In my first post about the Lukumi Iyawo Year I received some comments and questions that made me realize that another post was in order. Hopefully, this will bring more clarity and correct some assumptions.
The first thing that cannot be stated enough about the Lukumi Iyawo Year is that the practice originates among the Yoruba people (and possibly their neighbors) in the countries that we now refer to as Nigeria and Benin. Dressing in white for an entire year and adhering to strict protocols after initiation is not something that was invented in Cuba. There has been some debate about this, as most Ifa and Orisa practitioners who have traveled to Nigeria don’t find most Yoruba adhering to this protocol so the assumption was made that this practice is “invento.” Not necessarily.
For starters, the two places in the Diaspora that are arguably the most concentrated centers of Orisa practice, Cuba and Brazil, both have an Iyawo phase after initiation. This suggests that during the time of the Slave Trade the Iyawo phase was in effect among the Yoruba and that, perhaps through colonization or other factors, it became less common practice in Africa but remained in tact in the Diaspora. This is one of the reasons why, to the Yoruba, we in the Diaspora speak “Old-Yoruba;” many of our rituals, ceremonies, and even the songs and chants have been frozen in time, preserved since the time of their migration across the Atlantic. Many of the differences between Lukumi and West African Orisa traditions are because of changes and adaptations on the Continent, not simply just in the Diaspora.
Secondly, as we in the Diaspora have been able to connect and build with our brothers and sisters on the Continent, we have learned that the Iyawo Year does exist there, though it may not be as common as it was in the past. Chief Dayo Ologundudu, author of The Cradle of Yoruba Culture, as well as Chief Solagbade Popoola, have spoken about the protocol of wearing white for one year after initiation. Baba Popoola has even taught that there are places in Nigeria where, if one initiates to Obatala or Oshun, the standard protocol is to wear white…forever.
So now that that’s out of the way, let me be more clear on my stance regarding the Iyawo Year:
I loved being an Iyawo. I loved the sense of discipline, purpose, and spiritual connection I felt. I loved being wrapped in white, not being overly concerned about appearance (no makeup, my mirrors), and learning that I don’t need much to sustain myself (I had two pairs of shoes, a pair of boots, a pair of sneakers, one coat, on jacket, and about 10-12 outfits for the entire year).
My contention about the Iyawo year is not the protocols, nor am I arguing that we should no longer adhere to them.
Let me repeat that: My contention about the Iyawo year is not the protocols, nor am I arguing that we should no longer adhere to them.
My contention is, and perhaps concern is a better word, is that the protocols have become an end in themselves instead of means to an end.
As I stated in my first post about the Iyawo year, I have noticed more priests be concerned about the Iyawo protocols than the actual Iyawo. Having orisa placed in your head can be startling. It took my body several weeks to settle down from the initiation. My dreams were more intense than usual; sometimes I could feel energy in my head while sleeping. Having six (or more) orisas installed in your home at one time changes the energy of your home…and the only way I can describe is “intensely intense.”
And I received absolutely no instructions on what to do.
I understand that this is not everyone’s experience but I also know that it does happen, and maybe perhaps more than people may think.
Of course, I was given all of my protocols and I really did follow them to a T. But telling someone what they should NOT do is not the same as affirming what they SHOULD do. How about helping the iyawo understand their odus better? How about teaching the iyawo songs and oriki for their orisa? How about asking the Iyawo, “How are you, Iyawo? How are you connecting with your orisa?” instead of just measuring their sleeve length and walking away shaking your head at them? I have seen Iyawos stand there as priests talked badly about their godparents because they have such “loose protocols,” just because their house does things a bit differently.
Come on people. We can, and some of us are, doing better.
The goal isn’t following protocols; the protocols are a means towards spiritual discipline and allowing the ase of the orisa to penetrate as deeply as possible through intentional action that will spark the initiate towards a new life of constant re-initiations to manifest the highest and fullest aspects of their destiny.
Learn Iyawo ~ The Twelve Steps Process is important for you!
