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What Were Yorubas Called Before The 19th Century? - Culture (2) - Nairaland

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Re: What Were Yorubas Called Before The 19th Century? by agnesoseka: 12:05pm On Mar 17, 2007
Historians, Tell us abt it.
Re: What Were Yorubas Called Before The 19th Century? by abdkabir(m): 1:59pm On Mar 17, 2007
Maybe there was no name for 'em.It was simply a group of peoplel who had similar culture.After all the English might not be able to tell u their name some 10,000 years Back. They probably had no Name.
Re: What Were Yorubas Called Before The 19th Century? by Blow(m): 12:04pm On Mar 18, 2007
perhaps they refer to themselves as Omo-eniyan

I subscribe to the name yoruba been used
by some external bodies like Hausas
Just like Christian being used by some people to
refer to Christ followers and the name has come to
Re: What Were Yorubas Called Before The 19th Century? by ogechi84(f): 7:28pm On Mar 18, 2007
the Yoruba's,s were called the babalawos.
Re: What Were Yorubas Called Before The 19th Century? by WesleyanA(f): 8:18pm On Mar 18, 2007
ha you're sad wink
Re: What Were Yorubas Called Before The 19th Century? by simmy(m): 2:28pm On Mar 20, 2007

good one folem, 'Moremi' Igbo masqurade indeed!. What you have just told preposterous tale.

theres actually an old fable about moremi getting lost in a great forest (igbo) for weeks and then stumbling across a race of people who keep her captive because of her beauty. The igbos had been raiding yoruba farmlands for years masquerading as embarassed embarassed embarassed masquerades?? Years after, she manages to discover their secret and returns to yorubaland. the yoruba farmers where then able to repel the next attack of masquerades.

This fable probably refers to a very old chance meeting with a race of people living beyond the forests to the east (igbos). It is probable that hunters ventured too deep in the forests and emerged in areas close to present day delta state, outskirts of igbo land and culture
Re: What Were Yorubas Called Before The 19th Century? by bayo1(m): 12:49pm On Mar 28, 2007
If you want more information on this topic, go to: [url=http://www.omoluabi.org
Re: What Were Yorubas Called Before The 19th Century? by boladonas(m): 1:15am On Apr 02, 2007
@ Bankole and Ronnie

I went back 2 learn to speak Ijebu
and I speak it so fluently now
An interesting thing is that if u can speak Ijebu well
u can also speak Itshekiri
They are very close languages
I wish i could ssearch out the connection.
Re: What Were Yorubas Called Before The 19th Century? by folem: 10:41am On May 19, 2007

Who are the Yoruba?

The first obvious answer to this question is the Yoruba are a nationality, numbering about 40 million, the majority of whom live in the South Western part of the state of Nigeria in West Africa. Obvious as this answer is, it is not wholly explanatory, and certainly, it is not without its own controversy. First, regarding its explanatory status. One has to add, that the Yoruba are a black people, of Negro stock; that they speak a common language, Yoruba, which belongs to the Kwa group of the Niger-Congo linguistic family, and it has about 12 dialects; that they are a well urbanized group with genius in arts as symbolized in the famous "Ife Bronzes"; that Yoruba people are also found in Togo, Benin Republic and in other parts of the world, including Brazil, Cuba, Trinidad, and the United States. Second, regarding its controversial status, one has to confront the question what makes the Yoruba a nationality, or a nation, not a tribe or clan, and how does one then mark a distinction between Yorubaland and Nigeria. To this last question, there is no better answer than the one provided by Obafemi Awolowo in 1947, to which a later section of this presentation will return. For now, it is necessary to answer the question: "Who are the Yoruba?" by focusing on some critical moments in Yoruba history and thought.

