Yoruba Literature

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The following is a response I gave on a thread about Nigerians in WWII. My response talks about an account written in the Yoruba language, by a Nigerian soldier who took part. The original thread can be found HERE. My response:

I recall reading about an account written and published in Yoruba. It was called 'Oju mi ri ni India', ie 'My experiences in India'. I believe the publication is held by the Yoruba Studies Association of Nigeria, however I have not had the opportunity to read it. I do know however, that during WWII, the Nigerian contingent of the Royal West African Frontier Force(RWAFF), were stationed in India, in preparation to kick the Japanese out of Burma. Those Nigerians were called 'The Black Tarantulas' by the Japanese, because they were excellent fighters! It's just sad that they don't teach these things in Nigerian history.

I have just googled and found this link for 'Oju mi ri ni India'. It only gives the author name, year of publication and the publisher, but it is better than nothing. Author: J O Ariyo. Publisher: Longman, Green. Year: 1957.

Barnaby Philips' tweet on this publication is HERE.

Barnaby Philips', the aljazeera correspondent filmed a documentary 'The Burma Boy', which can be found here: 'Burma Boy'.
Some more thoughts on what constitutes Yoruba literature. I have said earlier that written Yoruba literature consists of short stories, novels, plays, poems, etc. These are just different genres within the literature. I would also like to add 'Orature' to the list. Orature is considered to be the 'Oral Literature' of pre-literate societies in some quarters. Orature consists of things like 'oriki' ie traditional Yoruba praise poems, 'rara' traditionally sung by Yoruba muslims, 'ewi' social commentary spoken-word poems performed by 'akewi'. There are also other genres which I do not recall right now. Those who perform these traditional verbal art forms are generally known as 'griots' in English, they are musicians, story tellers, historians, entertainers etc. I believe such artistes and their art-forms can be found all over Africa, in different forms, unique to each language and ethno-national group. For our purposes here, I would like to extend this concept to the African diaspora, therefore I include rappers and performance-poets in the same category.

Coming back to the Yoruba in particular, I would add the rappers who perform in the Yoruba language to the list of Orature practitioners. I therefore present to you dears readers, two rap tracks performed mostly in the Yoruba language, in fact one is performed largely in the Egba-dialect of the Yoruba language. I view these tracks as examples of modern Yoruba Orature, which is closely allied to the written literature. If Yoruba traditional social commentary/poetry is known as 'ewi', I would describe western-style poetry as 'ewi oyinbo' ie 'european poetry' and rap as 'ewi igbalode' ie 'modern poetry'. So, a poet would be 'Akewi Oyinbo', while a rapper would be 'Akewi Igbalode'. I welcome discussions on this topicm, any arguments for and against my descriptions/terminology above. Thanks.

Without further ado, here are the tracks I have referred to above:

BEMBE ALADISA (EWAFUN MI NI VISA) PART.1...Here the artiste is talking about the harsh socio-economic circumstances in Naija, and calls the outside world to grant him a visa so he can emigrate to greener pastures. This was delivered in both the Egba dialect of Yoruba and standard Yoruba, with just a bit of English.

Dagrin - Rap Rules Anthem (Afrijamz.com)...By the late great Da Grin...Performed mostly in Yoruba, with just a touch of English language.

Here are some more online Yoruba history books FYI:

Seventeen Years in the Yoruba Country: Memorials of Anna Hinderer ... Gathered from Her Journals ... (1873): LINK.

Nigerian studies; or, The religious and political system of the Yoruba (1910)by Dennett, R. E. (Richard Edward), 1857-1921: LINK.

Here's a link to a group called 'Egbe Onkawe Ede Yoruba' ie 'Society of Yoruba Language Readers' in Nigeria. I believe they are a Yoruba language book club in Nigeria, organised by the Society of Young Nigerian Writers, South West chapter. Here is the link: Egbe Onkawe Ede Yoruba.

Gen Sani Abacha

Well-Known Member
Since the re-organisation of NR, some links to old threads have changed/broken. Some which pertain to this thread need to be updated, so I'll be doing that as/when needed, whenever I am able to.

What I wrote in post #121 above, on the Yoruba translation of Julius Caesar thread is now available here: Julius Caesar yoruba translation!!!

Also in post #121 above, my original thread on the Yoruba translation of Things Fall Apart is now available here: Yoruba translation of 'Things Fall Apart'

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