FROM: freelang.net/dictionary/yoruba.html

FREELANG Dictionary : Yoruba-English

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Install this Freelang dictionary and browse both the Yoruba-English and the English-Yoruba lists. Look up a word, add your own words, edit or delete an entry, and learn words at your own rhythm from a personal learning list. For a complete list of features click here or see the Help menu of the program.

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This dictionary was made by Renato B. Figueiredo.

List status: © Renato B. Figueiredo

Word list information

Yoruba Þ English: 282 words
English Þ Yoruba: 268 words
First upload: February 5, 2007


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  1. Gualter V. Junior Says:

    Very interesting page. Good Dictionaire

  2. ngochao Says:


  3. Yeye Akilimali Funua Olade Says:

    KINHGUI! Beautiful! Which African language is that and what does it mean?You and any other Black person can write a piece on your African language,first giving us background,alphabet,greetings and we will post it! Are you listening our Ikwerre Sister,also?Just place a comment on this and I will contact you thru your e-mail to receive your contribution to expose everyone to your great African language!

  4. emmanuella chinda Says:

    ikwerre(igbo) is an interesting language(dialet) that varies from igbo languages cluster like….ikwerre n’otu MEKA!,meka is derives from EMEKA.IKWERRE is a language with great variation……..MEKA! MEKA!

  5. renato figueiredo Says:

    Dear Friends, I was very glad, when I found this page and see my name and mentioning about my Yoruba dictionary to Freelang.net. Thanks a lot. It wasn’t easy to make it because Yoruba is a word with a lot of diacritics, and some letter I really don’t have in my key board. This language brought to Portuguese language, some words specilly to Brazilian state of Bahia, brought by the slaves who came to Brazil during almost 200 years. In other parts of the country, this words aren’t common.
    I also have some database in Igbo language. but this is very few to compound a dictionary. Igbo is a language smallest in web material. So I invite you who have lots of data base to make an Igbo dictionary to Freelang. All we will be very glad.

  6. funmi Says:

    Love to have yoruba dictionary

  7. Agbejoro sikiru adewoye Says:

    what an enormous task.its worthwile.could you please research on the names of some wild animal in yoruba.The animals are mammoth,mole,bearded vulture,rhinocherous,eland,pattridge,manatee,hedgehog,klipspringer,otter,oryx,honeybadger,dorcas gazelle,red fronted gazelle,barbany sheep,nile crocodile,rinocherous bird,topi(senegal hartebeest),secretary bird, so also the english version of sese olongo(bird),esuro,

  8. Online Medical Dictionary Says:


  9. Omotayo Says:

    Good service to humanity

  10. Yeye Akilimali Funua Olade Says:

    RENATO FIGUEIREDO,forgive us for missing your comment! Your Yoruba freelang.net is one of the most popular viewed items on this site. So just last week I activated the link,as when I did that post didn’t know how last year! I will look for an Igbo scholar to help you. Black on! You are blessing the BLACK race in your own way! We thank you so much for that and know that Olodumare(GOD) will bless you abundantly for this!

  11. Adeoye David Afolabi Says:

    I want software of yoruba dictionary and the manual, it’s a matter of urgent and i will appreciate if you can send to this address.

    Sw9/121b, Gada Odo-Ona, Ibadan. Oyo State. Nigeria.

    Mobile Number: +234-805-389-2325


    By Adeoye David Afolabi

  12. Michael Says:


    I am English. My girlfriend is Nigerian and speaks Yoruba (and millions of other languages). I would like to tell her that “I love you” in Yoruban.

    Can you help

    Kind regards

  13. lanre Says:

    tell her that “moni fee gan”

  14. cathy Says:

    Hey am dating a nigerian guy and am from Trinidad. I love him so much but, it aches me when we go out and he’s speaking yoruba on d fone and I can’t relate or when he is trying to express something to me and the translation is not right in english. Can you help me or direct me to where I can usual resources to learn and understand the language? Quick question what does: “aya mi mabinu” and “kilode iyawo mi” mean?

  15. Yeye Akilimali Funua Olade Says:

    Aya mi ma binu means my wife,don’t be annoyed with me! Aya=wife,mi=my,ma=don’t be,binu=annoyed,angry!

    Kilode Iyawo mi= what’s the matter my wife?
    kilode=what’s the matter,what’s going on?
    Iyawo=wife also

  16. Brian Says:

    I really need your help.
    What does this mean: mofe ran re…………..jeg elske deg…………… ??
    My lover sent it to me & I really need to know.

    Thank you so very much

  17. Cathy Says:

    Ese. Thhank u for shedding light and simplifying this for me. Now this one: “Bawoni omoge se ko si wahala”

    • Vanessa Says:

      That means How are you beautiful? hope there’s no problem?

      Bawoni=How r u?
      Omoge=Beautiful girl
      Ko si= there’s nt

  18. Yeye Akilimali Funua Olade Says:

    Bawo ni omoge. Se ko si wahalla.
    Bawo ni(how are things?)
    Omoge=beautiful,fashionable young lady
    How are things beautiful young fashionable lady!
    Se =how ko si=not anything =hope there’s nothing bad =hope everything is fine
    wahalla=trouble=hope there is no trouble

  19. Cathy Says:

    Again I have to thank you. I don’t know how to interpret ( for want of a better term) if he is really serious about me. I know there are a lot of cultural differences between us and as a result am insecure about us. I think in little ways he tries to make me secure but otherwise am still doubtful. Can you tell me according to your youruba tradition (which
    can be different from tribe to tribe) how you can know if a man is serious? He told me he wanted to marry me and I don’t know if I should take this seriously or see where this goes? Can you help me understand?

  20. Cathy Says:

    Yeye, I am very grateful for what you are doing and the time you spend simplyfing everything for me. May blessings and prosperity continue to be your portion. I am genuinely interested in learning your culture regardless my relationship works out or not. Is there any way you can help me to communicate better with him or anyone that speaks the yoruba language. Can you shed some light on expectations of a woman from both her husband, his family and other close relations. You are blessed. Respect.

  21. Yeye Akilimali Funua Olade Says:

    Sister Cathy,Am glad to give advise about how a Yoruba woman is expected to act and treat the Yoruba man. Remember that I am a Blackamerikkkan too though,but have lived 30 years in Yoruba land and have tried to change in all ways possible for me to be my model woman,the traditional Yoruba woman,so I’m learning too,everyday and how to be a better Yoruba woman,especially to a Yoruba husband. First you must show your Yoruba man respect at all times! Don’t shout or nag him as these are things the good Yoruba woman never does! She is very careful what she says to her man,and always says it in a respectful way. If you are angry for any reason,don’t show it by loose talk and shouting or negative ways. If you have to say,let me cool down first before I talk about this,in a respectful way,do that! Don’t argue with the Yoruba man in any angry mood. Wait until you can say what you want to say in a respectful manner, you dig. Now read up on everything about the traditional Yoruba woman to get an idea about things you have to change about yourself and remember all these changes can be done,because African behaviour is our natural behavior! We have been forced by slavery,etc. to be other than our natural selves,but we can always choose to change back to our natural BLACK selves,as African/Yoruba women!

  22. Cathy Says:

    Do you think he is really serious, due to the fact that he addresses me as his wife?, knowing that am not too familiar with his language, but yet still he refers to me as that?

  23. Yeye Akilimali Funua Olade Says:

    Cathy,Sister, you must get Yoruba tapes and books on how to speak Yoruba and learn. Start my looking on amazon for “learning yoruba language”. Then ask your Yoruba man if he knows any of his friends who can teach you Yoruba.You must learn the language to feel part of your own lost BLACK culture!

  24. Cathy Says:

    The suspense is killing me to hear your responses…..

  25. Yeye Akilimali Funua Olade Says:

    Cathy, this is on the Yoruba woman from

    Female Deities and Their Importance in the Yoruba Culture Folarin (H)

    There is no doubt that religion is a major aspect of the Yoruba culture. This is a culture that contains a huge pantheon of gods and goddesses each with a different mythology and purpose. Many Yoruba deities are connected to the natural forces that command and create life. They are seen not only in religious worship, but in the daily lives and activities of the Yoruba people.

    To a Yoruba person, knowing the mythology of deities is as important as learning the history of his/her ancestors. The deities are in fact the ancestors of all humankind. This deep connection plays a tremendous role in the relationship between deity and human; in the human need for help in working with nature’s forces deities are consulted for guidance and example. Women being at the source of creation have always looked to deities (primarily female deities) for assistance in their survival and for the welfare of the community.

    There are constant celebrations and festivals reminding and teaching the Yoruba people of this rich past and deep connection. An example of such a festival is the “Gelede”. This festival celebrates the “great ancestral mothers” and women’s life giving powers. The festival has two parts a night ceremony called the “Efe” and the daytime celebration called the “Gelede”. In both celebrations, elaborate costumes and masks are created to pay homage to deities and ancestors. The importance of women in Yoruba society is the overall theme of the festival.

    The festival is held in the marketplace which is the center of women’s social and economic activity. The marketplace is the key to the economic wealth of women in Yoruba society. Therefore, it is the perfect place to pay homage to women’s influence and strength. Several female deities play a large role in the festival’s activities.

