwa (2015). Likewise, numerous works have been carried out onYorùbá Novels, generally, such as Ògúnsínà (1987) and Ìsòlá (1978). Also, there are diverse works on the novels of Fágúnwà this includes: Bámgbósé (2007), Adéjùmọ̀ (2008), Adélékè (2011) among others. It is observed that adequate attention has not been paid by scholarsto the essence of indigenous knowledge aiding sustainable development as reflectedin the novels of Fágúnwàin which this study attempts to close. Hence, this work fills the gapof analysing the concept of indigenous knowledge and sustainable development using literary works as a template.

1.2 Objectives of the study

This study aims at providing an in-depth understanding on the concept of indigenous knowledge and how sustainability can be achieved throughthe recognition of relevant areas of indigenous knowledge. Fágúnwà, as an advocate of indigenous knowledge and sustainable development, tries to reiterate more on how to revitalise some of the eroded local knowledge and heritage, and to see how it serves as a paradigm for scientific and global knowledge. Also, this study aims to prove that the Yorùbá people possess a well profound set or bodies of knowledge in which they employ in administering their day-to-day activities before the advent of Western or scientific knowledge i.e. the Yorùbá had had several means of doing things before civilisation. Finally, this study aims at justifying literature as a mechanism for propagating new initiative.

1.3 Significance of the study

The issue of sustainable development is one of the most current and germane concepts which need proper and accurate attention of the government and societies at large.Hence, this study, therefore, is considered highly imperative by proposing ways in which our natural resources can be properly managed through the use of our indigenous or traditional knowledge as projected by Fágúnwà in his novels.Also, this study tends to reveal the importance of our local knowledge and how it can enhance and complement global or scientific knowledge.Moreso, the theoretical concept employs in this study tends to justify the claims that every indigenous people and society possess a set of knowledge through their interaction with their natural resources and phenomenon, and that sustainability should not be view from economic, environment and social perspective alone, but also to incude culture.

Lastly, this work will significantly contribute to knowledge by establishing the fact that revitalising and implementing of indigenous knowledge will yield sustainability.

1.4 Scope of the study

This study is limited to the novels of D. O. Fágúnwà namely: Ògbójú Ọdẹ nínú Igbó Irúnmọlẹ̀, I gbó Olódùmarè , Ìrèké Oníbùdó , Ìrìnkèrindò nínú Igbó Elégbèje , and Àdìtú Olódùmarè.Also, some other relevant Yorùbá novels where we have the issue of indigenous knowledge and sustainable development are alluded to in order to analyse the projection of the novelists on the concept of sustainability and their ingenious use of indigenous knowledge in the formation of their novels.

1.5 Research Methodology

The data base for thisstudy were collected from both the primary and the secondary sources.The five novels of Fágúnwà selected for this study serve as the primary source of the data. The novels are read repeatedly and issues arising are discussed and subjected to content and close analysis.Consultation of books, journalswhich centre on novels of Fágúnwà, indigenous knowledge and sustainable development serve as the secondary source.

1.6 Evolution of Yorùbá Novels

Several works have been carried out by various critics on Yorùbá novels in which few of them dedicate their writingsto the evolution and classification of Yorùbá novels while others based their works on all other aspect of the novels. Some of the scholarly works include: Bámgbóṣé (2007), Ògúnṣínà (1987,1992, and 2006) and Ìṣọ̀lá (1978). Bámgbóṣé’s work on Fágúnwà is the first major attempt where he focuses more on the novelist and examines all aspects of the works of Fágúnwà. To Ògúnṣínà (1992), he provides the much needed historical account of the Yorùbá novel up to 1974 which is considered highly significant for this section.

Ògúnṣínà (1992) gives an impressive account of the various influence on the development of the Yorùbá Novel.According to him, the Yorùbá written novel is the last to emerge among the three genres of Yorùbá literature and is no doubt an imported genre.The lateness of this genre is as a result of its medium of expression and its newness as a genre.Therefore, there is a cause to putthe Yorùbá language into writing.

