African Journal of
History and Culture

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Hist. Cult.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-6672
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJHC
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 187

Full Length Research Paper

The humanity of the foetus: A Yoruba perspective

Olanrewaju Abdul SHITTA-BEY
  • Olanrewaju Abdul SHITTA-BEY
  • Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts, Lagos State University, Nigeria
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 24 October 2014
  •  Accepted: 09 January 2015
  •  Published: 28 February 2015


The question of when life begins in the foetus remains a serious philosophical debate which cuts across philosophies and philosophers of all intellectual traditions. Principally, the question has led to the evolution of different schools of thought in western bioethics discourse. However, in spite of the numerous responses generated in reaction to the personhood of the foetus, no particular answer has been accepted, that is, none of the answers has addressed the issue adequately, hence the focus of this paper on the Yoruba intellectual tradition. In Yoruba cultural thought, there is a clear conception when the life of the foetus begins, and this conception arguably addresses some of the inadequacies inherent in western perspective on the issue. Therefore, we examine the Yoruba ontological creation theory because it is with a clear knowledge of this that we can appropriately understand the Yoruba conception of when life begins in the foetus. And given this understanding, we argue that the Yoruba conception takes care of the inadequacies inherent in western theories.

Key - words: Foetus, Yoruba, Orisa Nla, western bioethics, humanity, Emi, creation.