Fostering National unity using parallel motifs in Nigerian mythology

Iwu, I. (2006-08-15)

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This paper intends to explore how the parallels in Nigerian Myths, with particular reference to the Igbo and Yoruba myths, may be exploited to emphasize the all-important issue of Nigeria's unity. it is hoped that if conscious effort is made to create awareness about the similarity of the Nigerian peoples' folklore, it may, perhaps, serve as a strong unifying factor. It may strengthen inter-ethnic relationships and reduce the incidence of discrimination, intolerance, antagonism and clashes among different ethnic groups in Nigeria. So, one measure that is being advocated for the promotion of socio cultural tolerance among various ethnic groups is taking recourse to the peoples' folklore. There are Igbo and Yoruba myths where similar themes or motifs are discernible. For our illustration, we shall look at their creation, hero and earth deity myths. There is recurrence of similar themes, images or motifs in myths across cultures. Such themes or images in myths across cultures are called universal symbols or 'archetypes' because they have common meaning or elicit comparable psychological responses and render similar cultural functions (Guerin, et al 1979); Hardin,1989). in this paper, therefore, creation, the hero and the earth deity are understood to be archetypes as they have common meanings in both the Igbo and Yoruba cultures. This is therefore a study in myth criticism.