    One of the most sacred “Efe” and “Gelede” performances is of the Great Mother,”Iyanla”. Special preparations are made for this performance. All the lights are extinguished, and a shrine is provided as a center for worship. The shrine consists of a mask wrapped or draped in white cloth, and the performers representing “Iyanla” focus on their dancing. The “Iyanla” can come in two forms: a bearded elderly lady or a Spirit bird. There are two chants that are spoken when the performers appear. One chant is to the Spirit bird form:

    Spirit Bird is coming (Twice)

    Ososobi o, Spirit Bird is coming

    The one who brings the festival today

    Tomorrow is the day when devotees of the gods will worship

    You are the one who brought us to this place

    It is your influence that we are using

    Ososobi o, Spirit bird is coming

    [Recorded in Ilaro, 1978]

    This chant demonstrates how important “Iyanla” is to the Yoruba people. She is the reason and the power behind the festival. Another chant spoken is to the bearded mother form:

    “Iyanla come into the world, our mother

    Kind one will not die like the evil one

    Ososomu come into the world

    Our mother the kind one will not die like the evil one”


    “Ososomu e e e

    Honored ancestor “apake e e e”

    Mother, Mother, child who brings peace to the world

    Repair the world for us

    Iyanla, child who brings peace to the world o e”

    [Collected in Ibaiyun, 1975]

    In both of these chants “Iyanla” is constantly referred to as mother. This indicates homage to a deity like that of a great ancestor. In the second chant, “Iyanla” is asked to bring peace to the world, and by participating is this chant comfort is given by knowing that “Iyanla” hears the trouble of her children. Again there is a motherly portral of the goddess.

    In addition to the mask representing ”Iyanla”, other goddesses are depicted. Masks with special clay pots called “otun” are attached for collecting sacred water. These masks are dedicated to water deities such as ”Yemoja” and “Osun”. Water signifies a natural force needed for human survival; as well as a symbol of richness and fertility. The goddess “Yemoja” is also honored by a special mask worn only by a priestess. Red parrot feathers crown the mask symbolizing the mystical power of women. Other articles of clothing signify a woman’s connection to deity. The oja can be worn in a variety of ways depending upon the senority of a prietess or follower. It may be worn as a gele (head wrap) to indicate new initiates or around the buba (traditional blouse) for older prietesses. The Yoruba people recognize and respect the differences.

    Outside of festivals and celebrations female deities still remain a powerful influence. Daily these deities are consulted in problems that occur in everyday life. Specific problems are brought to different goddesses. Each goddess has her own history and personality. These qualities mirror the positive and negative aspects of the Yoruba culture.

    The river goddess “Osun” is sought after for advice in matters of love and children. In Yoruba culture, she is seen as the goddess of love and beauty. A festival is also dedicated to her; many offerings are given to her by women asking for her help. She can cause drought or flood and therefore must be constantly appeased. She is the matron goddess of the town Osogbo in Osun State of Nigeria.

    Another important goddess to the Yoruba people is “Oya”. She is a goddess with many different aspects. One of her most dominant traits is her association with the forest and the hunt. Because of these aspects, she is also known as the “Buffalo-woman”. She can come in the form of the hunter or in the form of the prey. These two forms illustrate the importance of both aspects of life. She teaches understanding and respect for the life of the animal killed to provide food, and the balance that must be maintained in nature.

    In the role of “Buffalo-woman”, she also teaches that the roles of men and women in Yoruba society are not as important as the survival of the community. This is a lesson being used in modern Yoruba culture. Traditionally women are not allowed to leave the village to search for roots or food. Even women trained in gathering roots for medicine can not go deep into the forest. However, a hunter is only considered to be the best if he is successful in the depths of the forest. He must recognize the greatness and skills of “Oya” as a hunter goddess to feed the village.

    Another aspect of “Oya” is as the whirlwind or tornado. This again illustrates the negative but necessary aspect of nature; to have creation destruction must take place. She is seen as the cause of tornadoes in Yoruba culture. This also relates to the negative and violent power within men and women. If these powers are allowed the run rapid, they can be just as destructive as any tornado.

    Oya’s diversified personality makes her one of the most distinctive of the Yoruba goddesses. Her personality is best summoned up in a poem by Judith Gleason. It describes both her negative and positive qualities.


    Dark forest, deepest obscurity

    Which grabs and swallows you in the forest

    Winds of Death

    Tears the Calabash, tears the bush

    Sango’s wife who

    With the thumb tears out

    The intestines of the one liar

    Great Oya, yes

    Only she seizes the horns of the buffalo

    Only she confronts the returning dead

    Swiftly she gets her things together swiftly

    Oya messenger, carry me on your back

    Don’t let me down

    She burns like fire in the hearth

    Everywhere at once

    Tornado, quivering sold canopied tress–

    Great Oya, yes

    Whirlwind, masquerader, awakening

    Courageously takes up her saber

    Iya O, Iya O

    Mother Oya

    It is not from today that she is honorable

    But from long ago

    Iya O, Oya O

    Mother Oya

    She’s the one who employs truth against [untruth]

    She stands at the frontier

    Between Life and Death

    Iya O, Oya O

    If it is Bembe, she dances it, O she’ll dance it

    Who dances Bata Drums?

    O she dances it

    Who dances Shekere,

    O she dances it

    Wife of Ogun, that’s the one who dances it, whatever it is

    She has been performing Egungun masquerade for a long time

    Oya had so much honor

    She turned and became Orisa

    Oya guards the road into the world and out of it

    Oya, respect to the awesome!

    (Judith Gleason@1987)

    The role of female deities in Yoruba culture is ever present and ever changing. A strong connection between female deities and the Yoruba people is illustrated by the many lessons learned from them. These lessons include “Iyanla’s” wisdom, “Osun’s” love, and “Oya’s” strength. Connection between humankind and deity is crucial. By having respect for deity whether male or female, one gains a love and kindred to everything in nature. This serves as a way to pass on the lesson of how to live in balance with ourselves and others. All these are valuable teachings which can be used in daily life not of just the Yoruba people but of everyone and anyone.


    Blakely, Thomas D., Van Beek, Walter E. A., and Thomson, Dennis L. Religion in Africa: Experience and Expression. David M. Kennedy Center 1994.

    Drewal, Henry John and Drewal, Margaret Thompson. 1983. Gelede: Art and Female Power among the Yoruba. Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press.

    Gleason, Judith. 1987, 1992. Oya: In Praise of an African Goddess. San Francisco: Harper.


    Web-Site: http://www.voiceofwomen.com/articles/omi.html

    -“Keys to Feminine Empowerment: from the Yoruba West African

    Tradition” by: Omifunke.

    Web-Site: http://www.artnet,net/~ifa/oshun.htm

    -“Ijo Orunmila: Spreading Ifa to All Olodumare’s Children.” by: Chief

    Fashina Falade, Chief Olubikin of Ile-Ife.

    Role of Women in Traditional Yoruba Society Adeola

    Women played various roles in traditional Yoruba society. They performed in areas such as farming and trading, and economically, women’s efforts were crucial to the survival of their families and the society as a whole. Political roles were also abundant. Though males essentially dominated Yoruba politics in a physical sense, a woman’s importance was generated through mystical power and was fully independent of the reputation of her husband. Women also participated in body markings, and further, they held a great knowledge of medicine. In addition, traditional ceremonies and rituals such as Gelede, portray a profound respect for women–especially mothers. Historical myths placed sharp focus on religious and supernatural forces. In fact, in some instances, they were held as high as goddesses because of their alleged awesome power.

    Women are further saluted through chants called Oriki, and these chants, additionally, assist women in their journey to marriage. In 1826, a man named Capperton observed wives of the Alaafin of Oyo (the most powerful Yoruba king at the time) in every place trading and like other women of the common class, carrying large loads on their heads from town to town (Drewal 225). Though the majority of women earn their income through trading, farming also plays a significant role (Spiro 13). Their function in supplying nutrition and clothing for themselves and their families depend greatly on both farming and trading (Kolade 1). Previous studies have shown that women’s only economic concern is with food processing and distribution, with some craft specialization and that women rarely take part in any phase of agriculture, but other studies show that almost all women spend approximately 25% of their time in some farming activity (Spiro 7).

    Women are estimated to perform 60% to 80% of all agricultural work and to provide up to 70% of the region’s food (Middleton and Rassam 392). For instance, a woman performs much of her labor through the farming of crops such as yams, maize, cassava, and okra, and they even have to hire some male labor for their own farms (Spiro 7). The production and sale of such crops contributes to the well-being of her family in addition to providing income for various other household expenses (Middleton and Rassam 392). Women are in their prime years between the ages of 25-40, since their economic authority grows with age and their status as mothers.

    Responsibilities increase because they need to supplement their husband’s income and provide money for school fees and other every day necessities. Women are also expected to supply the sauces, stews, and snacks eaten with staples. Women use their own money to buy clothes and luxury items for themselves and their children (Spiro 9).

    Yoruba women marry at age eighteen and move to their husband’s village. During the early years of marriage, women are economically subservient to their husbands. Their domestic duties also include extensive unpaid agricultural labor on their husband’s holdings. These early years are also devoted to organizing the household, and bearing and rearing children. Yorubas strive for a 3 year space between children, owing to traditional sexual abstinence during an extended breast-feeding period. As children approach the school age, mothers start moving more seriously into trading enterprises. Children are net dependents on their parents between ages 6 and 18, depending on the schooling they receive (Spiro 9).

