Of all the ethnic tribes in Nigeria, of which I know only four: Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa and Delta Igbo (my Social Studies teacher back then assured me there are many more tribes in Nigeria; I still think he lied), my favorite tribe is the Yoruba. You have to love the attitude of the Yorubas toward life. After spending a lot of time in Lagos, which is known for having quite a large population of Yoruba people and also known for having a lagoon, which instills fear in the hearts of the Igbo people, I have come to love the average Yoruba man.
For example, you are walking down the streets of Lagos, and this Yoruba man steps on this Igbo man. (You can tell he is Igbo from the way he keeps saying the magic word ‘container’ into his mobile phone) So, the Igbo man turns around, with a scowl on his face, ready to brawl, and you hear the Yoruba man say clearly “Lagoon”, which promptly causes the Igbo man to turn and walk away.
The entire philosophy of the Yoruba man’s life is summed up in one proverb, which when loosely translated to English means: “When a big problem gets you down, smaller problems will mount you.” This means that for the Yoruba people, it’s all about getting mounted. Once a daughter in a Yoruba household turns fifteen, the parents start looking around for a suitable young male, whom they will then force to marry her. You could be walking on the street one minute in a Yoruba community, and the next minute, you are married to a Yoruba girl, who will then proceed to feed you a soup made entirely out of palm oil.
And speaking about that, the Yoruba people, apart from inventing the tricky art of fighting with only your vocal cords, also invented the palm oil rule, which states that ‘It cannot technically be called a meal if there isn’t at least a liter of palm oil in it.’ If a meal is prepared by a Yoruba woman, then you could get palm oil stains on your body, just by looking at it. Yet the stews are quite tasty too; all you need are a pair of overalls and you are good to go.
Now the streets of a proper Yoruba community are one of the safest places you could ever move about in. Igbo people fight first and quarrel later. All the Yoruba people do is quarrel with their shirts off; one minute, two young men are placidly walking down the street, trying to avoid parents who are hunting for suitors to impregnate and then marry their daughters, and the next minute, their clothes are off and they are practicing the ancient fighting form perfected by their kin, which involves a long range of screams and shouts, with wide open mouths. Occasionally, bottles are broken, but only for their sound, the winner is decided by decibels.
I have run out of space here this week, so what do you say, next week? Oh, and I’ve got a take-home assignment for you. Visit a Yoruba restaurant today.
Written by Chika Jones, tweets at @chika_jones