Explorer Yoruba


The Yorùbá people of West Africa speak the Yorùbá language, a language with about 28 million speakers. What are the features of this language?

Yorùbá is one of the three major ethnic groups in Nigeria, along with Igbo and Hausa. Variations of Yorùbá are based on the location of various tribes, such as: Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Defoid, Yoruboid, and Edekiri. These variations differ slightly, for example in terms of intonation.

Yorùbá‘s pronunciation is melodic and characterized by different tones: high (´), middle (¯), and low (`). Although Yorùbá language is an oral language, the first attempt to encode the language into writing started with the Aljami script, an adaptation of Arabic text. Later on, the Reverend Samuel Ajayi Crowther and the Christian Missionary Society (CMS) borrowed and modified the Latin alphabet to write Yorùbá. Yorùbá is written with Latin script today with the addition of digraphs and tonal markings as we saw above.

The Yorùbá speaking people of West Africa are renowned world over for their creativity in terms of art and craft. From cloth weave to sculpting, molding with clay for pots and effigies like the numerous statues, metal works by the smiths. In fact, the Yorùbá deserve to be called art and craft specialists because of the dexterity in the artistic realm. All arts and craft are called iṣẹ́ ọ̀nà.

A famous Yorùbá proverb is  “oromi tó ń jó, onílú rẹ̀ ń be nísàlẹ̀ odò” – the water lily that dance on the water, has its drummer under the river. These proverbs are pointers to the love the Yorùbá people have for dance and music. Musical objects like ìlù, ṣẹ̀kẹ̀rẹ̀ and agogo play major roles in bringing songs to life. You will learn all this, and more, in our online Yorùbá course!

Course Features

  • Lectures 52
  • Quizzes 0
  • Duration 4 weeks
  • Skill level Beginner
  • Language English
  • Students 1006
  • Certificate Yes
  • Assessments Yes
As a journalist, teaching the sociology of the Yorùbá is my duty. The culture must be passed on to the next generation.