    Women are further involved in body marks. A woman whose father is a mark maker can be taught how to and she can make marks (Barnes 358). These are incisions or tattoos on the body that represent sexuality, spirituality, strength, and status for males and females (254). For example, a woman with many marks is considered courageous and a woman without marks is deemed a coward (255). As a consequence of their significant contributions, women are given official roles in public affairs (Middleton and Rassam 392). In fact, the market women’s administrative head, Iyalode, holds a position on the king’s council of chiefs (Drewal 10). Women also participate in activities such as pottery making, spinning, dyeing, weaving, basketry, and dressmaking was added in the 19th century and medicinal activity is also predominant.

    The collection and sale of medicinal ingredients takes place in large daily markets. These ingredients are not affected by menstruation and can therefore be handled by women. Since these women are intimately familiar with the plants and animals they handle, they undoubtedly know much about medicine, but they tend to limit their medicinal practice to the sale of ingredients. They also offer advice, recommending cures to their friends, and occasionally they will sell someone a recipe (Buckley 3).

    On another note, women are considered the center of Gelede ceremonies (Lawal 36). Gelede is a ceremony that promotes the motif of barrenness as its prime focus. Certain traditional, religious beliefs form the basis for such ceremonies. First of all, Ogboni was one of the most religious organizations in Yorubaland (34-35). The Earth Goddess, Ile, held it’s divine authority and represented maternal principles. This is evident in the word, Abiye, meaning . It was used by female members of Ogboni called, Erelu, as a symbol of being good midwives and to prevent infant mortality, called Abiku.

    Gelede society elaborates on the maternal values of Ogboni in order to inculcate into the mother’s mind the responsibility to her children and her community (Lawal 36). There are two main ceremonies that Gelede embodies. Efe is the night ceremony while Gelede occurs during the day. Furthermore, as with any phenomenon, there are two type of traditions concerning the origin of Gelede: the mythical and the historical (37). In Yoruba mythology, it is believed that a woman holds innate power which can be either good or evil. Such powers are called, aje often translated as ‘witch’ or ‘My Mother.’ The negative tendencies of aje are believed to branch from jealousy and competition within the polygamous setting of a Yoruba compound. Another important role in Gelede ceremonies is played out through the Chief priestess, Iyalase (82). She is the head of the society and the ase (the Gelede shrine), and she is the only one who can enter its divine quarters. The Iyalase has to be of age and must understand the Yoruba herbs and liturgy.

    In further understanding of Gelede’s mythological origin, practices of a babalowo were referred to in many cases. A diviner, or babalowo, was consulted during times of trouble (Lawal 37-38). He memorizes rituals, or ese ifa, during training and then relates and interprets these stories for clients who have a given problem. These clients are instructed to follow the same steps as the mythical character, or orisa (gods), in order to resolve their problem. One ese ifa tells a story of a woman named Yewajobi, mother of all orisa and living things (39-40). She contacted the babalowo because she could no longer bear children after marrying her husband, Oluweri. She was instructed to dance and give sacrifices in honor of the orisa, and, in turn, she became fertile again. She gave birth to two children: Efe and Gelede. Efe was a jocular young man, and Gelede was obese and enjoyed dancing like her mother. Efe and Gelede, as well, had problems having children, but they, too, were advised to give sacrifice and dance about with wooden images on their heads. Sure enough, they both began having children.

    In addition to the performance in honor of orisa, Gelede’s most popular function is to placate Iya Nla, the Great Mother (or Mother Nature) (71). Iya Nla was a sea out of which land emerged and life, humanity, and culture were sustained. Iya Nla loves music and dance. In fact, her Earthly disciples, the powerful mothers, enjoy music and dance, as well. They favor all who honor them with such entertainment. These rituals are performed today as the Gelede masked dance which gives respect to powerful mothers like Yewajobi and Iya Nla. The comical Efe mask is worn during the nocturnal Efe ceremony, and the female Gelede mask is bulky and worn during the day.

    From a historical perspective, the story of a town called Ketu seems to be the most accredited origin of Gelede (Lawal 46-49). In a battle for the throne, two twin sons, Edun and Akan, split apart. Edun fled to a town called Ilobi to devise revenge on his brother, while Akan stayed behind. When Akan arrived in Ilobi to look for his brother, he was scared away by the device that his brother had built to keep him away. It consisted of numerous strings and shells that sent chilling noises into the night. When Edun returned to Ketu to claim his throne, he shared the secret of the strange noises with the community. The secret eventually developed into Gelede.

    Still another traditional respect for women unveils through Oriki (Barber 12). Oriki parallels with the English word, definition, but goes deeper and exists on a more personal level: They are heavy words, fused together into formulations that have exceptional density and sensuous weight (12-13). They are special names that act as personal and family descriptions. There are three specific types of oriki: oriki orisa (gods), personal oriki (recognizes outstanding characteristics), and oriki orile (identifies large groups of people with common origin in an ancient, named town). Oriki orile is the most common type and is used to distinguish between houses. No oriki is specified for any particular occasion, and each type can be combined. Depending on the person’s past and defining characteristics, not all oriki are good. There is actually another category of oriki that exists, akija, that deals with negative incidents.

    Oriki are also used in marriage ceremonies. Throughout a young girlís childhood she is exposed to numerous rituals and performances where oriki are used (Barber 96-99). By the time she is and adolescent, she has her own rara iyawo chant (or ekun Iyawo) which is performed during weddings. Rara iyawo are made up mostly of oriki orile. The girls chant to the bride in unison as the bride bids her own rara iyawo and farewells. The bridal laments are practiced extensively before the wedding day and are kept a secret. However, unlike a mature woman, the bride has no chance to improve her public performance by gradual, repeated exposure, because rara iyawo is only performed on one occasion (105). After the wedding ceremony is over, it is considered inappropriate to chant rara iyawo publicly.

    In preparation for her wedding, the bride must also pay homage to her future husband’s family (108). Before entering into her new life, a woman undergoes a three month process of induction into her new family. This process involves a number of acts which demonstrate her willingness to contribute her labor and property to her husband’s people. Aside from her job of dividing her belongings amongst every member of the husband’s family, she performs symbolic acts that convey her separation from her former status. For example, on the day after the wedding, the husband’s female relatives strip and wash the bride and then dress her in new clothes. The old clothes are then taken back to her own family compound.

    Some women became experts in chanting and, therefore, joined cults along with other devotees in dedication and worship of a particular orisa (Barber 99). It was considered extremely important for young women to become familiar with chanting called orisa pipe, which simply means chants to the orisa. Older women would assist in this achievement through encouragement and support. One such cult is the Gelede cult, iya un, otherwise known as our mothers. It refers to a select group of women who have reached menopause and have special powers (Ibitokun 36). They are the rightful owners of the Gelede ceremony, and all females are potential iya un. Iya un have a lot of praise names, or oriki, with various meanings– especially during performances. One example is adananlojuomi, meaning she whose heart is the open sea (37).

    In conclusion, women had a huge impact on the traditional Yoruba society. Their role as economic, political, medical, and religious leaders, as well as their majestic role as mothers, proves their significance in the survival of mankind. The sacred masks worn in the traditional Gelede ceremonies was and continues to be a symbol of the community’s respect for, in addition to their dependence on women.

    Works Cited

    Barber, Karin. I Could Speak Until Tomorrow. pg.12-13, 96-99, 105, 108

    Barnes, Sandra T. Ed. Africa’s Ogun. pg. 255 – 258

    Buckley, Anthony D. Yoruba Medicine. pg. 3

    Drewal, Henry John and Margret Thompson. Gelede. pg. 12, 225

    Ibitokun, Benedict M. Dance as a Ritual Drama and Entertainment in the Gelede of the Ketu-Yoruba Subgroup in West Africa. pg. 36-37

    Lawal, Babatunde. The Gelede Spectacle. pg. 34-40, 46-49, 71, 82

    Middleton, John and Rassam Amal Eds. Encyclopedia of World Cultures. Vol IX. pg. 392

    Spiro, Heather. The Ilora Farm Settlement. pg. 6 – 9, XIII, XVI

    Women and Culture: Yoruba Women vs. American Women Folarin (A)

    Women vary from culture to culture. Their ideas, perceptions, and mannerisms are often determined by their cultural environment. Yoruba and American women serve as perfect paradigms of females who are socialized in accordance with their culture. An analysis of how these two different groups interact with their surroundings will reveal the effect that cultural environment has on a woman’s role in the society.

    One can first observe the differences between the two female groups early in childhood. At this point American women are being socialized to be slender,

    pretty, and marry their prince charming. Many young American girls have boyfriends as early as age nine. Meanwhile young Yoruba girls are learning about work from their mothers and older siblings. One huge difference which reflects different patterns of socialization is evident in body image. American women often complain and worry about their weight, but not Yoruba women.

    Yoruba culture does not pressure it’s female members to fit any sort of weight requirement. In fact, it is rare to hear a Yoruba women complain about her

    weight. Yoruba men are said to prefer plump women. A woman in the US who is considered “plump” would most likely feel inferior to her slimmer counterparts. To be called slim, or tinrin, may be considered an insult in Yorubaland. The difference in the type of body image requirements that these two groups live with is a direct result of their cultural socialization.

    Yoruba and American women also vary greatly when it comes to courting and marriage. It is extremely common for American women to date. Dating

    provides them opportunities for finding a mate. Co-habitation and pre-martial sex are also common in American society. Dating is only common among the educated or college individuals in Yoruba society. This is because they are the ones most influenced by western culture and society. Pre-marital sex and co-habitation are both things which (now) occur in Yoruba culture, but are considered very taboo. Many Yoruba women find their husbands through arranged marriage. Parents play a large role in determining who their daughter marries in Yorubaland.

