Advertisements

What’s in a name? – A look at Yoruba’s views of some birds’ names! by Dele Daramola

On a discussion panel with some colleagues sometime last week, we came up with the dearth of Yoruba language and then, to proverbs and their English translations. A mention was made of “Igun’ and ‘Akalamagbo’ birds, and the search for their English names.  We drifted to Eagle and its Yoruba name. We were divided by ‘Awodi’ and ‘Idi’ nomenclatures, though, close enough (since we know that Yoruba language could shorten a name and still mean the same thing even with a slight difference in pronunciations). For example; Alapata (butcher) is same as Apata and Adekunle as Dekunle or Kunle.

‘Eye Awodi’: the Eagle, has kept me wondering since then.

The Nigerian Coat of Arms (our National bird) has an Eagle standing on top of the shield. We are made to believe that it represents ‘Strength’. The Eagle is present in the national emblems of both ancient Roman Empire and modern United States of American civilizations. Nigeria, aspiring to be ‘Giant of Africa’, probably adopts the Eagle too while our constitution was also modeled along America’s, a country that has ‘Liberty’ and ‘In God we Trust” as their motto, so also is Nigeria’s ‘Peace, Unity, Freedom’, changed in 1978 (we didn’t fight for any freedom they must have reasoned) to ‘Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress’.

 

‘Awodi jeun epe san’ra’ – Eagle merriments in curse!

Let’s examine this within the Yoruba idiom and its translation to Nigerian situation. Why must our symbol signify merriment in curse? Are we not doing many things imaginably insane? crude?, and wicked, yet, sentimentally, alluding all kinds of reasons why we should forge ahead in questionable “unity and faith”.  

How explainable is the ‘quota system’ that qualifies a candidate in Gombe with 58 points or Kebbi with 9 points while Lagos candidate should score 133 to gain admission into the same University system in a test of 200 questions? The helpless boys and girls from eastern fringe are worse affected under a supposed nation in search of “peace”!

Some students from supposedly educationally-backward states would later rapidly get promoted to ranks of director, permanent secretary and later federal minister or legislator based on ‘quota system’. They will make laws that shape destinies of millions! 

It is perhaps only in Nigeri that a head of a major federal institution, allegedly exposed as abusing his office and tax payers’ money to womanize and all he could offer by way of defense was that he did not have a hand in the employment of the woman and that in any case, they were both adults. Really? No shame in reveling in a curse? 

Ai le w’oju Awodi l’oje k’Aladie so o di Oosa – [Because of fear, Fowl owner turns Eagle to a deity!]

The likes of retired Generals Obasanjo and Babangida and other shameless leaders under whose watches Nigeria became a very corrupt country are still relevant because they have many Nigerians still worshiping them in the rottenness that has become Nigeria and Nigerians’ lot.  While Obasanjo and Babangida and others may be old school, there are younger ones in and out of power but who remain very much in control of vast resources and despite their being known for the same corrupt practices of the earlier leaders, are still venerated as demi-gods simply because of the crumbs we can get from them.

 

‘Awodi nfo ferere, o l’ohun fe m’Oluwa. Ibi ti yio fo de ko ye mi o, o fe s’eleya ni’ (Juju musician General-Prince Adekunle)– 

[The eagle soars relentlessly to high heavens expeditiously in reaching God’s enclave, but shame shall its lot be!]

How over ambitious! ‘Giant of Africa” and “Big Brother” are some of the puffed-up labels we pride ourselves in during recent times. We strive to outdo each other as if we are permanently in a competition. At bus-stops, in Churches, at social gatherings, we want to be noticed and feel ‘Me and only me first syndrome’. That he has 3 (three) houses, I want to have 10 (ten) and even more that no one can beat. Nigeria gives neighbors grants and electricity when the home front is hungry for the same items, all just for pride and to look big!

While we may not realize it, these are the same sentiments that drive the corrupt government officials into so much excess that sees a local government chairman suddenly becoming a multi-millionaire soon after getting into office. 

‘Awodi nra baba, inu al’adie nbaje’ –  [As eagle hovers, owners of chickens grieve in nervousness.]