Address these and other issues by focusing on some critical moments in Yoruba

1. The Oduduwa Dynasty and the Founding of the Nation.
Oduduwa is the legendary progenitor of the Yoruba. There are two variants of the story of how he achieved this feat. The first is cosmogonic, the second, political. The cosmogonic version also has two variants. According to the first variant of the cosmogonic myth, Orisanla (Obatala) was the arch-divinity who was chosen by Olodumare, the supreme deity to create a solid land out of the primordial water that constituted the earth and of populating the land with human beings. He descended from heaven on a chain, carrying a small snail shell full of earth, palm kernels and a five-toed chicken. He was to empty the content of the snail shell on the water after placing some pieces of iron on it, and then to place the chicken on the earth to spread it over the primordial water. According to the first version of the story, Obatala completed this task to the satisfaction of Olodumare. He was then given the task of making the physical body of human beings after which Olodumare would give them the breath of life. He also completed this task and this is why he has the title of "obarisa" the king of orisas. The other variant of the cosmogonic myth does not credit Obatala with the completion of the task. While it concedes that Obatala was given the task, it avers that Obatala got drunk even before he got to the earth and he was unable to do the job. Olodumare got worried when he did not return on time, and he had to send Oduduwa to find out what was going on. When Oduduwa found Obatala drunk, he simply took over the task and completed it. He created land. The spot on which he landed from heaven and which he redeemed from water to become land is called Ile-Ife and is now considered the sacred and spiritual home of the Yoruba. Obatala was embarrassed when he woke up and, due to this experience, he made it a taboo for any of his devotees to drink palm wine. Olodumare forgave him and gave him the responsibility of molding the physical bodies of human beings. The making of land is a symbolic reference to the founding of the Yoruba kingdoms, and this is why Oduduwa is credited with that achievement (Idowu, 1962).

According to the second version of the myth, there was a pre-existing civilization at Ile-Ife prior to its invasion by a group led by Oduduwa. This group came from the east, where Oduduwa and his group had been persecuted on the basis of religious differences. They came to Ile-Ife and fought and conquered the pre-existing Igbo (unrelated to the present Igbo) inhabitants led by Oreluere (Obatala). Obviously, there is a connection between the two versions of the story. The political one may be the authentic story of the founding of Ife kingdom through conquest. However, the myth of creation lends it a legitimacy that is denied by the conquest story; just as it appears that it is lent some credence by the fact that, as a result of the embarrassment it caused their deity, the followers of Obatala are forbidden from taking palm wine. Indeed the second version of the cosmogonic myth also appears to foreshadow the political variant. The claim that Obatala got drunk and the task of creation had to be performed by Oduduwa already has some political coloration which is now explicit in the political version of the tradition. What is crucial in both variants of the story is the role of Oduduwa as the founder of the Yoruba nation which is why the name cannot be forgotten. Oduduwa is the symbol of the nation, the rallying point for al those who subscribe to the Yoruba identity. The name Yoruba itself, according to historians Smith, Atanda and others, was fixed on us by our northern neighbors and later popularized by colonial publications. Before then, the "Anago" to which some Yoruba in the present Benin Republic and others in the new world still use to refer to themselves, was used to refer to most of the people called Yoruba today. A common origin and language, as well as common political and religious cultures made the Yoruba a nation long before any contact with Europeans and the advent of colonialism.

2. Moremi 's Patriotism and the Survival of the Nation Upon the death of Oduduwa, there was a dispersal of his children from Ife to found other kingdoms. These original founders of the Yoruba nation included Olowu of Owu (son of Oduduwa's daughter), Alaketu of Ketu (son of a princess), Oba of Benin, Oragun of Ila, Onisabe of Sabe, Olupopo of Popo, and Oranyan of Oyo. Each of them made a mark in the subsequent urbanization and consolidation of Yoruba confederacy of kingdoms, with each kingdom tracing its origin to Ile-Ife.

After the dispersal, the aborigines, the Igbo, became difficult, and constituted a serious threat to the survival of Ife. Thought to be survivors of the old occupants of the land before the arrival of Oduduwa, these people now turned themselves into marauders. They would come to town in costumes made of raffia with terrible and fearsome appearances, and the Ife people would flee. Then the Igbo would burn down houses and loot the markets. Then came Moremi on the scene-like Deborah of the Old Testament. When no man could dare the Igbos, Moremi asked the Esinminrin river for help and promised to give offerings if she could save her people. The orisa told her to allow herself to be captured and to understudy the Igbo people. She did, and discovered that these were not spirits; only people with raffia for dress. She escaped, and taught her people the trick. The next time that Igbo people came, they were roundly defeated. Moremi then had to go back to Esinminrin to thank the gods. Every offering she offered was refused. On divination, she was told she had to give Oluorogbo, her only son. She did. The lesson of Moremi is the lesson of patriotism and selflessness. The reward may not be reaped in one's life time. Moremi passed on and became a member of the Yoruba pantheon . The Edi festival celebrates the defeat of the Igbo and the sacrifice of Oluorogbo till today.

