I have the intention of putting this across a long while ago, I
believe now is the time. So how did the word Oyinbo crept
up in Yoruba lexicon? This piece might help. The Yoruba
has been familiar with different races from the onset of
time. The Yoruba were a race of diverse races at one point
in their history. To the Yoruba ancestors, the white were not
always “Oyinbo”, the most tenable word for a white person
with the ancient Yoruba is Ofun.
Originally however, the parent word for ‘Oyinbo’ may have
come from the Fon kingdom of Dahomey, who contacted the
white folks first after the long seperation from that race.
The Fon for a white man is ‘Yevo’. This word is derived from
‘Oye’ and ‘Ovo’, meaning, “of different shade”.
To the Fon, mankind is called Gbetor, meaning ‘father of
life’, now the word in full is a phrase, ‘Gbetor-yenor’
meaning, ‘a shadow (or replica) of the father of life’. That
establishes ‘ye’ as in ‘yes’ as shade or shadow in that
language. For instance, Yesehmeh in that language stands
for ‘shade’s transit point’. Again, racial shade is known to
To the ancient Yoruba, white- man is ‘e fun’, we still say it in
Yoruba language as ‘Oyinbo-alawo-funfun’. That’s a long-
tail-expression however. Some Yoruba ancestors were
white-skinned. It shows in the way Yoruba peoples named
them afterwards based on their colour.
For instance, the word Efunyela simply means “white skin is
befitting to Ela”. The Yoruba perception of their ancestors
can also be observed in the way Yoruba sees the albino.
They says, owo koko lafii wogi, owo Orisha lafii wo afin.
Afin are spotted with Orisha, who are Yoruba ancestors.
The Yoruba equally have black heros. One of the black hero
in annal of Yoruba history was Odu. And in that regards is
the folksong, “eye melo t’olongo wale?”…’Okan Dudu-Aro,
Okan Sese Osun’. Hope you don’t take the nursery rhyme as
worthless. ‘Duduaro’ in another way round is ‘Odunaro’ a
Yoruba surname spotting with a black thinker in annals of
“Sese Osun” is also a historical phrase, we speak of Osun as
“Osun-se-ngese, Olooya ‘yun” and also ‘etu obeje elese
osun’, a totem of mother Osun, the matriarch of Yoruba
race. Osun was a black beauty of Yoruba history, hence it is
said, ‘Odu eleyinju ege’. Osun is o su, that is of dark shade.
Another way of putting it clearer is O du.
The Yoruba are familiar with races as of old.
I will surely come back to put more live into this.
But before then, enjoy.
Culled from Nairaland.