    Cultural differences are responsible for the variations between Yoruba and American women. This is most evident when a Yoruba woman comes to live in

    the US She often adapts the mannerisms and actions of a typical American women. She may assimilate to what is the norm in American society. The same can occur when an American woman enters the Yoruba culture, but it is not as likely. This is mainly because many women who have experienced the freedom America offers have trouble returning to more restrictive societies.

    In general American women are more independent and career oriented than Yoruba women. This is not to say Yoruba women don’t like independence, they just are more family oriented. Yoruba culture revolves around the family unit. American society has somewhat lost that family stability. Family stability is also reflected in the divorce rates of these two cultures. America has 50% divorce rate. Nigeria, where Yoruba people are found, has a 5% divorce rate. Nigerians place a greater deal of emphasis on keeping the family together. Yoruba women often sacrifice for family harmony.

    Finally, Yoruba women and American women are both direct results of their socialization and culture. Their attitudes and general actions reflect those which are considered the norm in their different societies.

  26. Yeye Akilimali Funua Olade Says:

    Cathy,Sister more on Yoruba family and women’s role from this Univ. of Georgia Yoruba Studies programme:

    Nigerian (Yoruba) Traditional Family Structure Kolade

    Purpose of the Paper

    This paper provides an account of sex role differences in the Nigerian household (focusing primarily on farming). The paper focuses on the division of labor, income, and financial obligations.


    There are several reasons why sex role differences are particularly relevant within the context of the Sub-Saharan. First , a variety of studies indicate that the chief constraint on agricultural production in this region is labor availability at critical times of the year. Labor bottlenecks manifest themselves during peak farming periods when several operations such as planting, ridging, thinning, and weeding must be performed simultaneously. Labor availability to meet these peak requirements places a limit on the amount of land that a family can farm and on the ability of a farming household to adopt labor-increasing technologies.

    These problems relating to the availability and seasonality of farm labor can be illustrated by sex role differences. In most areas of Sub-Saharan Africa, cultural traditions have created a sharp sexual division of labor in the household. Men and women typically control different crops and carry out different tasks. For example, women might do all the weeding and men might do all the planting or harvesting. These difference in task account for the substantial differences in the amount of time spent by each sex on farm and household labor.

    Second, in addition to their different labor roles, women and men in the African farming household typically have different sources of income and different financial responsibilities. Each gender’s sources of assets and income are generally linked to their different obligations and labor roles. Women are frequently responsible for their own and their children’s food and clothing, and women’s contribution to their family’s nutrition may be crucial at certain times of the year. Men’s earnings frequently go toward large farming and family expenses and toward their own personal expenses.

    For instance, a woman earns and controls income from yams, a crop from which she performs most of her labor. A woman uses yam to feed her family, and she then uses the proceeds from the sale of surplus yams to meet other responsibilities of household expenses. Men earn and control income from millet and rice, crops which are used for home consumption but which are also important market crops. Different sources of income and financial responsibilities can mean a lack of incentive for one sex to contribute labor to crop production that financially benefits the other sex. Different returns to labor for each sex can also cause labor bottlenecks in the face of conflict over labor allocations. For example, if women who are typically responsible for producing food crops for home consumption should increase their labor in cash crop production, which is frequently a male income-earning activity.

    While there is much variation, women have important roles in food production in Sub-Saharan Africa, and in some areas they are the primary producers. Women are estimated to perform 60 to 80 percent of all agricultural work and to provide up to 70 percent of the region’s food. In Nigeria, women have historically had important roles in food processing and petty trading. They have also contributed to food production and this role is now increasing, with male migration to urban areas considered to be crucial factor in this regard. In Nigeria the importance of women’s roles in agriculture and the sharp differences between male and female roles suggest that to increase farm production and productivity. Both male and female farmers are needed.

    The HouseHold

    The different Nigerian groups live in compounds. The compounds are made up of huts, between three and forty in a compound. The number of people living in a compound varies, with the average being seventeen members. The living in the compound form an extended patrilineal polygamous family consisting of a compound head, his wife or wives, their children, unmarried adult daughters, adult sons and their wives and children. The size of the farm reflects the amount of agriculturally active people in the compound. The head has control of land and the size of the fields of each person in the compound. In practice, discussion of all the land takes place with all the male members present. The ranking of the co-wives and the age of household members are among the factors that affect one’s status within the household.

    The family is characterized by the extended family sytems. The central purpose of marriage is to have children. In addition to parents’ own children, relatives children are often adopted in order to demonstrated their concern and regard for the family members. The practice of polygamy is wide spread among most of the groups in Nigeria. However, a man’s multiple wives are not the only adults living in the household. Other adults such as aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, older half-brothers and sisters or distance relatives with challenging life situations. When all the children are added to the total number of adults living in the family, a picture of a very large extended family comes to mind.

    Parent-Child Relationships

    The manner in which Nigerian parents care for their children varies greatly in different regions. The method of child care is dependent upon several factors. If the family is very poor and the mother has to work some distance from the house, other members of the family, such an older brother of sister, aunt, cousin, or grandmother will care for the children while the mother is away during the day. Another variation of this kind of child care is that when the family is poor, they may send some of their children to more prosperous relatives living in other towns of villages. This may occur even if the family is not indigent. In such instances, the motive is to unite family ties more solidly. Although this traditional adoption method of raising children is still popular in the present day, modern families are beginning to become more wealthy and educated and seem not to practice this as much as in the past. This probably has to do with families being more well to do than they were in the past. Therefore, some do not see the need as their parents did.

    But in general, children’s reactions during adoption is no different than here in the United States. Some children may feel loneliness at first and some run away from their new guardians. Which proves children are children in all cultures and walks of life. Nearly 75 per cent of children are raised by their biological mother. The others are accounted for through divorce and simply being raised by other family members. About half of the mothers are housewives who spent nearly all their time engaged in household activities. On the other hand the other half were engaged in other occupations in addition to their regular home activities. Most were engaged in petty trading, about 26 per cent. Some spent time in farming, about 17 per cent, and others in cloth weaving and miscellaneous activities. These were all done to supplement the family income.

    Since Nigeria is a predominantly agricultural country, most of the male population is engaged in farming and related agricultural activities, including raising sheep, goats, and fowl. Nearly half of all the fathers were farmers. Trading and civil service jobs were mentioned next most often. When the mother does work away from home, the elder sister or brother may be given responsibility of caring for the small children while the mother is away. It is not strange to see one year old baby strapped to the back of a ten, eleven, of twelve year old sibling who is caring for the child until the mother returns. Thus in contrast to American families in which the parents are in most cases the sole family members who take care of the children after they pick them up from day-care of some kind. In Nigeria many members of the family engage in the care process of the children. This includes social actions, toilet training, cleanliness, and habits.


    In conclusion, Nigerian families are generally more involved in the rearing of children. The father is usually the primary income supplier in the family with the mother doing extra or smaller jobs to supplement the entire family income. Families are closer together, as extended family members live in the same household. This makes the whole family closer in their relationship, and everyone takes on a role in raising the same children. Unlike the households in the US, were there are typically no extended families unless a family member gets ill, the Nigerian households seems to welcome more family members in and all of them have some responsibility in the household. The Nigerian family structure is typically an extended family with everyone doing what best benefits the entire family.

    Yoruba Traditional Marriage Olufemi (Abo)


    Yoruba marriage customs have been greatly influenced by contact with other cultures, but the Yorubas have nevertheless retained their own individual traditions and methods. In Nigeria today, there are four main types of marriage: traditional, marriage by mutual consent, a gift-bride, and the levirate. There are three major religions: traditional, Christian, and Muslim, and each type of wedding can be adapted to one or all of the religions. Some weddings may be only legal and not religious at all. Traditional Yoruba weddings, which may be adapted to Christianity or Islam, are arranged by the parents of the individuals who are to be married. The bride and groom are betrothed for several years. There is an exchange of bride wealth, gifts that the groom’s family gives to his fiancee’s family. There is an elaborate system of gift-giving and expectations of all the parties involved. Although contact with Europe and the Middle East has greatly influenced Yoruba culture, many of the traditional methods and expectations of marriage exist today.

    Yoruba Traditional Marriage

    In Yoruba culture, nearly everyone marries. Traditionally, Yorubas practice both monogamy and polygamy, but the latter is the most common of the two. Although western contact has changed customs and rituals in every area to some extent, in some ways traditional beliefs about marriage remain intact in Yorubaland, even though they are now expressed in different ways. There were several purposes, traditionally, for marriage. One of the most important was creating ties between families. According to Mann (1985), Yoruba marriage is “a union of lineages, not individuals” (p. 37). Traditional marriages were arranged, and they did not necessarily involve love or romance at all, but they joined two separate families as well as providing for children and starting a man in his own life, separate from his father.

    For the man involved, marriage had many advantages. It enabled him to have (legitimate) children, and it provided him with domestic help. In modern times, only a few men choose to stay single, and they are mostly Christian in religion rather than traditional or Muslim. For the woman, marriage provided financial security (although women had their own incomes and might even be richer than their husbands), and social status. However, some Yorubas could not easily marry. Since marriage affects one’s extended family and relatives as much as oneself, families make extensive inquiries about a potential mate for their sons and daughters. If a person could be a carrier of a hereditary disease, or if one had a severe physical or mental problem, such as insanity, leprosy, or epilepsy, one might be unable to marry.

