FINALLY, I FIGURED IT OUT:
A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream?
The time was exactly 01:23 am.
“Iya Oyo, I cannot sleep,” I said last night, sitting up on my bed.
“What is the matter, Àkànbí Ògún, Ọmọ Baṣọ̀run,” Iya Oyo said, sitting next to me. “You want to take a walk through the night with me?”
“Yes,” I told Iya Oyo. “I need to discuss something very important with you.”
“Ó yá,” Iya Oyo said. “Let’s take a nocturnal stroll.”
We went out. The night was dark. The new moon was too weak to light the sky.
We strolled for about thirty minutes in silence, as I was looking for a way to frame my question.
Iya Oyo did not talk. She just walked step in step with me. She waited for me to say what was troubling me.
Finally, I found my voice.
“Iya Oyo,” I started, “it is a painful thing for me that as a professor of Yorùbá studies, I don’t even know the meaning of Yorùbá.”
Iya Oyo chuckled. “And is that why you are unable to sleep?”
“It is not enough to keep me awake?” I asked her. “It’s an outright disgrace that none of us has been able to figure out the meaning. Unacceptable.”
“Even Baba Oyo could have answered that question for you,” Iya Oyo said. “Did you ask him?”
I shook my head. “Well, that is a simple question,” Iya Oyo said. “Let’s return home so you can sleep.”
We had walked about two miles away from home, so we turned back towards home.
“Yoruba is simple,” Iya Oyo said.
“Really?” I answered rhetorically.
“You know the meaning of Orù?” Iya Oyo asked me.
“I’m not sure, Iya Oyo,” I said.
“Haba! You have never heard the expression Òtu ọlọ́mú orù?” Iya Oyo asked me.
“Ah, yes,” I replied. “I know that. It means Òtu, the lady gifted with pendulous bosoms.”
“Orù is a large pot, Akanbi,” Baba Oyo said, behind me. I didn’t even know that Baba Oyo was following us.
“Ẹ káalẹ́, Baba Oyo,” I greeted him. “Akanbi Ogun,” Baba Oyo responded.
“Orù gives you an insight into the meaning of Yorùbá,” Iya Oyo said.
“How so?” I asked.
“Look at me,” Iya Oyo continued. “I am Ọmọ a yọ orù bá wọn tọ́jú ọmọ tuntun; ọmọ́ gbó, orù ò gbó: the offspring of those who bring out the orù pot of herbs to care of infants; the baby prospers, and the pot does not falter.”
“Èmi ni ọmọ a yọ orù bá wọn jà; ọmọ a yọ orù bá wọn wí; a yọ orù ọ̀rọ bá wọn tọ́jú ọlọ́mọge ọlọ́yàn orù,” Baba Oyo said, with a mischievous laugh.
(Translation: I am offspring of those who bring out the Orù to battlefronts; offspring of those who use the Orù full of words to question them; offspring of those who bring out the phallic orù to take care of comely damsels with ample bosoms).
I couldn’t help laughing too. And it was while laughing that I woke up from my sleep.
It suddenly occurred to me that, in my sleep, I figured out something that has been baffling me.
If they ask you, “Who are you?”
Tell them, “Èmi ọmọ a yọ orù bá wọn tún ohun gbogbo ṣe.”
Ọmọ a yọ orù bá wọn lówó lọ́wọ́.
Ọmọ a yọ orù bá wọn bímọ lémọ
Ọmọ a yọ orù bá wọn níre gbogbo.
The Yoruba is a group composed of several sub-groups.
Is your group left out or included in this list?
1. Akoko—Ondo State, Edo State
2. Akure—Ondo State
3. Awori—Lagos State, Ogun
4. Egba—Ogun State
5. Egun—Lagos, Ogun
6. Ekiti—Ekiti State, Kwara, Ondo State.
7. Ibarapa/Ibadan-Oyo State
8. Ibolo—Kwara State
9. Ife—Osun State
10. Igbomina—Kwara, Osun State.
11. Ijesa—Osun State
12. Ijebu/Remo—Ogun State, Lagos state
14. Ilaje—Ondo State
15 Ijo Apoi–Ondo
16 Ikale—Ondo State
15. Isekiri (Iwere)—Delta
16. Owu—Ogun state, Osun state.
17. Yewa/Egbado, Ogun State
18. Oke Ogun—Oyo State
19. Okun—Kwara state, Kogi State
20. Ondo (Udoko)—Ondo State
21. Osogbo—Osun state
22. Oyo—Oyo State
23. Owo (Ogho)—Ondo State
24. Yagba—Kogi State
25. Ogori–Kogi State
26. Ile Oluji–Ondo State
27. Idanre–Ondo sate.
23. Ohori, Benin Republic
24. Ajase—Benin Repubic
25. Anago, Haiti, Benin Republic
26. Popo—Benin Republic
27. Sabe—Benin Republic
28. Ewe—(pronounced Ivẹ̀; Benin Republic, Ghana (came from Ile Ife)
29. Ga—Ghana, Benin Republic, Togo (came from Ile Ife)
30. Krobo—Ghana (they told me they came from Ile Ife).
31. Oku, Aku—Sierra Leone, Gambia
33. Fon—Benin, Togo
34. Nago, Brazil
35. Ketu, Benin Republic
38. Saro—Sierra Leone
39. Aguda—Sierra Leone
41. Kele–St Lucia
Moyo Okediji, Austin, TX.