The music of the Yoruba people of Nigeria and Benin are best known for an advanced drumming tradition using the dundun hourglass tension drums. Yoruba folk music became the most prominent kind of West African music in Afro-Latin and Caribbean musical styles. Yorùbá music left an important influence on the music used in Lukumi practice and the music of Cuba. For a comprehensive discussion of Yoruba music, see Bode Omojola's book, Yoruba Music in the Twentieth Century. Ensembles using the dundun play a type of music, called dundun; these ensembles consist of various sizes of tension drums along with special band drums. The gangan is another such; the leader of a dundun ensemble is the oniyalu who uses the drum to "talk" by imitating the tonality of Yoruba. Much of Yoruba music is spiritual in nature, this form is devoted to Orisas; the most used key pattern, or guide pattern in traditional Yoruba drumming is the seven-stroke figure known in ethnomusicology as the standard pattern. The standard pattern is expressed in a duple-pulse structure.
The standard pattern is sounded on an iron bell. The strokes of the standard pattern coincide with: 1, 1a, 2& 2a, 3&, 4, 4a. 12/8: 1 & a 2 & a 3 & a 4 & a || X. X. X X. X. X. X || 4/4: 1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a || X.. X.. X X.. X. X.. X | |; the following example shows the five-stroke form of the standard pattern on the kagano dundun drum. The dunduns on the second and third lines sound an embellishment of the three-over-four cross-rhythm—expressed as three pairs of strokes against four pairs of strokes. Yorùbá music is regarded as one of the more important components of the modern Nigerian popular music scene. Although traditional Yoruba music was not influenced by foreign music the same cannot be said of modern-day Yoruba music which has evolved and adapted itself through contact with foreign instruments and creativity. Interpretation involves rendering African, here Yoruba, musical expression using a mixture of instruments from different horizons. Yoruba music traditionally centred on folklore and spiritual/deity worship, utilising basic and natural instruments such as clapping of the hands.
Playing music for a living was not something the Yorubas did and singers were referred to in a derogatory term of Alagbe, it is this derogation of musicians that made it not appeal to modern Yoruba at the time. Although, it is true that music genres like the highlife played by musicians like Rex Lawson, Ebenezer Obey Segun Bucknor, Bobby Benson, etc. Fela Kuti's Afrobeat and King Sunny Adé's jùjú are all Yoruba adaptations of foreign music; these musical genres have their roots in large metropolitan cities like Lagos and Port Harcourt where people and culture mix influenced by their rich culture. Some pioneering Jùjú musicians include Tunde King, Tunde Nightingale, Why Worry in Ondo and Ayinde Bakare,Dr. Orlando Owoh, Dele Ojo, Ik Dairo Moses Olaiya. Sakara played by the pioneers such as Ojo Olawale in Ibadan, Abibu Oluwa, Yusuf Olatunji, Sanusi Aka, Saka Layigbade. Apala, is another genre of Yoruba modern music, played by spirited pacesetters such as Haruna Ishola, Sefiu Ayan, Ligali Mukaiba, Kasumu Adio, Yekini Ajadi, etc.
Fuji, which emerged in the late 60s/early 70s, as an offshoot of were/ajisari music genres, which were made popular by certain Ibadan singers/musicians such as the late Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, Alhaji Dauda Epo-Akara and Ganiyu Kuti or "Gani Irefin. Another popular genre is waka music played and popularized by Alhaja Batuli Alake and, more Salawa Abeni, Kuburat Alaragbo, Asanat Omo-Aje, Mujidat Ogunfalu, Misitura Akawe, Fatimo Akingbade, Karimot Aduke, Risikat Abeawo. In both Ibadan, Lagos, these multicultural traditions were brought together and became the root of Nigerian popular music. Agbe: a shaker Ashiko: a cone-shaped drum Batá drum: a well decorated traditional drum of many tones, with strong links to the deity Shango, it produces sharp high tone sounds. Goje: sort of violin like the sahelian kora Sekere: a melodic shaker. Gudugudu: a smaller, melodic bata Sakara drum: goatskin istretched over clay ring Agogô: a high-pitched tone instrument like a "covered" 3-dimensional "tuning fork" Saworo: like agogo, but its tone is low-pitched aro: much like a saworo, low-pitched Seli: a combination of aro and hand-clapping Agidigbo, a thumb piano instrument wound round the neck and stabilized by the player's chest.
