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The first obvious answer to this question is the Yoruba are a nationality numbering about 25 million the majority of whom live in the South Western part of the state of Nigeria in West Africa Obvious as this answer is it is not wholly explanatory and certainly it is not without its own controversy First regarding its explanatory status One has to add that the Yoruba are a black people of Negro stock that they speak a common language Yoruba which belongs to the Kwa group of the Niger-Congo linguistic family and it has about 12 dialects that they are a well urbanized group with genius in arts as symbolized in the famous Ife Bronzes that Yoruba people are also found in Togo Benin Republic and in other parts of the world including Brazil Cuba Trinidad and the United States Second regarding its controversial status one has to confront the question what makes the Yoruba a nationality or a nation not a tribe or clan and how does one then mark a distinction between Yorubaland and Nigeria To this last question there is no better answer than the one provided by Obafemi Awolowo in 1947 to which a later section of this presentation will return For now it is necessary to answer the question Who are the Yoruba by focussing on some critical moments in Yoruba history and thoughtaddress these and other issues by focussing on some critical moments in Yoruba History1 The Oduduwa Dynasty and the Founding of the NationOduduwa is the legendary progenitor of the Yoruba There are two variants of the story of how he achieved this feat The first is cosmogonic the second political The cosmogonic version also has two variants According to the first variant of the cosmogonic myth Orisanla Obatala was the arch-divinity who was chosen by Olodumare the supreme deity to create a solid land out of the primordial water that constituted the earth and of populating the
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