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The Yoruba Culture: 4 Things Fading Away

Holiday was fun talking with my great-grandma(whom I call momó).

We got to talk about the “Ẹ̄lérégè” dance , a dance during the Ọdún Ìjésu festival of ìlárá Mòkín, Ondo State and lots more. Well, I shall attend this and tell you more in order to have a first hand experience ( Pinky promise!).

Then, like an epiphany while observing her wrinkled childlike skin, I got inspired to write about some aspect of the Yoruba culture and tradition going extinct due to modernization, civilization, religion and urbanization.

In case you wondering what they are, here are the things I have observed:

  1. 1. Ìlà. Ìlà are the then beauty marks drawn on the face. Momó has hers right beneath her eyes.In fact, every Western State has their unique way of striking the Ìlà marks and this isn’t sexist. Ìlà can either be a pélé or àbájá. In fact , your ìlà tells where you are from, the part of Yoruba you came from and there are different types of Ìlà with their various meanings. I must say, the supposedly beauty marks which is now frawn upon by most Yoruba elites was done then without the child’s consent. It’s very rare to see a Yoruba consenting to strike either a pèlé or àbájá now .

2.Òn só: Òn só are body drawings . Momó has this, although it’s fading off. Òn só is just like the modern day tattoo. Most elderly have this body drawings especially for fashion, I.e to beautify their body parts. The arms, and belly can also be drawn on. Some write their names, their ọrìkí (peneygric ) or any word just to beautify their bodies. Momó narrated its process and I can tell it’s similar to that of the tattoo drawing.

I wonder why people see the drawing of tattoo as a new thing when the Yorubas initially had their Òn só. And by the way the òdèrígì (just like a tattooist) draws it. However, some Òn só are actually drawn to prevent an ailment.

And for recreation, these two are also fading away:

3.Eré osùpá. Eré osùpá is the moonlight play. However, this is not common due to modernization, civilization and urban migration. Then, children gather to hear stories, and play bojú bojú, and listen to stories being told. My listening to momó as she recounts experience is a similar activity during the eré osùpá. However, most Yoruba children don’t play under the moonlight anymore.

4. Ayò olópón: it’s a twelve hollow simple wooden game played with small rounded shaped balls. The game can be technical and alittle bit confusing for its first learner or the urban based (Lol).

This game is mostly played at everyone’s watch and should anyone come to join the watch, they say:

“mo kótà, mò kópé” and it is followed by ” òtá je, òpè òlè fohùn.

Ayò olópón is an African game, one of our earliest form of recreation before the introduction of television and video games. It’s sad you hardly see such game in urban areas. However, while many ain’t used to the wooden game, a few result to the digital form of the game. I believe this credit goes to the African men in tech.

Holiday was fun because of the time spent with momó. Truth is you ain’t going to learn everything on Google. The best search engine for history and culture still remains any privilege aged the universe still leaves with us.

So what are those things that is going extinct in your tribe,nation or region, or are you familiar with any of the above? I would be waiting to read, learn and reply all.

I have also tried to translate my Mother Tongue,Yoruba into English. Do bear that the translation is just the nearest English meaning. Not exact.

P.S. Really can’t wait to read your feedback, enjoy your day!

P:S.S. mo kótà, mò kópé— ( An unbiased greeting to both players/ Greetings to the winning man and the loosing man.)

òtá je, òpè òlè fohùn—( Only the leading fellow can respond ).

Have a nice day!

Seye Fakinlede

Seye is a writer and a journalist, who is intrigued about documenting Africa's arts, destinations and culture.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Fasasi Olajuwon

    Thanks i enjoyed this,but you know ila(tribal mark) is still in existence is some parts of Africa?
    òn só is just like the modern world Tattoo.
    Ère òsupa has gone back to where it came from.
    Àyo ólopon is still in existence thou not all we children of modern world knows how to go about it when it comes to Àyo ólopon.but trust me I’m good at it because i learnt that from my secondary school days.

    1. Seye Fakinlede

      Wow. Thanks so much. Well, I would read more about those parts. Yes on so is the modern tattoo .
      And Ayo olopon? I hope you play better than I do.
      Thanks for stopping by . I really appreciate.

  2. John Promise

    Everytime I read about Yoruba culture and experiences, I wonder why I wasn’t born one but God knows best or should I say nature knows why…. Nice piece you got here. Looking forward to learning more.

    1. Seye Fakinlede

      Smiles. I guess that’s why God and universe surrounds you with the some yorubas . Thanks PJ for stopping by and your kind words.
      I really appreciate.

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