A to Z challenge · Bloggers · languages

Y is for … Yorùbá

Blogging from A to Z

Theme: Languages of the World


Yorùbá (èdè Yorùbá) is a member of the Benue-Congo branch of the Niger-Congo language family. It is spoken by some 28 million people, most of whom live in Nigeria. It is also spoken in Benin, Siera Leon, Togo, United Kingdom, USA.

Even though the official language of Nigeria is English, Yorùbá together with Igbo and Hausa are quazi-official languages that serve as lingua francas for speakers of the 400 odd languages spoken in Nigeria. In southwest Nigeria where most of Yorùbá speakers are concentrated, Yorùbá, although not an official language, is used in government administration, print and electronic media, at all levels of education, in literature and in film.

Code-switching between Yorùbá and English is a way of life for educated Yorùbá-English bilinguals. They use Yorùbá mainly in the family setting and in formal situations such as village or tribal meetings. They use standard English in formal or official situations. In informal situations they use a creolised form of English dubbed Yoruglish. The latter represents a blend of both English and Yorùbá grammar and vocabulary.

Yoruba boat – Model in the Vatican Museum

Fascinating facts about Yorùbá

Yorubas are very Expressive People. This is particularly seen in the way they speak and converse with one another. It is also seen in their colourful festivals and celebrations. From wedding ceremonies, naming ceremonies, housewarming parties and even burials, you cannot deny the rich and ostentatious style and ceremonial nature of the people of the culture.

When a baby is born, water is sprinkled on the baby, till he/she cries. When they fail to cry, no word will be spoken until they do.  After eight days, a naming ceremony is held and relatives are invited.

The Yorubas like spicy and oily food. Almost all their food is prepared with either oil, pepper or both. Their food are mostly made from starchy tubers,plantains and grains. Yams and rice are eaten on important occasions.

Due to the effect of slave migration in the colonial era, some of the Yoruba tradition has been inculcated into the culture and tradition of the Brazilians to this very day.

According to Yoruba mythology, all Yoruba people are descendants of Oduduwa.

They started sculpture making as early as the 12th century. These days they make sculptures to honour their ancestors, deities and gods, using brass, wood, and terracotta.


Thanks for reading 🙂

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