Nigerians are ridiculously becoming more perfumed as thieves and untrustworthy. It takes extra personal effort to shed the toga anywhere in the world because a’ genuine hard-working and honest Nigerian carries a big red letter ‘419’ and ‘Yahoo-Yahoo’ (an acronym for scams in Nigeria) which some unscrupulous Nigerians have earned for all Nigerians.  

 

We even cheat the name ‘Eagles” when we compete.  Just last week, a Nigerian soccer star (a twin) celebrated his 25th birthday in the U.K while the other had his 33rd in Nigeria!  How low are we going to fall before the country fights back, not by “rebranding” through expensive advertisements in foreign papers but through re-education of the masses and, most especially, through working hard at eradicating corruption. 

 

 

Our leaders are truly Awodis –Eagles, how? 

 

Emi ‘o le j’oye Awodi ki nma le gb’Adie.  [I can’t be conferred a chieftain, titled; Awodi, if I can’t steal a fowl!]

 

So, no wonder they are concerned only about what they can steal. 

 

A kii ko adie re apata loju awodi [No one exposes fowls on top of rocks in the sight of an Eagle.]

 

Where are we headed in Nigeria an NGO on voters’ registration awareness was frustrated because all they got as response from street and local voters was “how much are you going to pay so we can go to registration centers?”  The words in the street: “you better get what you can get anyhow from them before the election”.

 

That’s the level to which the masses have sunk who have come to equate the power of votes (fowl) and the Awodis! 

 

Awodi re ibara, won se bi eye ku – [The Eagle went home and his adversaries thought he was dead.]

 

With all the Eagle symbol that has good meaning and many advantages among which are success, power, triumph, royalty (imperialism) or social status, and omniscience, I think we are only displaying one out of many:  resilience which, in English may denote hardiness, never-say-die, etc. but in Nigeria denotes ‘suffering and smiling’.

Finally, if we ever have the chance to sit together for a true National Reform, it will make sense to take a long hard look at our name, symbol and motto:

 

Ile ni a nwo ki a to s’omo l’oruko; [family antecedents or values dictates the name of the child.]  

Let us look deep into Yoruba culture and we may come to a realization that some of these motto/name/symbol, etc., including the name of the capital city, Abuja which means “short cut” in Yoruba language – need to be reconsidered.

90 million people in Argentina, Benin Republic, Brazil, Cuba, France, Germany, Haiti, Jamaica, Nigeria and Trinidad and Tobago can’t be wrong, I think.

 

SATURDAY, JUNE 15, 2013.  5:09:41 p.m. [GMT]

UPDATE:  September 16, 2013.

Idì is eagle. Igún is vulture. Àsá is kite

RAYO.

And special thanks for including the accents.  That is very helpful. TOLA.

Awodi is eagle, asadi is hawk, igunugun is vulture, asa is kite, alapandede is swallow, adan is bat.

BADHOO

Advertisements
, , ,

Subscribe

Subscribe to our RSS feed and social profiles to receive updates.

40 Comments on “What’s in a name? – A look at Yoruba’s views of some birds’ names! by Dele Daramola”

  1. wale Says:

    That’s really educative though just reading the post after some years after it publication

    Pls can someone tell me the English name for Eye eluluu

    thanks wake

    Like

    Reply

    • emotan77 Says:

      Thanks, Wale. It’s great you finally happened on the site; no need to worry about lateness! The nice thing about this blog – pardon my saying so – is that posts from as long ago as seven years ago when the blog was started keep getting viewers and/or comments.

      As for EYE ELULUU, I really do not know but it’s possible somebody may happen on it and give an answer. I will also try and see if I can find someone who does know.

      You can send your email address to me at – info@emotanafricana.com OR tolaadenle@emotanafricana.com

      Regards,
      TOLA.

      Like

      Reply

  2. cheekos Says:

    Tola, looking for similarities among apparently dissimilar languages appears to be an interesting discussion. When you think of the many iterations of the same fairy tales, the common thread that binds the Great Religions of the World or the unwritten tales passed on by each community’s elders, it is quite easy to realize that we have all evolved from a dsimoilsr, if not the, same mold. So, perhaps the Tower of Babel was a true story, but just a really, really ancient one.