The earliest effort at putting Yorùbá language into writing can be attributed to the effective European contact with West Africa. Ògúnṣínà (1992) posits that the first collection of Yorùbá words was made by Bowdich in 1817 which was published in 1819. This becomes the first attempt to print Yorùbá words.With this, Bowdich’s attempt on Yorùbá numerals, therefore, inspired more scholars such as Kilham who in 1819 to suggest the reduction of African languages into writing.Her view was acknowledged and in 1828, she collected and published Yorùbávocabularies.This attempt makes her the first to reduce Yorùbálexicon into written form.With this, the second attempt on the reduction of the Yorùbá language into written form also attracts more explorers such as Clapperton who also collected Yorùbá vocabularies and published it in the year 1829. Raban, in his own effort, made an attempt to publish the first volumes in Yorùbálanguage in the year 1830, 1831 and 1832 respectively.It is noteworthy to know that most of these Europeans who championed the writing of the Yorùbá language are missionaries.

Another set of missionaries in the 1840’s who, among them, are Henry Townsend and Gollmer take a bolder step in translating the Bible passages into Yorùbá and in 1849 Samuel Ajayi Crowther’s first Yorùbá primer was published.In the main time, Henry Townsend’s bilingual Yorùbá newspaper Ìwé Ìròhìn had been in circulation since 1859. These various attempts generated lots of argument on the various forms oforthography found in the language which led to the 1875 Yorùbá Orthography conference where the issue was resolved, tentatively.There is no doubt that these attempts made by missionaries had a tremendous impact on the evolution of the Yorùbáliterature.Generally, among other religious publications include L í j à d ù ’s Ọ̀ r ú nm í l à published in 1908 where various collections of tales and myth of Od ù If á were shown to give an interpretation of the Yorùbá beliefs in God.In the same vein,other interventions on the Yorùbá orthography include the publication of the Church Missionary Society (CMS) “In Leisure Hours (Nígbàtí ọwọ́ bá dilẹ̀)” in 1910, and in 1911 David Hinderer’s translation of Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress into Yorùbá Ìlọsíwájí Ẹ̀rò Mímọ́ between 1909 and 1915 respectively. Also notable is the Church Missionary Society’s series of Yorùbá reader’s I five volumes (Ìwé kíkà Yorùbá).

Apart from the efforts of the European explorers and the missionaries on the reduction of Yorùbá speech into writing, Ògúnṣínà (1992) examines the impacts of the early newspapers in the development of Yorùbá novels.He asserts that around 1920s a number of indigenous Yorùbá newspapers emerge in order to comment on socio-political issues.First among such papers is Èkó Akéte in 1922edited by Adeoye Deniga, followed by Elétí Ọfẹ in 1923, Yorùbá news in 1924 edited by Ọbasa, Èkó Ìgbẹ̀hìn in 1926 and Akéde Èkó edited by I.B Thomas.With this advancement, the elite groups were able to express their opinions in written form and also editors started inserting creative stories in the various newspapers. One of such was the attempt made by E.A. Akitan the editor of Elétí Ọfẹ with the publication of a story of an orphan girl in an autobiographical style titled “Ìtàn Èmi Bánwó Ọmọ Òrukàn” . Sequel to this, is the most popular Lagos based newspaper Akéde Èkó edited by Isaac B. Thomas with the story of Ìtàn Èmi Sẹ̀gílọlá Ẹlẹ́yinjíẹgẹ́ Ẹlẹ́gbẹ̀rún Ọkọ Láíyé in July 4 to March 8 1930 in about thirty regular issues of the newspaper.With the content and language of the story, readers’ attention was drawn and this gave Akéde Èkó its popularity.

I.B. Thomas’ story, no doubt, had influence on later writers and also inspired Akintan to complete his abandoned story in 1927 “Ìtàn Èmi Bánwó Ọmọ Òrukàn”.It also had an influence on the publication of a novelette Àyọ̀ká Fẹláyọ̀ in 1948 which is an uttermost imitation of Ìtàn Èmi Sẹ̀gílọlá.