No, we are not talking here about an AA (Alcoholic Anomymous) like program. What I call the Twelve Steps Process is more like a spiritual tune up every iyawó should have throughout their year in white. The process consists of twelve obo orí eledás or Head Feedings also known as Prayers over the Head. Although simple, the ritual is of great importance as it provides not only an opportunity to balance the head of the iyawó with the growing energies of the orisha that has just been seated, cool and cleansed the iyawó from any negativities attracted, but also, it provides for a time for communication and learning between the initiate and initiators.
About the Head Feeding:
Ideally the ceremony should be done every month on the same date that the Kariosha happened, thus if someone got initiated on the 12th of the month, every month thereafter the iyawó should meet with the godparent on the same day or within 7 days following that date. The duty of performing the ceremony every month falls upon the oyugbonakán or the main godparent, depending on how the godparent wants to do this. For this ritual the iyawó needs to bring the following items:
Two candles (itana melli)
Two coconuts (obi melli)
A $21 fee
Cocoa butter (orí)
Honey (oyín o oñí)
Smoked fish and Jutía (ecú eyá)–optional in some houses
A white large handkerchief (ashó fun fun)
Two white plates
This is how the process goes, the iyawó presents these materials to the godparent and the godparent will take care of preparing the coconuts which will broken down on two sets of Obí for divination and the rest will be peeled (no black rind) and grated. The godparent will then prepare the mixture and set the altar space for the iyawó.
The process in itself is a great opportunity for the iyawó to learn the mechanics of one of the most basic ceremonies that any olosha should know by heart. Thus, a wise godparent will take care to explain the steps and show the iyawó how things are organized. The process will be learned by repetition as there are 12 opportunities for the iyawó to observe, ask questions and memorize.
I have seen many iyaloshas and babaloshas ask of their iyawós to bring the coconuts already segmented into two sets of obí and already grated. Shame on you for being so lazy! Part of the ashé of the godparent is to do this process with their very own hands (they are also charging a fee, then it is not right to ask others to do the work). It shows sincere care and allows for the transference of energies from the hands of the godparent to the head of the godchild. Besides it is a waste of a great teaching opportunity face-to-face.
I remember many interesting conversations about the importance of this ritual, and the impact of the ritual on me as months rolled by, all of these shared with my elders while they prepared the materials. Granted, some people do not like to talk during the preparation for a ritual, but this is an exception they could make to create a learning environment for the iyawó.
After the Head Feeding:
Iyawós, your relationship with your godparents will be developed not only by what they dictate onto you, but also based on the actions you take. Thus, if you ask your godparents to spend at least half an hour talking with you after the Head Feeding is done, you will develop a healthy routine of communications and a time and space where you can share your developments, concerns and questions with your elders.
There are some houses where the iyawó learns nothing during their first year. I see no reason to keep a godchild from learning for a year. The time shared during this ritual is indeed an opportunity to instruct the iyawó on basic materials to memorize. The iyawó should also be tested during subsequent conversations to ensure that the initiate is indeed taking time to reinforce lessons learned on the prior month.
What to teach the iyawó during their first year? That is a question that each babá and iyá should pose themselves before they do kariosha to an individual and not one I will address in this short essay as it is more geared to the iyawó. Needless to say those godparents must to be ready not only for the spiritual birth, but also, to rear their children and to use the time of the year in white wisely and efficiently.
Learn iyawó, keep up the steps prescribed for your year in white, use opportunities to learn wisely and always keep communications going with your godparents. Oh, and every time you meet with them, have a notebook and pen in hand so you can take notes and review them later.
today i was lifted off the floor and presented to the mirror. i can now sleep in a bed, eat at a table, and a few other things. kinda shocked to see myself in a mirror. i look a lot like my father and my hair has changed its texture. my eyes look like they were when i was a kid. strange.
one of the best feelings after waking up on the train is the feeling of wanting to go somewhere new. i was feeling pretty great about myself and i tried to keep a list of the small things that made me happy today:
saying hi to people
getting lunch by myself
falling asleep on the train
waking up on the train
finding a biking trail and walking trough it for an hour
the lingering rain clouds
the puppy i made eye-contact with
the friendly cashier
the sun peaking through the trees/clouds
my feet getting tired after awhile
finding houses that are under construction
apartment complexes that don’t fit in with the rest of the neighborhood
Mat for our African ancestors is symbol of bed and table and as consecrated the Iyawo must start with learn humility and begin to get used with the new range of spirituality that connects with the consecrated Orisha, also in (6-6 Obara Tonti Obara) is born that you eat in mat as sentence that the person learn to overcome pride and envy.
