Discover Yoruba

Yoruba, also referred to as Èdè Yorùbá, is a Niger-Congo language from the Volta-Niger branch of the Yoruboid  Language family. It is spoken by roughly 46 million people in the West African countries of Nigeria, Benin Republic, and some parts of Togo and Sierra Leone.

Main Communities

  • Lagos (Nigeria)
  • Porto-Novo (Benin)
  • Atakpame (Togo)

Common Yoruba Names:

  • Bayode - A child that came with joy.
  • Shola - A blessed one
  • Ayomide - My joy has arrived
  • Ibukun - Blessing
  • Olubunmi - God's gift
  • Obafemi - The king loves me

Staple Food

Efo Riro - is a vegetable soup popularly eaten with a form of fufu or swallow. It is made with spinach as the main ingredients and includes bell peppers, habanero, palm oil and meats. The spinach in efo riro is good for combatting inflammation, reducing the risk of heart diseases, and improving circulation.

Culture and Traditions

Traditional marriage - The traditional marital ceremony is a colorful affair that includes multiple steps including: (1) Igba ifojusode - man searches for a potential spouse, (2) Ifa f’ore - couple requests divine blessing on their union (3) Isihun - the couple is officially allowed to court each other (4) Itoro - the man officially requests the woman’s hand in marriage from her family (5) Idana - the man pays the bride price and (6) Igbeyawo - The official Yoruba Traditional Wedding Ceremony.

Ibeji (twins): Yorubas have the highest instance of twins in the world and the twin capital of the world is located in  Igbo-Ora, a Yoruba town in the south-western Nigeria. In Yoruba culture, twins are seen as a sign of good luck, good health and wealth. Yorubas have a naming convention for wins - the first born twin is called Taiwo and the second is called Kehinde.

Notable figures:

Fela Aníkúlápó Kuti - musician.  He is widely considered the pioneer of Afrobeats, a genre of music that has gained global recognition. He used his platform to advocate against social and political injustice. Today, Fela Kuti’s music still serves as a call for freedom and empowerment. In 2021, his album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Wole Soyinka - professor. He is globally celebrated for his literary works that explore themes of African identity, politics, and culture. Soyinka was awarded a Nobel prize in 1986. Some of his notable works include the plays "Death and the King's Horseman," "The Lion and the Jewel," and "A Dance of the Forests," as well as the memoir "Ake: The Years of Childhood."

Hakeem Kae-Kazim - actor. His role in the 2006 film "Hotel Rwanda," where he portrayed Hutu militia leader Georges Rutaganda brought him international recognition. Kae-Kazim has acted in numerous films in Hollywood and Nollywood. He has been nominated for Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA)s and Nigerian Entertainment Awards (NEA)s.