The Yoruba tribe is the third largest ethnic group in Nigeria and occupies the South-Western and some North-Central parts of the country, while the first and second groups dominate the northern and south-eastern parts of the country. They are also spread in southern and central Benin.
They are considered to be an ethnic group with a population of 40 million people spread across the country and diaspora.
History records that before the slave trade, the Yoruba people migrated to Cuba, Dominican Republic, Brazil, and Jamaica among others.
Yoruba citadel of civilization rooted in Ile-Ife is reported that civilization already existed here centuries before the arrival of the colonial masters. They had widespread art talents that sculpted, painted, and made cultural embroidery of monumental relevance using several mediums of art expressions, from brass, bronze, and copper, and played a distinct role in art collection and history.
In Nigeria, they have a dominant population spread through Ekiti state, Lagos state, Osun state, Ogun state, Ondo state, and Oyo state respectively. They also form a basis of some 5 to 6 percent of the populations in Kwara state, Edo state, and Kogi states.
The Yoruba ethnic group holds the belief that at the beginning of creation, the universe was made using just two elements, which are the sky and the water below. They relate it in history that the servant of the Supreme Being, Olodumare was responsible for the creation of the earth. It was widely spread that he came down from heaven with a long chain, a calabash of sand, and a fie-toed fowl.
At his arrival, not a single sand was found on earth and the earth was all a great body of water.
He then poured out the sand on the waters and let down the fowl on it. The fowl scattered around the sand and was usually supervised by a chameleon to ascertain the solid-state of the produced ground. The places that are still a body of water in the present time are the places where the sand was not spread to. Some of these objects as history hold remains intact in Ile-Ife, especially the chain with which Oduduwa is believed to climb down to earth from heaven.
Another belief was that Oduduwa was a mortal who was endued with superpowers. He was said to have fathered six children and made them kings over other territories. The first was called Orangun of Illa and the people of present-day Egba in Abeokuta, Ogun State of Nigeria are said to be descended from his daughter, Alaketu. The last being Oranyan was made ruler of the Benin Kingdom, present-day Edo state in Nigeria. This explains why the language of the Edo tribe and the Yoruba tribes has some seeming similarities. The delicacies, as well as the dress and culture, are similar in some aspects and close resemblance.
One of the most cherished traditions of the Yoruba population is the ‘orúko àmútọ̀runwá’. This is the naming of a newly born child. As practiced in most traditions typical of the Nigerian context, most names are given by parents to children and some instances by their grandparents and close relatives. Funny but true, a typical Yoruba birth name can carry up to more than sixteen different names. These names are most times circumstantial depending on the circumstances during the birth of the child.
The ‘Ekun Iyawo’ ritual is observed after weddings when the bride is escorted to her new matrimonial home by her parents, relatives, and well-wishers. She is usually overwhelmed and theretofore cries along the way as she is being escorted. Her feet are usually washed during a ritual after being prayed for and are said to be a cleansing process to wash away bad luck she may be bringing to her new home.