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Proverbs are terse but ‘condensed’ expressions which contain moral lessons. In every culture, proverbs form part of the nuggets of popular wisdom, expressed in the form of wise sayings (Maledo 2015). Among the Nzema of Ghana, proverbs permeate almost all communicative encounters. They are ‘injected’ into discourses to motivate people to behave well, and to repudiate vices in the society. This paper discusses the didactics and communicative values of Nzema proverbs related to health conditions (and impairments) such as blindness, deafness, leprosy, hunchback, goitre, hernia, rickets and migraine. Using primary data recorded during arbitration proceedings among the Nzema, the paper examines the advisory role of the proverbs. The findings demonstrate that many virtues are concealed in Nzema proverbs that incorporate certain medical conditions, which paradoxically are not about the mere experiences of such conditions; rather, the deeper meanings highlight the essence of hospitality, contentment, patience, hard-work, and genuine love among others. The paper has also shown that the Nzema employ such proverbs in appropriate discourse contexts to rebuke deviants, and to redirect the paths of members of the society. It is argued that the advisory messages entrenched in this category of proverbs largely promote ethical standards and help maintain social equilibrium and solidarity. The paper engages Hymes’ Ethnography of Communication model in the data analysis.

Article Details

Nzema, disease proverbs, ethnography, communication
How to Cite
Yakub, M. “A CONTEXTUAL-ETHNOGRAPHIC STUDY OF NZEMA PROVERBS RELATED TO SOME ‘MEDICAL CONDITIONS’”. Proverbium - Yearbook, vol. 40, no. 1, July 2023, pp. 223-247, doi:10.29162/pv.40.1.54.


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