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Yoruba People

Yoruba People

Yoruba people are a set of people concentrated majorly in the south-western states of Oyo, Osun, Ekiti, Ondo, Ogun and Lagos with over 40 million in population. The peculiar thing about this tribe is they have spread out in other African countries e.g Togo, Cote d’Ivoire, Benin, Ghana, and CapeVerde islands and up to South American countries of Brazil and Jamaica. Very interesting.

They are very cultured, very Urbanized and educated. In fact, statistics show that they are one of the most urbanized and educated sets of tribes in Africa and the world at large.

History of the Yoruba People

From all facts and figures, the history of the Yoruba people can be streamlined into Two:
1. The mythology
2. The documented facts

The Mythology

Mythology means stories that are not documented in a particular form of writing. Just a set of spoken words passed down from generation to generation. The stories might differ from each other.

1. The Ile-Ife folklore myths

The father of the Yoruba people I.e the founder is popularly known as Oduduwa. In the folk-lore story of Ile-Ife Oduduwa is seen as a servant of Obatala who is referred to as a supreme being or god. He was said to have sent his trusted and loyal servant Oduduwa to rule the earth. It is believed Oduduwa came by climbing down through a long chain stretching down from heaven to the earth.

According to the tale, he landed in present-day Ile-Ife, one of the oldest cities in Nigeria. Many believe Ile-ife (in Osun state Nigeria) was the first land to be inhabited by humans. Relics of the said chain are still found in Ile-Ife in the present day.

2.The Benin myths

Benin Empire, an ancient Nigerian empire also has a similar tale. Myths in Benin recounts how oduduwa was a crown prince of Benin. But due to a fracas in the palace that led to a plot to murder his father, they decided to usher him out for safety.

Yoruba history has it that he left with his subjects to an unknown land which is believed to be Ile-Ife where he established his Kingdom and expanded to other parts of Nigerian states, even up to Togo and the likes.

3. The mecca(medina)myths
Other people in a story believed oduduwa was from mecca and his father was lamurudu. He was a powerful man who decided to go and established his Kingdom and in his sojourn got to a place known as Ile-Ife and fought the indigenes, subdued them and established a kingdom.

These Myths have some iota of facts which are:

1. Oduduwa is unarguably the father and founder of the Yoruba tribe
2. Yoruba’s existence started from Ile-Ife.

Documented History of the Yoruba People.

The Old Oyo Empire.
The old Oyo empire was one of the largest Yoruba empires of all time. Now known as Benin in Northcentral Nigeria. It actually grew to be the largest Yoruba state. Established In the 12th century.

It (Oyo) rose to become a mighty power through the administrative skills, trade capacity and warfighting prowess of the Yoruba people.

The Oyo Empire was very politically powerful as it ruled the region for over 300 years Spanning from the 15th century to the 18th century. It even spread it’s tentacles to other African regions of fon and Dahomey found in the country of Benin.

Ibadan was the central power capital of the Oyo empire then. But what made such a powerful empire become non-existent?

The Fall of The Old Oyo Empire

The struggle for its mighty wealth brought strife, envy, and Jealousy among power brokers who wanted it all.

A bloody and very bitter conflict broke out during the reign of Alaafin Abiodun the royal king of Oyo. The events of this conflict led to secessions I.e separation.

The Alaafin and the warlord, Aare, Onakankanfo, Afonja and very powerful chief developed issues among themselves. Afonja’s quest for position and wealth was unquantifiable and saw Alaafin as a very big stumbling block to realizing his dreams.

This became an issue where power brokers sided both parties accordingly. These resulted in confusion, chaos and other subjects to Alaafin ridiculing him by seceding, creating their own kingdoms.

Afonja in his quest to dethrone Alaafin hired the services of Fulani mercenaries but later they revolted against him and murdered him in one of the most brutish ways with over 100 arrows shot at him. Sadly the Oyo empire was finally razed down with fire by the Nupes in 1896.

What is the Religion of the Yoruba People

Yoruba people are one of the most diverse people when it comes to religion in Africa. Its religion is based mostly on traditional and spiritual concepts.


The traditional concept of the Yoruba religion is based on belief and values on a particular premium that there are particular spirits ruling the universe. I will especially lay emphasis on the major ones.

1. Olodumare

Also referred to as the supreme being he is referred to the highest God who created everything and rules over everything. He is believed to have subjects who he delegates some work to. He is the most referenced by the Yoruba. He is also referred to as eleda (the creator of men). You would always see Yorubas appeasing Olodumare in all they do.

2. Orisa
orisa is believed to be the subjects of Olodumare and they are can be categorized into
1. Ogun- the god of metal
2. Sango- the god of thunder and lightning
3. Eesu – the trickster who brings the wish of men to the gods.
4. Yemoja- the half-human/half-fish who controls the sea and water bodies.

However, this traditional religion got watered down by colonization. Colonialism brought other religions like Christian and the Islamic religion.

Both of them have over the years relegated the traditional ones to the background with lots of people embracing the Christian/Islamic religions in the Yoruba nation.

More about Religion in Nigeria here

Yoruba People’s Culture

The Yoruba culture is a very versatile one, I will just highlight the major ones.

1. Fashion
The way the Yoruba people dress is very distinct. The Yoruba men are well known for their Buba and Sokoto as well as dansiki and most especially their agbadas. The women folks are known mainly for their exquisite iro and buba and gele which they use to make events and gathering colorful.

2. Wedding ceremonies
The Yoruba people are really known for organizing great wedding ceremonies. One of the characteristics of the wedding is the dowry payment. Also the ekun iyawo- This is the tears of the bride for leaving her father’s house.

3. Naming ceremonies
This is the celebration associated with giving birth. The Yoruba’s celebrate after 7 days of the child’s birth with plum and pageantry.

The Yoruba people do have special delicacies. Ranging from moin-moin to akara both beans cake. Also, other delicacies include soups like egusi (melon), Efo-riro (vegetables ). Others include Amala made with yam and fufu also made with yam. The most special delicacy of the Yoruba, however, is Iyan(pounded yam) any event without pounded yam is not regarded as no show.

Though the Yoruba have blended their events and homes with foreign foods like Jollof rice, fried rice and the likes spaghetti and so. In conclusion, the Yorubas can be seen as very retrospective.

What are Yoruba people famous for.

The Yoruba people are well famous for their very organized way of doing things. Also, the level of education as premium is laid on been educated. Their weddings, naming, and parties generally. Also, the family sector of the Yorubas is also very known.

Lastly, their talking drum, the Yoruba talking drum is known all over the world. It is regarded as the only drum whose sound as meaning in words All over the world.

Lastly the basic Yoruba languages

The basic Yoruba language is just mainly one. Which is referred to as Ede Yoruba? It is generally spoken all over by the Yoruba. Though intonations, sounds, and spelling may be different but have the same meaning.
Woow in conclusion the Yoruba story is almost inexhaustible I hoped you have learned one or two things. Thanks

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