Eight years afterthe publication of Ìtàn Èmi Sẹ̀gílọlá, another novelist emerged who up to the present times has had the strongest impact on the development of Yorùbá novels(Ogunsina1992:20) which is Ògbójú Ọdẹ nínú Igbó Irúnmọlẹ̀ written by D.O Fágúnwà in 1938 because its popularity was immeasurable.It was then recommended for school use.Between 1938 and 1954, five novels of the same story-telling framework, style and language use were published.They are: I gbó Olódùmarè , Ìrìnkèrindò nínú igbó Elégbèje , Ìrèké Oníbùdó , Ògbójú Ọdẹ nínú Igbó Irúnmọlẹ̀ and Àdìtú Olódùmarè . Fágúnwà’s writing inspired so many writers who eventually became his disciples by following his style of writing.Of such writing is the novels of Ọmọyájowó 1957 Ìtàn Dẹ́níy à ọmọ ọdẹ́lérù Nínú Igbó Erígí, Ogundele’s (1956) Ib ú Olókun and Adeoye’s (1966) Ẹ̀dá Oòduà.

Surprisingly, Fágúnwà’s novels and that of his followersraise criticism among the readers for its fantastical type and this led to the emergence of realistic novels in Yorùbá which deal with man and his society(Bámgbósé1974:6). Inclinedto this call are the novels of I.O. Delano’s Aiye Daiye Oyinbo 1955 and L’ ọ́jọ́ ọ j ọ́ un 1959 and ever since then, the development of Yorùbá novels started increasing.

Therefore, Ogunsina (1992) proceeds to classify Yorùbá novels into four which are Historical novels, Fágúnwà Tradition novels, Social novels and Crime novels. Hence, the classification of Yorùbá novels this study adapted is the Fágúnwà Tradition.


2.0 Introduction

In this chapter, we shall review previous works which are considered relevant for this study. These include previous works on indigenous knowledge, previous works on sustainable development, previous works on the relationship between indigenous knowledge and sustainable development and previous works on Fágúnwà’s novels. Also, in this chapter, we shall examine the Indigenous knowledge System and Two model pillar approach as theories to justify the concepts.

2.1 The Concept of Indigenous Knowledge

The term Indigenous Knowledge has recently become a popular concept in the literary circle concerned. It is a phenomenon that cuts across all sphere of human life. In a way, it has drawn the attention of various governmental and non-governmental organisations and different individuals of varied disciplines to tread the path of elucidating the concept from diverse perspectives. Indigenous knowledge is used to sustain the community and its culture. Placing value on indigenous knowledge could strengthen cultural identity, and also to achieve social and development goals such as sustainable agriculture, affordable and appropriate public health.

Indigenous knowledge is an essential resource for any human development process. Among previous works done on indigenous knowledge include: Grenier (1998), UNESCO and NUFFIC (2002), ICSU (2002), Akíndé (2008), Njoki(2013), Oageng (2012),Olúmúyìwá (2015), and Aderibigbe (2015). And also, the interest in Indigenous Knowledge is recognised in several international documents such as the World Bank, World Health Organisation (WHO), United National Education Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United Nation Organisation (UNO), United Nations Environmental Program, World Commission on Environment and Development, United Nation Sustainable Development Solution Network among others. This section will also some of their review few reports in order to propose and affirm that there have been a number of initiatives that have been started by several international bodies in an attempt to recognise and promote the important role that Indigenous Knowledge play in sustainable development.

In discussing the concept of indigenous knowledge, UNESCO (2002) asserts that the definition of indigenous knowledge differs depending on the case and even on the specific aspect the author would like to treat or emphasise. But to her, UNESCO (2002) view indigenous knowledge from educational perspective, as human societies across the globe have developed a rich set of knowledge, experience and explanations relating to their environment and are based on centuries of living close to nature. Therefore, indigenous knowledge is stored in cultures in various forms such as traditions, customs, folk stories, folk songs, folk dramas, legends, proverbs, myths etc. Thus, the use of these cultural items as resources in schools can be very effective in bringing indigenous knowledge alive for the students. It will allow them to conceptualise places and issues not only in the local area but also beyond their immediate enviroment.

In consequence, students will already be familiar with some aspects of indigenous culture and, therefore, may find it interesting to learn more about it through these cultural forms. As Indigenous education specifically focuses on teaching indigenous knowledge, models, methods, and content in formal or non-formal educational sectors, the rapid recognition and use of indigenous education methods can be a response to the erosion and loss of indigenous knowledge due to the processes of colonialism, globalisation, and modernity. Indigenous communities are able -to “reclaim and revalue their languages and traditions, and in so doing, improve the educational success of indigenous students” thus ensuring their survival as a culture.

