A popular Arabic proverb says, رحلة الألف ميل تبدأ بخطوة واحدة (‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.’) and a Nigerian Yoruba one says, Okùn ò lè gùn gùn gùn kí ó má níbi a ti fà á wá (‘A rope can’t be so long that it won’t have a point from which it started to be drawn.’). April 30, 2017 was the starting point of the African Proverbs and Phraseology Society (AFRICAPPS). On this day, Dr. Jean-Philippe Zouogbo of Université Paris Diderot-Sorbonne Paris Cité, France, took the critical first step of sending an e-mail to Dr. Folajoke Bestman of Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria, whom he met in 2011 at the International Conference of Paremiology in Paris which Dr. Zouogbo organised. In the e-mail, he canvassed the establishment of an African proverbs and phraseology association as had happened in various other parts of the world. Dr. Bestman referred him to Professor Yisa Kehinde Yusuf, who had organised an international proverb conference at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, in 2006 and another at the University of Ilorin, Ilorin, also in Nigeria, in 2012. On May 3, 2017, Professor Yusuf wrote to Dr. Zouogbo commending the idea and pledging to work with him to make it a reality. Meanwhile, Dr. Zouogbo had also received the support of Professor Mona Noueshi of Cairo University, Egypt, for the creation of the association.
Work then started between Ile-Ife, Paris and Cairo to get the association a name and plan a conference for 2018. Since, as the English proverb says, “Many hands make light work” and, as the Ivory Coast Bété one says, Gnòkpòbhló ō lòbhò lò lō, ne dugnan klekle đhu lò (‘One person alone kills the elephant; the community as a whole eats its meat.’), further contacts were made to three other intellectual proverb enthusiasts: Dr. ’Yomi Daramola and Professor Babafemi Odunsi, both of Obafemi Awolowo University, and Professor Akin Odebunmi of the University of Ibadan, Nigeria.
A brief profile of each of these Founding Members of AFRICAPPS is presented below:
Folajoke BESTMAN, Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife, Nigeria
’Yomi DARAMOLA, Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife, Nigeria
Mona NOUESHI, Faculty of Arts Cairo University
Akin ODEBUNMI, University of Ibadan, Nigeria
Babafemi ODUNSI, Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife, Nigeria
Yisa Kehinde YUSUF, Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife, Nigeria
Jean-Philippe ZOUOGBO, Université Paris Diderot-Sorbonne Paris Cité