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 things you need to know about them.
Yoruba People – Who Are They?
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 America during slave trade period. In 1893, the Yoruba Kingdom became part of the British Protectorate.
Yoruba women are generally beautiful and hardworking. Just as their men, the Yoruba women are expected to be respectful of their elders, and when the time for marriage comes, the women just as the men are expected to marry. Among the most popular Yoruba women right now are media mogul Mo Abudu who has been recognized by the Forbes magazine as the most successful African woman, and one of the richest woman in the world, Folorunsho Alakija.
They Still Cling to Their Culture and Traditions
Irrespective of modernization, the Yoruba people still hold their culture and traditions so dearly. For instance, the art of passage of rite is still rife among the Yoruba 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 Yoruba 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. Olorun 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 to different cities.
They are Gifted Sculptors.
The art of sculpture is not a new concept among the Yoruba people. They started creating sculptures 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 metalsmiths.
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1. They form one of the three major tribes in Nigeria and they are found mostly in the Southern part of the country.
2. Apart from Nigeria, the Yoruba people are also found in Togo, Benin, Ghana, North America, and even the UK in large numbers.
3. While generally found under the umbrella as Yorubas, different areas have their separate dialects that are all closely related.
4. Even as there is the acceptance of Christianity and Islam, the Yoruba people still hold their traditional religion very close.
5. They are good sculptors and craftsmen.
6. The Yoruba people believe that they are descendants of Oduduwa.