Guest Post: Ikini ni ile Yoruba (Greetings in Yoruba land)

Anthony Joshua prostrating for Elders
Anthony Joshua prostrating for Elders

Greetings is the topic on my mind tonight. What is a Greeting? According to the Oxford Dictionary, Greeting is something that you say or do to Welcome Somebody.

In Yoruba Land, Greeting is more than just welcoming someone but it is a regular way to express warm affection and respect to one another. Greeting could be between Husband and Wife, Children and Parents, Siblings, Neighbours and Friends.

One must give it Yorubas as we love to greet with our ever ready smile……we will even greet you while eating “E wa Jeun” meaning “Come and Eat”. Certainly, there’s no formal greeting among my people 😊

The significant factor that makes Yoruba Greetings unique is that our Greetings comes with RESPECT.  A well Cultured Yoruba Boy will greet his Parents or an Elderly Person by prostrating on the Floor while the Girl will Kneel down…..that’s the Tradition imbibed in the Yoruba Culture. The Parents or the Elders will acknowledge the greetings also with a Warm responses such as “Pele Omoluwabi” meaning “Welcome my Dear Child”

Greeting in Yoruba

It must be emphasized that Respect is phenomenal in African Cultures not just the Yorubas. I recall while growing up in Lagos Island, many Yoruba Boys and Girls have been given “Iko” a knock on their heads for greeting their Elders improperly by standing up……..Who born you? 


The Yoruba greetings mostly start with the Word “E”  and examples are “E kale ” meaning “Good Evening”  or “E Pele” meaning “Sorry” or “E ku Ise”  The word “E” is symbolic with Respect in Addressing someone that is older than you.

You must give it to my People oh as we appreciate Respect and Honour in our Culture so much. I remember with fondness the good old Holiday Memories while visiting my Grandmother in Ikorodu. The Old Woman would start praising me with our Family “Oriki” after I, Adisa had prostrated to greet her. The Word “Oriki” in Yoruba is more of Praising the Family lineage……which is another unique Custom in our Culture.

Coming back now to the present modern age, I don’t know if it is my own observation oh, but it seems that our Greetings gesture of Old is dying as the Male Youths don’t Prostrate all the way anymore. They now do it with Psychedelic Style……bending half way 😊 while the Ladies will curtsey with style by bending a bit low instead of kneeling down 😁

On a serious note, I think this unique form of Greeting must not die as it is a significant aspect of our Culture all over Africa to express warm affection to one another. Some people reason in Yoruba Land that after God, comes your Parent!! So, won’t it be worthwhile to show some kind of respect in greeting your Parents. We owe it a duty to keep our Culture alive though our Greetings. I am Proud to be a Yoruba Grandpa and I do hope to Continue this Cultural legacy left behind by our Ancestors.

Good Night Folks and God bless each Household!

Adedoyin Adisa

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