The Yoruba people of Western Nigeria are a nationality of approximately 35 million people occupying the south-western parts of Nigeria. While their primary concentration is in Nigeria, they are also found in other West African countries and throughout the entire world as well. They constitute what could be described as the largest concentration of Africans who live and work in the Diaspora and their descendants are spread all over the world. But what are some of the notable facts about the Yoruba People? Well, here is a look at the top five facts about them.
They are one of the largest ethnic groups in Africa.
Numbering about 35 million in total, the Yoruba is one of the largest ethnic groups south of the Sahara Desert. They constitute about 21% of Nigeria’s total population, making them one of the largest ethnic groups in Nigeria. Contrary to what many people believe, the Yoruba are, in fact, not a single ethnic group. In a sharp contrast, they are a collection of diverse people who are bound together by a common language, culture and history. According to the Yoruba Mythology, it is believed that they descended from an area called Odua. Uncounted numbers of Yorubas were carried to the Caribbean and the Americas during slave trade period. In 1893, the Yoruba Kingdom became part of the British Protectorate.
They still cling to their culture.
Irrespective of modernisation, the Yoruba people still hold their culture and traditions so dearly. For instance, the art of passage of rite is still rife among the Yorubas and is still a common practice even to date. When a new baby is born, it is sprinkled with water until he or she cries failure to which no word is spoken until he or she does so. At a birth ceremony, no one younger than the baby’s mother is permitted. After a specified number of days have elapsed, a naming ceremony is held where close relatives are invited. Both male and female babies are circumcised within the first month.
Another notable culture among the Yorubas is the burial as a rite of passage. Adult men who are not closely related to the deceased, but who belong to the deceased’s clan are allowed to attend the burial. The grave is dug inside the deceased’s house. Later, several rituals are performed to ensure that the deceased is reborn.
Majority of Yorubas still practice traditional religion.
Even though a good number of Yoruba people practice Christianity, up to 20% of the Yoruba population still practice traditional forms of religion. However, this practice varies from one community to another. For instance, they claim that they have more than 400 deities. This complexity has led westerners to compare their religion to that of ancient Greek. Their tradition holds that there is only one supreme being or god called Olorun. In addition, there are three gods available to all. Oluron is the creator and the high god. The Yoruba call on this god by prayers or by pouring water on the ground using kola nuts. Eshu is the divine god who delivers special sacrifices to the high god, Olorun. Isha, on the other hand, is the god of divination. He interprets Olorun’s wishes to mankind.
The Yoruba have a strong political system.
The Yoruba are one of the few African people who have strong, united political and social systems. However, their political and social system varies significantly, depending largely on regions. In addition, allegiance to these systems is paid uniformly to a large urban area, as opposed to a centralised authority. Each town has a leader called Oba, who achieves this position by being selected by an Oba who is in power, by inheritance or by participating title associations. There is also a council of elders which assists the Oba with decision-making. Title associations play an important role when it comes to balancing and assigning power within different cities.
The Yoruba are gifted sculptors.
The art of sculpture is not a new concept among the Yoruba people. They started creating sculpture as early as the 12th century and continue to do so even now. In order to honour their several deities, gods and ancestors, the Yoruba’s make magnificent sculptures. Beautiful sculptures of wood, brass and terracotta are common things among the Yoruba. In addition to that, they are also good porters, weavers and metal smiths.