Journal of
Philosophy and Culture

  • Abbreviation: J. Philos. Cult.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 0855-6660
  • DOI: 10.5897/JPC
  • Start Year: 2004
  • Published Articles: 57

Full Length Research Paper

A Yorùbá reflection on the theodicy embedded in Prince’s “Sign O’ The Times”: Implications for scholarship on African Theology

DASAOLU Babajide Olugbenga  
Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, Nigeria
Email: [email protected]

  •  Received: 14 March 2019
  •  Accepted: 06 June 2019
  •  Published: 31 July 2019


Given the array of tracks inspired by various realities during Prince Roger Nelson’s (popularly known as Prince) career, this study engages the philosophical problem of evil as well as the implied justification that Africans had no idea of the divine as embedded in his “Sign O’ the Times.” In this track, Prince reflects over some of the horrendous evils in the world. However, his evangelizing of The Cross as a possible panacea resurrects the philosophical problem of evil (theodicy), which was a primary source of concern for prominent Western minds like David Hume, Gottfried Spinoza, St. Augustine and even Epicurus. “Sign O’ the Times”, since it appeals mostly to Afro-American listeners, seems to justify the earlier Eurocentric and ethnographic warrant that their progenitors had no idea of the divine but need the foreign Abrahamic God for salvation. In this guise, this study aims to analyze “Sign O’ the Time” as to extrapolate the misleading ‘theology’ which estranges Afro-Americans further away from their rich religious root. It is on this showing that it seems “Sign O’ the Times” does more harm to the religious life of Afro-Americans since it makes them lose contact with their rich religious and moral heritage. In order to put matters in the proper perspective, this work forays into the Yorùbá thought system (an instance of traditional African theology), whose metaphysics and outlook on evil absolves Olódùmarè, the Higher God, without being steeped in theological exaggerations inherent in the theological system that inspired Prince. In the final analysis, the Yorùbá submits, contra Prince that the evils we experience in the world are not the Sign O’ the Times; that the world is not getting better or worse, but going round as usual.

Key words: Prince, Yorùbá, “Sign O’ the Times”, theodicy, ethno-philosophy.