By Moyo Okediji
The Yoruba people comprise of several tribal units, each speaking a different dialect of the Yoruba language.
There is Yoruba literature, which has developed a large body of writings including novels, poetry, critical writing and essays.
Yoruba is studied in universities all over the world, and you may get a Ph.D. in Yoruba studies, one of the very few indigenous languages in Africa in which you get a doctorate.
Yoruba music is rich, with various genres both traditional and modern.
Each Yoruba ethnic tribe is recognized for special characteristics and psychological dispositions. For example:
Ijebu–banking and administration
Oyo—entertainment and politics
Ibadan—military and toughness
Ekiti–farmers and sculptors
Ijesha—Trading and frankness
Ife—Spirituality and origin
Owo—diplomats and ceremonies
Isehin, Oke Iho—weaving and forest reserves
Oshogbo—Osun tourism, Dyeing
Ogbomosho—long distance merchants, importers
Egba—Olumo tourists, sweet musical voice
Akure—rocks and ancient palace
They are hardworking people who have traits of creativity, friendliness, hospitality, gentleness, fairness, openness, and justice.
They dislike begging, slothfulness, borrowing money or depending on others. They are proud of their indigenous cultures and say, “Èmi ò jẹ ẹnìkan ní gbèsè, mi ò sì tọrọ ẹ̀wù wọ̀. Iṣẹ́ ọwọ́ mi ni mò ń jẹ.” This saying means, “I owe nobody money, I do not borrow garments from anyone, and I eat from the sweat of my labor.”
Unfortunately, the people were colonized and merged with other peoples with totally different values, including those who see nothing wrong in begging, slothfulness and brigandage. The Yoruba people have remained colonized with these other groups until today, and have not regained their independence, or been allowed to form their own nation.
The Yoruba Nation which they are demanding would enable them to bring all these positive values together, so they can build a country that is debt-free, tolerant of diverse religions, progressive and enterprising.
May Olodumare bless their desires to be free of their colonial trap.
Moyo Okediji is an art historian, painter and artist whose works contains a number of icons and signifiers of the deep aspects of Yoruba culture.
Yoruba: THE SWEETNESS OF FREEDOM
By Moyo Okediji