A Discourse on the Nature of Crime and Punishment in the Administration of Social Justice in an African Culture

  • Ayọdele Shotunde Department of Philosophy, University of Lagos, Nigeria
Keywords: Crime, Punishment, Social Justice, Yorùbá Culture


Ideally, crime connotes violation of a given statute while punishment is the penalty meted out to a criminal to correct the culprit and deter potential offenders. However, the administration of punishment varies from culture to culture. The variation in culture and value in the context of commensurability of a given punishment to the degree of the offence committed has made the administration of crime and punishment cumbersome. While some cultures recognise the need for punishment to be complemented by forgiveness without undermining the delivery of social justice, others do not. This article evaluates the nature of crime and punishment in the administration of social justice from the perspective of an African culture. The paper adopts the critical and prescriptive methodology. It submits that it is important to take an insightful look at the traditional Yoruba conception of crime and punishment given its embedded spirit of forgiveness which appears to run contrary to the dominant contemporary western values. It concludes that such approach, if carefully considered, has the potential of fostering better social ethics in contemporary society.