Continuing, today, in our series column, “Yoruba Way of Greetings,” we bring you a habit of greetings – a unique culture of the Yoruba people that might very well surprise you. This is because you expect a greeting to be from what you would call “the greeter” to “the greeted.”

Democratic Republic of the Yorùbá Ways of Greetings - News from the newest Nation in the world 2024

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However, in Yoruba culture, greeting is such a fundamental part of our indigenous way of life, such that, in certain cases, the greeter does not exclude himself/herself. Or, you can put it another way by saying that there are certain situations where the greeter is also a part of the greeted.

Let’s take a few examples. A group of people, all Yorubas, are on a journey, in the same vehicle, which might take quite some time, especially if they are on a journey to an event where they all have a stake and have chosen to travel together.

Democratic Republic of the Yorùbá Ways of Greetings

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Don’t be surprised if, after a few hours of driving, somebody says “A kú ọkọ.” “Okọ” refers to the vehicle itself in which they are traveling, regardless of what type of vehicle. “A kú ọkọ” is a greeting coming from the greeter to the greeted and in which the greeter himself/herself is part of the greeting.

That’s why it is “A kú ọkọ,” the “A” at the beginning referring to “we” or, in other words, a greeting to “us,” where, of course, the “we” or “us” includes the greeter himself/herself. So, it is not “Ẹ” at the beginning of the greeting (in which case the greeter is NOT included in the greeting), but rather, it is “A” at the beginning.

This is a way by the Yoruba person of either recognizing the exhaustion that the journey might be causing to everybody in general, and trying to provide some “pep up,” using the greeting, to boost the morale of the group involved in the journey, or it could very well, also, be a greeting at the very end of the journey and at the point of finally alighting from the vehicle or even alighting for a major stop before continuing, and in which case it could very well mean “Grateful we made it,” in other words, we made it without any hiccups.

Read Related: Democratic Republic of the Yorùbá Ways of Greetings

This kind of greeting where the greeter is also included in the greeting could be found in a case of commiserating with people who have had to recently endure a loss or have had to endure some hard process in their aspiration towards an expected collective joy.

While the hard part of the road to that joyous destination lasts, or while the pain of a collective loss is still on, the greeter, who if he also happens to be one of those involved or affected, in other words, one of the greeted, would say “A kú àtèmọra.”

Notice, again, the use of the word “A” (yes, it’s a word in the Yoruba language, a shortened form of “Awa” meaning “us,” as against “Ẹ kú àtèmọra” if the greeter happens to not be directly one of the greeted.

Read Related: Yorùbá Names and their Meanings

These are examples, therefore, of the way the Yoruba society takes hold of itself or, as the case may be, celebrate themselves when the greeter is also among the greeted!