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The Yorubas (3)

By Patrick Dele Cole

Read The Yorubas 1 here

Read The Yorubas 2 here

AMONG the Yorubas,the clutch bag is an essential accessory on the male because that is where he carries the money he will use to spray celebrants and others at the party.

Ogbomosho Yorubas

Probably the most travelled Yorubas are from Ogbomosho and Osun communities; they are to be found from Ivory Coast down to Congo Brazzaville in all types of trade.

They specialize in gold trade, Kola trade and transportation; especially in taxi ownership in Nigeria – conquered that as surely as the Ibos have conquered the spare parts business. From Sokoto to Kano, Maiduguri to Kaduna, Ibadan, Abeokuta, Enugu, Umahia, Owerri, Port Harcourt, Calabar- anywhere taxis are allowed to pay, most are Yorubas from Ogbomosho or nearby.

They also specialise in one type of vehicle which at anyone moment seizes their fancy – I believe at the moment it is Nissan. Before it was one kind of Nissan Datsun. The Japanese company has not spent a penny advertising their products – these Yorubas from Ogbomosho on their own have established these cars as the cars to use for taxis. State Governors sometimes have bought all kinds of other cars and the Ogbomosho drivers have watched those cars come and go.

The Kola trade is a massive enterprise in Nigeria. The fruit grew in the West, is harvested there and prepared for transportation to whenever the Hausa Fulani live who have, inexplicably, developed a liking for the kola nut. It is an ancient trade going back over 100 to 200 years.

I am not going to speculate on the original formula of coco cola, which historically has been linked to the Kola nut. There is another kind of kola nut which is traditionally used by Ibos, Urhobos and other tribes as fundamental symbol of goodwill and welcome. No traditional ceremony is complete without kola nuts.

The Yorubas and their Food Preferences, and Cultural Preferences in Religious Worship:

The Yorbas have a class distinction as far as the meat they eat is concerned. Consider how big a cow is: The Yorubas prefer to eat the extremeties, the unusual in a cow; but almost never the beef. If a Yoruba is to really host a visitor, he will serve cow tail (traditionally known as ox-tail), cow foot, cow tongue, and various parts of the entrails of the cow, like the liver, the kidneys, the cow belly, and a few other choice part of the intestines (like the tripe). He will rarely serve you the eye, rib steak, or the rump steak, the sirloin, or the T-bone steak.

So beloved are the Yorubas of the skin of the cow (which is what would, if sent to the tannery, will be the hyde and skin), that they single handedly have killed a once promising hyde and skin (leather) industry by finding more and more ingenious ways to clean cook and eat what in local parlance is called kpomo. This love of kpomo has, thereby, closed the leather and shoes factories of the defunct Bata, Lennards, Shoe Companies, etc.

Fiercely independent, the Yorubas are the ingrained strong cultural Yoruba traditions, which resulted in the break-away of some of them from such Orthodox Churches like the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Baptist and Methodist Churches, to form the African Church. This latter Church gives communicants the Eucharist, even if they are polygamists – which would be an anathema to the Orthodox Churhes.

Furthermore, the African Churches did not believe, as the early Christians did, that all aspects of the African culture is necessarily pagan and must be expunged in the Liturgy of the Church. The African Church protagonists wanted and introduced a wholesome embrace of African culture in the Church, more boisterous singing and dancing, the introduction of bands in the choirs of the Church, and singing in the traditional Languages. The African Churches were right, as most of their practices have now gradually crept into the service machineries of the Orthodox Churches.

They and even, the newly established Pentecostal Churches have all been motivated by the African Church, as they all now sing and dance, virtually raising the roof in joyous thanks and prayers in the Church to God. The Churches have adapted to the needs and culture of the people, as a result of which people are now flocking into them. None of this would have happened without the Yorubas leading this Cultural Revolution in the Church.


•Dr. Cole, a former ambassador, wrote from Lagos.


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