    Remarriage and Alternative Weddings

    As with most parts of Nigeria, there are four main types of marriage in Yorubaland: traditional, marriage by mutual consent, giving a bride as a gift, and levirate. Each type may be adapted to some or all of the major Yoruba religions: traditional religion, Christianity, and Islam. Traditional marriages are the only native type, and the other three came with modern influence and religion. The first is the traditional arranged marriage ceremony involving betrothal, bride wealth, and so forth. This type of marriage can be adapted to traditional, Christian, or Muslim religion. The Muslim marriage is not extremely different from the traditional one, described in detail throughout the rest of this paper. A Christian wedding is sometimes popular because the wedding ceremony itself involves a lot more pomp and celebration than a traditional wedding. Christian weddings include the exchange of vows and rings, a wedding cake, a ceremony in an elaborately decorated church, and a party after the ceremony. However, Christian weddings are also unpopular because they are by law monogamous.

    The second type of wedding is an informal one by mutual consent of the individuals involved. This is becoming more common in modern times. These weddings can also be Christian or sometimes Muslim or just legal and non religious. They usually do not involve as much ceremony as the first type, nor do they always involve the payment of bride wealth to the girl’s family. Courting for this type of marriage is done directly by the parties involved, usually with their parent’s consent, and not by intermediaries as is traditional.

    The third type, a gift, is usually a Muslim wedding and not Christian or traditional. If a girl is troublesome or wild, or if a girl’s father wishes to show special honor to a friend, he may give his daughter as a gift to a husband with no exchange of dowry. Her father may do this to show his generosity. He may also do it to bring her under control in the close supervision of her husband’s home and his older wives. The fourth type of marriage is called the levirate. If a woman’s husband dies, she may be given over to the care of another family member, such as a brother or cousin of the husband. If she does not like the man who is to inherit her, she can sue for divorce. This type of marriage can be Muslim or traditional, but not Christian.

    Finding a Spouse

    Traditional weddings in the past were always arranged by the families of the bride and groom. The family ensured that the marriage was appropriate and socially acceptable, and it went to great lengths to make certain that the marriage was a good match and would be happy and prosperous. However, its efforts were focused more on the general acceptability of the prospective mate than on his or her specific desirability for the son or daughter for whom they sought a spouse. The family of a young man begins to seek his wife usually after he goes through puberty. Girls could be betrothed between the ages of five and ten but not married off until when they have passed puberty around their late teen or early twenties.

    For a man’s first marriage, his parents and extended family makes the arrangements, found the girl, and paid the bride-price. For later marriages, he does it for himself, or his senior wife might do it. A family seeking a wife for one of its sons had several considerations. They sought a girl who lived close enough for the union to be convenient and who was healthy and came from a good, responsible, healthy family. They could not marry their son to a blood relative, even a distant one. They also sought a girl with good parents. They inquired about her mother’s character, assuming the girl was likely to turn out like her mother. They also avoided a girl whose parents were immoral (for then she might be the same) or careless with money (for a man could be saddled with his father-in-law’s debts).

    Once a boy’s parents found a girl they considered suitable, an intermediary approached the girl’s family. Her parents then make the same inquiries about his family, searching for any relationship to themselves, for diseases, and anything else that could make the marriage unsuccessful, unproductive, or a liability to the family. If the results of these inquiries were unfavorable, the girl’s parents would not say so directly, but they would consult the Ifa priest. Then they would tell the parents of the young man that the divination was unfavorable, and that would end it. If, on the other hand, the family was acceptable, this response would be communicated through an intermediary, and the engagement was sealed by payment of the ijowun, a gift from the man’s family to the girl’s and the first installment of the bride wealth.

    Today, the vast majority of Yorubas no longer practice arranged marriages. Western contact has influenced them so that most marriages are based on the choice of the individuals involved. Parents approve of one’s choice and pay a bride-price (Delano, 1937: 121). This is the second type of marriage, marriage by mutual consent.


    Throughout the betrothal period, which lasted 10-15 years, until the girl was about 20, the girl called the man her oko, husband, and he called her his iyawo, bride. She was not permitted to meet or speak to her husband or to members of his family, except in some Yoruba groups which allow the groom to pay an extra bride-price fee: owo ibasuro, money for speaking. This is not a very widespread custom; for the most part, traditionally, engaged couples did not overtly interact at all.

    The bride-price was usually paid in two installments, the ijowun and the idana. The ijowun consisted of pepper, kolas, beer, wine, gin, bitter kola, and honey. It was paid when the girl’s parents accepted the man for their daughter, and it legally sealed the engagement. The second installment, the idana, included the same things as the ijowun plus some cloth wrappers. Bride-wealth could also be paid in three installments: the engagement sealing, “love money” paid before the girl’s third year of puberty, when she became marriageable, and “wife money” paid just before the wedding.

    On the days when dowry payments were sent, the households of both the man and the girl feasted and celebrated separately all day. When delegates from the groom arrived with the dowry, the girl’s family would carefully examine all the articles to see if any were defective. If they were, they would be returned to be exchanged. Sometimes the delegates would bring replacement articles in case of such an event. If the items were acceptable, the girl would be asked if the payment should be accepted, and she would answer yes. Then the dowry was received, and the delegates who brought it were given gifts. The girl’s family would beat drums to indicate that the items were good, and then the dancing in that household would begin.

    There were, in traditional times, professional dowry bearers. They would receive a gift for their services from both families. When they came to the girl’s house with the dowry, they would say, ” We spied a red rose in your garden, and we come to pick it.” The girl’s father would reply that they had no red rose for the guests. This would continue for a while until the dowry bearers were invited inside and the dowry was accepted or refused. When the dowry had been accepted, the bearers, after receiving a gift, would return home singing, ” We won our case, certainly. They gave us a daughter, certainly ” (Delano, 1937: 127-128). Bride wealth is also paid for a Christian marriage, but it is done a little differently. Christian weddings in Nigeria used to take place on Thursday, and the entire dowry payment is made on the previous Tuesday at an engagement party. However, most marriages, including christian ones are now done on Saturday. Also, the articles are the same as for a traditional wedding, but Christian grooms also give the girl’s family a Bible and a gold ring.

    The dowry was not, for the most part, retained by either the girl or her family. The cloth wrappers of the idana went to the girl, and her father might keep a bottle of wine from either or both of the dowry payments. The rest of the items were distributed to the girl’s friends and to clubs of which she was a member. If she was involved in many groups and had many friends, each might only receive a small gift, such as one kola nut.

    Bride wealth served several important purposes. Legally, it was the most important factor to be settled in the event of a divorce: to divorce her husband, a woman must return his bride wealth. It represented the commitment to the marriage by both individuals and their families, and it was a safeguard against breaking that commitment. It kept the wife from cheating on or disrespecting her husband because it would have to be repaid for her to leave him. It also prevented the husband from mistreating his wife because he had made a large financial investment in her. Finally, the bride-price legally established the woman’s husband as the father of her children. .A proverb about this says, ” One who does not own a kola tree cannot have its fruit ” (Bascom, 1969: 60).

    When a woman reached marriageable age (the third year of puberty), her body was decorated with beauty marks by a surgeon. Her fiancee was required to pay for this and to provide the necessary materials, such as oil, dye, etc. This was also a hint to the bridegroom to go ahead and set a date for the wedding. He did this also through his intermediary, and he was required to show eagerness for the date to be sooner rather than later.


    A groom-to-be had many obligations to fulfill to his in-laws in addition to paying the bride-price. He had to pay annual gifts of the best of his farm’s produce to them. This was not a hardship as these gifts were always very small. He also was required to be available to help his father-in-law with manual labor and farmwork if he were asked. When his father-in-law asks him for help, which was done most often in building and rebuilding houses, the groom would go to help along with his egbe, his group of friends and age mates. They would spend the day working on the father-in-law’s farm, doing whatever was asked of them. Also, sons-in-law were responsible for giving gifts and services on special occasions, particularly upon the death of the old relatives or grandparents of his wife or fiancee.

    For this, one might suspect that the Yorubas would often prefer daughters to sons. Sons-in-law are always required to be respectful and helpful to his wife’s family. Fadipe says, “to have many daughters is to have many people to call into one’s service” (1970: 77). If a groom-to-be fails to fulfill his obligations to his fiancee’s family, the engagement may be broken off, the dowry returned, and a more resourceful suitor sought.

    Wedding Ceremonies

    Compared to the large celebrations associated with dowry payments, the traditional wedding ceremony was often a fairly quiet affair, but it still involves much celebration. On the morning of her wedding day, the bride was bathed and dressed by her father’s wives. Then she went to her parents and was received with honor and outward display of respect by them for the first time in her life. Her father would greet her and bless her. Then her mother, weeping, would also bless her and talk to her about married life and home management. Both mother and daughter would weep and embrace and say their first farewells. The girl then spent most of the day quietly in her room with her best friends while the rest of the household danced and feasted.

    Towards evening, the household would sit in assembly with the head of the household presiding. He would call for the bride to come in to them because the family had decided to give her in marriage that day. She came in with her face covered and was lectured again about married life. Then came the ekun iyawo, the bride’s cry/weeping. She would say some moving farewell sentences that she had memorized to her mother, family, and friends. She would weep a great deal, as would everyone else.