Dundun, consisting of iya ilu or gbedu, main or "mother" drum and omele, smaller drums, played as an accompaniment to bata drums to create a base for their sharp beats. Bembé, bass drum. Ahmad Audi Adamu List of Nigerian highlife musicians Gray, John. Soul Force 101: Yoruba Sacred Music, Old World and New Various Artist, Awon Ojise Olorun: Popular Music of Yorubaland 1931-1952, Savannahphone, 2007
Babalú-Ayé, is an Orisha associated with infectious disease and healing in the Yoruba religion, including the body and physical possessions. In West Africa, he was associated with epidemics of smallpox, influenza, HIV/AIDS. Although associated with illness and disease, Babalú-Ayé is the spirit that cures these ailments. Both feared and loved, Babalú-Ayé is sometimes referred to as the “Wrath of the supreme god” because he punishes people for their transgressions. People hold Babalú-Ayé in great respect and avoid calling his actual name, because they do not wish to invoke epidemics, his worship is associated with the Earth itself, his shrines are separated from travelled areas. His ritual tools include a ritual broom for purification, a covered terra-cotta vessel, abundant cowry shells. Considered hobbled by disease, he universally takes grains as offerings. Venerated by the Yoruba, O̩balúayé is called Shopona and said to have dominion over the Earth and smallpox, he demands respect and gratitude when he claims a victim, so people sometimes honor him with the praise name Alápa-dúpé, meaning “One who kills and is thanked for it”.
In one recounted story, Shopona was old and lame. He attended a celebration at the palace of the father of the orishas; when Shopona tried to dance, he fell. All the other orishas laughed at him, he in turn tried to infect them with smallpox. Obatala stopped him and drove him into the bush, where he has lived as an outcast since. Venerated by the Fon, the spirit is most called Sakpata, he has strong associations with smallpox and other infections. His worship is diverse in Fon communities, where many distinct manifestations of the spirit are venerated; because the dead are buried in the Earth, the manifestation called Avimadye is considered the chief of the ancestors. Venerated by the Ewe, there is a similar figure with the praise name Anyigbato, associated with sickness and displaced peoples, he is believed to wander the land at night. In Santería, Babalú-Ayé is among the most popular orishas. Syncretized with Saint Lazarus, regarded as miraculous, Babalú-Ayé is publicly honored with a pilgrimage on December 17, when tens of thousands of devotees gather at the Church and Leprosorium of Saint Lazarus in El Rincón, in the outskirts of Santiago de las Vegas, Havana.
Arará communities in Cuba and its diaspora honor the spirit as Asojano. Both traditions use sack cloth in rituals to evoke his humility; the spirit appears in Palo as Pata en Llaga. In Candomblé, Obaluaiê's face is thought to be so scarred by disease and so terrifying that he appears covered with a raffia masquerade that covers his whole body, he manifests in Umbanda and Macumba. Through divination, he speaks to his devotees through the Ifá signs Ojuani Meyi and Irete Meyi, though as a sickness, he can manifest in any divination sign. In cowrie-shell divination, he is strongly associated with the sign called Metanlá. There are several, sometimes contradictory, accounts of Babalú-Ayé's genealogical relationships to other orisha. Babalú-Ayé is considered the son of Yemoja and the brother of Shango. However, some religious lineages maintain that he is the son of Nana Buluku, while others assert that he is her husband; some lineages of Candomblé relate myths that justify Babalú-Ayé being the child of both Yemoja and Nana Burukú.
