Salt is iyọ̀. It comes from the etymological root of “yọ̀,” which means sweet, glad, smooth, fluid. It also means SLIPPERY. It is from “yọ̀” that “ayọ̀” (joy) is derived. Yoruba names such as Ayodele, Ayodeji, Adedayo, etc, are names alluding to salt, sweetness and joy. Humans started enjoying salt at the beginning of time. We sweat when we exert ourselves physically and sweat contains salt. Babies also cry and tears contain salt. And sometimes the sweat finds its way to our tongue. Babies enjoy tasting salt from the tears they cry. Once we discovered the sweetness of salt from crying and sweating, we began …

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Oju: Sight, Vision, Light and Morning Ojú, eye, is the root of Ojúmọ́, meaning daylight. Ojúmọ́, which is Ojú+Mọ́ means Eye+clarity. Mọ́ also means “clean.” Interestingly, Mọ́ oju means to slowly close and open the eye, a socially-informed symbol of disagreement, dispute and variance. It is different from ṣẹ́jú (ṣẹ́+ojú), which means “to bat the eyes.” But when you mọ́ ojú, the process is like clearing the eye, which is what happens when you ṣẹ́jú or bat the eye. Ojú and Ojúmọ́ are like mother and child. You need the ojú to clearly see the ojúmọ́ (clear-eyed daylight) Yoruba people pray that Kí ojú u …

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Sugar and Sugarcane

Those familiar with the Oyo-speaking parts of Yoruba country would notice that these folks refer to sugar as Iyọ̀ọ-Ṣúgà. If they were strangers, it might confound them, because they would translate Iyọ̀ as salt, and wouldn’t understand why it is coupled with Ṣúgà, that is sugar. When folks say Iyọ̀ọ-Ṣúgà in those parts of Africa, they are not referring to salt in any way. They are simply describing the sweetness of sugar. Sugar was not known in that part of the world until it was introduced by Europeans. Ìrèké, or sugarcane, was available, but it was not processed into sugar; rather it was eaten raw …

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Ladies & Gentlemen!

“Ladies and gentlemen, mister honorable President,” the monkey whispers in his baritone voice into the mike. The large crowd of people fell totally quiet. The press reported there were at least one million party fanatics stuffed into the stadium built for only about two hundred thousand. You could hear a pin drop. Sixteen golden cobras crawled into the arena. Directly behind them were eight black mambas sliding in unison. Four gaboon vipers, their fangs venomously exposed, slithered in, following closely. Taking the rear was the Oxyuranus microlepidotus, the snake with the deadliest venom in the world. Its red-orange skin, beaded with silver threads, reflected the …

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“I was cursed by a mad woman,” said this caller. It all began with a message I found in my Facebook messenger box. “Prof, what is your WhatsApp number,” the Facebook message reads. “My number is xxx. I want to discuss something important with you and I don’t want to write it on Facebook.” The Facebook profile has no picture. I browsed through the Facebook content. Just four posts. The last was in 2018, the picture of a baby, without caption. It received no “like.” I took my chances and gave this fellow my WhatsApp number, thinking if they bothered me, I would block them. …



DAYS OF YORE Those days when I was much younger, I explored photography. Here are some shots of Jummai, then a great model from Northern Nigeria, now a rising woman activist and politician. The Yoruba say, “Àgbà wá búra….” It means, “You, the elderly one, swear you once were not full of youthful exuberances.”


DAILY DEVOTION: ÌWÚRE Gbogbo igi kọ́ lejò ń gùn (Not all trees can be scaled by the snake) Gbogbo omi kọ́ lẹdun ń mu (The colobus monkey doesn’t drink all types of water) Àyàfi wèrè, àyàfi dìgbòlugi (Only the insane, only the raving lunatic) Ló lè kẹ́bọ oríta mì (Devours the sacrifice placed at the crossroads) A kì í ṣí ọwọ́ lu imí (No one punches human feces) A kì í bu ìtọ̀ sebẹ̀ (None cooks the soup with urination) Ojú tí ó ń ka ìwé yì í kò ní í fọ̀ (The eyes reading these lines will not go blind) Ahọ́n tí ó ń …


Iya Oyo

Iya Oyo took a slow and long drag on her pipe, and released the smoke in short puffing sounds. The moon was orange bright, a perfect golden disk floating on the clouds. Some insects, hiding behind the darkness, sang in harmony with the frogs serenading the stars from the pond next to the Orisa house. It was the perfect time for me to ask my question: nobody was saying anything. “Iya Oyo,” I said, “what about Adam and Eve?” She inhaled again, waited for a moment, “What about them? If you want to talk about them, ask the pastor, your grandfather sitting here. My parents …

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