Ethical and Psychoanalytical Examination of Sexual Relationships within the Family: Yoruba Nollywood Experiences

Adágbádá Olúfadékémi


The family is a social group. Its characteristics are among other things, common residence, co-operation and reproduction. The family has always been considered to be the foundation or nucleus of the society; the most basic unit of its organization. The structure of the family varies according to each society. In pre-colonial era, the family as a social group among the Yorùbá, was a large unit, and extended in nature. They were bound together by the realization of having a common ancestor; alájọbí. All the members of the family see one another as blood relations, as such incest was (and still is) a taboo. Apart from this, sexual relationship among the Yorùbá is heterosexual and permissible only in marriage; between husband and his wife/wives. Though extra-marital relationships are practiced, it is frowned at for men, but intolerable for women. Homosexuality is also a taboo; punishable by public disgrace, with culprits liable to excommunication from the society, especially if unrepentant. It cannot be totally ruled out that these anomalous relationships were not secretly engaged in by few non-conformists among the Yorùbá, before coming into contact with the West, the fact remains that the magnitude by which they are practiced in present times is alarming; threatening the harmony and cultural heritage of the Yorùbá. This fear is expressed in the literary genres of the Yorùbá, especially the film, which is the contemporary popular theatre of the Yorùbá of Nigeria and other tribes in Africa. This study examined sexual relationship among members of the family, in randomly selected Yorùbá films that have family-living as their major or minor themes, to know how affected is the stability of family (sexual) relationship among the Yorùbá. This is in the light of evolving modernity; with its individualistic life-style of people globally, as against the inherited communal social organization of the Yorùbá; built around the virtuous ọmọlúwàbí principle. The plausible reasons for the anomalous behaviors are also examined. Our findings are that prevailing strict traditional conditions, living in private homes as nuclear family, not being properly oriented in Yorùbá cultural values, increased exposition to Western lifestyles and its more relaxed societal expectations, and non-realization of the possibility of anomalous sexual behaviors as mental and biological issues that can be medically treated; are some of the reasons why such behaviors manifest, and are becoming prevalent. We have suggested communal encouragement with empathy, to seek medical assistance for and by the ‘diseased’ person.

Keywords: Yorùbá family, Virtue, Sexual relationships, Empathy, Medical treatment.

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