In these myths, Nana Burukú is Babalú-Ayé's true mother who abandons him to die of exposure on the beach where he is badly scarred by crabs. Yemoja discovers him there, takes him under her protection, nurses him back to health, educates him in many secrets; because of his knowledge of the forest and the healing power of plants, Babalú-Ayé is associated with Osain, the orisha of herbs. Oba Ecun describes the two orisha as two aspects of a single being, while William Bascom noted that some connect the two through their mutual close relationship with the spirits of the forest called ijimere; the narratives and rituals that carry important cultural information about Babalú-Ayé include various recurring and interrelated themes. Earth: Babalú-Ayé’s worship is linked to the Earth itself, his name identifies him with the Earth itself. Illness and Suffering: Long referred to as the “god of smallpox,” Babalú-Ayé links back to disease in the body and the changes it brings; because Babalú-Ayé both punishes people with illness and rewards them with health, his stories and ceremonies deal with the body as a central locus of experience for both human limitations and divine power.
His mythical lameness evokes the idea of living in a constant state of limitation and physical pain, while people appeal to him to protect them from disease. The Permeable Nature of Things: In the Americas, Babalú-Ayé vessels always have various holes in their lids, allowing offerings to enter but symbolizing the difficulty in containing illness completely; these holes are explicitly compared to sores that pock the orisha’s skin. This permeability appears in the sack cloth and raffia fringe called mariwó used to dress the orisha. Secrecy and Revelation: The contrast between silence and speech and light, secrecy and revelation permeate the worship of Babalú-Ayé. According to the tradition, certain things must remain secret to sustain their ritual power or their healthy function. In turn inappropriate revelation leads to illness and other n
Nigeria the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal republic in West Africa, bordering Niger in the north, Chad in the northeast, Cameroon in the east, Benin in the west. Its coast in the south is located on the Gulf of Guinea in the Atlantic Ocean; the federation comprises 36 states and 1 Federal Capital Territory, where the capital, Abuja, is located. The constitution defines Nigeria as a democratic secular country. Nigeria has been home to states over the millennia; the modern state originated from British colonial rule beginning in the 19th century, took its present territorial shape with the merging of the Southern Nigeria Protectorate and Northern Nigeria Protectorate in 1914. The British set up administrative and legal structures while practising indirect rule through traditional chiefdoms. Nigeria became a formally independent federation in 1960, it experienced a civil war from 1967 to 1970. It thereafter alternated between democratically elected civilian governments and military dictatorships until it achieved a stable democracy in 1999, with the 2011 presidential election considered the first to be reasonably free and fair.
Nigeria is referred to as the "Giant of Africa", owing to its large population and economy. With 186 million inhabitants, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and the seventh most populous country in the world. Nigeria has the third-largest youth population in the world, after India and China, with more than 90 million of its population under age 18; the country is viewed as a multinational state as it is inhabited by 250 ethnic groups, of which the three largest are the Hausa and Yoruba. The official language is English. Nigeria is divided in half between Christians, who live in the southern part of the country, Muslims, who live in the north. A minority of the population practice religions indigenous to Nigeria, such as those native to the Igbo and Yoruba ethnicities; as of 2015, Nigeria is the world's 20th largest economy, worth more than $500 billion and $1 trillion in terms of nominal GDP and purchasing power parity respectively. It overtook South Africa to become Africa's largest economy in 2014.
The 2013 debt-to-GDP ratio was 11 percent. Nigeria is considered to be an emerging market by the World Bank. However, it has a "low" Human Development Index, ranking 152nd in the world. Nigeria is a member of the MINT group of countries, which are seen as the globe's next "BRIC-like" economies, it is listed among the "Next Eleven" economies set to become among the biggest in the world. Nigeria is a founding member of the African Union and a member of many other international organizations, including the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations and OPEC; the name Nigeria was taken from the Niger River running through the country. This name was coined in the late 19th century by British journalist Flora Shaw, who married Lord Lugard, a British colonial administrator; the origin of the name Niger, which applied only to the middle reaches of the Niger River, is uncertain. The word is an alteration of the Tuareg name egerew n-igerewen used by inhabitants along the middle reaches of the river around Timbuktu prior to 19th-century European colonialism.