Olofi sentenced who became “injuriador” of Obara Tonti Obara to sit and eat (in front of the Kings) in mat so as admonishment and learn to not speak ill of others. -In Obara was born, the conversation and the King does not tell lies. A good language builds and destroys a bad language. You don’t live in dreams and not insult with the language which is blessed. The mat is what separates us from the pagan world to the sacred point. No one in our beliefs can walk with shoes on top of a mat.
The Iyawo eats on the mat during the first 3 months of his/her initiation and when completing this cycle, his/her elders present the table so that you can begin to eat on it. Reminding the iyawo. that whenever one of Ocha House well is accompanied of their padrnos and must be greater that lift you their dish similar to party of Ocha, you should take with you: your mat (eni) 1 dish, spoon and glass and towel. so when prompted do not pass by the penalty of shame for not having what you must…As well as also 1 change of clothes if at some point you stain the clothing your wearing…Remember the iyawo must always be neat, clean and spotless.
We always care to the Yawoses and will always be pleased to teach him or some Iyawo that is visiting in that House… that respect and education come together in both hands.
There are houses of Santo that can economically can have mats in quantity as in the dishes (la gardé) spoons and glasses in quantity, but is better than the comma in your own belongings, is a habit that is very ancient and part of that should follow it. aesthetically looks my particular of every house in every Godfather and especially each Iyawo.
The mat is what separates us from the pagan world to the sacred point. No one in our beliefs can walk with shoes on top of a mat.
Iyawo, by Nujabes. I pretty much love every song that’s come from this Japanese Hip-Hop producer. All of his albums show a heavy influence from Jazz, which I find to be much more pleasant than typical rap. This particular song lacks any spoken word, so it isn’t actually Hip-Hop. Sadly he died in 2010 at the age of 36 due to a car accident. He really had a lot of talent and a great ear, it’s a damn shame.
I adore the expression in this song, it’s great to chill to. Enjoy.
Where did you learn Yoruba? I can't find any good reliable learning sources.
I’m still learning, but to be honest I’m self taught. I started by learning the Yoruba alphabet which can be found on YouTube and its titled ‘Yoruba rap’. I also have told my mum to stop speaking in English to me and that she should speak only Yoruba. I watch Yoruba movies A LOT, and either switch off subtitles and try not to look. I’ll reblog some sources and good websites. Also if you go on Amazon I’ll soon be purchasing a book called beginners Yoruba by Kayode. J. Fakindele (it comes with two cds). Also I listen to a lot of Yoruba music so that helps. Hopefully by next year, I’ll speak very fluently. I’ll list a few phrases below to get you started! Hope this helps!
how are you? bawo lo se wa?
I’m good, thank you mo wa daadaa, e se
and you? ati iwo?b
what is your name? kini oruko re?
my name is Maya oruko mi ni maya
nice to meet you o dara lati pade e
One: eyokan Two: meji Three: meta
Four: merin Five: marun Six: mefa
Seven: meje Eight: mejo Nine: mesan
Ten: mewa First: okan Second: ekeji
Monday: ojo-aje Tuesday: ojo-isegun Wednesday: ojo'ru
Thursday: ojo alamisi Friday: ojo-eti Saturday: ojo abameta
Sunday: ojo aiku Now: nisisiyi Yesterday: ana
Today: oni Tonight: ale yi Tomorrow: ola
Ambulance: oko ile iwosan Doctor: onisegun
Hospital: ile iwosan Pharmacy: pipo-oogun
Police: olopa Stomach Ache: inu-rirun
Ife l’akoja ofin: Love is above all.
