Punishment and Forgiveness in the Administration of Justice in Traditional African Thought: The Yoruba Example
Laleye, Solomon A

The institution of punishment is familiar to human society as a mechanism for the promotion and sustenance of social peace. However, the necessity for the imposition of pain on an offender for crime committed has been a controversial moral issue in contemporary times. The argument of most of the antagonists of punishment focused mainly on the unlikely commensurability of punishment with the quantum of offence committed. Few, if any of these arguments recognize the need for punishment to be complemented by forgiveness without undermining justice delivery in society. This paper therefore examines the Yoruba socio-ethics’ perspective on punishment and forgiveness as exemplified in folklores, folktales and Ifa literary corpus in the bid to ensuring an enduring social order. The paper employs the critical and prescriptive methods of philosophy. It argues that the rationale for punishment provides justification for its application without undermining humanistic ethics of the people. The prescriptive method is employed to argue that when the spirit of forgiveness as against vengeance complements punishment as obtainable in Yoruba socio ethics, it would be relevant when applied to social and political problems confronting contemporary society.

Full Text: PDF     DOI: 10.15640/ijpt.v2n4a10