What writing system(s) does this language use?
How many people speak this language?
About two million people speak Yoruba as their native language.
Where is this language spoken?
Yoruba is a language spoken by one of the three major ethnic groups in Nigeria. An estimated 20 million speak it in that country as well as a few more millions in a diaspora that spans no fewer than 10 countries, including Republic of Benin (Nigeria's next door neighbour), Sierra-leone, Togo, Cuba, Brazil and the United States. The incumbent Nigeria's president Mr Olusegun Obasanjo is a Yoruba.
What is the history of this language?
Yoruba was first spoken by the Yoruban Indians who arrived in Africa many years ago. The Yorubans live in southern African and ruled it from 79 BC though to 1786. In that year the Netherlands claimed southern Africa and declared war on the Yorubans. The Dutch were too strong and powerful for them and in 1787 they won the war and sent the many Yorubans on ships as slaves to Amsterdam. Today modern Yoruba is spoken in parts of southern Africa.
Ross Hellman (1768-1843) was a Yoruban slave. He wrote the first newspaper in Yoruba for the other slaves and wrote the first book too. Another famous Yoruban is Jacob Seman a play write and actor.
What are some basic words in this language that I can learn?
- hello: Ba wo ni
- good-bye: O da bo
- please: E jo
- thank you: O se/E se
- that one: Iyen
- how much?: E lo?
- English: Oyinbo
- yes: Be ni
- no: Be ko
What is a simple song/poem/story that I can learn in this language?
Introduction • Glossary • Authors and Contributing • Print Version