Exploring Unique Yoruba Culture & Foods
The Yorubas, one of Africa’s largest ethnic groups, are believed to be descendants of a hero called Odua or Oduduwa. They consist of diverse people who are bound together with the same language, history and culture. Studies have shown that most Yoruba people live in Nigeria, while others can be found in smaller countries like Benin and Togo, close to Nigeria, as well as overseas.
One of the most admirable traits of this ethnic group is their high inclination for education.
Just like most other ethnic groups, the Yorubas have their own unique cuisine that are specially for them. The rich Yoruba culture and traditions govern every Yoruba person from childhood to adulthood.
Now let’s get you familiar with the ethnic group in case you find yourself in their midst.
Greetings in Yoruba Language
If you find yourself in a Yoruba-dominated community or city like Lagos, you need to know how to greet anyone you meet so they can be more welcoming and helpful more than you will your need at that moment.
Below is a filled table on the appropriate things to say at different period and for different reasons:
How To Say Good Morning To Your Peers: k’áàárọ To An Older Person: Ẹ k’áàárọ
How To Say Good Afternoon (From
12 Noon To 4.00pm)
To Your Peers: k’áàsan To An Older Person: Ẹ k’áàsan
How To Say Good Evening (From
4.00pm – 6.30pm) To Your Peers : kú irọlẹ To An Older Person: Ẹ kú irọlẹ
How To Say Good Evening (From
Dusk – 11:59Pm)
To Your Peers: k’áalẹ To An Older Person: Ẹ k’áalẹ
How To Say Good Night (or See you
in the morning)
To Your Peers: O d’aarọ To An Older Person: O d’aarọ (Sir/ma)
For New Year
When People Say: “Ẹ ku ọdun, e ku iyèdún”. Your Response Should Be : “ Ẹ se, Ọdun á yabo”. (Thank you, the year shall be fruitful).
How To Say Good Bye
Ó d’àbọ (Bye for now).
The above are basic words you use to exchange greetings in Yoruba. Though different sub groups within this ethnic group have unique ways of exchanging greetings, but the ones provided above are the general ones understood by all which you can use at different times and for different purposes as clearly explained above.
Yoruba’s Traditional Wears
Yoruba people are very skilled at weaving clothes. They make colorful fabrics with intriguing geometric designs in different colors called ‘aso oke’, which is used by both male and female to sew their cultural outfit.
Aso oke can be used for sewing caps or ‘fila’, shorts and long shits or gowns that can be folded along the arms, called ‘agbada’. Both can be worn by men.
Aso oke can be used for sewing loose-fitting short sleeved blouse called ‘buba’ and a longer piece of fabric used as a wrapper. A long shawl called ‘iborun’ or ‘ipele’ of this same material can be tied on the head elaborately as ‘gele’ while another is used by nursing mothers to carry their babies or placed over the shoulders or around the waist.
Some Taboos in Yoruba Culture
1. Same-sex marriage
Although this has been legalized in some tribes and countries, it is considered forbidden among the Yoruba people.
2. Strapped babies must not fall from their mothers’ backs
If this happens to a female child, it is believed that when she grows up into a lady, seven (7) of her male partners will die during sexual intercourse before she is free from any curse or impending doom, while for a male child, it takes the death of nine (9) wives before he can be free. That is why women are usually advised to strap their children tightly to their backs.
A mother can save her child immediately he or she falls off her back by running into the market without clothes on 7 times if it’s a female (because she has 7 ribs) or 9 times if it is a male (because he has 9 ribs). It is believed this will cancel any unfortunate occurrence from happening in future.
3. Suicide is forbidden
If this happens, the dangling body of such a person will be left hanging until several rites are performed to cleanse the land off whatever ill will the taboo of suicide may attract. Only after that is done will the body be buried in the forest to appease the gods. This will give the name of the deceased’s family a taint forever in the community.
4. Pregnant women must not walk in day light.
Pregnant women are not expected to go out within the hours of 12pm and 3 pm, as it is believed that evil spirits roam about during that period, and may enter into the womb of such a woman to attack the fetus, which can lead to the birth of a malformed baby. But such woman can walk at the above-mentioned time if she fastens a piece of stone or safety pin to her wrapper, along her abdomen area to ward off evil spirits.
5. The corpse of a drowned person cannot be brought home but buried near the river.
6. A king must not look inside his crown unless he is ready to die.
Unique Foods of the Yoruba People
The Yoruba tribe is known for their diverse foods and generous use if ‘iru’ also called ‘African locust beans’ which serve as a food sweetener in cooking their meals. Spicy foods have also been associated with this tribe.
Here are some of the foods common to the Yoruba people:
Amala, gbegiri and ewedu soup
Amala is a meal made from locally made flour, either from plantain, yam or cassava and is prepared by boiling in hot water and stirring till a sticky and evenly dense paste is produced.
Gbegiri on the other hand is prepared from severely mashed beans, cooked in a soup form.
Ewedu soup is made from jute leaves which are boiled and mashed with a specially made broom.
History has it that ‘Amala’ was first prepared in the year 1052 by Aduke Agbedegbeyo in Atakumosa local government located in osun state, during the reign of sango.
While ‘Gbegiri ‘was first prepared by Aduke Onibudo, In 1156 at Tonkere village, in Ibadan west local government of Oyo state.
The two was first matched and eaten together by Abolonjeku of molete when he visited Tonkere in 1156. The origin of ewdu soup remains unknown.
This ancient combo is eaten and loved by Yoruba people and other tribes today.
This is a beignet made from grated water yam, fried in palm oil or vegetable oil and seasoned to taste. It originated from the ijebu people.
Also called ifokore, is a delicacy made from water yam and originated from the ijebu people of Ogun state. It’s a yam pottage deliciously seasoned to taste.
4. Efo Riro/ Efo elegusi
Eforiro is the grandest soup in all of Yoruba land, this soup is so old that no one knows for sure where it originated from. It consists leafy vegetables mostly. It is taken best with iyan, eba, fufu, amala , semovita and wheat.
5. Ewa Agonyin
This is beans served with a delicious stew and freshly baked bread. Ewa means ‘beans’ and Agonyin’ is the place where the beans originated from; a name used to describe people from Benin republic, Togo and Cameroon. It was introduced to the Yoruba people’s diet by the Agonyin.
With all we have discussed above, you should know how to greet in Yoruba language, know some of their cultures and their foods by now.
Exploring Unique Yoruba Culture & Foods