Yorùbá, one of Nigeria's three national languages, belongs to the Kwa group of the Niger-Congo family, which covers the entire coastal area of West Africa.

Discovering the language

The term yorùbá, which probably originated in Hausa country, appeared in the 19th century and then referred only to the Ọ̀yọ́ region. Later, it was used to refer to a territory, a people and a language. The Yorùbá country was made up of independent or semi-independent kingdoms and city-states corresponding to linguistic identities. We cannot therefore speak of a single Yorùbá language, but of a differentiated dialectal continuum. Apart from this linguistic differentiation and the absence of a common term of reference, this Yorùbá space shares many cultural and linguistic traits (founding myths, belief systems, socio-political organization, literary genres, etc.). As proof of this, a standard Yorùbá based on the Ọ̀yọ́ and Ẹ̀gbá languages has developed over time: taught in schools, used in the media, employed in literature, this standard is understood by all the constituent groups of today's country.

Today, the number of speakers is estimated at over twenty-five million. In addition to southwestern Nigeria, home to Ilé-Ifẹ̀, the city of creation according to myth, there are Yorùbá kingdoms and communities in Benin and Togo respectively.

Yorùbá, one of Nigeria's three national languages, belongs to the Kwa group (which extends over the entire coastal zone of West Africa) of the Niger-Congo family. The Yorùbá have left a deep imprint on Brazil, Cuba and the entire Caribbean, not least through their religion. The beautiful "terra cotta" and famous bronzes of Ifẹ̀ attest to the extraordinary creativity of the Yorùbá, which is prolonged in the present by their abundant literature, in Yorùbá or English, (Amos Tutuola or Wolé Soyinka Nobel Prize for Literature), by their music (Fela), and by their growing influence in the "New World".

The Yorùbá are the most creative people in the world.