The study examines a pragmatic analysis of selected conversations in keye abiona’s even kins are guilty and Ahmed Yerima’s Hendu. This study has dealt with the critical analysis of socio-pragmatic features in Keye Abiona’s and Ahmed Yerima’s Hendu. In the course of the analysis, the socio-pragmatic elements of ethnography of communication (S-P-E-A-K-I-N-G) as well as Searle’s Speech Act theory and specific features of deictic elements were examined in both texts.

The instrument used in the utterance is the oral form and speech act analysis in Keye Abiona’s,

Findings reveals that the acts of reporting, describing, revealing, responding and reporting are the recurrent micro illocutionary acts in the text. Also, the use of deixis in the texts. Keye Abiona’s reflects the use of person deixis with 90.2% and place deixis with 9.8%. The identified deixis in the text to be person deixis with 77%, place deixis with 17% and time deixis with 6%. For person deixis, the pronouns ‘you’ and ‘I’ occur with the highest frequency of 28% and 25% respectively. 

The study concluded that, the play is set in a typical pristine Yoruba cosmology where total adherence and compliance to the norm of the Yoruba culture is paramount. The study further recommended that; this study has only delved into the aspect of sociolinguistics and pragmatics of Keye Abiona’s   and Ahmed Yerima’s Hendu; the study is not exhaustive as far as literary idiolect is concerned; the future researchers should explore the syntactic and phonological aspects of the literary texts by the playwrights.  



Word count: 408

Key Words: Pragmatics, Context, Ethnography of Communication, Speech acts, Deixis,



1.1      Background to the study

Language is a major means of communication in human discourse and a medium of interacting with one another as rational being. It is indeed a tool of information which use is contingent on contexts. Thus when language is used, certain parameters are taken into consideration. These include: setting, participant and the goal of the discourse among others. An important indication of one’s mastery of language through which those factors can be unravelled is demonstrated in authoring a drama text or playlet. This is because literature mirrors the society.  Therefore, this study aims at analysing two literary texts:  by Keye Abiona and Hendu by Ahmed Yerima from the speech act and ethnography of communication’s perspective.

Several theories abound in the bid to identify the pragmatic meaning of an utterance. Prominent among them are Austin’s and Searle’s classification of speech act, deixis, ethnography of communication. Several models have emerged under each theory. In the course of this study, concentration would be on Dell Hymes’s approach to ethnography of communication by using the S-P-E-A-K-I-N-G grids as means of analysing two literary texts: Even Kins Are Guilty and Hendu. These include: setting, participants and the goal of the discourse among others.

Also, in the course of analysing both texts, Searles classification of Speech acts would be attempted. The locutions, illocutions (forces accompanying the utterances) and the perlocutions (effects of the utterance) would be attempted. Also, the use of deixis, being a useful pragmatic theory would be considered.  Therefore, this study aims at analysing two literary texts: Even Kins Are Guilty by Keye Abiona and Hendu by Ahmed Yerima.

 1.2      Statement of the Problem

Ahmed Yerima’s Hendu is a new text which has not enjoyed any attention from scholars and critics, having been published in 2019. Similarly, Keye Abiona’s Even Kins Are Guilty  has not enjoyed enough patronage from linguists. The present study is an attempt at filling this gap.

 1.3    Research Questions

The study is predicated on the following pertinent questions:

  1. What are the socio- pragmatic imports of the texts?
  2. What are the SPEAKING acronym(s) inherent in the text?
  3. What are the deictic elements in the text?
  4. What are the illocutionary acts in the texts?

1.4      Objective of the study

This study aims at analysing the primary texts from the ethnography of communication’s perspective.

1.5        Scope and Limitation of the study

In scope, this study will cover only Ahmed Yerima and Keye Abiona among other Africanss authors. However, the study is limited to one play each, among many others, produced by the authors.




1.6 Contextualization of the Texts

1.6.1 Even Kins Are Guilty

Even Kin Are Guilty is a traditional play written by Keye Abiona. The play exposes the convolutions surrounding politics in the ancient time.  During the annual festival, at the shrine of Alaye, the chief priest, Fagbemi consults the oracle and warns the king and the chiefs of a stranger. He tells them not to welcome any guest into the land. Not long after the message has been passed, a strange man, Oguntunde, walks into the palace, looking wild and in torn clothes. He dresses in a traditional hunter’s attire with cowries and charm. Oguntunde claims to have been lost during his hunt and has been wandering in the bush for months. After hearing his story, King Adisa decides to let him rest for two days, not minding the words of the oracle. None of the chiefs is willing to accommodate Oguntunde. Therefore, King Adisa is left with no other option than to let him stay in the palace. Here the king himself portrays the act of disobedience, which is one of the themes in the play.

Some days later, Funke, the youngest wife of King Adisa, comes out to the courtyard and picks up a quarrel with Alake, the senior wife on the issue of spreading clothes on the line. Meanwhile Funke is barren and Alake has two children (Omolola and Aremo). As the two wives insult each other, Danidani, the king’s idiot, sees them and alerts the king to the misunderstanding and Adisa furiously shuns them. The next day, Funke is washing some clothes while singing. Oguntunde enters unnoticed and they both exchange pleasantries. As he is about to leave for the farm, he turns again to Funke and asks for the reason she and Alake had a misunderstanding the previous day. She explains the bad attitude of the other wife and lays more emphasis on the part where Alake calls her a barren woman. Hearing this, Oguntunde tries to get close to Funke and tells her that he is a medicine man who has helped many childless women in his village. When Funke hears this, her hope rises and she believes that she has found the solution to her problem of barrenness. But Oguntunde only sees it as the opportunity he has been waiting for, which is to steal the crown and run away. He then asks her to get one of the king’s most important crown, which she succeeds in getting in the middle of the night and the two of them run away with the king’s crown. Later, the king discovers that his crown is missing. This leaves the whole kingdom in chaos.  He is dethroned and asked to look for the crown before he can be enthroned again.  The king, in his devastation, seeks help from his step-brother, Adedeji.