    Like

    Reply

    • emotan77 Says:

      Thanks, Cheekos.

      You are correct, as far as my understanding goes although I’m of the old school that believes in God! He made us all from the same mold – or close se to it – in His image although may be not ohysically.

      I’m amazed at the fascination with this essay submitted by a viewer in 2013 which has continued to attract readers. As of yesterday, it’s had exactly 9,969 – nine thousand nine hundred and sixty-nine viewers, ciurtesy wordpress.com.

      I think we habe more in common than many refuse to acknowledge or see: wants, needs, the whole gamut of emotions …

      Regards,
      TOLA.

      Like

      Reply

  3. mikelobioma Says:

    Very great article. I find it very interesting and revealing. We are like Awodi truly especially our leaders. Can you do a piece on eye aparo please. I would like to know more about the bird. Thank you

    Like

    Reply

  4. MauRs Says:

    Hi Guys, thought I should contribute and hope clarifies.

    Asadi is Hawk, Raven is Eiye Iwo, Falcon is Asa, Eagle is Awodi, Vulture is Igun, Owl is Owiwi, Osprey is Apaeja.

    Hope That Helps…

    Cheers

    Like

    Reply

    • emotan77 Says:

      Thanks, MauRs. I’m realy no expert on this subject, and therefore appreciate your comments. Someone else wrote the essay a few years ago, and it continues to generate interest from blog visitors like you.

      Regards,
      ztola.

      Like

      Reply

  5. jbfagoyinbo2016 Says:

    Which bird do Yoruba call eluulu?

    Like

    Reply

  6. Biodun Says:

    Gbogbo yin ni mo ki pe e ku ise opolo (brain)

    Like

    Reply

  7. uslov.haghat Says:

    akalamogbo is known as phoenix.

    Like

    Reply

  8. Sitou Says:

    Awodi is not eagle. Eagle is Idi. Awodi belongs to the falconidae family it is actually hawk. Even some Yoruba’s don’t know this. God bless

    Like

    Reply

  9. Tope Says:

    The essay and comments were fantastic. However, a question that re-occurs but for which no answer was proffered is, “What is the English word/name for akala or akalamagbo?”

    Like

    Reply

    • emotan77 Says:

      Thanks, Mr. Ayodele but I really do not have an answer to your question. You may wish to go through a Yoruba Department at any university in the southwest, or, you may try experts like mr. Adebayp Faleti.

      Regards,
      TOLA.

      Like

      Reply

    • banji Says:

      mr ayodele the ground horn bill (Bucorvidae) is surely akalamagbo . akalamagbo, akalamagbo e bo dun lo. it lives up to 60 years old in captivity, 50 years in the wild . By God,s grace one day a zoo or reserve specifically for animals in Yoruba mythology will be built in western Nigeria so the stories can make sense. These slowing-fading animals like agbanrere (rhino) efon (west african buffalo) and so on will not just be animals our children will read about but don’t have the slightest idea what they look like. God help us. keep it up admin

      Like

      Reply

      • emotan77 Says:

        Dear Mr. Banji,

        Thanks for this illuminating contribution.

        It would be great if those at the helm of power in Western Nigeria would one day rise above the many challenges that face our people and look to the past to create lasting institutions for Yoruba people, including such a lofty one you’ve come up with.

        My regards,
        TOLA.

        Like

  10. Adenegan Says:

    Please can you translate this proverb ” Iwo ta’n wo awodi bi ki afi daa’la ni, ori eye ni’o pa eye”

    Like

    Reply

  11. temitope felix Says:

    what is the english name of AKALAMAGBO?

    Like

    Reply

    • emotan77 Says:

      Dear Mr. Felix,

      I do not know. You may wish to check with the Yoruba Department near where you live.

      Thanks,
      TOLA.

      Like

      Reply

      • banji Says:

        akalamagbo is a ground horn bill (Bucorvidae) it is closely associated to the vulture in yoruba culture and lore because of looks and it,is greatly respected because of its vast intelligence and its ability to live long, one of the very few birds which can live up to fifty years. hope this helps

        Like

      • emotan77 Says:

        Thanks v much. I’m sure it does. It has helped me understand the bird because I knew nothing beyond the taunts kids gave each other when we were young which included: akalamagbo ma yo oju e”! It’s a wishful thinking promising that the bird will peck out somebody’s eyes!

