THE YORUBA IN ME – By MorounRanti Ashabi Alebiosu

By MorounRanti Ashabi Alebiosu It is shameful and particularly disheartening for me to hear Yoruba youth “funkify” their names simply ...

By MorounRanti Ashabi Alebiosu

It is shameful and particularly disheartening for me to hear Yoruba youth “funkify” their names simply because they want to “belong” or they seem embarrassed by their traditional names. Apart from the regular Yoruba names we bear such as Olakunle Abimbola, Oluwakemi, Oluwasegun and a host of others, we are known to have what is called Oriki (The English definition calls it Cognomen but that doesn’t really capture the true essence so I’d rather call it traditional name or traditional poetry).
Oriki is not just a name, it is a form of cultural expression which is prevalent among the Yoruba people and it is a time-honoured poetic form, a repository of traditional lore, values, virtues and accomplishments. The oriki has been described as a genre used to inspire people, and varies in length depending on whether it refers to a single individual or a clan. It can be sung or drummed.
Oríkì is invoked when praising a child for bringing pride to the parents or when attempting to evoke virtuous character traits of bravery, fortitude and perseverance that are believed to be innate in a person due to his or her pedigree.
For instance, the Ooni of Ife is referred to, among other endless titles as “Oonirisa, jingbini bi ate akun,” (Ooni of the gods, plenteous like a tray of akun beads), while the Alaafin of Oyo is called “Iku baba yeye, alase ekeji orisa (“death, father, mother, commander, second in command to the gods). And even animals have oriki in the Yoruba world: the elephant is “eerin lakatabu, janaku ti n migbo kijikiji (mighty elephant, spirit who shakes the forest heavily), etc, the lion is “oloola iju, akomolailabe (forest-based circumciser, the one who circumcises a child without a blade), etc. (Abiodun Awolaja  November 2010)
The examples above refer to the expressions of poetry as it concerns lineages and clans.
Listed below are some of the oriki names in Yoruba and their meanings:

  • Àjoké - meant to be taken care of by all. – (female)
  • Àlàké - to take care of her as a result of victory over circumstance. – (female)
  • Ànìké - own's property to be taken care of. – (female)
  • Àshàké - selected to be spoiled (with good things) – (female)
  • Àbèní - begged for (from God or, more traditionally, the gods) – (female)
  • Àríké - meant to be spoiled on sight – (female)
  • Àdùké - people will fight over the privilege to spoil her – (female)
  • Àbèbí - begged for to be birthed (probably a difficult birth) – (female)
  • Apinke- All must contribute to care for this child (female)
  • Àdìó - not sure what this means – (male)
  • Àjàní - fought to have this child - (male)
  • Àkànní - met only once to have this child - (male)  
  • Àjàgbé - fought to carry this child -  (male)
  • Àlàó - not sure what this means - (male)
  • Àkànde Àgàn - favourite of the prince - (male)  
  • Akanni - first male child - (male)

Let’s be proud of our culture and heritage

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Welcome to Dare Lasisi's blog!: THE YORUBA IN ME – By MorounRanti Ashabi Alebiosu
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