Basically, this organsation campaign for the importance and use of indigenous knowledge in educational system, as it tends to be the easiest and fastest way of teaching and learning for indigenous students and which its these relevant aspects of indigenous knowledge and approaches should be included in our school curriculum.

WHO (2003) views indigenous knowledge from the perspective of health and medicine, the body asserts that indigenous knowledge has recently been regarded as an important commodity in global health development, that; 25% of modern medicine is made from plants first used traditionally,

The majority of the world’s population(in areas like Africa, up to 80 per cent of the population) is dependent for varying degrees on medicinal plants through traditionalhealth care system

This is indicating that more than half of the world still solemnly depends on the use of plant for survival. In other words, before the advancement of orthodox medicine and even after, people still make use of medicinal plants. In the southern part of Nigeria, today, the use of àgbo (local herbal concoction) is still prevalent over the use of orthodox medicine due to people’s indigenous knowledge that it is more effective and works fasterin comparison to medicine created with scientific knowledge. Although recommendations by the World Health Organisation in the Health Sector for All Declaration (1978) highlight the need to include local people, their traditions and practices in Primary Health Care, which has been ignored in most times. Evidence suggests that up until recently, IK and Traditional Medical Practice was largely seen as a barrier to modernisation and progress. The continuous recognition of traditional medicine as a part of relevant area of indigenous knowledge made the World Health Organization launch its first ever comprehensive traditional strategy in 2002. At present, WHO is supporting clinical studies on anti-malaria in three African countries.The studies are revealing the good potential for herbal anti-malaria. Indigenous knowledge is being exploited continuously by a number of pharmaceutical organisations. In South India, the medicinal knowledge of the Kani tribe led to the development of a sport-aided drug named Jeevani, an anti-stress and anti-fatigue agent, based on the herbal medicinal plant – arogyapaacha.

With this, recognition has been given to indigenous knowledge in the aspect of health care system which will in a way lead to a sustainable society.

As much attention has been given to the study of indigenous knowledge by several institutions and organizations.With the diverse views on this concept, an agreement has not been reached on its definition.This makes Warren (1991) and Flavier (1995) from the World Bank to present a broad definition of indigenous knowledge. Hear Warren (1991:1) and Flavier et al. (1995: 479) respectively:

Indigenous knowledge (IK) is the local knowledge – knowledge that is unique to a given culture or society. IK contrasts with the international knowledge systemgenerated by universities, research institutions and private firms. It is the basis for local-level decision making in agriculture, health care, food preparation, education, natural-resource management, and a host of other activities in rural communities.

Indigenous Knowledge is the information base for a society, which facilitates communication and decision-making.Indigenous information systems are dynamic, and are continually influenced by internal creativity and experimentation as well as by contact with external systems.

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Warren (1991:1) and Flavier et al. (1995: 479) therefore claim that there is no widely acceptable definition for indigenous knowledge. Most authors explain their own perception of the concept only covering just an aspect of it. However, there has been a fear of indigenous knowledge going into extinction due to inability to withstand global challenges, inadequate preservation, and documentation as it is known that “when an elders dies, a library burns”.As it forms the bases of global or scientific knowledge and enhances sustainable development of a community, yet the concept has not been fully utilized in development process.

They conclude that indigenous knowledge should be preserved, transferred, or adapted and adapted elsewhere. All these will contribute to solving existing problems and achieving the intended objectives.

Adélékè and Mọ́bọ́lájí (ND) asserts that as several sholars have carried out quite number of works on Yorùbá lineage praise poetry ranging from it structure and formation, but none have use the theory of indigenous knowledge to analyse the Yorùbá lineage praise poetry. Therefore, this prompted them to examine the reflection of indigenous knowledge in Yorùbálineage praise poetry, of such is the indigenous knowledge on food preparation, medicine and health care, building construction, cloth weaving, wine production, craft work, cosmetology, security and war, and keeping of animals. Adélékè and Mọ́bọ́lájí’s work has illuminate more on the concept of indigenous knowledge by citing more example of source of Yorùbá indigenous knowledge which this study will subsequently employ as an additional knowledge for critical analysis.

