By Temidayo Adewoye
The concept of justice, often called jurisprudence, is universal. I learnt Yoruba proverbs while growing up in Osun State. After learning principles of English law, I realized some similarities between certain Yoruba proverbs and English maxims.
I will write first in Yoruba, transliterate the proverb and then state the English equivalent.
- A kii gbe ile eni ka fi orun ro (I shouldn’t break my neck while staying in my house.) English law principle (ELP): The Rule in Ryland v Fletcher which states that when a person brings anything to his land, he must keep it there at his own peril; he will be liable if it escapes into another person’s property).
- Bi a ba s’oko s’oja, ara ile eni lo n ba (If one throws stone into a market, it will hit his family member) EPL: This is the neighbor principle in establishing whom duty of care is owed as explained by Lord Atkins in Donoghue v Stevenson.
- Bi ebiti o ba pa era, a f’eyin fun eleyin (if a trap set to catch an ant does not catch it, it must give up its palm fruit bait)
EPL: This is the Common Law principle of money had and received, which states that where a contract is not performed due to failure of mutual consideration, then consideration furnished by a party must be returned.
- Orisa oke boo le gba mi, semi bi o se ba mi (If the gods in heaven cannot rescue me, please restore me back to how you met me)
EPL: This is the principle of restituo in integrum established in Hadley & Anor v Baxendale & Ors . It states that a party that has suffered losses by a breach of contract must be restored, as far as money can do it in damages, to the position he would have been if there was no breach.
- Agb’ejo enikan da, agba osika (He who judges by hearing only one party is a wicked person)
EPL: This is the principle of audi alterem partem which means hear the other party.
- Mi o le wa ku kii r’oye ile baba re je/ Eni yara ni Ogun n gbe (I-cannot-come-and-go-and-die person cannot ascend into the chieftaincy office of his fathers/ The gods aids who is fast)
EPL: Equity aids the vigilant or Equity does not aid the sluggard.
- Ara o ni iwofa bi onigbowo; abanikowo lara n ta (A debtor’s pawn is never as troubled as the guarantor; the surety of a loan is the one who loses his peace)
EPL: This is the principle of the liability of a guarantor who assumes the role of a primary obligor to facility transaction especially one which makes him liable in event of a default by the debtor without recourse.
- Aje ka lana, omo ku loni. Tani ko mo pe aje ana lo pa omo oni je> ( A witch confessed to witchcraft yesterday and child dies mysteriously today, who does not know that it is the witch that confessed that killed the child)
EPL: This is the principle of causation in law, which holds a person liable for every natural consequences of his actions.
Do you know any proverb that has a principle in English law in your native language; teach us please.
Temidayo Adewoye MCIArb (UK) works with Perchstone & Graeys LP