The Yoruba people occupy the South Western part of Nigeria. In the pre-colonial era, they formed the old Oyo Empire and Ife; also spread into other parts of Africa. In the colonial era, they formed part of the Southern Protectorate in Nigeria. By 1946, when Arthur Richard’s Constitution introduced regionalism into Nigeria, they occupied the Western Region of Nigeria, covering present day Edo State and Delta State, and later separated as the Mid-Western Region.
Yoruba Founded History
They Yoruba people account for about 20% of the population of Nigeria. History has it that they migrated from the Middle Eastern part of the world during the medieval period. Colour history of the Oyo-Yoruba recounts Oduduwa to be the progenitor of the Yorubas and the reigning ancestors of their county. It is believed Oduduwa founded the city of Ife.
The Yorubas have several mythologies that help to define their culture, religion and traditional heritage – Erisaborisa, Orisa-Iva. Iva is a community seen as one of the components of secretive pool known as African traditional religion. There is Orisa Nla, the great divinity; also known as Obatala. Obatala is believed to be the Arc divinity chosen by Oludumare, the Supreme, to create solid land out of the primordial water that cover the earth, and Obatala populated the land with human beings. Obatala is said to have descended from heaven on a chair, carrying a small plate shell, full of eggs, palm kernel and five tool chickens.
The name Moremi holds sway in Yoruba history. The story has it that a group of farmers were grieved the way the government treated them. These farmers decided to revolt against the government and this revolt became known as the Agbekoya Farmers Revolt. Moremi was a courageous woman who played a significant role in quelling the dispute between both parties. Another version of the story has it that upon the disappearance of Odududwa, there was a dispersal of his children from Ife to found one kingdom each, making their mark in subsequent urbanization and consolidation of Yoruba Confederates of Kingdoms, with each kingdom tracing its origin to Ile-Ife. After the dispersal, the aborigine became difficult and constituted a serious threat to the survival of Ife, because, for them, they were the old occupants of the land before the arrival of the Oduduwa. These people turn themselves into raider and unleashed terror of the town. It was Moremi’s courage that stopped these people but at a great price of giving up her only son Oluropo and today that singular action is rewarded as ethnic festival to immortalize Moremi.
The Monarchical System of Yorubas
The Yorubas have a very strong monarchical system. In Oyo Empire, the Alaafin of Oyo rules, with checks of his powers from the Council of Chiefs known as the Oyo Mesi , should the Alaafin act beyond his powers, the Oyo Mesi presents a calabash, signifying that he commits suicide as a punishment for the offense. This shows that checks and balances were operated before colonial rule. In Ile-Ife, the Oni of Ife rules and his authority is respected by his people. There are also OBAs who rule at different kingdoms.
Apart from Oduduwa, there is Oni Sango, the god of fire. myth has it that Sango spits fire from his mouth. Of course, one physical demonstration of it was in 2003, when Nigeria hosted the “All African Games”. The Torch for the Game was lit in Sango fashion. The Yoruba people have very rich culture; there is a “Talking Drum” that many have wondered how it produces the sound it does. The drummers are well respected as they form an important part of activities and celebration.
Twins are adored in Yoruba land. They are called IBEJI. The Yorubas have the highest rate of twinning in the world, with 90 to 100 per 1000 life birth. Thus the Yorubas have more twins than any other culture. Twins are very important to them. So when next you hear, Taiye, Taiwo, Kehinde, know that such people are twins and the name is given to them. The Yoruba people are unique; it is quite impossible to exhaust the history of the Yorubas in this book.
Also Read:A Glance at the Northern Nigeria