I have heard ‘Sábàdà’ so many times over the years, usually during events when the drummers were doing their job. The word is associated with people of Modakeke. The drum message goes:

Sabada ni e lu fun, Modakeke lo ti wa – (Beat sabada for him, he is from Modakeke). For some reason, like intoxication, people will rise up to move their hips in rhythmic fashion – they’d dance for the recognition.

Once you get the grip on Yoruba language, it is not hard to decipher the meaning of any words, knowledge of accents and dots makes it a lot easier – creativity with words is endless.

However, looking at the word ‘sabada’ on its own – the meaning beats me. And interesting enough, a few elders I know agreed it to be a new word, perhaps in use in the last 30 years or so (yet to get hold of the relevant book).

As with all other languages of the world – language does not exist on its own, it evolves, changes, improves by the events of the society and the people therein – adding to the beauty of it all.

But where does Sábàdà come from and why is it associated with this group of people, the Modakekes?

Ẹwà Èdè – Beauty of Language

I found out that Sábàdà is a relatively new word coined Dr Oladiran Ajayi who was once a lecturer at University of Ibadan Chemistry Department and a passionate writer on the issue around Yoruba culture & tradition and how Modakeke-Ife fits into it.

This post isn’t about Sábàdà alone, it is more about how peaceful co existence facilitates progress.

Dec 26th 2015 was 32nd Akoraye Day – it is the town’s own festival to celebrate gift of life. It would have been the 34th but we missed two years 1997 & 2000. Read about that here

History, I have found is powerful. Knowing the past allows us to plan to execute actions differently if we ever expected different results.

On this day, I was with a friend, she is a fellow Modakeke and her husband is mixed (not race) His father is from Modakeke and Mother from Ile Ife. (what an irony) Our talks was all around our town, how we all are hoping that permanent (not pretend) peace reigns.

Permanent peace here means people in both towns and villages can go about their business with no fear for their lives.

“Oh well, let’s thank God now, abi? At least there’s more awareness and something promising is happening.” I said.

Then a text message about Ooni Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II came through that reads “Oba Enitan Ogunwusi is also present.” I showed the message to the adults around me – everyone was happy!

We were over three thousand miles away, all lived through the last 35 years and for the first time a monarch, in our lifetime deem it fit to step on to the soil next door to jubilate with fellow Yorubas, fellow Nigerians and fellow humans – well, Ooni Ogunwusi is making history and a positive one.

When people follow what they communicate with actions, then it means a lot.

I have heard and read online about Ooni Ogunwusi’s  insistent on bringing back permanent peace both in towns and villages – that is commendable.

My two kobo here is that – B’ina ko ba tan lori, ẹjẹ kii tan lekanna – (Lice infested clothes encourages ones fingers to be feasted on).

E f’ori jin omo, to ba se bi owe o.

I am not suggesting this will be an easy task given our long history, however, I hope Ooni Ogunwusi would look into making it possible for our farmers to return to their farms and villages. These are the people who managed to survive the massacre in the farms between 1997 and 2000. Residents of both towns were affected. Some of these people are still picking up pieces of their lives after 18years.

I know this is a lot to ask, but then again, Ooni Ogunwusi is Enitan (person of history), you have the authority to change the course of history – mend the broken hearts.

K’ade pe l’ori.

Categories: A Yoruba Monarch, Nigeria

Tags: , , , , , , ,

27 replies

  1. Sabada dance is common among tha Hausa community in Northan Nigeria. It is a dance among the young maids only. How it came to be associated with Modakeke in the South West , I don’t know. When I was young I used to see our anties dance Sabada in Ekiti.
    Sabada is recognized as one of Nigeria’s folk dances. Sabada achieved a philatelic status on December 15, 1992 when it was featured on Nigeria Postage Stamps along with other Nigerian traditional dances such as Sato, Ukpa, and Dundun dances . Folakemi has really started an interesting conversation on our culture. Well done.
    J. ‘Femifola Durosomo
    Abuja, Nigeria.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Folakemi. As you, I have been quite interested in the meaning of the word Sabada and moreso as attached to Modakeke.
    The word is not quite recent as I remember my late grand mother used to appeal that tune on me in Ibadan as far back as some 48 years ago.
    I think the present Ogunsuwa will be in good knowledge to enlighten on how it came to be a drum beat call to arouse his people.
    Yasniger information is quite interesting. I ll also have to find out more about this word, Sabada !

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Olumide,

      You are right about Sabada not being new, I have been hearing it since I was little, not quite 48 for me :). On Yasniger’s comment, I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case as we have quite a lot of borrowed words from that region that I grew up thinking it was Yoruba.

      Agreed, Ogunsua likely to know more of the origin. I’ll prefer to ask him in person – if you get to him first or find out more on the meaning/origin, please share. E se


  3. I am from Ibadan, growing up to iyalu influence. I was even nicknamed tatalo because I could cram songs from Tatalo Alamu, Haruna Ishola, Yussuf Olatunji etc. The beat sabada reminds me of my life forty years ago. Warm regards.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Interesting, one of my Nigerian God fathers who happens to be a drummer taught me a dance called Sabada hear in the States and it’s quite intoxicating and lots of fun. When you get tired from doing the movements the drums give you energy to keep dancing.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Commendable indeed my President and when it happens my post shall be linked to you as an advocate for the peace between ife and Modakeke.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Strange world!!! We have a ‘Meaningless’ Hausa children dance song that uses the same word SABADA!! There is no other word in the entire song, only a rendition & chanting of the same word over and over again while (you guess it)… endless twisting of the hips.

    It goes something like; “Sa ba da…. Sabada…. Sa ba da… Sabada”…
    For the life of me, there is no single interpretation to this song.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha, that is interesting. When I first heard Sabada, my first instinct was that it is likely to be Hausa given we have a few words like that originated from Hausa.

      Sadly Dr Ajayi is late now, we could have ask him and I haven’t been able to get hold of any of his books.

      The word was credited to him locally. I wondered if Dr Ajayi heard the it from the same place as those kids, liked the sound of it and decided to apply it in his work.

      Please Yas, if you ever see those kids ask what it means…na gode.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. There’s so much culture wrapped up in a language. Thanks for sharing Fola.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Praise be to God re Ojaja II.

    Your two cities are too close – not physically – that everybody must let the new Oni realize it is the only way to go, the route of respect for each other and a spirit of accomodation.

    Sincere regards,

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Those of us from Ìjèbú and Lagos, what drum beat will we be served? Òga, ekú ohùn. If there is will, there will always be a way. We pray for total peace, reconciliation and restitution where appropriate between the Ifes and the Modakekes. Ire o.

    Liked by 2 people

    • E se Naijamum.

      Oh well, you guys in Lagos are trend setters any day, we’re not even going to koja aaye ara eni.

      And Ijebu? Common Naijamum – you already have Gaari Ijebu (even when it was made in Famia, we still pretend it was Ijebu made to prove quality) and you also have Ikokore Ijebu! We will leave you with fine food 🙂

      Dance to Sababa with us (please don’t tell Ijebu people, I know they’ll come up with out-of-this-world steps to make us all jealous o :)).

      And thank you for the prayers, it means a lot.

      Liked by 1 person

Please leave comments

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: