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Interrogating African philosophical and literary perspectives on the concept of Destiny

Olukayode Felix Oyenuga and Olawale Ajayi


Destiny is a central issue in ancient African metaphysics. It cannot be done away with amid factors that shape and re-shape the African worldview. In line with this many scholars have explained the concept of destiny across cultural divides in Africa. One major observation in the writings of scholars on this issue is the tendency to take definitive stands that in most cases are antagonistic. Instead of forging a synergy, some writers assert that the Yoruba, in particular, are fatalists while some regard them as soft determinists. Which of these two positions then correctly portrays the Yoruba worldview? This paper interrogates the philosophical thoughts of Samuel Ade Ali and Ebun Oduwole on the concept of destiny in African metaphysics and explores how African literature reflects this concept as seen in the works of Chinua Achebe, Asare Konado, and Ola Rotimi. While Oduwole canvasses fatalism, Ali pitches his tent with soft determinism while the three writers explore the concept from the two perspectives.

Keywords: African philosophy, metaphysics, literary perspective, Yoruba worldview, destiny