What exactly is a greeting?
For the Yorubas, a greeting is anything we say or do to express respect or welcome other people.
Greeting is the act of showing respect and consideration to other people in any form, whether by speech or deed, regardless of the situation. In addition to having distinct methods of greeting people at different times, the Yorubas have multiple ways of greeting people depending on what the person is doing or what is occurring to the person while they are being addressed.
Greeting is one of the most important ways in which the Yorubas express love, affection, and respect to one another. Greetings can be exchanged between parents and children, husband and wife, friends, relatives, or even neighbors.
The Yorubas are always ready to welcome others with their lovely smiles, and they even greet themselves when they are consuming food.
One of the reasons why people respond positively to Yoruba language greetings is that they are always delivered with respect.
When greeting an old person, a lady is expected to be her knees. On the other hand, males are expected to prostrate while greeting.
Greeting Elders in Yoruba begins with the Yoruba alphabet “e” (pronounced as “eh”)
5 Yoruba greetings based on the time of the day
- Ẹ kaaro which means Good morning
- Ẹ ku Iyaleta which is used to greet between 10am to Mid-day.
- Ẹ Kasan which means Good Afternoon.
- Ẹ ku irole which means Good Evening
- Ẹ kaale which means Good Evening; Evening from after seven
The greetings listed above are the most often used by the Yoruba people. Nevertheless, we have several others, such as:
25 Important Yoruba Greetings
- Ẹ kú ìtàdí – Greeting when someone flatulates/farts.
- Ẹ pẹ̀lẹ́ o – To tell somebody sorry with respect or to take heart.
- Ẹ kú ìkalẹ̀ o – To greet somebody sitting down most especially elders or group of persons
- Ẹ rọra o – To greet elderly people, telling them to take it easy
- Ẹ kú ìrẹjú – For someone relaxing or having a nap.
- Ẹ kú àlejò – When someone has visitors.
- Ẹ kú ọjọ́ mẹ́ta – When you have not sees someone for a while.
- Ẹ kú ẹwà – For someone dressing hair.
- Mo kí ọ̀ta, Mo kí òpè – Meaning: I greet the winner and the loser – When people are playing games.
- Ẹ kú àfojúbà – When someone just arrived from a journey and you want to greet the relatives.
- Ẹ kú ara fẹ́ ra kù – Used to greet people who just lost someone.
- Ẹ kú ìgbádùn – This is a form of greeting for someone that is partying/enjoying.
- Ẹ kù ìmú ẹnu dúró – When people are fasting, this is how we greet them.
- Ọkọ̀ áárè fo oooo – This is how we greet people who are driving.
- Ọ̀ǹyà á yà o/Ojú gboro o – For a hairdresser.
- Ẹ kú ayẹyẹ òni o – Greeting when having a happy event or a celebration.
- Ẹ kú ilé dè – When someone’s close relative or family is away or travelled.
- Ẹ kú ìdúró – For someone standing.
- Ẹ kú ìjoko – For someone sitting down.
- Ẹ kú iṣẹ́ – For someone doing some work.
- Ẹ kú ẹ̀rín – For someone laughing.
- Ẹ kú afẹ́rẹ́ yi o – When the weather is cold.
- Ẹ kú òṣì – when someone is messing around.
- Ẹ kú kòró yìí o- Greeting in the time of Covid-19 outbreak
- Ẹ kú ọwọ́ lómi – When someone just gave birth.
Who does the greeting?
There is also no clear-cut rule concerning who should be the first to welcome someone. It is preferred, however, for the young person to be the one to begin greetings. In most cases, the one who is the first to see, whether young or elderly, is the one who welcomes them first. Nonetheless, when the younger ones are greeted by their elders, the guys would prostrate, their chests and chins resting on the ground, while the ladies would kneel with their two knees together.
They then greet one another in the manner dictated by the situation. They will remain in this posture until the seniors have finished their own part of the greetings, and then they will move on. The procedure of greeting might take anywhere from three to five minutes to complete.
The younger ones are not permitted to gaze into the eyes of the older ones during the welcoming ritual, as this is considered inappropriate. While the younger ones are on their knees or prostrating (as the case may be), the elderly will be repeating all of their oriki, or praise and attributive names, both personal and family names, while the younger ones are on their knees or prostrating (as the case may be). It is also against the rules for the younger ones to say the oriki of the older children.
Importance and types of greeting in the Yoruba language
Greetings in Yoruba are many. There is no event that does not have its particular and special welcome. For days and seasons, there are greetings for extremely early morning, morning, mid-day, afternoon, evening, and night.
There are also unique greetings for the seasons and the different festivals when there is food drought and when there is enough to eat. All jobs, trades, and professions have various greetings particular to each of them. Some of these include, among others, farmers, hunters, blacksmiths, traders, instructors, diviners, hairstylists, etc.
In addition, different phases of health have their unique greetings. For instance, a person that is extremely ill has one, someone healing has too. There are also pleasantries to be made during funerals. The age of the dead dictates the sort of welcome. For instance, there are distinct sorts of greetings for deaths that are deemed premature and deaths that are thought to have matured.
There is a sort of greeting when one is going on a voyage, another while you are right within the trip, and another upon arrival. There are various greetings for barren women, expecting mothers, soon after delivery, and in the course of breastfeeding and weaning of the infant.