GREETING & RESPECT IN YORUBALAND

Posted by Amanda Ibironke on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 Under: Fashion, Tradition & Culture


The Yoruba people occupy the South-Western part of Nigeria. They take their culture very seriously especially respect and greetings. This is a very important aspect of the culture and daily life. It is held in high esteem because they believe it’s more than just greetings; it goes a long way in building a person’s character. It is expected of parents to start teaching their kids at a very young age the act of greeting properly. The men/boys prostrate to greet their elders, while the women/girls greet by kneeling on two knees. The act of greeting for the men is called “Idobale” (To prostrate) while for the women it’s called “Ikunle” (To kneel down). These are the ways of greeting amongst the Yorubas. It’s a way of showing respect to elders, parents, kings and acknowledging people in authority or older than the individual. Greeting Yoruba parents or elders is different from the “normal” African Greeting. The Yoruba male children greet their elders by laying down on the ground in front of their parent/elders and female will kneel on both knees with her hands at her back and greet them with “Good morning ma/sir. Hope you slept well”. The elder will place their hand on the child’s head as they speak, you will then wait to be told to stand before you get up from the ground. Rushing up after greeting is regarded as wrong and shows lack of respect.

The Yoruba people cherish respect a lot. It’s not just in the act of greeting; it includes the body language and expression of the greeter. The elders being greeted look out for any sign of attitude from the person greeting and if they are not satisfied with the greeting, they go to the extent of asking the person greeting to do it all over again. In Yoruba culture, a well brought up Yoruba person should respect /greet all individuals irrespective of their age even babies. For example, when a woman gets married into a new family, she has to respect every member of her In Laws family (those born and yet to be born), as long as they are members of her in-laws family. For those younger than she is, she cannot call them by their names, she has to add" Uncle or brother or Aunty or Sister" to their names. Even when talking or referring to them she has to say things like "E se, Wan, Ekaro"(meaning…….) as opposed to "Ose, O, karo"(meaning……). This will definitely bring favor to the wife. While greetings are exchanged, it is important for the people to smile; and when asked about the wellbeing of someone, time is given to respond as this is considered to be polite. Also a Yoruba man/woman dare not hug & shake the hands of his/her parent or an elder. It is considered as disrespectful and very rude. Even if you are meeting a stranger, it is expected of a Yoruba person to greet respectfully as long as the person is older, respect must always be shown at all times to everyone

Greetings in Yoruba are countless such that the Yorubas are known for a particular word that is added to their greetings – “Eku”. This word is added to every single greeting.  In fact, an average Yoruba person greets at every opportunity. All occasion has its distinct and peculiar greeting. For days and seasons, there are greetings for very early morning, morning, mid-day, afternoon, evening and night. There are also special greetings for the seasons and different festivals. So when you see an individual curtseying (prostrating or kneeling) to greet you or someone else, do not be amazed, it’s just a form of respect which has been ingrained in him/her.


In : Fashion, Tradition & Culture 



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