According to our research Aderibigbe (2015) can be said to be the most recent work onYorùbá indigenous knowledge. She examines the erosion of Yorùbá Indigenous Knowledge System due to the intrusion of foreign technologies and ideologies and how playwrights have come to its rescue.With the view of conserving and preserving the declining Yorùbá indigenous knowledge, she established her views with copious excerpt from the four plays she used as a paradigm.Also, she specifically canvasses against the advent of Western education where she unfolds the underlying factor that contributes to the waning of Yorùbá indigenous knowledge were unfolded. She concludes by recommending more publications of Yorùbá literature which are replete of Yorùbá indigenous knowledge to joggle people’s memory about their eroded knowledge. Aderibigbe’s (2015) work, perfectly, corresponds to this ongoing research work as both employs literary texts as a medium to advocate the use of our indigenous knowledge.

Olúmúyìwá (2015) works on the indigenous knowledge of the Yorùbá people.To him, he asserts that films present Yorùbá people and their knowledge in the area of health, education, administration and culture and that it tends promote the Yorùbá indigenous values for the nation’s social and political advancement. He also examines the importance of the Yorùbá indigenous knowledge embedded in the contents of the film and he, succinctly, avers that Yorùbá indigenous knowledge can be used as a panacea in the health sector and to confront socio-political challenges in contemporary Nigeria. Thus, his analysis is based on how the Yorùbá indigenous knowledge is reflected in Yorùbá films. In essence,his analysis has contributed, highly, to this foregoing studyas it expatiates more on the concept of Yorùbá indigenous knowledge.

Grenier (1998:5) affirms that:

Indigenous knowledge is a kind of system which covers all aspects of life including management of the natural environmentas a system which has been a matter of survival for people who generated these systems.

According to him, “Such knowledge systems arecumulative, representing generations of experiences, careful observations, and trial-and-errorexperiement”. He, further, opines that all members of the community possess traditional ecological knowledge and that the quantity and quality each possessesvariesbased on age, gender education, social and economic status, profession, available time, aptitude andintellectual capability, level of curiosity and observation skills, ability to travel,the degree ofautonomy and the control over natural resources. All these are some of the influencing factors.Grenier (1998:5) concludes that IK is stored in peoples’ memories and activities and is expressed in stories, songs, folklore, proverbs, dances, myths, cultural values, beliefs, rituals, community laws, local language and taxonomy, agricultural practices, equipment, materials, plant species, and animal breeds. IK is shared and communicated orally by specific example and through culture Grenier’swork contributes to the present study as it guides this study to a right direction in the analysis.

Akíndé (2008)discusses the dissemination and use of indigenous knowledge. He is of the opinion that defining indigenous knowledge is a major challenge because one’s indigenous knowledge might actually be another person’s global knowledge.He, therefore, sees indigenous knowledge as the expression, access and exchange of local knowledge in both local and foreign languages whereby the accessibility of the information for both the community and the people outside the community are increased, and in the process enhance respect for the local culture and identity. Hefurther identifies various sources of indigenous knowledge which include: oral literary form, entertainment, visual art and craft, local foods and drinks, trade and commerce, community development activities, local attires and hairdo and others. At the end, he opines that there is a need to digitise Africa’s indigenous knowledge for an increased access. Also, it needs to be repackaged to ensure local suitability and relevance. With the emerging ICT tools and indigenous ICT expertise, much of the invaluable traditional knowledge can be saved, documented, improved upon and digitised. With the adaptation of Akínde’s postulation, Africans indigenous knowledge could be sustained.

Ashish (2007) complements Grenier’s (2008) and Akíndé’s (2008) by giving a clear and explicit explanation on the concept of indigenous knowledge. To further the understanding of indigenous knowledge, Ashish reiterates more on the definition of traditional knowledge, its relevance to human welfare and development, how it has been eroded, ways to revive it, how it can be encouraged. Ashish prefers to use the word traditional knowledge and sees traditional knowledge as a long-standing information, wisdom, tradition and practice of a certain indigenous people or local communities. In many cases, traditional knowledge has been orally passed down to subsequent generationsfrom persontoperson. Some forms of traditional knowledge are expressed through stories, legends, folklores, ritual, songs, art and even law.

Ryser (2011:4) asserts that

Indigenous knowledge is a cumulative body of knowledge and beliefs evolving by adaptive process and handed down through generations by cultural transmission which identifies a specific body of ge associated with a specific people and locality involving an understanding or possession of information, facts, ideas, truths, or principles.

