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5 Lesser-Known Yoruba-Speaking Countries

Are you aware that Yoruba is not only spoken in Nigeria? It primarily occurs in some of the other countries discussed below. Yoruba is one of Nigeria’s largest ethnic groups, with the majority of its speakers living in the country’s southwest. The language originated as a Benue-Congo branch of the Niger-Congo linguistic family.

Farming is a major occupation, and trading is an important part of the Yoruba people’s lives. Cocoa is an important cash crop, with maize, plantains, yams, groundnuts, and millet. Yorubas have long been regarded as among the greatest in Africa in terms of artistic ability and productivity. Traditionally, women worked in basket weaving, cotton spinning, and fabric dyeing. Bronze casting reached its apex in Yoruba territory between the 13th and 14th centuries and has since become a mark of excellence throughout West Africa.

1. Brazil

Brazil, a Yoruba-speaking country, has a history of African descent. Salvador is the city and capital of Bahia, Brazil. It is located in the southern part of the country, separating it from the Atlantic Ocean. Yorubas are the majority there, and they worship Ogun, Yemoja, Sango, and Egungun.

The origins of this tribe in Salvador can be traced back to the “Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade” centuries ago. One of these people’s distinguishing characteristics is their unwavering commitment to their traditions, despite the pain and hardships they endured as slaves.

Yoruba god worshippers are noted to always wear white clothes, led by priests and priestesses. It’s always fascinating when they offer sacrifices at the shrine and dance to the lovely beat of a traditional drum called “Ilu Agere”. Another cultural element demonstrated by the Yorubas in Salvador is their fondness for bean cake called as “Akara” – it is widely consumed and cooked using the same ingredients as in Nigeria, including palm oil, onions, beans, and pepper.

2. Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone is a West African country. In the 15th century, a Portuguese navigator named “Pedro de Sinatra” discovered Freetown Harbour for the first time. “Serra Lyoa” (Lion Mountains) refers to the several hills that surround the harbour. Sierra Leone is a significant Yoruba-speaking country in the globe. The escaped Yoruba slaves in the mid-nineteenth century who later settled in this country are known as “Oku or Aku.” They are most commonly found in Banjul, specifically at Fourah Bay, Fula Town, and Aberdeen Village.

The slaves discussed here were primarily Yoruba businesspeople from Abeokuta and Lagos. In addition to what we previously stated, the Oku people are ancestors of liberated Yoruba Africans who moved in Sierra Leone and eventually created a unique group beginning in the 1840s.

3. Benin Republic

Benin Republic, originally Dahomey, is a country in West Africa. The capital is Porto-Novo, and the seat of government is in Cotonou, the country’s economic powerhouse and most populous city. Agriculture is the country’s primary source of income.

Benin Republic, being a Yoruba-speaking country, has an ethnically similar history to Nigeria. The Yorubas have adopted the term “Ketu,” and their traditional ruler is known as “Alaketu,” which is tied to Ile-Ife, Nigeria. According to tradition, Ketu was one of the first kingdoms founded by the children of Oduduwa, however some accounts indicate the kingdom was heavily reliant on Oyo, paying annual tribute to them.

Regardless of the various narratives, Oyo and Ketu have unquestionably maintained strong friendships because of their historical, cultural, and ethnic connections. When the kingdom was part of Oyo’s armies, they frequently fought Dahomey, but they were eventually conquered in the 1880s and sold into slavery. Benin Yoruba has a distinct accent as a result of the influence of some languages spoken in the country, such as “Egun”.

4. Togo

Togo, a West African country that is also one of the Yoruba-speaking countries, has striking similarities with its Nigerian counterparts. The capital is called “Lome” and it stretches all the way to the Gulf of Guinea. Between the 16th and 18th centuries, the coastline region served as a European slave trafficking base, known as “The Slave Coast.”

Atakpame, a Togo town, is similar to Abeokuta and Oyo. This small village in Togo is encircled by seven mountains, similar to the aforementioned state in Nigeria, which has Olumo Rock and Oke Ibadan as ancestral symbols. Atakpame also has historical connections to Idanre in Ondo state, which is a town with massive and gorgeous mountains.

In Atakpame, over 90,000 people speak Ife Togo, a Yoruba dialect. Ife settlers went from Dahomey to Togo and created Atakpame. The Ife Togo dialect retains all of the Yoruba language’s uniqueness and tonal elements; every word is tone marked, with the exception of the mid tone, which is no longer indicated in Nigeria’s modern Yoruba writing system. Another consideration is that two consonants that are no longer permitted to be used together are still present in Ife Togo; for example, “Oshogbo” should be “Osogbo,” and “Ogbomosho” is now “Ogbomoso.”

5. Côte d’Ivoire

Côte d’Ivoire is located in western Africa. Its capital is Yamoussoukro, with Abidjan serving as the largest city and economic center. The official language of the country is French, but indigenous languages are also widely spoken. The Ejigbos were among the earliest migrants to arrive in Côte d’Ivoire, but they initially resided in Ghana, Togo, and Benin.

Ejigbo is a city in Osun State, Nigeria, built by Akinjole Ogiyan, a descendant of Oduduwa. He and his brother, the founder of Ikire-Ile, fled Ile-Ife with Oranmiyan to start their own town. Akinjole rose to the position of paramount king over numerous communities in Yoruba nation.

Ejigbo people have been emigrating to Côte d’Ivoire since the 1900s. They address their community leader as “Oba”. It might be “Oba Aboba”, “Oba Treichville”, and so on. The Oba of Abidjan is known as “Oba Abidjan,” and he is the leader of the Ejigbo group in Cote d’Ivoire. The Ejigbos’ passion of commerce has made them feel more at ease in Abidjan, which has become a hospitable environment for Yoruba speakers.

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