The Arts, Culture
and Heritage

The Oduduwa people (Omoluabi) are one of the largest cultural groups in Africa. Currently, there are about 105 million Yoruba world-wide. The Yoruba have been living in advanced urban kingdoms dated back around 5th B.C. They created a strong economy through farming, trading, and art production. Their outstanding and unique artistic traditions include woodcarving, sculpture, metalwork, textiles, and beadwork.

The Oduduwa people have lived in urban societies and have produced extraordinary artwork since the 5th century BC. During this time, the Yoruba began to use iron to create metal tools and weapons such as machetes, axes, and hoes. These tools made it easier for the Yoruba to farm the land. They planted crops including yams, their staple food. They also harvested the seeds from the palm oil tree. The seeds from this tree produce a vegetable oil that is used for cooking. Kola nuts were also grown and harvested. Soon the Yoruba began trading with neighbouring areas for rice and sorghum.

Due to increased agriculture, the Yoruba community began to grow and large towns were created. They arranged their communities by clan lines or extended families. Families who had the same ancestors lived next door to each other in large compounds. An elder was put in charge as the head of the compound. Towns became organized by the type of work that people did.

The Oduduwa people began creating magnificent sculptures out of terra cotta clay in the 12th through 14th centuries. Bronze figures were made during the 14th and 15th centuries. The Yoruba began to create more abstract wooden sculpture as their major art form later. Many African cultures choose to create sculptures of humans in an abstract form rather than a realistic one.

Music and dance have always been an important part of Yoruba culture for those living in Nigeria as well as in the diaspora. Yoruba music and dance are used for many different occasions in life such as religious festivals, royal occasions, and Entertainment. Yoruba traditional music focuses on Yoruba deities. Drums and singing are the main elements of Yoruba music. Instruments such as metal bells and wind instruments are sometimes used. Yoruba is a tonal language. The rich cultural heritage of the Yoruba slaves and their descendants have influenced and contributed a great deal to the Americas. Much of their traditional culture is still preserved in Brazil, Cuba, Haiti, and the United States.

Due to how the previous generation was raised, a lot of people are losing touch with their heritage because they want to fit in with everyone else thereby losing touch with their heritage hence their very own culture.

Omo-Oduduwa are known as Omoluabi

The Oduduwa people culture was originally an oral tradition, and most Oduduwa people are native speakers of the Yoruba language. The number of speakers is roughly estimated at 30 million in 2010. Yoruba is classified within the Edekiri languages which form the Yoruboid group of languages within what we now have as West Africa. Yoruba is in fact not a single group, but rather a collection of diverse people bound together by a common language and history.

The Omoluwabi is a philosophical and cultural concept that is native to the Yoruba people. It is used to describe a person of good character. The omoluabi concept signifies courage, hard work, humility, and respect. An omoluabi is a person of honour who believes in hard work, respects the rights of others, and gives to the community in deeds and in action. Above all, an omoluwabi is a person of integrity.

The Omoluwabi concept is an adjectival Yoruba phrase, which has the words - "Omo + ti + Olu-iwa + bi" as its components. Literally translated and taken separately, omo means 'child', ti means 'that or which', Olu-iwa is a name of God in Yoruba, meaning the chief or master of Iwa (character), bi means 'born'. When combined, Omoluabi translates as "the child begotten by the chief of iwa (or "child begotton by God"). Such a child is thought of as a paragon of excellence in character.

An omoluwabi demonstrates and exhibits the inherent virtue and value of Iwapele. Iwapele is ultimately the basis of moral conduct in Yoruba culture and a core defining attribute of an omoluwabi. The most fundamental of these principles demonstrated by an omoluabi are;

  • Oro Siso (Spoken word, the Yoruba accord great respect for intelligent and expert use of language)
  • Iteriba (Respect)
  • Inu Rere (Good will, Having a good mind towards others)
  • Otito (Truth)
  • Iwa (Character)
  • Akinkanju (Bravery)
  • Ise (Hardwork)
  • Opolo Pipe (Intelligence)

An individual can be termed an omoluabi irrespective of the religion the person adheres to. Consequently, some of the characteristics and traits of an omoluabi are considered virtues in many religions, for example, humility, truth, and honesty. Omoluwabi is a variant of Omoluabi broken down into Omo-l-ua-bi. As defined previously, Omo is child. The letter "l" is a link like "ti" meaning that or which. The word "ua" means community meeting place, normally at the palace when the Oba presides. The word "bi" means "born". Put together, Omo-l-ua-bi means a child born (nurtured / raised / trained) by the community. The only change being highlighted here is "ua" as a Yoruba word.