He furthers his explanation by citing examples of indigenous knowledge which include architectural and building principles and ideas for constructing the Egyptian (circa 2500 BCE), Mayan (circa 1000 BCE) and Mississippian (circa 800 CE) pyramids, the ancient city of Anasazi (1200 BCE), the city at Machu Picchu (circa 1400 CE) and the mountain top city of Cusco (circa 1100 CE), or ancient castles such as Sigiriya (circa 300 BCE).He opines that throughout the world indigenous peoples not only engage in engineering alone but they also produce vast transportation systems on water (rivers, lakes and oceans) and land, they produce health and healing systems, cosmologies and mathematical systems, calendars, social organisation, economic systems, manufactured textiles, wood and stone construction, smelted metals for tools and ornamentation, and organized systematic food and natural resource management systems.

Rÿser (2012) concludes that indeed the indigenous people had had their own system of knowledge which barely covers all sphere of life even before the arrival of the western knowledge.

The general idea that can be deduced from the works of these scholars and government organisations on indigenous knowledge is the meaning of the concept (what does it entail?). These past works are highly significant to this present study for they serve as apremisefor the better understanding of the concept.

In this first section of literature review, the above mentioned scholars works have illuminated more on the concept of indigenious knowledge, its relevance and sources.Therefore, their works are considered germane for this study.

2.2 The Concept of Sustainable Development

Sustainable development or sustainability is a concept which global development focuses attention on now as a goal that must be achieved and which has to be adapted into the practical dimensions of the real world to make it operational (Hartmut 1999:1). It, therefore, remains one of the most vibrant topics in development and has become the guiding principle of contemporary socio-economic development globally. In 1987 the World Commission on Environment and Development, also known as the Brundtland report, our common Future, sought to address the problem of conflicts between environment and development goals by formulating a definition of sustainable development:

Sustainable development is the developmentwhich meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.p. 2

It is, generally, accepted that sustainable development calls for a harmony between the three pillars of economic development, social equity and environmental protection. Sustainable development is a visionary development paradigm and, over the past 20 years, governments, businesses, and civil society have accepted sustainable development as a guiding principle in achieving developmental goals. Sustainable development, as a fluid concept, has attracted scholars from various disciplines to establish their views. Therefore, in this section, research work done by scholars from diverse fields of study and organisation will be reviewed.Among such works are Jonathan (2003), Robert W. Kates, et al (2005), Desta (1998), Davis (2007), Bossel (1999), Adejumo, and Adejumo (2014) and the view of MDGs.

Jeffery (2012) cited Bill Gates that:

The MDGs have become a type of global report card for the fight against poverty for the 15 years from 2000 to 2015. As with most report cards, they generate incentives to improve performance, even if not quite enough incentives for both rich and poor countries to produce a global class of straight-A students.

It is a conventional phenomenon within the development circle that development should cover all physical realities.Through developmental processes, all institutions must interact together to achieve continuous sustainable development goals which will also meet future demands. In view of challenges that pervade all society, Jeffrey (2012) states thatthe Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) mark a historic and effective method of global mobilisation to achieve a set of important social priorities worldwide. They express widespread public concern about poverty, hunger, and disease, high level of illiteracy, gender inequality, and environmental degradation. In the year 2000, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were adapted by 189 member-countries of the United Nation including Nigeria with the view of fast-tracking key developmental issues (Adejumo and Adejumo 2014:33-46). This United Nations Millennium Declaration (2000) called for “Respect for Nature” as one of the fundamental values for humanity. The Declaration urges that

Prudence must be shown in the management of all living species and natural resources, in accordance with the precepts of sustainable development.

A set of eight goals which is to be achieved by 2015 was adapted by the United Nations (2000) which were to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and empower women; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability; and develop a global partnership for development Todaro and Smith (2011). It is on this note that we must know that all these eight goals tune towards developing all aspects of human life (social, economic, environment and culture), and that the main motive for forming these goalsis to achieve sustainable developments.


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Indigenous knowledge and sustainable development in the novels of Daniel Fagunwa
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Oluwadamilare Kohode (Author), 2016, Indigenous knowledge and sustainable development in the novels of Daniel Fagunwa, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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