    Then the wedding procession would leave for the groom’s house. This consisted of the bride, four young men of her father’s house, her egbe (age mates), four wives of her extended family, and her bridesmaid (usually a niece or first cousin). When they arrive at his home, the groom’s senior wife, if he had one, or the last wife in the groom’s extended family, would welcome the bride and walk her in on her shoulder. The leader of the four young men would greet the family and deliver the bride’s father’s message: that she should have many children, that she should not go hungry or do exactly as she wished, that she was inexperienced and not always agreeable and could be chastised if she caused offense. Then she was handed over to her father-in-law.

    If she was not the first wife of her husband, she was adopted during her betrothal by one of his senior wives. This wife, who carried her into their husband’s home, also washed her feet with water holding money, so she would be rich, and with an infusion of leaves, so she would bear children. Then she went to her husband’s room. There was very little rejoicing in his household until she was found to be a virgin. If she was, the proof of it was sent to her family the next day with a message of thanks for preserving her for her husband. If not, a symbolic message, such as a half-full jug of palm-wine or a kola nut with holes in it, was sent without a message. The meaning was understood, and the girl remained with her husband but was a disgrace to both families.

    Traditionally, a woman had only one wedding ceremony in her life. If her husband died or she was divorced, she could sometimes remarry, but there would be no wedding ceremony. Men, however, could have numerous wedding ceremonies if they married several wives after a betrothal.


    Polygamy was traditionally very acceptable and common in Nigeria, and it still is. Girls traditionally married around age 20 and men around age 35, and so, because of mortality rates, there were always more marriageable women than men. Nearly everyone in Yorubaland marries, and most men marry several wives. For men, plural wives are status symbol, indicating the possession of wealth, and wives also enable men to have more children. There are advantages for women in the system as well, for wives share chores with one another and status with their husbands. However, in more modern times, polygamy is decreasing in popularity, partly because of women’s liberation attitudes and partly because of the expense of supporting such a large family.

    Within a polygamous marriage, there is usually little or no jealousy among the wives. Each has a certain status with respect to the others, and each has her own responsibilities, duties, and privileges. Younger wives are responsible for child care and usually for the more unpleasant household tasks. Older wives are often traders or businesswomen and sometimes travel extensively. Junior wives must always show respect to senior wives in a compound, and this seniority is determined not by age but by date of marriage. When a man marries a new wife, she is responsible for the most unpleasant jobs for the first year or so. If she sees another wife working, she must offer to help, and if her offer is refused, she must be persistent and offer several times. Usually, the senior wife eventually gives in to her.


    Traditionally, divorce in Yorubaland was very rare. The husband’s family with whom the couple lived acted to soothe arguments, and the presence of children who belonged to her husband helped prevent a woman from seeking a divorce. Because of polygamy, men had little incentive for divorcing wives. However, even in the past women sometimes divorced their husbands for reasons of excessive abuse, habitual laziness, drunkenness, or infectious disease. Or, if a woman’s husband died, she could divorce the family if she did not want to go to the man who was to inherit her.

    Even today, when divorce is much more common than it used to be, the process is essentially the same. The important issue is repaying the husband his bride-price. A divorce court investigates to determine exactly how much was paid, and someone must pay the husband that amount in order for his wife to divorce him. If his wife leaves him for another man, the new man pays the bride-price, and she becomes his wife.

    In the past, a woman might seek a divorce because of extreme cruelty, and she would go to the king’s palace and take hold of one of the pillars. If her husband found her there, he could not touch her. If a man wanted a wife, he could go there and pick one. He would then pay a clerk an agreed-upon price and take her home as his wife. Modern marriages are more likely to end in divorce. When a Christian marriage divorced, under British law the husband had to pay his wife alimony. Sometimes women took advantage of this, divorcing their husbands just to get alimony.

    In Yorubaland, the modern world has influenced every area of life, and marriage and families are no exception. The Yoruba culture is flexible and resilient and has changed without being destroyed. Today, Nigerian culture is a colorful blend of African, European, and Arabic traditions. Although the traditional methods of engagement and marriage are fading out, the Yorubas put a native twist on every tradition they adopt, and their heritage continues to influence the cultures that influence it.

  27. Cathy Says:

    Ese, Sister I don’t know you but I feel a direct connection to you already. If am not being too forward, may I have your phone number to speak with directly or of that is not condusive can you tell me when you will most likely be online so we can chat a bit. I looked at the time difference when I submitted my request and thought maybe you were in Europe. However I will really want to be able to communicate with you.

  28. Yeye Akilimali Funua Olade Says:

    Cathy,Sister,I am in Nigeria. I will send you my phone number. Marriage is a very important topic and as a Grandmother I have advised many people on marrying their God given partners(and ofcourse my children who have married successfully) so I feel this is God’s plan for me to consel on that and BLACK things to uplift the race!

  29. Cathy Says:

    Sis Yeye, Ese. .

  30. Cathy Says:

    Sis yeye, Bawoni? I tried calling your number a few times today after 9pm today, and it did not go through. I emailed you and did not get a response, is everthing ok? please write back. Ese.

  31. fahimeh Says:

    hi ;
    i have a yourba engagement,i met him when i was in another country and he is christian but i’m muslem and speak english with him but i saw him once and fall in love with him we are going to visit his family in Lagos and i started to learn Yourba language as well, but a problem is i cant trust him really and he called me his wife (iyawomi), i really eager to know him more and his culture because we are going to get wedding ceremony in there so i think it’s better i know about him more and is it relayable relationship because i think he loves me but i cant decide really about him because i’m white and he is black and we have abvious differences
    could u please help me because we love eachother but is it possible for us to marry and have family

  32. Nori Keresztes from Hungary Says:


    I love you = Mo ni ife re

  33. Temitope Says:

    To Fahimeh,
    Yoruba’s are the best people you can meet anywhere in the world. However your case seem to be that of marriage. You have to make up your mind if you would accept him and his people. Unlike what happens in Europe ( I hope you are an European) yorubas marry a wife into their family. In other words, you are not just marrying your husband you must be accepted into his family and must always respect the family values.
    Again if you think you can cope with his religion then that’s fine.
    I know of whites who married to Nigerians and are living with them in Nigeria. So there is nothing new in that.
    Its up to you to make up your mind.

  34. karl Says:

    very nice post indeed

  35. Fabunmi Says:


    I make sekeres to sell on my website. A customer has requested that I make a sekere for him that he will be dedicating to his mother who recently passed away. He wants me to name the instrument after one of the orisas. Based on the colors he has chosen and the fact that his mother had been a dancer, I decided to name it after Yeye Osun. I have come up with several names, but I don’t feel confident about any of the translations.

    Can you please help me translate the following:

    Blessed by Osun
    Gift from Osun
    Music for Osun

    We will have a ittle ceremony to officially name the sekere asking Osun to find favor in the instrument. Feel free to add any suggestions you may have. Thank you in advance for your help.

  36. Yeye Akilimali Funua Olade Says:

    Fabunmi, E ma binu(don’t be annoyed)! My ore(friend) tells me:

    Osunbunmi=gift of Osun

    Osunbukunmi=blessing from Osun

    Orinosun=music from Osun

  37. adenike Says:

    i really appreciate this. i hope you people keep it up

  38. Songonjoko Adeyemo Says:

    Eku ‘se,Eku ‘se,Eku’se…I thank the Spirits for leading me here. I am new to the internet and there is much I don’t know. I am in need of translation of a prayer I came across yesterday…”Iba Araiye. Iba Eyin BaBa Wa. Iba awon Iya Mi Osoronga. Ologinni Oru. Ki iba ‘se. Ise ti e ran mi ni mo wa je. Etutu mi ni ti ki e ba mi gbaa. Bi ekolo ba juba ire. Ile Ayanu. Bi e mi e yo mo mi. Sese omode yo me ye sese”…I would appreciate any and all assistance………………………………….Adupe-O Songojoko Adeyemo

  39. Lolade Says:

    Dear Sogonjoko,
    I like to make an attempt to translate the prayer for you, (if it has not been translated), hope it meets your need:

    Iba Araiye – Homage to Earthly Dwellers

    Iba Eyin BaBa Wa – Homage to our Forefathers

    Iba awon Iya Mi Osoronga – Homage to Mother Witches

    Ologinni Oru – The Midnight Prowlers,

    Ki iba ’se – May my homage be accepted.

    Ise ti e ran mi ni mo wa je – I’ve come to deliver the message you sent me,

    Etutu mi ni yi ki e ba mi gbaa – This is my sacrifice, accept it of me.

    Bi ekolo ba juba ile – If earthworm pay homage to the earth,

    Ile Ayanu – The earth will open.

    Bi e ri mi e yo mo mi – If you see me, receive me joyfully,

    Sese omode yo me ye sese”… – Joyfully, children receives birds, Joyfully …

  40. wale Says:

    what is the english translation of Kokoro Agbon….it is supposed to be ant/insect that is a unisex(?). I heard it in an islamic song that says that the ant/insect (koro has no male or female but molds on trees and houses.

  41. Onipekun Says:

    Kine tola, ki i wo to la, adia fun won ni Igannan Osinsin abu fun won ni Iganan Ofiki Nigbati ni ki won se, nje ofiki kan ko san ko re ko ja o we oo, Omi ti emi o mu, ko ku ni san gb’enu eni lo o. Asé ( translation englis )

  42. Onipekun Says:

    eyonu translation,???