3. The Oranmiyan Adventures, Afonja Treachery, Internal Division, Enslavement and the Fall of the Nation. Oranmiyan was the last of the Oduduwa offsprings. But he was the most adventurous and the founder of Oyo Kingdom. On some accounts, he was the third ruler of Ife as successor to Oduduwa. But he later decided to avenge the expulsion of his father from the East, and so, he led an expedition. After many years on the road, and as a result of disagreement between him and his people, he could not go further. Feeling too ashamed to go back, he appealed to the King of Nupe for a land to found his kingdom. He was obliged, and that land became the nucleus of Old Oyo Kingdom. Oranmiyan, taking the title of Alafin, succeeded in raising a very strong military and effectively expanded his kingdom. His successors, including Sango, the mythical god of thunder, Aganju and Oluasho were also as strong. Peace and tranquility prevailed during the reign of Abiodun, though it also experienced the decline of the army. (SONG). Awole Arogangan was Abiodun' s successor and it was during his reign that trouble started for the kingdom. He was forced to commit suicide; but before his death he was said to have pronounced a curse on all Yoruba, that they will not unite and that they will be taken captives.

Afonja was the Kakanfo, the generalsimo of the Army, in the northern Yoruba town of Ilorin, during the reign of Awole and his successor. Afonja refused to recognize the new king, and invited the Fulani who were then leading a jihad to the south, to assist him against the king. They did, but he did not survive himself, because the Fulani, after helping him defeat the Alafin also turned against him. They fired numerous arrows at him and his dead body was stood erect on those arrows as they stuck into his body. The treachery of Afonja marked the beginning of the end of the Oyo empire and with it the decline of the Yoruba nation. Civil war erupted among the various Yoruba kingdoms: Oyo, Ijesa, Ekiti, Ijaiye, Abeokuta and Ibadan. As this was going on, Dahomey on the west and the Borgu on the north were also posing trouble for the Yoruba kingdoms until the intervention of the British and the imposition of colonial rule.

Those who argue that there was no consciousness of a common Yoruba identity until the 19th century may be referring to these civil war episodes in the life of the nation. But they forget that these people, in spite of the civil war, share a sense of common origin and common language. And it is to be noted that the so-called peace that was imposed by the British could not have lasted had there not been a sense of consciousness of coming from a common origin.


My comment.

I disagree with (unrelated to the present Igbo) part. I think the aborigines of Yoruba were the Igbo. The Moremi "Masquerade" is said to be similar to Aguleri or some Igbo Masquerade.
Re: What Were Yorubas Called Before The 19th Century? by simmy(m): 6:34pm On Jun 06, 2007
its possible tht the aborigines were of the tribe no referred to as the igbos. but verifying the fact is difficult, which makes it neither here nor there
Re: What Were Yorubas Called Before The 19th Century? by Nobody: 11:56am On Aug 29, 2007
Re: What Were Yorubas Called Before The 19th Century? by Niggerian: 4:09pm On Oct 03, 2008
This is an interesting thread, my hunch is that we call ourselves "omo odua", because so far in my memory, the older people in my family never use Yoruba to refer to each other, its usually omo odua, I never take notice until now.

Also, Yoruba people prior to colonisation do not seem to refer to themselves as a group. Its either you are Oyo, Ijebu, Ijesha, Ife, Ekiti, Ondo, etc
Re: What Were Yorubas Called Before The 19th Century? by davidif: 5:56am On Oct 04, 2008
Africa is also a European word.
Re: What Were Yorubas Called Before The 19th Century? by RibaduFan(m): 9:24pm On Oct 04, 2008
This is really interesting. I love interest and informative threads such as this.
Re: What Were Yorubas Called Before The 19th Century? by tpia: 9:29pm On Oct 04, 2008
Re: What Were Yorubas Called Before The 19th Century? by bawomolo(m): 10:44pm On Oct 04, 2008
that's the due to the work of samuel ajayi crowther and baptist missions
Re: What Were Yorubas Called Before The 19th Century? by tpia: 2:28am On Oct 05, 2008
Re: What Were Yorubas Called Before The 19th Century? by bawomolo(m): 5:47am On Oct 05, 2008

that's due to the work of samuel ajayi crowther and baptist missions
tpia link=topic=44534.msg2896052#msg2896052 date=1223170084:


the release of the yoruba bible and dictionary encouraged the spread of the oyo dialect, kind of like the way the ungunja dialect of swahili became a standard form of swahili.
Re: What Were Yorubas Called Before The 19th Century? by okooyinbo(m): 1:29pm On Jan 01, 2009
@Tpia: I am an Ilaje man and I can authoritatively tell you that I understand the Ikale dialect almost to the core. Furthermore, most of the dialects of Ondo state and also from Ijebu, Ife and the Itshekiri language are to varying degrees intelligible for me.

