Traditions: Exploring the revered Yoruba greeting culture

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Femi Adesina, a special adviser on media and publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari prostrating to the Alaafin of Oyo.

No matter your title, whether you are top rank in the elite class, you just have to bend that knee if you are truly Yoruba.

One of the metrics for measuring the quality of a respectful person in the Yoruba culture is the interest of the individual to express obeisance in the form of a stretching. Yes! You got that right.

This will require persons of either the male or female gender to prostrate or kneel when greeting someone thought to be older or in a high position.


Such activity is not important to most tribes in Nigeria. The Yorubas who occupy the South-West part of the country are keen about giving attention to people who acknowledge the idea of showing respect to people older than them. It suggests a community attracted to the romance associated with the image of being superior.

A few people can testify to enjoying goodwill from a member of this tribe just by showing respect. A consistent amount of "E kaaro ma" while prostrating can earn you a job referral at Shell Oil from Mrs. Birkenstirth who loves the way you stretched your whole length and displayed a sufficient amount of proficiency in your local dialect, Yoruba.

ALSO READ: 5 ways to experience the Yoruba culture

Despite her exposure and civilization being a child of the colonial era, she still appreciates one who is reverent in her manner of addressing her elders. Do you know that Iya Ishola can be more than an 'Ankara' and lace seller to you on your first visit to her shop in Idumota market just because you showed the will to bend on your knee.

"Kaa bo omo mi," she would have said to you when you kneel in front of her as you entered her fabric clustered business center. Iya Ishola will have showed more interest in you when you have explained to her that you are on a visit to compare samples for your upcoming wedding ceremony. She would have called you her daughter despite just meeting you. An amount of goodwill can abound to you when dealing with an adult who is all about the culture in a Yoruba setting.

ALSO READ: Nigerians angry after Lagos monarch humiliates Ooni of Ife (Video)

If you are a young bachelor approaching a stage where you are expected to get married, you are likely to encounter issues with your mother over your girlfriend who is well educated, a successful career lady who can organize your awesome personality, if she doesn't understand a need to consider the Yoruba greeting culture as a subject of serious concern and this doesn't apply to the very traditional homes alone.

Perception about the Yoruba greeting traditions

You will often hear people with tribal affiliations different from the Yorubas utter an expression such as "Yoruba people too laik respect" or "Yoruba people are too respectful". This is a response to the pressuring feeling they get in company of the subjects who are likely to show either warmth or scorn to a person who have failed to express the an intention to readily greet an older person in a retracted position.

ALSR READ: We shouldn't mock our tradition and culture

The African culture in general emphasizes on respect for elders but the hunger for it in a Yoruba setting can be described as rather extreme.

Imagine you are a Yoruba boy on your father's 50th birthday. You are the first son and your aunts and uncles are part of the guests your family is expecting. You probably have a hard time recognizing most of them because you last set eyes on each other on your grandmother's burial ceremony when you were only 10 years old.

The expectancy to prostrate flat on the floor is there whether you are able to recall who they are not. It can be an endless cycle of prostrating so much if you are trying to keep up with the demands. You would have scored some points for your parents who are likely going to be praised for doing a good job training you or done the opposite if the reverse was your reaction.


Majority of the Yoruba people are folks with a great awareness due to the status of the west as a key region during the era of the British colonial rulers in Nigeria. They know how to assert themselves and can be quite vocal when insisting on what they consider their rights. This is the amount of vigour that has surrounded their protection of a cultural value that places too much emphasis on obedience and valuing those superior to one.

While it is good to preserve this culture among members of the tribe, it will only amount to victimization if this tradition is imposed on others who are made to feel segregated when living in a community dominated by the Yorubas. It can contribute to the dreaded ethnic unrest which mostly occurs when there is a clash of interest.

from - Gist

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