The Nok civilisation of Northern Nigeria flourished between 500 BC and AD 200, producing life-sized terracotta figures that are some of the earliest known sculptures in Sub-Saharan Africa. Further north, the cities Kano and Katsina have a recorded history dating to around 999 AD. Hausa kingdoms and the Kanem–Bornu Empire prospered as trade posts between North and West Africa; the Kingdom of Nri of the Igbo people consolidated in the 10th century and continued until it lost its sovereignty to the British in 1911. Nri was ruled by the Eze Nri, the city of Nri is considered to be the foundation of Igbo culture. Nri and Aguleri, where the Igbo creation myth originates, are in the territory of the Umeuri clan. Members of the clan trace their lineages back to the patriarchal king-figure Eri. In West Africa, the oldest bronzes made using the lost-wax process were from Igbo-Ukwu, a city under Nri influence; the Yoruba kingdoms of Ife and Oyo in southwestern Nigeria became prominent in the 12th and 14th centuries, respectively.
The oldest signs of human settlement at Ife's current site date back to the 9th century, its material culture includes terracotta and bronze figures. Oyo, at its territorial zenith in the late 17th to early 18th centuries, extended its influence from western Nigeria to modern-day Togo; the Edo's Benin Empire is located in southwestern Nigeria. Benin's power lasted between the 19th centuries, their dominance reached further. At the beginning of the 19th century, Usman dan Fodio directed a successful jihad and created and led the centralised Fulani Empire; the territory controlled by the resultant state included much of modern-day northern and central Nigeria. For centuries, various peoples in modern-day Nigeria traded overland with traders from North Africa. Cities in the area became regional centres in a broad network of trade routes that spanned western and northern Africa. In the 16th century, Portuguese explorers were the first Europeans to begin significant, direct trade with peoples of modern-day Nigeria, at the port they named Lago
Ṣàngó is an Orisha. He is syncretized with either Saint Saint Jerome. Shango is a royal ancestor of the Yoruba as he was the third Alafin of the Oyo Kingdom prior to his posthumous deification. Ṣàngó has numerous manifestations including Airá, Afonja, Lubé, Obomin. He is considered to be one of the most powerful rulers that Yorubaland has produced, is noted for his anger. Jakuta was the third Alafin following Oranmiyan and Ajaka. Jakuta brought prosperity to the Oyo Empire. According to Professor Mason's Mythological Account of Heroes and Kings, unlike his peaceful brother Ajaka, Jakuta was a powerful and violent ruler, he reigned for seven years which were marked by many battles. His reign ended due to his inadvertent destruction of his palace by lightning, he had three wives, namely Princess Oshun, Princess Oba, Princess Oya. The Oyo Empire declined in the 19th century, which led to the enslavement of its people by the Fulani and the Fon. Among them were many followers of Ṣàngó, worship of the deity thrives in the New World as a result.
Strong devotion to Ṣàngó led to Yoruba religions in Trinidad and Recife, Brazil being named after the deity. In Yorubaland, Sango is worshiped on the fifth day of the week in, named Ojo Jakuta. Ritual worship foods include guguru, bitter cola, àmàlà, gbegiri soup, he is worshiped with the Bata drum. One significant thing about this deity is that he is worshiped using red clothing, just as he is said to have admired red attire during his lifetime. Ṣàngó is viewed as the most powerful and feared of the orisha pantheon. He casts a "thundersone" to earth, which creates lightning, to anyone who offends him. Worshippers in Yorubaland in Nigeria do not eat cowpea because they believe that the wrath of the god of iron would descend on them; the Ṣàngó god necklaces are composed in varying patterns of white beads. Rocks created by lightning strikes are venerated by Ṣàngó worshipers. Ṣàngó is called on during coronation ceremonies in Nigeria to the present day. Ṣàngó is venerated in Santería and Haiti as "Chango".
