Yoruba Culture

Yoruba greeting


In Nigeria, there are different cultures among the different tribes, like it obtains all over the world.

This post is on the culture of greetings in Yoruba.  In the weeks to come we shall examine greetings in its various forms: greetings at home, and outside the home; greetings at specific period of the day; greetings for special occasions, as well as greetings in certain professions.
Greetings is one of those virtues that the Yoruba teach their children as part of home training.

A child that wakes up at home in the morning, and does not greet anybody will be rebuked. But the one who, upon waking up, greets the parents, and other seniors, will receive early morning parental blessings.


A Yoruba child must assume a certain posture when greeting the parent(s) or an elder. A boy will prostrate on the ground; while the girl kneels down. See the picture above.
Greetings will now begin like this:

Ọmọ (okunrin tabi obirin): Bàbá (tabi Iyá) Ẹ k’áàárọ o
Bàbá (tabi Iyà): Pẹlẹ o, Akanni (Boy’s or Girl’s name),  ọmọ   Akin. K’áàárọ.
O ò ji i re bi? (tabi Sé dáadáa l’oji?)

(Oríkì is added based on each family, for example)

Ọmọ Ọwá, ọmọ ẹkùn,
Ọmọ ògìdìgbó,
Ọmọ agbésulájà k’obirin gún’yán jẹ
Òni á san Ọ o,
Wà á ri’fà

Child: Daddy (or Mummy) Good morning o.

Daddy (or Mummy): Hello o. Akanni (Boy’s name), Ọmọ Akin. (Son of courage) Good morning.
Did you wake up well?

(Oríkì is added based on each family, for example:)

Child of Ọwa (‘Ọwa’ is a royal title), Child of Ẹkun
(‘Ẹkùn’ is hyena reputed for prowess, like lion)

Ọmọ ògìdìgbó, ọmọ agbésulájà k’obirin gún’yán jẹ.
(Child of someone fetching yams from the barn for the
wife to prepare pounded yam.

(It depicts the son of a successful farmer having
barns of yam, even during times of poor harvest.)

Today shall favour you;

You shall see good luck

Good morning.

It is instructive to note that the child will maintain the posture on the ground until the greeting is over.

Greetings of elders by younger ones outside the home take the same format as described above. See the picture below.
Yoruba greeting male






Yoruba greeting female

Apart from greetings between children and their parents or elders, greetings also take place among adults: between husband and wife, between father and mother, or among adults generally.
Unlike children, greetings among adults does not require a particular posture, except mutual respect. An adult that fails to greet or respond to greetings is viewed with disdain; such person is said to be arrogant. People take an offence when someone doesn’t greet, or does not respond to greetings deliberately.
What other periods of the day do the Yoruba exchange greetings? We shall look into this next time.
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