The Tiv Concept of a Good Man:

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Obviously, the concept Goodman calls to mind the knowledge of ethics. It tries to draw the attention of every one to the ethical theories, in relation to value placement. These theories such as Hedonism, utilitarianism Epicureanism, eudemonism to mention a few, evolve around the consideration of what is good to be done and acceptable and what is evil or bad to be avoided and rejected. Thus, in Tiv conception, what is bad is regarded as “kwagh u bo”. He who does what is good is said to be “or u dedoo” (Goodman) or “or u eren kwagh u dedoo”. The knowledge of what is good “dedoo” or “doo” is concluded with the generic experience of the people. The yardstick is thus what is generally accepted as “doo”. The knowledge of what is bad-“ubo” is also guaranteed within the prerequisite of generic experience of the people. To this effect Anshi observed that, “that which is generally rejected as “u bo” (bad) stands as abominable within the Tiv society (52). It is on the above notion that this paper tends to discuss the Tiv concept of Goodman bringing out the qualities in question, taking cognizance of the African ethical perspectives. Meanwhile the paper has been divided into segments as shown below;


Obviously, the term moral, etymologically is derived from Greek “ethos or ethikos” meaning character or manners. The above etymologies suggest that the ethic refers to one’s own relationship to his and other manners or customs. Moral deal with the question of what is right and good, and what is wrong and evil in human conduct. Thus, just like other races, African peoples have a deep sense of right and wrong. In one of his writings mbiti postulates that people have produced customs, rules, laws, traditions and taboos which can be observed in each society” (175). In as much as African world view is concerned, their moral values embedded in the system of behavior and conduct.

According to African belief system, the individual does not have an independent moral conscience of his own, so to say. His moral consciousness is tied to the laid down traditional precepts of the society. As long as he obeys them he is considered a good man. This he enjoys the benefits of obedience. In the instance of deviation he is considered a bad person and thus is responsible for the severe consequences (Anshi 55).

It is known that morals deal with human conduct. This conduct has two dimensions; there is personal conduct, which has to do specifically with the life of the individual. For example, he would ask himself whether it is right or wrong for him to eat, work in his field to visit the doctor or medicine man when he is sick and so on. Then it is certain to note that there is social conduct. It is important to recall that greater number of moral have to do with social conduct. That is the life of society at large, the conduct of individuals within the group or community or nation. The African morals lay a great emphasis on social conduct, since the basic African view is that the individual exists only because others exist. It is the belief of Africans that because of great emphasis on one’s relationship with other people, morals have been evolved in order to keep society not only alive but in harmony. It therefore means that one’s conduct has to conform with the general conduct or behaviour of the entire society he finds himself. Thus such a person would earn himself the description, a good man.

Thus, when we talk of African ethics, we simply mean the set of rules or code of conduct by which the African society is governed or regulated. It covers those aspects of actions that are in agreement or disagreement with the way in which an African should act. It is a system of mores which spell out the behaviour of those who are Africans and which essence is to promote the interest, the general harmony and well being of...
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