Department: English Language & Literature
The use of oral traditions like proverbs, riddles, songs, tales and poetry has generally influenced African literature. However, there have been few studies about the use of Igbo proverbs in literature especially in drama. The reasons for this paucity could be linked to the degradation of Igbo language as a result of colonialism. Colonial education discouraged the learning of indigenous languages. This is true of Igbo. Students who attended top mission secondary schools were not allowed to use the vernacular language in school. This perhaps explains why Chinua Achebe, Chukwuemeka Ike, Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo and other Igbo writers, consciously collected Igbo proverbs, synthesized and wove them into the fabric of their novels. Despite the effort in the use of Igbo proverbs by some Igbo novelists, plays have not received much attention. Moreover, proverbs which are elevated expressions were considered to be male oriented. The researcher therefore, explored the degree of proverbs usage by a female writer, Zulu Sofola, who is the first published female playwright in Nigeria. The aim of this study is to depict the use of Igbo proverbs in select plays of Zulu Sofola: King Emene, Wedlock of the Gods and Old Wines Are Tasty. These plays have been selected because they are Sofola’s plays that adequately make use of Igbo cultural background and proverbs. The oral literary theory forms the theoretical framework of this study while contextual and interpretative approaches are used for the critical analysis of the proverbs in the plays. The research is purely library research. Zulu Sofola’s medium of communication was the written documents which were studied alongside other critical materials. The result observed is that Zulu Sofola used Igbo proverbs in some of her plays aforementioned for a variety of reasons: to embellish the plot of her plays, to admonish or castigate characters, to satirize vices (foolishness and pride) and to expose to the world Igbo cultural values. This study concludes by suggesting the need for the government and education administration to introduce oral literature subject/courses in all the levels of study in schools.