Legon Journal of the Humanities

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The loudness of the “Unsaid”: Proverbs in selected African drama

Gbemisola Adeoti


The paper reflects on the use of proverbs as communicative constituents of African drama, how they are used by playwrights to establish themes, build context, enrich dialogue and develop characterisation. Many African paremiology scholars have studied proverbs as expressions of social realities and cultural practices as well as markers of identities (Amali, 2001; Akinyemi, 2007; Yankah, 2012; and Appiah-Adjei, 2014). The paper observes that in the bid to represent socio-cultural realities on stage, proverbs constitute a significant part of verbal resources in the dialogue of selected African plays. There is, therefore, the need to probe further the use of proverbs in African drama to reveal the “unsaid” elements of discourse and socio-cultural situations couched in proverbs with a view to enriching our understanding of the plays. To this end, textual illustrations are drawn from Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman, Ola Rotimi’s Kurunmi, Ama Ata Aidoo’s Anowa and Mohammed ben-Abdallah’s The Trial of Mallam Ilya.

AJOL African Journals Online