The Yoruba People – A Tribal Tree Extending beyond Abundant Waters

The Yoruba Tribe is one of the biggest tribes in the world. Their original place of abode is South-West Nigeria, but they have entrenched themselves beyond abundant waters by way of crossing streams, rivers, lakes and the Atlantic Ocean. In other words, this tribal grouping has settled in other countries like Benin, Togo, Brazil, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Other countries include Cuba, Venezuela, Jamaica, Dominican Republic and Trinidad and Tobago.

A Yoruba Man with Tribal Marks Enjoys the Sound of the Bata Drum


Because of the Yoruba Tribe scattered groups, the Yoruba Language is popular and spoken by an estimated thirty million people in Southwest Nigeria making up about 21% of the Nigerian population out of 44 million speakers worldwide.


The historical and documentation of the Yoruba Tribe include Ile Ife as the legendary Yoruba City of the Oyo Empire. It is the source and the capital city of this largest tribal grouping in Africa. Oduduwa was the first King at Ile Ife. He is regarded as the leader of the banished people from the Biblical Nimrod from Mesopotamia. Therefore, archaeologists have proved that Ile Ife had been occupied thousands of years before the Jesus Christ Era.


The Yoruba Traditional Religion includes many gods, but they mention “Nana Buluku,” “Olodumare,” or “Olorun” as the Supreme Creator. Other gods include “Ayao – orisha” as the god in charge of controlling the flow of air. “Mawu” is the creator goddess who is associated with the existence of the sun and the moon. “Aje” is the god in charge of distributing wealth among the inhabitants of Yoruba Land. “Shango” is the god of thunder, but his favourite wife, Oya, is the goddess who blesses fertility in marriage. Furthermore, there are over a hundred gods and goddesses among the traditional Yoruba worshippers.

The Yoruba Spiritual god of Thunder


Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove is the Yoruba Traditional Religion UNESCO Heritage Site found in Southwest Nigeria. Here, colourful traditional ceremonies take place. In this grove are found statues of some of the many gods and goddesses of the Yoruba people. A river runs through the sacred grove and sacrifices made to the gods and goddesses so that they can answer petitioners’ requests for blessings of fertility, money or protection. Offerings to the gods and goddesses include food, beverages and other forms of offerings. In this way, there exists a connection to their gods and goddesses. In spite of some Yoruba people being converted to either Islam or Christianity, the site is very popular and receives a significant number of visitors whenever ceremonies are performed. Tourists visit the site throughout the year.


The Yoruba wear modern clothes, but do not fail to wear traditional regalia during festivals or traditional ceremonies such as naming a baby or marriage ceremony. For women, they are careful during such functions to bring out the beauty of an African woman in terms of hairstyles and headdress not forgetting long dresses which reach their toes. For men, they wear loose-fitting garments to enable them to jump and dance freely.


Some Yoruba people, particularly young men, do get involved in money rituals as they become impatient to be referred to as rich people. Very few herbalists are involved in genuine money rituals. Therefore, many are fraudsters of some kind and others have endangered their lives in the process of gaining money quickly. A story is told of a person who was advised to go and touch a corpse with his money. Upon digging up the grave and in the middle of trying to reach out to the corpse in the grave, a force pulled him into the hole and he died before reaching the hospital.


According to the Chairperson of Traditional Medicine in Southwest Nigeria, Chief Kayode Idowu Esuleke in the year 2018, there are several forms of money ritual depending on the needs of an individual. Figuratively speaking, one can immerse his hand into cold water and last long. However, the one who immerses his hand into hot water gets burnt and removes his hand quickly. Therefore, getting involved in money rituals has various repercussions. That is why people who use their body parts like their own manhood or somebody’s heart in acquiring rituals face a shameful death or become mad in the process. One should just get charms for bringing in many visitors to his business and acquire riches in this way and not using any sacrifices.


Even before the arrival of the Europeans for colonization of Africa, the Yoruba lived in urbanized centres and is considered the most urbanized tribe in Africa. Currently, Lagos, the former capital city of Nigeria is the most populous city in Africa with over twenty million inhabitants.


Most of the Yoruba are farmers constituting about 75% of their population. Most of them produce crops for their own needs. Farming is considered men’s work as they clear the bushes and cultivate the fields. Trading foodstuffs is done by women while men enjoy selling meat.  Markets of not less than a thousand stall stands are common within short distances from each other. However, many young men are rushing for white-collar jobs because of education.


In the past, Yoruba faces were scarred with tribal marks on their faces. However, the government intervened and abolished this practice by making it a criminal offence for would-be offenders. Therefore, it is rare to come across a Yoruba person with tribal marks on his or her face.

A Yoruba Lady with Tribal Marks


Each king in Yoruba land has a unique title and is helped to rule by a council of chiefs. Many disputes are solved amicably in this manner.


The women of Yoruba are very fertile when it comes to childbirth. Maybe it is an answer from their goddesses of fertility which make them thrive like this. Whether it is a traditional request made to their goddesses for high fertility or not, the high fertility rate among the Yoruba account for the highest birthrate of twins in the world.


  • The Yoruba have contributed many things to the whole world. We are thankful to God for Wole Soyinka, a university professor who won a Nobel Peace Prize in Literature, is a Yoruba.
  • David Oyedepo and Prophet T.B. Joshua are pastors with world recognition. Their influence is felt in almost every country in the world.
  • Herbert Ogunde is regarded as the Father of Theatre in Nigeria. Nigerian movies entertain the whole world including passengers on buses or international flights. Many homes in many countries enjoy watching Nigerian movies.
  • Music and dancing are important elements of Nigerian culture. Many tourists from all over the world are entertained at home. Some Nigerian Yoruba musicians go out on the tour of the world go outside the continent of Africa to showcase their music and dancing skills.
  • Folorunsho Alakija is one of the richest black women in the world according to Forbes Magazine. She is Yoruba by tribe.


When you look at such fantastic achievements from one tribe on the African continent, we just have to thank the Almighty God for making the Yoruba thrive in our midst. Visit them in Nigeria and you shall learn a lot from them.

4 thoughts on “The Yoruba People – A Tribal Tree Extending beyond Abundant Waters”

  1. Thank you, Edgar, for sharing about the Yoruba people. It appears to me why they are the big tribe they are is down to fertility. If it is the tribe with the highest twin birthrate in the world, then its population growth rate is likely to be higher than normal.
    What I find unique about them are the facial tribal marks. Do they still do this practice or it a thing of the past?

    1. Martin, the Yoruba believe Oshun – the wife of Shango – is the reason they blessed with fertility.
      Tribal marks are a long-held tradition of the Yoruba people and I do not see it dying away. Though the practice is on a decline due to modernisation, so cultures still do facial marking for beauty, identification, healing and spiritual protection.

  2. I know the Yoruba tribe to be among the largest tribes in Nigeria.. It makes Africa an amazing ….with their money ritual and traditions it makes one want to visit the and learn more about them one on one….thank you Edgar for the insight

    1. The Yoruba tribe is the biggest and most popular tribe in Africa. Their money ritual tradition may be performed by way of human sacrifice, use of animals or even saying out certain words that invite money. People have engaged in this practice to have a better standard of living o if their regular jobs do not generate enough income to cover their costs of living.
      However, there are people who have turned money rituals as a full-time business with some preying on unsuspecting people to con them of their money.

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