Yoruba People Group

The Yoruba people live in Southwest Nigeria and Benin. They have developed a variety of different artistic forms including pottery, weaving, beadwork, metalwork, and mask making. Most artwork is made to honor the gods and ancestors, and since there are more then 401 known gods to the Yoruba there is a large amount of sculptures and artwork created. Because of the large number of gods, the Yoruba have been compared to the ancient Greeks because of the fact that they both had large amounts of gods, and because there were striking similarities between the structures of the gods.

Nicknamed the West African Latin Quarter by the French for its intellectualism, Benin has a strong culture of discussion and debate. Politically, the Beninese feel they have borne a lot to achieve their stable democracy and are wary of their troubled neighbors, Togo and Nigeria. Beninese women may be a formidable presence on the streets but this is a firmly patriarchal society and they tolerate some inequality. However, they do have vital roles in society and the workforce-even in the Muslim north of the country.

Benins economy is primarily dependent on subsistence farming, which accounts for 38% of the GDP. Yams, maize, cassava and corn are the principal food crops. Most of Benins ethnic groups are patrilineal and occasionally polygamous. Marriages are still arranged by families and divorce is rare. Average life expectancy is around 53, with an AIDS rate of about 2% and some 70,000 people living with the virus. Women have 5.9 children each on average and nearly 50% of the population is under 14 years old. Some 30% of the population is Christian, 20% is Muslim and 50% practice traditional beliefs such as Voodoo. Whatever their religion, most people practice some form of Voodoo.

The Yoruba have started to become quite popular among Africans all over the world who claim the Yoruba as their family roots, and follow the religion and culture of the Yoruba. Many claim that they are part of the Diaspora of the Yoruba slaves.

The Yoruba originated from a people known as the Oyo who arose and became quite popular by their trading with the Portuguese, which gave them a large supply of guns. However, they were unable to push back the Fulani who invaded them and pushed much of the Yoruba to the south. In the late 1800’s the Yoruba formed a treaty with the Fulani, and in 1901 the British colonized them. Because of their enmity with the Fulani, who are the great Islam evangelists, most of the Yoruba do not hold to Islam but instead worship many of the gods and spirits that the Fulani worship. Economically the Yoruba primarily engage in agriculture, with about 15% of the people employed as merchants or artists and craftsman.

One of the features that make the Yoruba unique is their tendency to form into large city groups instead of small village groups. Most of the large cities of Nigeria and Benin are inhabited almost solely by Yoruba.

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