As in the Yoruba religion, Chango is the most feared god in Santería. In Haïti, he is as Ogou. Palo recognizes him as "Siete Rayos". Ṣàngó is known as Xangô in the Candomblé pantheon. He is said to be the son of Oranyan, his wives include Oya and Oba, as in the Yoruba tradition. Xangô took on strong importance among slaves in Brazil for his qualities of strength and aggression, he is noted as the god of thunder. He became the patron orixa of many Candomblé terreiros. In contrast Oko, the orixá of agriculture, found little favor among slaves in Brazil and has few followers in the Americas; the main barracão of Ilê Axé Iyá Nassô Oká, or the terreiro Casa Branca, is dedicated to Xangô. Xangô is depicted with an oxê. Consecrated day: Tuesday Colors: white and red Elements: thunder, fire Sacred food: amalá Instruments: oxê, a double ax, it speaks of his achievements, consorts and dominion Sacrificial animals: fresh water turtle, male goat, sheepAmalá known as amalá de Xangô, is the ritual dish offered to the orixá.
It is a stew made of chopped okra, dried shrimp, palm oil. Amalá is served on Wednesday at the pegi, or altar, on a large tray, traditionally decorated with 12 upright uncooked okra. Due to ritual prohibitions, the dish may not be offered on a wooden tray or accompanied by bitter kola. Amalá de Xangô may be prepared with the addition of beef an ox tail. Amalá de Xangô is different than àmàlà, a dish common to Yoruba areas of Nigeria. Xangô is depicted with an oxê known as the oxê de Xangô; the oxê is a double axe similar to a labrys and made of wood. The song "Mama Loi, Papa Loi" by Bahamian musician Exuma includes the lines "Come on Shango"... Shango is a large theme in the Mighty Sparrow song, "congo Man". Caliban invokes Shango in Aimé Césaire's play Une Tempête. Shango appears as a minor character in The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne. In episode 28 of the telenovela "Celia," loosely based on the life of Celia Cruz, the cultural ancestors of Celia's African heritage visit her in her dreams and invoking the presence of Chango.
Xango is mentioned in the song Canto de Ossanha by Vinicius de Moraes. Legends of Africa Johnson, History of the Yorubas, London 1921. Lange, Dierk: "Yoruba origins and the'Lost Tribes of Israel'", Anthropos 106, 579-595. Law, Robin: The Oyo Empire c. 1600 – c. 1836, Oxford 1977. Seux, M.-J. Épithètes royales akkadiennes et sumériennes, Paris 1967. Tishken,Joel E. Tóyìn Fálọlá, Akíntúndéí Akínyẹmí, Sàngó in Africa and the African Diaspora, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2009. Charles Spencer King, "Nature's Ancient Religion: Orisha Worship & IFA" ISBN 1-4404-1733-4 Charles Spencer King, "IFA Y Los Orishas: La Religion Antigua De LA Naturaleza" ISBN 1-4610-2898-1 Santeria.fr:: All about Shango Santeria.fr:: Todo sobre Shango Santeria.fr:: Tout sur Shango
Candomblé is an Afro-Brazilian religious tradition, practiced in Brazil by the povo de santo. Candomblé originated in Salvador, Bahia at the beginning of the 19th century, when the first temple was founded. Candomblé is practiced in Brazil, is practiced in other Latin American countries, including Argentina, Uruguay and Venezuela, having as many as two million followers. Candomblé developed in a creolization of traditional Yoruba and Bantu beliefs brought from West and Central Africa by enslaved captives in the Portuguese Empire. Between 1549 and 1888, the religion developed in Brazil, influenced by the knowledge of enslaved African priests who continued to teach their religion, their culture, language. In addition, Candomblé absorbed elements of Roman Catholicism and includes indigenous American traditions; as an oral tradition, it does not have holy scriptures. Practitioners of Candomblé believe in a Supreme Creator called Oludumaré, served by lesser deities, which are called Orishas; every practitioner is believed to have their own tutelary orisha, which controls his or her destiny and acts as a protector.