        Regards,
        TOLA.

        Like

  12. akintunde ijimere Says:

    I have not read many of the comments here. Yoruba generally have 2 or three names for everything and everybody, one of which comes from the oriki for that thing or person. Yoruba have oriki for animals and some of the more common names for animals come from the animals’ oriki.

    The anims’al oriki seems to have been the specialty of hunters who were the ones in constant contact with the animals. The hunter’s poetic form, something that is unique to the Yoruba, is Ijala. Examples of Yoruba beautiful praise poems of animals (Ijala) are in the book by late Professor S.A, Babalola, “The Content and Form of Yoruba Ijala”. This is a good source for the names of animals (and plants) in Yoruba, including common names and praise names, ‘complimentary or uncomplimentary’. What can be classified as Yoruba scientific (or deeper) name for animals and birds are to be found in Ifa Divination poetry.

    One of my favorites is the Ifa name for hyena. Ordinary this is ‘ikoko’ which meaning is obscure. Actually the complete name is ‘ikoko ajegunjeran’ “ikoko, the one that eats both flesh and bones’. The Ifa name ‘Ahere soko mamole’, “the hut that seats in the farm but cannot catch a thief’ captures the contradictory nature of the hyena that looks like a dog but is of no protective value, just like the farm hut!

    Now that there are several collections of Ifa poetry on the Internet, it’s easy to access these names without having to be a worshiper of Orisa. The context in which these animals are mentioned, in terms of their nature and character, is quite accurate, something that Euro-American scientists and ‘Nature’ filmmakers are just catching up to.

    Like

    Reply

  13. Frank Says:

    please I like to get list of Nigeria birds with their local names in OSUN state dielet…………….thanks and God bless

    Like

    Reply

    • emotan77 Says:

      Dear Frank,

      Unfortunately, I cannot help since this is a wide request for which I have neither training, education nor experience. If a blog visitor answers your need, I will forward it to your email shown here.

      Thanks,
      TOLA.

      Like

      Reply

  14. Engr. Oni johnson Ayodele Says:

    Idi is Eagle, I gun is Vulture, Awodi is Hawk. ASA in some quarters is used to referred to either eagle or hawk. But there is a difference between the two birds. Eagles land on high mountains, it hardly come to where people live in like communities. But hawks just like eagles but it comes to where peolpe live to prey on their domestic animals and some meat being sun-dried in communities. Definitely people will rain curses on it whenever it picks their things, hence the proverb( Awodi Jean epe sanra )

    Like

    Reply

  15. Amidu Says:

    pls can I get the english name of akala

    Like

    Reply

  16. badhoo Says:

    Awodi is eagle, asadi is hawk, igunugun is vulture, asa is kite, alapandede is swallow, adan is bat

    Like

    Reply

  17. Adebola Rayo Says:

    Awodi is hawk. Idì is eagle. Igún is vulture. Àsá is kite

    Like

    Reply

  18. TAO OTUNLA Says:

    Are we sure Awodi is the Eagle? The regular references to the chicken raises some discomfort here! The Eagle as a bird of prey is not known to live around human beings and is not known to prey on chicks. Can we take a closer and deeper look at this interesting interest in our language? It’s a worthy pursuit and time too. Ko ni re wa o.tao

    Like

    Reply

    • emotan77 Says:

      Tao,

      Thanks for the observation. In my Yoruba dialect, the Eagle is supposed to be “igun”; I’ll check it out so that we do not pass off wrong translations. Will get back.

      Regards,
      TOLA.

      Like

      Reply

      • Adebola Rayo Says:

        Awodi is hawk. Idì is eagle. Igún is vulture. Àsá is kite

        Like

      • emotan77 Says:

        Many thanks, Rayo. Another reader sent the same answers but it was sent to my mailbox and since wordpress no longer makes it possible to cut and paste to the comments section, I simply discarded the comments after the guy failed to go back to the essay and comment below it.

        I appreciate it, and I’m sure many readers will.

        Regards,
        TOLA.

        Like

Leave comments

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s