Are Igbo and Yoruba related?

What are the differences in the religion of Yoruba and Igbo? What is their cultural origin? Read the information to learn more facts.

Igbo and Yoruba

Igbo and Yoruba – the origin

Yoruba is a group of the related people inhabiting the western Africa (from Niger River to the Gulf of Guinea), states of Nigeria – Togo, Benin, and Ghana. There is a small diaspora in Canada. The total number is over 30 million people. The language of Yoruba belongs to the western branch of Benue-Congolese family. Yoruba are the creators of a unique original civilization of the sub-Saharan Western Africa which has generated such city-states, as Ile Ife, scientific interest to which doesn't weaken after the excavation made by the German ethnographer at the beginning of the last century to this day. It is considered that ancestors of Yoruba have created the archaeological culture of Noc in the first millennium BC. Up to the European colonization of the African continent in the 15th century, Ile-Ife held the special position in the history of the West African region, performing functions of the spiritual center, a standard of the socio-political device and cultural development of the people of Yoruba and their neighbors.

The majority of Yoruba is Christians and Muslims. Yoruba also practice the religion of Ifa Orisha, which has influenced origin of many Afro-Caribbean traditions. The architecture of Yoruba has the features which are now lost. It occurs in connection with changes in Yoruba’s way of life. If earlier they lived in big families and united houses, building certain complexes of constructions, then now the situation has changed. Christianity, reforms in culture, and education have strongly affected Yoruba and have created the concept of the fact that the family is the main part of society. Distribution and rooting of monogamy, separation of families from each other — all this has led to the death of those traditions that was created by the centuries-old tenor of life. Speaking about formation nationwide culture and identity, the colonial period should be noted. Then, during strengthening of discrimination of Yoruba by Europeans, people were overflowed with a nationalism wave, especially in educated circles. Stay of missionaries was an incitement to the development of language. Europeans have exerted the most harmful impact on traditions of Yoruba. Missionaries distorted the structure of religion of Yoruba, destroyed bases for various ceremonies, fortune-telling, and sacrificed for the achievement of success of promotion of the ideas.

READ ALSO: Are Yorubas afraid of Biafra?

Igbo and Yoruba – the origin

Igbo vs Yoruba

Igbo are people in the southeast of Nigeria. According to researchers, Overri, Auk, Udi, and Orlu are the cities of formation of this nationality. There is an opinion that the ancestors of Igbo and most of their neighbors belonging to the group have come from the region of the African Great Lakes and Lunar mountains in East and Central Africa, through savannas. Desertification has forced people to migrate to the south and to the north to the merge of Niger and Benue where the culture of Noc has developed. So, it can be said that Yoruba and Igbo have identical cultural roots. Groups of people of Kwa migrated to the South from this merge. They left the people of Yoruba and Igbo. Kwa people were settled in a northern part of the Central height. Igbo are one of the largest and most influential ethnic groups in Nigeria. Due to the consequences of migration and a transatlantic slave trade, descendants of ethnic groups of Igbo have settled in such countries as Cameroon, and Equatorial Guinea, and outside Africa. In rural areas of Igbo generally are farmers. Before the British colonization, Igbo were politically fragmented groups. Between parts of their area, there were distinctions in culture, clothes, and religious practice.

Difference between Igbo and Yoruba

For certain, you’ve already noticed some differences in Igbo and Yoruba history. These are more of them:

  • Place of residence. Igbo usually live in the southeast of Nigeria which is usually mentioned as Igboland. Because of economic, social and political instability, a significant amount of Igbo also lives in Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, the Caribbean Sea, and also in America and Europe. While members of the ethnic group of Yoruba, first of all, are found in the southwest of Nigeria and in all territory of Benin, Ghana, and Togo. There are also settlements in America and Great Britain.
  • Population percent. The Yoruba are one of the most numerous tribes of Africa, have the population of 50 million, and make more than 20 percent of the population of Nigeria. Members of the tribe of Igbo make about 18 percent of the population, incorporating more than 27 million people.
  • Breeding origin and religion. There are many theories about a religion origin according to which Yoruba migrated from the Middle East at the time of the middle Ages. According to the experts, Igbo are the descendants of people from Sudan and people from the Central and East Africa. The most part of the population of Igbo – first of all, are Christians or Catholics, and the most part of Yoruba are followers of Christianity and Islam. Some Yoruba also adhere to traditional tribal religious beliefs.
  • Now citizens of Nigeria have to observe federal and state laws. However, in tribes, everything is different. Some Igbo groups had a king, and the traditional governments of Igbo were similar to the democratic and republican systems. Usually Yoruba preferred the monarchic government but also had independent communities where small councils have made legislative, judicial, and executive decisions. Monarchic societies, first of all, were ruled by the king.

Nowadays there are a lot of cases of Igbo and Yoruba marriages. That’s why these tribes become closer to each other.


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