Tracing black roots to Yorubaland

It must have been such a fascinating experience for the blacks around the globe wanting to trace where their great grandparents were from. I know I would be extremely excited, but will I be able to swallow the truths of the so-called roots especially if it is still as oppressing as it were before and after the transatlantic slave trade?

In April this year I was at a three-day conference, among the attendees were two guests from Trinidad and Tobago. At the end of the second day, I had chance to chat briefly with them, they were excited coming to Yorubaland for the first time. The lady among the two narrated excitedly all that they do in Trinidad that is so similar to ours – the masquerade, the Sango and many traditions that is slowly disappearing in today’s Yorubaland. The man was equally excited, they had plans to visit lots of places and of course the Orisun (source) of Yoruba people which is supposedly Ile Ife.

If this step of reconnecting with roots brings joy – I am glad to be one of the first few of Yoruba they met, I thought to myself.

In my hotel room that evening I remember my good friend Eve, whom I met 14 years ago at work, we hit it off from the first day, family talks is central to our conversations – our ups and lows. Both of our parents are of about the same age. Our family settings bear so much resemblance that it is hard to believe we are from different continents, hers in Trinidad – I have met both of her parents, mine in Nigeria – she met one of mine. I have joked with Eve several times that her great grandparents were the lucky ones to have made ‘the boat,’ this is because Eve was shocked the first time I narrated the land grabbing crisis I grew up with and that it is still ongoing, the exercise that was meant to rid of a group of people using violence initiated by Ooni Sijuade.

It is worth noting that slavery was part of Yoruba culture well before the transatlantic Slave Trade began. And also that during the Slave Trade, African Merchants played significant roles and profited from the trade. Most of the active merchants in Nigeria were the royal families, they owned slaves of their own, they knew the groups to select from. Slave Trade has been banned around the world for a long time now however, a few royal families in Yorubaland still hold on tightly to the inhumane traditions by way of extortion or outright land grabbing.

Just noticing this on BBC and Nigeria is one of the few countries who still practice systematic slave trade, in my case it is between Ile Ife and Modakeke.

Please stay tuned for details on recent development.

About my new Trini friends – they talked about Opa Oranmiyan, they talked about the palace, which Palace?  I itched to inform them that for the most part of my life, I lived less than four miles to the palace but never visited for the fear of being tied up. 

I decided I’d be a very good girl so I talked about all that is pleasant about our Yoruba heritage – I encouraged them to visit the Erin Ijesa Waterfalls, Osun State and Ikogosi Springs, Ekiti state, and if they had more time Atakumosa Palace is a good place to stop by – all good.

No way am going to ruin their big trip to the roots – after all they are more likely to be my long-lost cousins.

Categories: A Yoruba Monarch, Africa, Nigeria

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

7 replies

  1. My mother is Afro-Guyanese and my father an Igbo from Delta state, I grew up in England.
    I can say that Yoruba culture is one of the strongest black cultures around today. Even those who were sold into slavery in Brasil and Cuba retain some of the customs and culture. The same can’t be said for Igbo, which promplty died as the slaves left Africa.
    Yoruba have a strong and distinguished culture (though as you’ve said it isn’t perfect). When people talk of culture from overseas in terms of Nigeria, most of the time it it Yoruba followed a long way behind by Hausa, and if your lucky occasionally one of the others might be mentioned. Respect to “omo Yoruba”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, appreciate the read.

      Just yesterday I had lunch with a friend who is from South Brazil, she showed me her collection of Yoruba gods on fabric, all of the names were yoruba with a hint of Portuguese in them for example Orisa in Yoruba but Orixa in Brazil – Incredible how they kept the culture going for so long.

      Also learned about ademic work of Reginaldo Prandi on the subject, amazing.

      I, too have loads of respect for these guys for their preservation of the culture.


  2. Your article is a piece of hogwash laced with errors and bereft of any historical perspective. What exactly was intended to achieve? To regale your audience with half-baked truths which suggest the Yoruba engaged in slavery, at a time when this was a alien concept in other climes? Or was it simply to make the onerous task of reclamation impossible for diasporan Africans?


    • Thank you. If that is the way you read it all the best to you. I am writing from what I grew up with as my history is distorted. You wouldn’t succeed picking up a fight with me as I had most of my life getting out of one. Maybe stick with posts that failed to connect the past with the present?

      The world is a lot ‘open’ now, diaspora interested in their roots are welcome with open arms to visit and connect. I have different history from theirs, I don’t need to die concealing mine to make others feel good.



  3. Have no clue regarding ‘roots’ to be honest, not all that interested (damn, there goes another stereotype) fifth generation Tennesseean, and as far as can traced beyond that, mother’s ‘clan’ were from Jamaica, three generations from Black River, beyond that no one knows (or cares) dad’s clan from Cuba, prior to Tennessee, exact length unknown. I’m sure eventually, if traced, the trail would lead to some place in the african continent, but like I said, not that interested in ‘discovering’ those roots (sad, I know, but hey, it’s true)


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