Yoruba people live on the west coast of Africa in Nigeria and can also be found in the eastern Republic of Benin and Togo.
Because the majority of the slaves brought to the Americas were from West Africa, descendants of the Yoruba also be found in Brazil, Cuba, the Caribbean, and the United States.
The bachelor of the reality show My Aftica Love entering Nigeria should be aware of the Yoruba and their culture, because that is most likely where the roots of his ancestry are. There is much more written about this multimillion segment of the Nigerian population, but this is a start.
Yoruba has one of the richest, enduring and perhaps, the most sophisticated ways of life on the continent of Africa. Yoruba have similar culture which is evident in their beliefs, values, customs, practices, and social behaviors; and this is manifested in their arts, music, political institution, local economy, family structure, burial, cuisine, numerals, literature, and other related activities, which defines Yoruba ways of life.
The ways of life of the Yoruba are embedded in their culture, despite several years of struggle with co-existing and contending interests (Christianity, Islam, colonialism, post-colonialism, and industrialization) the culture has survived and become irresistible. In fact, it has become a binding and uniting force for Yoruba at home and abroad.
There are also many Yoruba people currently living in Europe, particularly Britain, since Nigeria was once a British colony. The Yoruba people are one of the largest cultural groups in Africa. Currently, there are about 40 million Yoruba world-wide. The Yoruba people have been living in advanced urban kingdoms for more than 1,500 years. They created a strong economy through farming, trading, and art production. Their outstanding and unique artistic traditions include woodcarving, sculpture, metal work, textiles, and bead work..
West Africans, such as the Yoruba, have lived in urban societies and have produced extraordinary art work since the 5th century BC. During this time, the Yoruba began to use iron to create metal tools and weapons such as machetes, axes, and hoes. These tools made it easier for the Yoruba to farm the land. They planted crops including yams, their staple food. They also harvested the seeds from the palm oil tree. The seeds from this tree produce a vegetable oil that is used for cooking. Kola nuts were also grown and harvested. Soon the Yoruba people began trading with neighboring areas for rice and sorghum. Due to increased agriculture, the Yoruba community began to grow in size and large towns were created. They arranged their communities by clan lines, or extended families. Families who had the same ancestors lived next door to each other in large compounds. An elder was put in charge as the head of the compound. Towns became organized by the type of work that people did.
Oyo was the strongest kingdom with the largest military and political system. The kingdom of Oyo was close to the Niger River. The rich soil in Oyo allowed the people to grow more crops than they needed. This helped the kingdom of Oyo to easily trade with neighboring groups. They also created a strong military. Oyo was in control of 6,600 towns and villages by the end of the 18th century. Internal wars and fighting with neighboring groups, along with the beginning of the slave trade, eventually led to the decline of these great kingdoms.
In the 18th century, European countries were beginning to create colonies all over the world. Europeans were taking villagers from West Africa and bringing them to the New World to be slaves in the new colonies. The British came to Yorubaland in 1852. By 1884 European nations were meeting to discuss how they would break-up Africa into different colonies. The British were granted the right by the other European nations to colonize Yorubaland, and in 1893 Yorubaland became part of a larger colony known officially as Nigeria.
In 1960 Nigeria became an independent country. Ten million Yoruba people were known to live in Nigeria at that time amongst many other ethnic groups. Today, the Yoruba people still continue many of their traditional ways of life. Many Yoruba people live in large towns and cities, and many towns are still based on the extended family dwellings in compounds. Lagos is the largest city in Nigeria and over ten million people live there, including a large Yoruba population. Many Yoruba people today are still employed as carvers, blacksmiths, farmers, weavers, and leather workers. Today, the Yoruba people still make some of the world’s greatest works of art.
Every culture has stories that explain how the universe was created. This is one version of a creation story that is told by the Yoruba to explain the beginning of the universe.Olorun lived in the sky with all the other gods. He told Orisanla, the god of whiteness, to create the earth for him. Olorun gave Orisanla some soil, a chain, a five toed chicken, and a snail shell and sent him on his way. When Orisanla got to the gates of heaven he noticed some other god having a party. He stopped to chat with the other gods for a bit and drank some of their palm wine. Orisanla became from the palm wine and fell asleep. Orisanla’s younger brother Odua noticed his brother fast asleep. He took all the things that Olorun had given him and went to the edge of the heaven with Chameleon.
Odua dropped the chain and climbed down, throwing some of the soil onto the water.
He then released the chicken and the chicken scratched out the earth, expanding it in many directions until the ends of the earth were made. Chameleon then stepped upon the earth to make sure that it was stable. Odua followed and settled at a place called Idio.
Orisanla soon woke and realized what happened. From that time on Orisanla put a taboo on palm wine. Even today those who worship Orisanla are forbidden from drinking palm wine. Orisanla came down to claim the earth but his brother, Odua demanded that he was to be the owner of the earth since he had created it. The two brothers quite drunk continued fighting until Olorun heard them and called them to report to him. Olorun granted Odua the right to own the earth and rule over it. Olorun then told Orisanla that he would become the creator of mankind. In order to keep peace amongst the two brothers Olorun sent them back to earth with Sango, the God of Thunder; Ifa the God of Divination; and Eleshije, the God of Medicine.
There are many important Yoruba deities. Esu acts as a messenger for the other deities and he is also a great trickster. He assists Olorun and the other gods by causing trouble for people who offend them or fail to worship them. Everyone prays to Esu so that he will not harm them.
The Divination Ceremony
Divination depends on interpreting marks made on the divination tray. Divining powder is used to make these marks. Sixteen palm nuts from the African palm tree are the most important of all the objects used in divination. Palm nuts are a symbol of Ifa, the God of Divination. The diviner tries to pick up all sixteen palm nuts in his right hand. If one nut remains in his left hand he makes a double mark in wood dust on his tray; if two remain, he makes a single mark. The diviner recites a verse based on the marks made. These verses act as the advice to help solve the person’s problem.