Music and dance are important parts of Candomblé ceremonies, since the dances enable worshippers to become possessed by the orishas. In the rituals, participants make offerings like minerals and animals. Candomblé does not include the duality of evil. Candomblé does not have holy texts. Only have scholars and "povo de santo" begun to write down its practices; the word Candomblé means "dance in honour of the gods", music and dance are important parts of Candomblé ceremonies. The name Batuque is used to refer to the religion before the 19th century. After that, Candomblé became more common. Both words are believed to be derived from a Bantu-family language that of the Kingdom of Kongo. Candomblé may be called Macumba in some regions of Brazil, notably Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Macumba has a distinct set of practices more akin to European witchcraft. Candomblé originated among enslaved Africans who were transplanted to Brazil during the Atlantic slave trade. From the earliest days of the slave trade, many slave owners and Catholic Church leaders felt it was important to convert enslaved Africans.
They believed this would fulfill their religious obligations and lead the enslaved to be more submissive in their status. Some historians suggest that Africans were forced to give up their traditional religions to cut their ties to their pasts. Although the Church succeeded in many cases, not all slaves converted. Many outwardly practiced Christianity but secretly prayed to their own God, gods, or ancestor spirits. In Brazil, adherents of Candomblé saw in the Catholic veneration of saints a similarity with their own religion. Bantu followers found a shared system of worship with Brazil's indigenous people, through this connection they re-learned the ancestor worship, part of their own traditional systems, they concealed the sacred symbols of their deities inside figures of their Catholic saints. In segregated communities of the country, it was easy to create Catholic fraternities where slaves would meet with each other; these meetings, were an opportunity for Candomblé worship to be practiced and for feasts to be held on special religious days.
They were opportunities for the enslaved to gather and plan rebellions against their masters. Candomblé was condemned by the Catholic Church. Followers of the faith were persecuted violently, including by government-led public campaigns and police action. Repression of African religion began early in the Portuguese colonial period, with calundu subject to the Inquisition; the Brazilian Penal Code of 1850 condemned charlatanismo curandeirismo. Both Candomblé religious leaders and terreiros were attacked by the police. With Catholicism as the state religion, other religious practices threatened the secular authority; the persecution stopped in the 1970s with repeal of a law requiring police permission to hold public religious ceremonies. The religion has surged in popularity in Brazil since with as many as two million people professing to follow this faith, it is popular in Salvador, Bahia, in the northeast region of Brazil, more isolated from other influences and had a high percentage of enslaved Africans.
Many people from African countries visit Bahia in order to learn more about the faith of their ancestors. For many followers, Candomblé is not only a matter of religious belief but of reclaiming the cultural and historical identity of ethnic Africans, although their separate tribal identities have been obscured by peoples being mixed in communities during and after slavery. Brazilian slaves came from a number of African geographic regions and ethnic groups, including Mbundu, Igbo, Kongo and Ewe. Slave handlers classified them by the shore of embarkment, so records of ethnicity may not have been accurate, as captives were transported overland away from native areas before being loaded on ships; as the religion developed semi-independently in different regions of Brazil, among different African ethnic groups, it evolved into several "branches" or nations. These are distinguished chiefly by their set of worshiped deities, as well as the music and language used in the rituals; the division into nations was influenced by the religious and beneficent brotherhoods organized by the Catholic Church among Brazilian slaves in the 18th and 19th centuries.
These fraternities, organized alo
The Yorùbá people are an African ethnic group that inhabits western Africa. The Yoruba constitute about 44 million people in total. Majority of this population is from Nigeria, where the Yorùbá make up 21% of the country's population, according to the CIA World Factbook, making them one of the largest ethnic groups in Africa. Most Yoruba people speak the Yoruba language, tonal, is the language with the largest number of native speakers; the Yorùbá share borders with the closely related Itsekiri to the south-east in the North West Niger delta, Bariba to the northwest in Benin, the Nupe to the north and the Ebira to the northeast in central Nigeria. To the east are the Edo, Ẹsan and the Afemai groups in mid-western Nigeria. Adjacent to the Ebira and Edo groups are the related Igala people found in the northeast, on the left bank of the Niger River. To the southwest are the Gbe speaking Mahi, Gun and Ewe who border Yoruba communities in Benin and Togo. To the southeast are Itsekiri who live in the north-west end of the Niger delta.