  43. Desta Aliy Says:

    I will response next

  44. funmi Says:

    what does IPIN mean- ipin as in what comes out of the eye, like a mucor

  45. Jill Says:

    I need a translation for the following desperately:

    Adura wa a gba ninu odun yi, oluwa a si duro ti wa, Eyi fun ara wa ati fun awon omo. Ko ni re wa o. E ba ni ki gbogbo ebi.


  46. ekundayo Says:

    i love the site but i cannot download


    kin ni itumo ipin ati iseda, pelu oriki lede Geesi ?
    Gbo awa omo kaaro ojire Oluwa yoo wa pelu wa

    • Tale Says:

      ipin – means the white mucus that comes out of the eyes
      ipin – in another pronounciation also means, your ‘portion’, your ‘inheritance’

  48. Kayode Says:

    Could you help me do a study of “LIFE” in Yoruba and Afro-Asiatic?

  49. Adenike Balogun Says:

    kokoro agbon is not cocnut insect but a type of insect that stings

  50. Adenike Balogun Says:

    you have said the meaning of ipin. it is the dirt that comes out of the eye

  51. Omogbolahan Ayorbamy Babs Says:

    please, I want to download a softcopy of Yoruba-English dictionary but I couldn’t just do it, I need somebody to help me


  52. phima Says:

    waoh, this is a lovely site, i enjoyed the whole posts.
    please can i get the download of herbs in yoruba with its english translation, ill realy appreciate it as am working on something presently that requires my using a list of nigerian herbs & all herbs in general both in english translated to yoruba, ibo or hause. thanks.

  53. eva Says:

    Im coming from Indonesia and my bf is Nigerian -Yoruba..
    i really want to learn Yoruba languange..
    coz i love it..please kindly share with me..

    thanks for your kindness

    God bless u

  54. akin omoniyi Says:

    please what is the english name of a ball-like mammal. it has a skin that is all covered with spikes. it withdraws its head to look like a ball. we call it LI-N-LI in my native language. kindly reply.

  55. Yemi Johnson Says:

    Love this idea. Does the dictionary have names of herbs? This is the main reason I want to download. Thanks a bill…

  56. SOLOMON Says:

    love is on the way

  57. STEVEN Says:

    what does igbaoru mean in english.

  58. STEVEN Says:

    my dad keeps using the word on me…”i’ll give u a gift if u can tell me what igbaoru means

  59. olawale gbenga Says:

    Pls, am olawale base in the gambia. i really need youba dictionary software at least for my mobile phone because there re alot of word the i found it so difficult to translate to english. i will be more than very greatful if you can help me with this. thanks

  60. tunji Says:

    olawale gbenga: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NaT8Wmfx4gk for info on typing yoruba on a phone

  61. Arc Abdulrahman M. Elhussaini Says:


  62. Francis Oluwadare Says:

    when i discovered how far my language has travelled, i was excited about it! I just wish that the Nigerian Government can inculcate the three major languages in Nigeria to form just one which will be spoken all over Nigeria. it could be called “NIGERIANA” or something close to that. Long live NIGERIA!

  63. seun Says:

    please i need ‘ oriki IWO’
    e ba mi fi sowo sinu e mail address mi
    e se pupo

  64. popoola Says:

    pls i want yoruba dictionary and i can’t find one in my village pls can i ask question on yoruba translation

  65. popoola Says:

    ejo se ele owe yoruba ranse pelu itumo

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  67. Yusuf Anshori Says:

    nice post and execelent blog

  68. Adetomiwa yetunde Says:

    e dakun,nibo ni moti le ri dictionary yoruba ra

  69. Aderemi Babatunde Says:

    Good day, please I so much have interest in Yoruba Dictionary and I want to download it on my phone.Please how can I do that. Thanks for assisting people in the Language and promoting the Language globally.

  70. Ejalonibu Says:

    Infact, i was so happy by the time i saw this on the net. Thanks for uniting nations. keep it up.

  71. Festus C. Says:

    pls I want software of yoruba dictionary and the manual, it’s a matter of urgent and i will appreciate if you can send to this address. noblefestus2@yahoo.co.uk. or my Address at No: 11 Aguma Street Ogbunabali Garrison Portharcourt Rivers State Nigeria.

  72. adedeji aderemilekun Says:

    pls i need procedure on how to download yoruba dictioary on my phone. I really need it.

  73. aliu olorunfemi Says:


  74. Jacob Olatunji Adeoye Says:

    Ki Oluwa Olodumare bukun gbogbo awon eda, i se okunrin ni, i se obinrin ni, ki apa k’o ma kun yin. Pelu inu didun ati ara’ya ni mo fi we titi mo fi de agbami yi. Ara mi ya.

    Emi na ti ngba ni ero fun’gba die lati se idasile iru aye yi ti yoo ma gbe asa ati ise awa Yoruba laruge. Ki Olorun wa pelu yin o. Ese. Ki eko ati igbega ti o n ti odo yin wa lori ede, asa ati ise Yoruba ma te siwaju.

    • Lis Says:

      Hola Jacob Olatunji Adeoye
      Would you be able to help me translate this into english?
      Eledumare a gba e lowo and mo ri e

      Thank you

      • Olayinka Aminu Says:

        May God blee all mankind, male or female. May you not be frustrated, its with happiness that i av surfed through before geting here. am very healthy.

        I had the thought also to create a forum like this that would further boost the image of youruba language and culture. May God be with you. May the knowledge that comes from you and the strenght you’ve been using in doing this keep growing.

  75. fatooki Oluleye Says:

    I need a yoruba english dictionary urgently.You are kindly requested to send it through this address leyetooki@yahoo.co.uk installable on mobile phone.

  76. maria Says:

    pls i also need procedure on how to download yoruba dictioary on my phone.

  77. Billa Says:

    This is new for me … much can I take it from there … I’m glad to learn several foreign languages … and now the language of Yoruba,, tell me .. what should one say when he fell in love …

  78. michael olusesan Says:

    Is very good to have yoruba dictionary, it really help to improve in speaking and help to talk parable. thanks for this.

  79. adebayo Says:


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  81. ahmed folorunso Says:

    this is a job well done, ki Olorun tu bo ma ran yin lowo

  82. Lyontai Says:

    Thanks a million – you are a true born of your people. May their grace be on thee. Ase.

  83. bishop amusan Says:

    It is a must for all the Yorubas to keep for the future generation.

  84. Owoso Temitope Olanrewaju Says:

    E jowo, mo ma nilo dictionary yoruba,nibo ni mo ti le rii?

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  86. Idowu matthew Says:

    Pls i want to download english and yoruba dictionary on my LG GW305 phone.

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  89. Olaniyi M Kunle Says:

    Bawo ni mose le ri kopi dikisanari yoruba lati odo yin.

  90. ILESANMI Says:

    Pls I also need this yoruba dictionary on my phone where and how can I download it I really need it cuz am a real yoruba boy and I can’t afford to forget my mother language. drop to this E-mail sanmi_arins@yahoo.com

  91. DARE FATOKI Says:


  92. DARE FATOKI Says:

    Please, help me to send it to my E-mail address

  93. Vladvdimir Says:

    привет народ! Очень надеюсь на вашу помощь, уже пол инета осмотрел. Кто нибудь знает где в россии можно достать шикарный китайский клог HTC Deisre – HDC T9190 ???. Это посути почти Galaxy Ace, но экран больше. Только я его у на с в стране так и не нашел =( С Гонконга долго ждать да и с Paypal связываться не хочу. Вот тут просто его обзор нашел :HDC T9190, но там только на китайский магазин сслыка =(( Кто может помочь – пишите в ЛС или на мыло! Заранее огромное спасибо!

  94. Nancy Lopez Says:

    I am trying to learn Yoruba to surprise my boyfriend who lives in Nigeria. I am of Cuban desent and live in the Florida, U.S.A. So I already have an accent on the english language. I would like to start by saying common sentences like “I love you” I miss you” How are you today” “Love your wife” “You make me so happy” etc. Is there a site I can go to or can someone help me?

  95. michael rogers Says:

    i really need this dictonary as a pan africanist and in tribute to my anceastors

  96. Tajudeen Alowonle Says:

    this is a great site, keep the flag flying….. If u want to learn much of Yoruba adage and their meaning, just search for a group named ”Proverbial adages” on face book and join it………… E ku ise o…… Omo kaaro oo jire

  97. Tajudeen Alowonle Says:

    Kokoro agbon in English simply means wasp ……. Check it in the dictionary . If there is any Yoruba word that is giving u problem i think i can help cause am a full breed Yoruba guy ………. My number : 2348062954499 thanks

  98. Akinyeye Owoseeni Says:

    I need the decson in yoruba for nokia mobile phone

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    i dount anytin 2 say. But nigerians mosly a wa omo ka ro oji re let f

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  102. Ojo Matthew S. Says:

    I don’t know how to download this document, can you please give me the process involve. Thank

  103. The Rev. Michael A. Femi-Adebanjo Says:

    Is there a way to freely download a Yoruba Dictionary?
    It shall be a huge help to me… I can contribute to Yoruba Learning and Christian Evangelism in the African tongue – without stress!
    YeyeOlade, Thanks a million, if you’ll help!

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  108. Toyin Daniel Says:

    I want to have yoruba dictionary and the manual on my mobile phone (Nokia 2690), it’s a matter of urgent and i will appreciate if you can send to this address.

    4, Hajo Street, Okitipupa, Ondo State. Nigeria.