English Yoruba Phrases
Greeting Mo kiyin
Good morning! Ek'aro
Good afternoon! Ek'asan
Good evening! Ek'ale
Welcome! (to greet someone) Ek'abo
Hello my friend! Bawoni Oremi
How are you? (friendly) Bawo lowa
How are you? (polite) Bawo lara
I’m fine, thank you! Mowa dada, Ese
And you? (friendly) Iwo na nko
And you? (polite) Iwo nko
Not so good Kofibe da
Long time no see Ope ti mo ti rie
I missed you Mos'aro e
What’s new? Kini tuntun
Nothing new Kosi tuntun
Thank you (very much)! Ese gan
You’re welcome! (for “thank you”) Ko t'ope
My pleasure Inu midun
Come in! (or: enter!) Wole wa
Make yourself at home! Ef'okan bale,Ile lewa
Have a nice day! Od'igba
Good night! Od'aro
Good night and sweet dreams! od'aro kosi la ala to da
See you later! mari e ni'gba mi
See you soon! mari e laipe
See you tomorrow! mari e lola
Good bye! Od'abo
Have a good trip! Irin ajo ada o
I have to go Moni lati malo
I will be right back! Mon padabo
Holidays and Wishes
Good luck! Pade orire
Happy birthday! Eku ojo ibi
Happy new year! Eku odun tuntun
Merry Christmas! Eku odun keresimesi
Ei del kabir Eku odun Ileya
Independence day Eku odun ojo ominira
Congratulations! Eku ori ire
Enjoy! (or: bon appetit) Igba dun
Bless you (when sneezing) Epele
Best wishes! Nko rere fun e
Cheers! (or: to your health) Eku araya
Accept my best wishes Gba nkan rere timo fefun e
How to Introduce Yourself
What’s your name? Kini oruko e?
My name is (John Doe) Oruko mi ni (john Doe)
Nice to meet you! Inumidun lati ri e
Where are you from? Ilu wo loti wa?
I’m from (the U.S/ Nigeria) Mowa lati ilu (America/nigeria)
I’m (American/ Nigerian) Omo (America/Nigeria) nimi
Where do you live? Ibo l'ongbe?
I live in (the U.S/ Nigeria) Mongbe ni(America/ nigeria)
Do you like it here? S'o feran ibi?
Nigeria is a beautiful country Orile ede to rewa ni nigeria
What do you do for a living? Ise wo lonse?
I’m a (teacher/ student/ engineer) (Oluko/akeko/ onimo ero) ni mi
Do you speak (English/ Yoruba)? S'ole so ede(geesi/ yoruba)?
Just a little Mole so die
I like Yoruba Moferan yoruba
I’m trying to learn Yoruba Mongbiyanju lati ko ede yoruba
It’s a hard language Ede t'ole ni
It’s an easy language Ede ti kole ni
Oh! That’s good! hehen, Iyen da
Can I practice with you? se mole ko pelu e?
I will try my best to learn Mase iwon ti mole se lati ko
How old are you? Omo odun melo ni e?
I’m (twenty one, thirty two) years old Omo (ogun odun lekan,ogun odun lemeji) ni mi
It was nice talking to you! Mogbadun bi mose nba e soro
It was nice meeting you! mogbadun bi mose pade e
Mr…/ Mrs. …/ Miss… Ogbeni…/ Iya afin…/ Omidan….
This is my wife Iyawo mi niyi
This is my husband Oko mi niyi
Say hi to Thomas for me Bami ki Thomas
Romance and Love Phrases
Are you free tomorrow evening? S'o raye lati ola lo
I would like to invite you to dinner mo fe kajo jade fun ounje ale
You look beautiful! (to a woman) O rewa gan lobinrin
You have a beautiful name Oruko re rewa
Can you tell me more about you? Se ole so si fun mi nipa re?
Are you married? Se oti se igbeyawo?
I’m single Mosi da wa
I’m married Moti se igbeyawo
Can I have your phone number? Se mole gba nomba ero ibani soro re?
Can I have your email? Se mole gba iwe ateranse re?
Do you have any pictures of you? Se oni awon aworan re?
Do you have children? Se oni awon omo?
Would you like to go for a walk? Se ole jeka nase jade
I like you Moferan e
I love you Mon'ife e!
You’re very special! Eeyan pataki ni e!
You’re very kind! Odaa gan!
I’m very happy Inumi dun gan
Would you marry me? Se wa femi?
I’m just kidding Mon sere ni o
I’m serious Mi o selere rara
My heart speaks the language of love Okan mi nso ede ife
Solving a Misunderstanding
Sorry! (or: I beg your pardon!) Ema binu
Sorry (for a mistake) Epele
No problem! Kosi'yonu
Can you repeat please? Se ole tunso jo?