They chose to maintain a distinct cultural identity. Significant Yoruba populations in other West African countries can be found in Ghana, Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone; the Yoruba diaspora consists of two main groupings. The other dates to the Atlantic slave trade and has communities in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Saint Lucia, Brazil and Trinidad and Tobago, other countries; as an ethnic description, the word "Yoruba" was in reference to the Oyo Empire and is the usual Hausa name for Oyo people as noted by Hugh Clapperton and Richard Lander. It was therefore popularized by Hausa usage and ethnography written in Ajami during the 19th century by Sultan Muhammad Bello; the extension of the term to all speakers of dialects related to the language of the Oyo dates to the second half of the 19th century. It is due to the influence of the first Anglican bishop in Nigeria. Crowther was himself an Oyo Yoruba and compiled the first Yoruba dictionary as well as introducing a standard for Yoruba orthography.
The alternative name Akú an exonym derived from the first words of Yoruba greetings has survived in certain parts of their diaspora as a self-descriptive in Sierra Leone. The Yoruba culture was an oral tradition, the majority of Yoruba people are native speakers of the Yoruba language; the number of speakers is estimated at about 30 million in 2010. Yoruba is classified within the Edekiri languages, which together with the isolate Igala, form the Yoruboid group of languages within what we now have as West Africa. Igala and Yoruba have important cultural relationships; the languages of the two ethnic groups bear such a close resemblance that researchers such as Forde and Westermann and Bryan regarded Igala as a dialect of Yoruba. The Yoruboid languages are assumed to have developed out of an undifferentiated Volta-Niger group by the 1st millennium BCE. There are three major dialect areas: Northwest and Southeast; as the North-West Yoruba dialects show more linguistic innovation, combined with the fact that Southeast and Central Yoruba areas have older settlements, suggests a date of immigration for Northwest Yoruba.
The area where North-West Yoruba is spoken corresponds to the historical Oyo Empire. South-East Yoruba was associated with the expansion of the Benin Empire after c. 1450. Central Yoruba forms a transitional area in that the lexicon has much in common with NWY, whereas it shares many ethnographical features with SEY. Literary Yoruba, the standard variety taught in schools and spoken by newsreaders on the radio, has its origin in the Yoruba grammar compiled in the 1850s by Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther, who himself was a creole from Sierra Leone. Though for a large part based on the Oyo and Ibadan dialects, it incorporates several features from other dialects; as of the 7th century BCE the African peoples who lived in Yorubaland were not known as the Yoruba, although they shared a common ethnicity and language group. By the 8th century, a powerful Yoruba kingdom existed in Ile-Ife, one of the earliest in Africa; the historical Yoruba develop in situ, out of earlier Mesolithic Volta-Niger populations, by the 1st millennium BCE.
Oral history recorded under the Oyo Empire derives the Yoruba as an ethnic group from the population of the older kingdom of Ile-Ife. The Yoruba were the dominant cultural force in southern Nigeria as far back as the 11th century; the Yoruba are among the most urbanized people in Africa. For centuries before the arrival of the British colonial administration most Yoruba lived in well structured urban centres organized around powerful city-states centred around the residence of the Oba. In ancient times, most of these cities were fortresses, with high gates. Yoruba cities have always been among the most populous in Africa. Archaeological findings indicate that Òyó-Ilé or Katunga, capital of the Yoruba empire of Oyo, had a population of over 100,000 people. For a long time Ibadan, one of the major Yoruba cities, founded in the 1800s, was the largest city in the whole of Sub Saharan Africa. Today, Lagos (Yoruba: Èk
Benin the Republic of Benin and Dahomey, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Togo to the west, Nigeria to the east, Burkina Faso and Niger to the north; the majority of its population lives on the small southern coastline of the Bight of Benin, part of the Gulf of Guinea in the northernmost tropical portion of the Atlantic Ocean. The capital of Benin is Porto-Novo, but the seat of government is in Cotonou, the country's largest city and economic capital. Benin covers an area of 114,763 square kilometres and its population in 2016 was estimated to be 10.87 million. Benin is a tropical nation dependent on agriculture. Benin is a big exporter of palm oil; the substantial employment and income arise from subsistence farming. The official language of Benin is French. However, indigenous languages such as Fon and Yoruba are spoken; the largest religious group in Benin is Roman Catholicism, followed by Islam and Protestantism. Benin is a member of the United Nations, the African Union, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the South Atlantic Peace and Cooperation Zone, La Francophonie, the Community of Sahel-Saharan States, the African Petroleum Producers Association and the Niger Basin Authority.
