The Palm-oil with which Good Stories are told: Proverb as Plot Generator in Flora Nwapa's Efuru and Idu

  • IE Asika
  • LI Emeodi


The proverb is one of the genres of folklore handed down from generation to generation. It is one of the most commonly used, respected and highly valued element of folklore because it reflects the culture, worldview and perception of life of a homogeneous set of people. It also serves as a means of interpreting and understanding life and events around them. In this regard, therefore, irrespective of the level of modernity, advanced technological growth, and level of western education and exposure witnessed all around us today, the proverb has continued to play prominent roles in debates, arguments, speech and over all communication of the people, both the literate and non-literate alike. Chinua Achebe defined proverb simply as the palm-oil with which words are eaten. Proverb has become an essential part of any viable and homogeneous society which accounts for their outlook, approach and perception to life because it is believed to be the wisdom and philosophy of their fore-fathers who existed in the time past. Many African writers in their bid to create a true African story have resorted to the use of proverbs among other folklore materials in their literary works. Achebe, Soyinka, Ngugi Wa Thiong.o, Elechi Amadi, Flora Nwapa rank among them. This paper looks at proverb as not just the metaphorical oil with which the Igbos eat words but the literally palm-oil with which good, genuine and believably African stories are told. This paper studies proverbs in the two novels of Flora Nwapa, Efuru and Idu  respectively. The study contends that proverbs in the novels of Nwapa did not occur by accident but were consciously explored by the author to make her story genuine and to advance and shape the plot of her story in such a way that the works are appealing to both native and non native of her Igbo community.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2227-5460
print ISSN: 2225-8604