Hence, how dare you claim that the various Yoruba groups could not mutually understand thelmselves prior to the standardisation? Please desist from making assumptions, try to research the facts. I would therefore assert that Yoruba groups have understood thelmselves (atleast their neighbours) prior to standardisation. The bible is actually not the basis of the unity rather, it was the IFA oracle. IFA was every where part and parcel of Yoruba divination. There were therefore babalawo in Ilaje land that had the command of the ODU recitation. The basis of ODU ofcourse WAS not the OYO dialect but IFE! Right now, the most dominating Yoruba dialect is even not the Oyo one but the "àdàlu dàpò" from Èkó. Besides, the standard Yoruba language is not purely based on Oyo dialect. IT has influence from many Yoruba dialects. Tóró (owó átijó ní ilè wa) tí mo ní lèyì. Aiye lala o,
Re: What Were Yorubas Called Before The 19th Century? by tpia: 8:05pm On Jan 01, 2009
Re: What Were Yorubas Called Before The 19th Century? by Hauwa1: 8:11pm On Jan 01, 2009
tpia grin you made me laugh. war cries haha.

haven't heard of aiye lala since i left ondo. is that deity real sef?
Re: What Were Yorubas Called Before The 19th Century? by tpia: 8:15pm On Jan 01, 2009
Re: What Were Yorubas Called Before The 19th Century? by okooyinbo(m): 5:19pm On Jan 02, 2009
@Tpia: ori e! Emi ni mo ng sabre rattling abi? Abi o ro wipe Emekrazy lo ba ng argue ni ;-)? Ti ng ba pe ara mi l'oko oyinbo, e wo lo kan e? Ma fi lo mi ng da si.  Iwo omade yi, la simi edo o. E ghi one yi mi ba re ja. Se ede mi ye re babayi?

AKIYESI PATAKI: I do not bear any grudge against the Ijo people! Certainly not, however, should they come calling, I do not need to hide under the bed like some of you did. Big mouth in time of peace, cowards in time of trouble. Do you know how many Ijo are in Nigeria? And what about the population of the Ilaje? You see, despite the numerical advantage of the Ijo (we know that Ijos from Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers states were very much  involved, so it was not a fight between Ilaje and the Arogbos), we Ilaje still held out. Aburo, jeki o ye e, we are not cowards!!! So please don't even go near the Ilaje Ijo trouble. Arogbo people would tell you: Minimini yo o!

Hey, your religious intolerance stinks to the high heavens Ms. Born-Again! Bi e se born-again titi ti nwon ji billions mo yin lara . You unfetish born-again, yet backward and evil genious grin!  See, China, India, Japan and a host of other nations are neither Christian nor moslem majority countries and these nations have archieved a lot. The thing you are calling fetish is fetching money to Nigeria u know. Even the oyinbos are coming to worship!  Anyway, thats not what I want to argue with you right now.

Aburo, coolu temper o. I have not seen where I came insulting or sabre rattling you. I just wanted to assert in contrary to your claim that several Yoruba groups were able to interact with each other prior to standardisation. And this is a fact!

Regarding the Eko dialect, I was talking about the standard Eko dialect which actually resulted from the amalgamation of a whole lot of  several Yoruba dialects. The Original Dialect of Eko (the colony) is indeed AWORI. Epe division is however an Ijebu enclave with the exception of the western most part i.e. Owode-Onirin. Badagry division on the other hand had almost a fair share of Awori dialect and the Fon language. No no no not east of Oshun, if you are looking for the Yoruba dialects "tí nwón ló", you'll better be served in the Anango area = Repulique du Benin and in KOGI state. However, Akoko dialect "lo die sha", which means "ire ko puro pupo" cheesy. Se ija wa de ti pari bayi o? Sibesibe, mo ni lati gba odindi agbo funfun kan, Ogunfe pupa meta, Gallonu epo pupa meje ati opa mejila aso-ofi l'owo re lati fi be awon agba. Ku odun ku iyedun aburo!
Re: What Were Yorubas Called Before The 19th Century? by tpia: 11:03pm On Jan 02, 2009
Re: What Were Yorubas Called Before The 19th Century? by felifeli: 11:09pm On Jan 02, 2009
I read some great stuff at Yorubaland about all this See www.yorubaland.org
Re: What Were Yorubas Called Before The 19th Century? by tpia: 1:33am On Jan 03, 2009
Re: What Were Yorubas Called Before The 19th Century? by okooyinbo(m): 2:54pm On Jan 03, 2009
who is this basket case and who let him out of the mental home? Huh

