Yoruba is one of the largest ethnicities found in West Africa. Talking about Yoruba would include a culture with a unique language,religion,beliefs andtraditions. The origin of Yoruba dates back to the ancient times when mythical gods ruled over the land. Today, the Yoruba people are more than 40 million and call the southwest corner of Nigeria their central home, with numerous populations spread throughout the world.
The Yoruba people occupy a major part of western Africa, covering the many states of Nigeria and the neighboring states of Benin and Togo. They are also found in Latin American countries such as Brazil, Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti and in the Caribbean islands. A number of Yoruba communities are also situated throughout America.
According to oral history, the Yoruba civilization came into being in the mythical city of Ile Ife. It is believed that god sent a deity known as Oduduwa, who was the very first ancestor of the Yoruba people. The original 16 Yoruba kingdoms were said to have sprung from the limbs of the palm tree brought by Oduduwa from the heavens. Archaeological findings have dug up evidences of life in the region that is reportedly Ife, dating back to the Stone Age. Some excavations have also pointed to the likelihood that Ife reached its golden years between the 12th and 14th centuries.
The Yoruba civilization was threatened by another kingdom that sought to conquer the entire West of Africa. The Oyo kingdom emerged as a powerful force in the 15th century through the help of Portuguese colonizers. At this time, Europe had discovered this region and initiated trade and commerce among the different African peoples. When war broke out in late 18th century, the Fulani kingdom drove out the Oyo people–Muslim allies of Yoruba. This created many factions within Yoruba kingdom, but was soon united when the British came in to colonize the African continent.
The British allowed the Yoruba people to establish their own government, but kept supreme rule. Conflicts arose in 1914 triggering an uprising by the Yoruba people, that led to Southern Nigeria being freed as a British colony. All of Nigeria, however, did not see freedom in its entirety until 1960. Throughout these significant changes in the African continent, the Yoruba people grew strong and increased further.
Yoruba communities can be found throughout the world. This was due to the Diaspora brought by the slave trade during the latter part of the 1800s, when Yoruba slaves were helplessly sent to work in the so-called New World, conjured by Columbus. The Yoruba culture withstood oppression and instead, flourished. Modern times have greatly recognized Yoruba contributions to arts, religion and medicine. Today, Yoruba is without a doubt, the largest thriving culture in all of Africa.