The Yoruba tribe is one of the most unique and well known tribes in West Africa and Africa in general. It is an Ethnic group with rich and ancient customs and traditions. They are found in the Southwestern and North-central region of Nigeria.
In this article, I’m going to share with you some of the rich cultures and traditions of the Yorubas and also the funniest part of what makes the Yoruba culture unique and distinct.
Let’s briefly go through the origin of the Yoruba Ethnic group.
⚡️ The Yoruba tribe reportedly constitute over 40 million people generally, including those in Southern and Central Benin.
⚡️ According to research, the Yoruba group boasts of 21% of the population in Nigeria, making them a major tribe and one of the largest ethnic groups in the western African country.
⚡️There are two major groupings of Yoruba people in the diaspora; the first group is known as recent migrants and they are made up of Yorubas who migrated to the United Kingdom and the United States in the 1960s to 1980s as a result of major economic and political changes. The second group consists of Yorubas who were part of the Atlantic slave trade.
⚡️According to history, The Yoruba kingdoms were a part of the British Protectorate during the imperial era in Africa. They strongly believe they descended from Oduduwa.
⚡️Ancient Yoruba practised polygyny, the men were allowed to marry more than one wife, while also treating them equally, although competitions were evident among wives in order to secure preference for their children.
⚡️As in 2010, records had it that about the number of Yoruba language speakers was put at 30 million. While we are yet to confirm if this figure actually increased or dwindled over the years, we make bold to affirm that the majority of Yoruba people are native speakers of the Yoruba language.
⚡️Interestingly, many Yoruba words are used in the Afro-Brazilian religion known as Candomblé and in many other Afro-American religions in the Americas and the Caribbean.
Funny 😄 facts. Try not to laugh or you lose 😅
⚡️Mode of Greeting⚡️
Boys; They lay down flat on the ground when greeting the elders. It is believed that respect is very essential to the elders and aged. Unlike our present day society, we use a handshake or just “Holla” at someone.
Girls; The females of the Yoruba ethnic group also have a high sense of morals. They are well brought up by their parents, especially their mothers, who train them to be submissive to their husbands and be 100% loyal. Their mode of greeting is by kneeling on the ground (their two knees touching down)
I’m pretty sure that you eat your food with a fork,spoon or knife, or maybe both. But can you imagine some set of people eating their food without using any of these cutleries?
The Yoruba natives literally eat their food with their hands! Imagine the hot food that’s straight from the steaming pot, being handled by the hand! Funny, isn’t it? Well, I’ve done it before anyways…lol, and I’m still going to do it time after time after time, because it’s culture! It’s my tradition! And I’m going to teach my children that.
You wanna know something?
When the food is ready in my Yoruba culture, we bring a large bowl to put the food in. We don’t share different portions to individual plates, like you do. We just put the whole food in a large bowl and scoop it up from there. P.S; all family members (extended) surround the bowl..lol.
So you can imagine how big the bowl would be, how big the family would be and how big the food would be!!
One time, my mum was eating from the big bowl, like everyone else, in my family. Then, her elder brother had a runny nose, and as he was eating, Phlegm actually came out from his nose and dropped in the big bowl of food! But guess what?? They didn’t stop eating. They continued eating like that!
When it’s time for the sharing of meat, the parents cut the meat into smaller sizes, and the eldest sibling is allowed to pick first. Then it comes down, by age, to the youngest sibling.
☘️lessons to learn from this
This eating habit promotes Unity amongst members. The family members, eating from the same bowl, means that they get to live with each other and accept each other’s flaws by the power of togetherness. Also, the division of meat means Respect among the siblings. Maybe that’s why I have so much respect for everyone…haha…😅
Okay, we have a unique and exciting game and I would share it with you, in case you have interest or you want to teach your children to play it, don’t worry, if you have any trouble in the game, you can contact me right away.
⚡️The AYO game⚡️
Ayo Olopon is a traditional game played by the Yoruba people of Nigeria. It is a game that requires a lot of brain power and mathematical skill. Ayo is played in a carved wooden box, containing twelve holes (six holes on each side), and forty-eight Ayo seeds (four seeds in each hole).
Ayo game, is a game played in a carved wooden box, containing twelve holes (six holes on each side), and forty-eight Ayo seeds (four seeds in each hole). Two individuals take turns playing this game, which runs anti clockwise.
The first player begins by moving seeds from his right hand side to the opponent’s side. If the seed-movement terminates in a hole with three or less Ayo seeds, this player picks up the seeds, and seeds from preceding holes, if any.
Players take turns until the seeds are exhausted. The player with the upper hand is called Ọta, and the weak or the losing player is called Ope. Spectators’ comments on the direction of the game add colour to the game.
If a player records three straight wins, he becomes a champion (Ọta meaning bullet), the loser (Ope meaning ‘knowledgeable’) quits; a new player takes over.
Ayo game requires deep thought, and good strategy to move seeds with the ultimate aim to win. Ayo, a relaxation game is played by everyone (originally only men); the meeting point is usually under a big tree with shade or restaurant.
1. The daughter of Adenike ☘️
Adenike was a woman with the spirit of a Lioness. She was so energetic at doing things that even the warriors of the land feared her greatly. It was because of her hard work that she accumulated riches and favour from people in and around her town. But in spite of all these attributes, Adenike was barren. Her husband died years ago from a rare disease, and she brought herself up from her low status to someone of reputation in her society. Meanwhile, Adenike had a female servant. She did all her daily routines with her maid but it didn’t match the actual feeling of owning a biological child.