can you state whatever rubbish you want to say, in plain and simple English? who has time to read all the jargon you're spouting here? Huh

Do I look like the stupid woman you panshed and on whose account you must log on nairaland with some daft username as if nobody ever banged an oyibo before?

abeg if you don't know how to talk in a civilized manner then carry ya idiocy comot.

And did I tell you I'm a UN mediator interested in mediating between you and Ijaws? That one na your own problem, not mine. So save your history lesson for your girlfriend with jungle fever,

if them tell you say you need Jesus you go dey foam like somebody with crawcraw. But see your life now.

TPIA: Oro ti ologbon ba so, enu asiwere lati ngbo! Abo oro li a ma nwi fun omoluabi, ti o ba de inu re a di odindi. Nitori wipe, omo ale li ng fi owo osi juwe ile baba re, emi ko ni oro lati ba o so mo ju wipe: Ki o pada lo si ile lati lo ko eko-ile! Ode, alainirori! O go pupo sha!

Re: What Were Yorubas Called Before The 19th Century? by IGWEUSA(m): 3:15pm On Jan 03, 2009
They were called Ndi Akawo shocked
Re: What Were Yorubas Called Before The 19th Century? by tpia: 10:15pm On Jan 03, 2009
Re: What Were Yorubas Called Before The 19th Century? by cora4love(m): 6:17pm On Mar 16, 2009
The topic is of great interest to me as i regard myself as someone sent by the gods to correct the mistakes that is been made by many yoruba oba's. the term yoruba originated in the forth century after oduduwa left mecca during the emergence of islam. remember that noah gave birth to three children: ham,cush and jephaseth. it was ham that gave birth to nimrod that quaran refered to as lamrud. but immediately after islam emerged. people begin to move out of there traditional religion. unknown to them that the irumole of the yorubas shows mohammed(oduduwa) in the wilderness to take care of child and he was named mohammed. but later the show oduduwa the way to yorubaland so as to perform the role of orunmila( ifa priest and chief king). on getting here he was christened odu to da iwa(oduduwa). i dont have much time to write much about that here. i am writing a book on the origin of oduduwa and how british caged the yoruba nation due to over hundred of years hatred of yoruba. you can reach me for details on cora_4love2000@yahoo.co.uk or aroleoduafunomoyoruba@yahoo.co.uk, 08050752613.
Re: What Were Yorubas Called Before The 19th Century? by cheikh: 11:41pm On Dec 24, 2010
@TerraCotta &DayoKanu - You have given a very plausible explanation that prior to foreign incursion/invasion most African societies were like early European city states-"independent" self sustaining, self defined 'nations'. The definition of a whole group of people who have a shared linguistic affinity with each other as 'Yoruba' became convenient/necessary just like the word 'Nigeria' has become the convenient definition and expression for the "geo-political space most people now call/accept as Nigeria despite the fact that it was name/defined by a foreigner. In some perverse way the generic word 'Yoruba' has taken a life of its own as well by 'forcing' a people who never quite saw themselves as one big supra-national group, that other non 'Yoruba' in the Nigeria geo-political arena see them as. In a way it all began in a small way perhaps pejoratively by 'others' or 'foreigners', nevertheless, it has become a rallying word/name for positive self affirmation in the larger Nigeria geo-political sphere. The history/origin of the word 'Yoruba' may never be definitive enough for 'purists'. however it has served a positive purpose in unifying a disparate group of 'nations' /'states' into perhaps a supra-national state in the making. wink grin
Re: What Were Yorubas Called Before The 19th Century? by amor4ce(m): 3:30am On Aug 09, 2012
Here's a version of Yoruba history that seems to provide links to some of the various accounts, though it is still a work-in-progress.

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