From the 17th to the 19th century, the main political entities in the area were the Kingdom of Dahomey, along with the city-state of Porto-Novo, a large area with many different nations to the north. This region was referred to as the Slave Coast from as early as the 17th century due to the large number of enslaved people who were shipped to the New World during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. After enslavement was abolished, France renamed it French Dahomey. In 1960, Dahomey gained full independence from France; the sovereign state has had a tumultuous history since with many different democratic governments, military coups, military governments. A Marxist–Leninist state called the People's Republic of Benin existed between 1975 and 1990. In 1991, it was replaced by the current multi-party Republic of Benin. During the colonial period and at independence, the country was known as Dahomey. On 30 November 1975, it was renamed to Benin, after the body of water on which the country lies—the Bight of Benin.
This had been named by Europeans after the Benin Empire in present-day Nigeria. The country of Benin has no connection to Benin City in modern Nigeria, nor to the Benin bronzes; the form "Benin" is the result of a Portuguese corruption of the city of Ubinu. The new name, was chosen for its neutrality. Dahomey was the name of the former Fon Kingdom of Dahomey, limited to most of the southern third of the present country and therefore did not represent Porto-Novo, central Benin, the multi-ethnic northwestern sector Atakora, nor the Bariba Kingdom of Borgu, which covered the northeastern district; the current country of Benin combines three areas which had distinctly different political systems and ethnicities prior to French colonial control. Before 1700, there were a few important city-states along the coast and a mass of tribal regions inland; the Oyo Empire, located to the east of modern Benin, was the most significant large-scale military force in the region. It conducted raids and exacted tribute from the coastal kingdoms and the tribal regions.
The situation changed in the 1600s and early 1700s as the Kingdom of Dahomey, consisting of Fon people, was founded on the Abomey plateau and began taking over areas along the coast. By 1727, king Agaja of the Kingdom of Dahomey had conquered the coastal cities of Allada and Whydah, but it had become a tributary of the Oyo empire and did not directly attack the Oyo allied city-state of Porto-Novo; the rise of the kingdom of Dahomey, the rivalry between the kingdom and the city of Porto-Novo, the continued tribal politics of the northern region, persisted into the colonial and post-colonial periods. The Dahomey Kingdom was known for its culture and traditions. Young boys were apprenticed to older soldiers, taught the kingdom's military customs until they were old enough to join the army. Dahomey was famous for instituting an elite female soldier corps, called Ahosi, i.e. the king's wives, or Mino, "our mothers" in the Fon language Fongbe, known by many Europeans as the Dahomean Amazons. This emphasis on military preparation and achievement earned Dahomey the nickname of "black Sparta" from European observers and 19th-century explorers such as Sir Richard Burton.
The kings of Dahomey sold their war captives into transatlantic slavery. They had a practice of killing war captives in a ceremony known as the Annual Customs. By about 1750, the King of Dahomey was earning an estimated £250,000 per year by selling African captives to European slave-traders. Though the leaders of Dahomey appear to have resisted the slave trade, it flourished in the region of Dahomey for three hundred years, beginning in 1472 with a trade agreement with Portuguese merchants; the area was named the "Slave Coast" because of this flourishing trade. Court protocols, which demanded that a portion of war captives from the kingdom's many battles be decapitated, decreased the number of enslaved people exported from the area; the number went from 102,000 people per decade in the 1780s to 24,000 per decade by the 1860s. The decline was due to the Slave Trade Act 1807 banning the trans-Atlantic slave trade by Britain and the United States following in