    Mobile Number: +234-703-536-7852


    By Mrs Toyin Daniel

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  112. isaiah oluwasegun Says:

    i whent to easy for me if i read or to prich samon

  113. sururat Says:

    i can speak yoruba but my brother can not say yoruba like me i like yoruba i hate igbo und hausa i live in switzerland i love my lagunage yoruba i shall not live it allow amen i thank my god that give the lagunage i thank god i from nigeria lagos thank.

  114. bisola Says:

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  137. ftnice Says:

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  138. usman Says:

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  139. Adekunle olanrewaju Says:

    I love it because am yoruba man also an in comming script writer.

  140. Wahab saheed babalola Says:

    What is english meaning of ‘sekere’

  141. Adekunle olanrewaju Says:

    This a great job and it make proud of my country nigeria, been a yoruba and incoming writer i belived is going asist me in translation. Kudos to yon.

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  143. jeremiah Says:

    i really love to download this

  144. Kehinde Says:

    I want to learn the language,didnt grow up with my parent, find it difficult to speak and understand

  145. Kehinde Says:

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  150. Funmi Says:

    It’s really hard finding a English-yoruba translator

  151. bisola Says:

    pls tel me d yoruba name of agnus castus chasteberry

  152. Tobby olukosi Says:

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  154. Bakare Azeez Says:

    How can i get the yoruba dictionary software, i need to install it on my system to be able to get the meaning of some English words in Yoruba. These things are not learnt in school

  155. Salahudeen olayinka isiaq Says:

    Am very happy 2 hear dis,yoruba is nw universal lang.

  156. Salahudeen olayinka isiaq Says:

    Am very happy 2 hear dis,yoruba is nw universal lang. Let enjoy it

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  159. Wahab Nureni O Says:

    So nice and interesting dictionary. In a good dialet.

  160. Oluwabanwo oluwafemi Says:

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  161. pipy Says:

    i need to learn and speak yoruba language with ease

  162. eninaj Says:

    please help me with the interpretation of the poem three friends by youruba….pleaseplease????

  163. kunlex Says:

    i will like 2 learn more language.

  164. olatunde johnson Says:

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  166. Steph Says:

    Hi… I have a friend and he is a Nigerian… He told me this. Se o fe ki a do ara wa? What is the meaning of it. I am just starting to learn Yoruba language. Thank you…

  167. mathy Says:

    Hi Steph, a properly brought up young man / gentleman does not say that to any lady!. It literately means ‘do u want us to have sex’ (and my dear, that is me translating it mildly!) A proper yoruba girl will find that so offensive and disrespectful of both her person and her family. You see, we are not only our own persons but also represent our individual families!

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  174. Hafeeztajudeen Says:

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  175. Ajuwon oluade a Says:

    am proud 2 be a yoruba not just that but from the source of yoruba kingdom.

  176. Abdulwhasihu akorede Says:

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  177. ALADEJARE, Tejumade, Tadese Says:

    There is diversity in yoruba languge, based on the various dialects that the language posess and that’s what brings out its beauty.
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  179. deji Says:

    how do I get the mobile version of this yoruba dictionary? especially the android version.

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  182. Ojo joseph sola Says:

    I like yoruba-english dictionary

  183. Ojo joseph sola Says:

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  185. Abiola Aboderin Says:

    Mo nidi english to yoruba dictionary.

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  187. Adeleye Ayodeji Samuel Ojo Says:

    I my language,yoruba language is vry sweet.

  188. Adeleye Ayodeji Samuel Ojo Says:

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    Hi to every , for the reason that I am in fact eager of reading this web site’s post to be updated regularly. It carries good material.

  210. abiola Says:

    Very interesting dictionaryto read.

  211. Kareem Toheebat Omolaso Says:

    Kini aisan ofa ni ede geesi?

  212. Lawrence Folorunso Says:

    Good site keep it up

  213. Adeniyi Says:

    I like my language, i can proud of it any where, any how, wherever, whichever and forever.

  214. muritala akeem Says:

    i want to download free yoruba english dictionary

  215. Tonya Says:

    I am new to this site…yet very grateful to have found it. I’ve never thought in all of my life that my heart would be captivated by any other man but an American man. However, the Almighty God thought otherwise. I am now in a very blessed relationship with a very awesome Yoruba man….to the Glory of God. After seeking God first, we both found that we were destined to be with each other. I have already began to obtained material to help me with learning the culture and language. Please if @ all possible would someone forward me the link to download the free Yoruba English dictionary also. Thanks & God bless you!

  216. Jamal Says:

    It’s hard to find experienced people on this topic, however, you seem like you know what you’re talking about!


  217. Wummy anthonya Says:

    I wil b glad 2 hav dis on my mobile.

  218. wahab ajao Says:

    Thanks for making yoruba proud

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  220. Neva Says:

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  221. Sulaymon Tadese Faozahny Says:

    very fantastic language

  222. two for one restaurant coupons Says:

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  223. Odunola Says:

    I want to download yoruba dictionary

  224. aromokun samuel Says:

    pls i need yoruba dictionary on my phone (symbian phone), how can i download it

  225. alesh2 Says:

    I wants to download yoruba dictionary.
    Please help me out.

  226. Akande moshood abolore Says:

    Kinni yoruba npe ni mandatory ni ede geesi.

  227. Akande moshood abolore Says:

    Kinni yoruba npe ni constituency ni ede geesi.

  228. Abiodun Salami Says:

    i really enjoyed this site, honestly is met for me, since am trying to brush up my yoruba language

  229. Abiodun Salami Says:

    i need more of my language both in writing, and verbal particularly the proverb.

  230. Osam Says:

    Very instresting

  231. Moshood abiola Says:

    Yoruba dictionary

  232. Mr os Adewoga Says:

    I want to download yoruba dictionary on this phone

  233. Olamigoke bolaji Says:

    I like it

  234. Adwole Bukola Says:

    parents should endavour to speak yoruba to their kids.Let encourage them.They re d leader of tomorow so that Our language ll not perish.

    • Yeye Akilimali Funua Olade Says:

      BENI ! Ati Parents should speak only Yoruba to their children at home! As a Blackamerikkkan I only allowed omode mi to speak Yoruba in the house ati they grew up speaking perfect Yoruba ati learned english well in the schooll!
      Sent from my BlackBerry wireless device from MTN

  235. Sarita Says:

    I like it

  236. Oloketuyi Olabisi Says:

    I need it please how to translate yoruba to english

  237. Adeleke p m Says:


  238. Omoniyi Babatunde Solomon Says:

    How to download yoruba dictionary on my phone

  239. Eniola Amos Says:

    Thanks for Yoruba Bible reference application


    Yoruba koni baje o,ase

  241. Oloketuyi Olabisi Says:

    Translate this in English pls…..Mo so fun ko gbo

  242. lola akiwowo Says:

    what is the Yoruba name for “Traditional Healer”

  243. olarewaju Says:

    I want to download yoruba dictionary

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  245. bola Says:

    What is eda iduro(causing infertility in medical terms)

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  247. Asubiaro Deborah Says:

    hello every1, dis is actually a gud place 2 interact in Yoruba language. I have read so many comments and I must say welldone to the originator of this great place. I want to use this medium to invite those who are interested in learning Yoruba as a speaking and writing language, there is a Yoruba school to bail you out somewhere in Nigeria. The school is RADLAG LANGUAGE INSTITUTE, suitated at Lateef Jankande road, Agindingbi, Ikeja, Lagos. Available in this school are certificate and diploma classes, just for you to learn dis beautiful language. for further enquiries, pls contant me through my email address. Thank you very much…. E se pupo… Yoruba dun………

  248. Donnie Says:

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  251. Ajoke Abimbola Says:

    Meaning of `Eda`

  252. Ajoke Abimbola Says:


  253. oke akeem daniel Says:

    very good

  254. Balogun Sunday Says:

    Pls explain to me how to download this dictionary

  255. kazeem adewole sulaiman Says:

    pls,install yoruba dictionary.

  256. oshinowo olatunbosun adedoyin Says:

    Yoruba dara lopolopo


    Apply for yoruba dictionary

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  260. Afolabi oladele Says:

    Mo kara ile,mo si kero ona.Mo ki okunrin atobinrin.
    Nigba ti eyin tee wa ni Amerika le e maa pon ede Yoruba le bayii…….
    O seni laaanu pe awa ti a kekoo gboye ninu ede naa ni a ri i pe awon omo iwoyi ko setan lati mo ede naa…..ki lo de gan an?
    Gege bi akekoo gboye ati oluko ede Yoruba mo setan lati ko enikeni ti o ba setan lati mo ede naa ni orile eede Amerika.Mo ti je Oluko ede yii fun odidi odun merin din logun…..

  261. wole Says:

    I like your attributes towards our language

  262. Olaniyan Helen bosede Says:

    I like it

  263. Adejumo omokehinde Says:

    I love it

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  266. Biliaminu barakat Says:

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  279. abdulsalam abdulwaheed Says:

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  280. pamaalove Says:

    yoruba sweet in language

  281. Deepaksoni Says:

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  287. Ibukun Says:

    I wanna av it cos i dnt understand yoruba wella

  288. Robiat Says:

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  293. Olaleye S. Kayode Says:

    Beni, e ni kama so yoruba nile somo wa sugbon gbogbo eyi ti e ko sibi yi oyinbo lefi ko. Ta ha wa nigbin ntan to loun o loju?

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