Thursday, 16 February 2017 00:08

Ìfẹ́: Loving, the Yoruba Way

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Love in Yoruba culture is playful on one hand and serious on the other.  Love consists of afẹ́rí and ojúṣe.  Afẹ́rí, the closest form to romance, includes use of praise names, endearment, and ìtage or oge.  Lovers often engage in playful banter called "oge" whereas they tease and cajole one another.  Oge can be used to coax an angry partner out of a bad mood or bribe one into making concessions.  It might go thus:

"O dẹ̀ wa n'bínú.  Áh, ah!  Kí ló dẹ̀ lé to yẹn?" goes the husband nudging his wife's playfully.

"Fi mí 'lẹ̀ jọ̀ ọ́.  Má ba mi s'ọ̀rọ̀," returns the Mrs shaking off her husband's hand. 

"Ṣe b'ọ́n se ma a n binu l'óko yín nì yẹn?" He cajoles touching his wife's lips.  But she's less forceful than the first time.  He snuggles closer and puts and arm around her.  She doesn't shake him off.

"Pẹ̀lẹ́, ma binu.  Ol’ójú edé mi.  Akankẹ̀."  He finishes off using both a term of endearment and her praise name.

Ojúṣe on the other hand is duty or representation.  It comprises of the husband doing for the wife what husbands are supposed to do and vis versa.  For example, a husband is supposed to buy the coffin when his wife's father dies.  Similarly, a wife is expected to care for her husband's people so he looks good.  In combination, Yoruba love grounds the couple in a nucleus of their own and within the broader context of an extended family.

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Abi Adegboye Ph.D

Abi Adegboye began writing as a young girl growing in western Nigeria.  In a culture that reveres boys, she was born the second of three girls.  Certain she had to be her family's 'boy,' she climbed trees to harvest fruit, dressed chickens for dinner, caught mice, and whatever else required male-handling.  She also loved to read, write, and draw.  Her initial efforts yielded publications in local newspapers and newsletters.  However, she was advised to get a day job which turned out to be as a professor of political science.  This opened to her, a different avenue for publication in her areas of research including African women and development, women migrants, and the impact of public policy on women’s political economy.

On her 40th birthday, she rekindled her creative writing with the publication of Butterfly, a picture book and Reflections on Nigerian Christianity, a social commentary.  Since then, she’s co-authored Owanbe! Yoruba Celebrations of Life (2010), a cultural anthology and published Wanna B Prez? 10 Life Strategies from President Barack Obama’s Journey to the White House (2012), a YA motivational YA book, and Renike comes to America (2016), a novella.  

Abi writes multicultural fiction and nonfiction for children and young adults.  She shares her writing through speaking engagements, performances, storytelling, and classroom visits. 

For more information about Ms. Adegboye’s publications, or to connect with her, visit her

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