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


Dr. Abi Adegboye is the Director of AfriLeads, LLC which trains the next generation of leaders.  She is a public speaker and writer passionate about youth and women's empowerment.  Author of Wanna B Prez? 10 Life Strategies from President Barack Obama's Journey to the White House and co-author of Owanbe! Yoruba celebrations of Life, Abi inspires her audience to lead their best lives now.  Book Dr. Abi for your youth conference at or (678) 590-5810.