One day, as Adenike was preparing to go to her Cocoa farm, she hit a jar of palm oil and she couldn’t behold what she saw!
She saw the palm oil spill on the ground and out of the oil, formed a beautiful young girl. The girl was so pretty and beautiful. Adenike took this girl by the hand and vowed to keep her as her(Adenike) own daughter. She cried for joy and named her Tinuoluwa.
Adenike was foolish because she made her daughter (Tinuoluwa) spoilt and made the servant do all the house chores, especially the tasks of her daughter.
Adenike would leave her daughter at home and take the servant to the farm to do the tedious tasks. She would instruct the servant to cook and take care of Tinuoluwa, like she’s a five years old.
Of course, these all made the servant unhappy and jealous.
One day, when Adenike had carried her tools to go to the farm, the servant saw it as an opportunity to make her daughter do some house chores. She told Tinuoluwa to come and blow the firewood for the preparation of food. But Tinuoluwa hesitated bluntly. She claimed that if she moved near the fire, she would melt and turn back to palm oil.
The servant didn’t believe her and she told Tinuoluwa that she was just being lazy and spoiled.
The servant got hold of Tinuoluwa and dragged her towards the fire (with Tinuoluwa crying for help) when Tinuoluwa got near the fire, she began to melt.
The servant was scared and she took to her heels. Tinuoluwa was gone. Dead. Turned back to palm oil.
Meanwhile, a bird which witnessed all that happened, flew down and dipped his tail into the palm oil (Tinuoluwa’s palm oil) and flew to meet Adenike at her farm. As the bird was approaching Adenike, the bird was singing
“come and see, come and see. Your daughter has turned back to oil. She is no more. The beautiful Tinuoluwa is no more…..”
Adenike, on hearing this, left all that she was doing and ran to her home, but it was too late, all she found was black oil on the ground. Her beautiful Palm oil daughter is no more.
Moral lesson 🌺
- When you spare the rod, you spoil the child. Discipline your children to do what they ought to.
- Do not be jealous of another person. Whatever you do, do it with a clean heart. Whatever is worth doing, worth doing well. Don’t envy anyone badly. You can put the person in trouble and you might hate yourself for doing that.
2. The Story of Oluronbi ☘️
A long time ago, there was a village where the majority of the women were barren; these women wanted children desperately. In the village, there was a big Iroko tree with a powerful spirit living in it. The women gathered together and decided to ask the Iroko tree spirit for assistance.
One after the other, they visited the Iroko tree and asked for help. The Iroko tree said he’d help out if the women gave something in return for the child. Each woman promised the Iroko tree spirit different things like goats, yams, chickens, clothes and whatever they could afford.
A woman named Oluronbi also asked the Iroko tree for help. When the Iroko tree spirit asked her what she would give in return for a child, out of desperation, she offered her first child.
After nine months, many of the women who approached the spirit began to bear children so they returned to the Iroko tree to fulfill their promises. But when it was time for Oluronbi to fulfill her promise, she realized she couldn’t give away her first born. So she went to the Iroko tree to plead her case. She told the Iroko tree spirit she was ready to offer anything and everything but not her child. However, the tree spirit refused to be implored by her pleas and took Oluronbi’s child.
This saddened Oluronbi greatly and the villagers sang a song as a reminder of the event.
The song goes thus:
Oníkálukú jèjé ewúré
Others offered sheep
Oníkálukú jèjé àgùtàn, àgùtàn bòlòjò
Others offered goats
Olúrónbí jèjé omo re
Oluronbi offered her child
Omo re a pón bí epo
Her beautiful child
Olúrónbí ò jo jo
Ìrókò jo jo.
Moral Lesson: Think carefully before you make a promise to anyone. Make sure you can and will fulfill your promise when the need arises.
Source: connect Nigeria
3. The Story Of Creation ☘️
Every culture has its own creation story, which is its belief of how the world and everything came to be.
For the Yorubas, in the beginning, the gods originally lived in the sky and the only thing below them was water. The Sky God, Olorun, gave the God of Whiteness, Orisala, a chain, a bit of earth in a snail shell, and a five-toed chicken. He then instructed Orisala to go down and create the earth.
On Orisala’s way to create the earth, he approached the gate of heaven and witnessed some divinities having a party so he stopped to greet them. The divinities offered him palm wine which he accepted; he drank too much and fell asleep. His younger brother, Odua spotted him sleeping so he took the materials and went to the edge of heaven. Odua was accompanied by Chameleon (Oga). Odua let down the chain he had taken from Orishala and descended on it with the Chameleon (Oga). Odua then tossed the piece of earth on the water and placed the five-toed chicken on it. The chicken began to scratch the earth, dispersing it in all directions. Then, Chameleon tested the firmness of the earth; when it was firm enough, Odua stepped down. And the earth was therefore formed.
Source : connect Nigeria
The Yoruba culture is very broad and wide. It’s so wide that I can write and publish a book on it. I just wanted you to know that there’s a unique culture and tradition of some people in the African continent.
I want you to know more about my culture, I know that you must have been fascinated, excited, and relatively shocked at the facts that you’ve just read about the Yoruba culture. Well, I also marveled when I got to know some of my Ethnic group’s (Yoruba) customs.
The Yoruba custom is something that I’m proud to be a part of. I have many folktales in my head. And if you contact me, I can entertain you with them. You will laugh, cry and learn valuable life lessons.