Yoruba Ethico-cultural Perspectives and Understanding of Animal Rights
This literature review argues that non-Western cultural perspectives of animals should be incorporated into global concepts of animal ethics. Using Nigerian Yoruban culture as a case study, the authors explore Yoruban idioms, taboos, customs, spiritual beliefs, and rituals that reference animals. While concluding that Yorubans cannot be classified as either welfarist or abolitionist, they conclude that “superstitious relational attitudes” may constitute a unique and significant contribution to animal ethics discourse.[Abstract excerpted from original source.]
“While divisions between animal rights and animal welfare have preoccupied public discourse and practice concerning animal ethics in developed countries, little consideration has been accorded to non-Western framings of animal ethics. Yoruba ethno-cultural settings in Africa have displayed certain philosophical and ethico-traditional understandings of human-animal relations through activities that engage animals for food and economic purposes and in religious practices and festivals. This article raises the fundamental question: Is there is a Yoruba understanding of animal ethics? This inquiry was conducted by critically surveying the traditional framework of wise sayings, proverbs, practices, adages and relational attitudes of the Yoruba. We identify the Yoruba understanding of animal ethics by engaging these perspectives alongside the Western distinction between animal welfare and animal rights. We argue that the Yoruba understanding, including a superstitious, relational attitude toward nonhuman animals, is essential to the global discourse of animal ethics and animal liberation. This work takes for granted that the global project of animal ethics should be rooted in a cross-cultural understanding of human-animal relations, Western and non-Western, in order to forge a model for the quest of animal liberation across all cultures including the Yoruba enclave.”
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