Adedeji goes to Ile-Ife to consult another oracle on behalf of his brother. But his lust for the throne makes him betray his brother. On his way back from Ile-Ife, he conspires and kills Danidani the king’s idiot, and also plans to seize the throne from his brother. This brings about the theme of death and covetousness. On getting back to Elekuru, he lies to King Adisa by telling him to sacrifice his first child, Omolola, in order to get the lost crown. The king eventually agrees to this. He, therefore, lies to Alake, Omolola’s mother, by asking her to prepare Omolola for marriage as the oracle demands. On their way Adedeji aims at the king and shoots him.  Thinking he is dead, Adedeji comes back to the village and takes over the throne and inherits the king’s wife, Alake. He also bribes some chiefs to support him. Unfortunately for him, King Adisa is still alive and he is on the way to the palace with the lost crown. When Adedeji hears this, he is scared and decides to run away.  While he is still panicking, Alake enters the place and he tells her the truth about how he lied about Adisa’s death and also about how Adisa used the daughter as sacrifice. At this point, Alake is already pregnant for Adedeji and the latter devices another plan to poison Adisa. He tells Alake to put poison in the food she and Adisa will eat but gives Alake an antidote to use. This foregrounds the theme of treachery and murder. After they have finally succeeded in killing King Adisa, Adedeji emerges as king once again. Though it is not long after that Aremo, the son of the late King Adisa, comes, kills Adedeji and claims the throne of his father. This culminates into theme(s) of retribution and nemesis.

1.6.2     Hendu

The play, Hendu, begins with Wabiti’s monologue. Wabiti is a fifty-year-old widow who has three children to take care of and has been pitied and taken in by another man. She is paying homage and saying a form of prayer to Inna, for protection over her new house. Her ‘helper’ Garga, who has asked her to be a friend/companion to him, comes in and tells her that she should not be doing such because they are devout Muslims and Allah is their only protector. This brings about the theme of religion. Also at the end of the first dialogue between them, Garga’s real intention for Wabiti (to bring her sadness and gloom) is revealed.

Gambo is introduced in the play as Garga’s friend and accomplice. They both work for politicians to disrupt elections, kidnap and carry out robberies. Also, they rustle cattle because they are Fulani men. This presents the reader with the theme of violence. Wabiti’s children are Chafe, Ngariwa and Kingi. Kingi being the only girl wants to get married, while the boys (Chafe and Ngariwa) want to continue helping with the cattle. They want to leave Garga’s house because they are not comfortable with the idea of living with him, but their mother objects. Wabiti eventually agrees to Kingi’s marriage to the non-Fulanis. Meanwhile, Garga goes to see Shagu, an oracle, asking for power and Shagu says that to get the power; he would need three souls, and that the three souls live in Garga’s house. These souls are Wabiti’s children. He is reluctant at first, but later agrees to use them.

Shagu promises Garga that the children will die in their own path and he will not be implicated. Kingi, who is to spend two days with her prospective husband’s people, goes, and while she is there, the Fulani herdsmen attack Kuru Karama where Kingi is and she is killed there. Wabiti’s first child, Chafe goes to Adamawa where things are good for him, he is slaughtered there, also. Garga who has to have the third soul, wonders why the third child is not dead yet. While he is asking Wabiti questions about her child, he dies. Gambo comes in and tells Wabiti of how he is actually not Garga’s accomplice, but a policeman who was sent to catch Garga, he tells her that Garga was a bad person. He asks her to leave immediately. When she goes in to pack her things, Gambo finds the letter from Shagu, telling Gargo that his soul will be the third if the last child does not die at a particular time. Wabiti overhears Gambo saying that her third child Ngriwa is still alive. He asks her to go to him in Nimbo, to check if he’s still alive because Fulani herdsmen have attacked the place also.

She tells him that he is not in Nimbo but with his cousins in Jingidi. “That’s why Garga could not find him,” he says in a whisper. Gambo does not disclose to her that it was Garga that killed her children. He sends her off to meet her son, saying that place where she is, is no longer safe.

1.7.1  Yerima as an Author

  Ahmed Parker Yerima, professor, playwright and theater director was born 8 May 1957. He attended Baptist Academy and later, Obafemi Awolowo University for his (B.A). He completed his education for (Ph.D) at University College London Royal Holloway, University of London. He is currently a professor of Theater and Performing Arts, and has previously served as director of the National Troupe.

1.7.2 Keye Abiona as an Author

          Keye Abiona is a Nigerian playwright of Yoruba origin. He is a renewed writer, playwright, and a lecturer. He is also the man who brought prestige to the Association of Nigerians Author. He is a professor in the University of Ibadan. He was once an Acting Dean in the University of Ibadan.

1.7 Methodology

The two primary texts: Hendu and Even Kins Are Guilty are first contextualised and later dissected based on the principle of the ethnography of communication. Twenty conversations are selected from each of the texts. These are further used to elucidate the speech act theory by Austin (1962) in order to prove that in saying something, we do something else.