Can you speak slowly? Se ole soro didie?
Can you write it down? Se ole koosile?
Did you understand what I said? Se nko ti mo so ye e?
I don’t understand! Ko ye mi!
I don’t know! Mi o mo!
What’s that called in Yoruba? Kini won npe ni ede yoruba?
What does that word mean in English? Kini itumo oro yen ni ede geesi?
How do you say “thanks” in Yoruba? Bawo lese nso pe"Ese gan" ni ede yoruba?
What is this? Ki leleyi?
My Yoruba is bad Ede yoruba mi da
Don’t worry! Mase iyonu!
I agree with you Mo faramo nko to so
Is that right? Se iyen da?
Is that wrong? Se iyen o da?
What should I say? Kini kinso?
I just need to practice moni lati ko gan
Your Yoruba is good Ede yoruba re da
I have an accent Ede mi fihan pe mi owa lati ilu yi
You don’t have an accent Ede re dabi tiwa
Asking for Directions
Excuse me! (before asking someone) Ejo
I’m lost Mi o mona
Can you help me? S'ele ran mi lowo?
Can I help you? Se mole ran e lowo?
I’m not from here Mio kinse ara ile yi
How can I get to (this place, this city)? Bawo ni mosele de adugbo yi?
Go straight Malo lookan
Turn left Ya si apa osi
Turn right ya si apa otun
Can you show me? S'ole fihan mi?
I can show you! Mole fihan e
Come with me! Telemi kalo!
How long does it take to get there? Ato igbawo k'atodebe?
Downtown (city center) Aarin ilu
Historic center (old city) Ilu atijo
It’s near here Itosi ibi
It’s far from here Ojina s'ibi
Is it within walking distance? Se molerin debe
I’m looking for Mr. Smith Mon bere Ogbeni smith
One moment please! Jo funmi ni iseju kan!
Hold on please! (when on the phone) Ejo monbo
He is not here Ibi kis'ebi ( kosi nibi)
Airport Papako Ofurufu
Bus station Ibudoko
Train station Ibudoko oko ojurin
Emergency Survival Phrases
Help! Egbawa o!
Watch out! (or: be alert!) Egbara di
Call the police! Epe olopa!
Call a doctor! Epe dokita!
Call the ambulance! Epe oko tongbeyan lo si ile iwosan
Are you okay? S'owa daada!
I feel sick Ara mi oya
I need a doctor Moferi dokita
Food poisoning Majele ounje
Where is the closest pharmacy? Ibo ni ile oloogun oyinbo to sunmon ju?
It hurts here Eeyan nsese nibi?
It’s urgent! Ogba kiakia!
Calm down! Fara bale!
You will be okay! Ara re aya!
Can you help me? Se ole ranmi lowo?
Can I help you? Se mole ran e lowo?
Hotel Restaurant Travel Phrases
I have a reservation (for a room) Motigba yara kan sile
Do you have rooms available? Se awon yara wanle?
With shower / With bathroom To ni baluwe
I would like a non-smoking room Mofe yara ti won ti kin mu siga
What is the charge per night? Elo ni owo re fun ale kan?
I’m here on business /on vacation Mo wasibi fun ise/ fun isinmi
Do you accept credit cards? S'e n gba owo ni ona kaadi
I’d like to rent a car Mafe lati ya oko ayokele
How much will it cost? Elo lo ma na mi?
A table for (one / two) please! Ejo tabili fun eyan (kan/meji)!
Is this seat taken? Se wan ti gba aye yi ni?
I’m vegetarian Ounje elewe lemi nje
I don’t eat pork Mio kin je elede
I don’t drink alcohol Mio kin mu oti
What’s the name of this dish? Ki'loruko ounje yi?
Waiter / waitress! Adani loun!
Can we have the check please? S'ele fun mi ni iwe sowedowo na?
It is very delicious! Odun gan!
I don’t like it Mi o feran e
Shopping Expressions Ise nibi nkan rira
How much is this? Elo leleyi?
I’m just looking Mo kan nwo ni
I don’t have change Mio ni sanji
This is too expensive Eyi ti won ju
What time is it? Ago melo lolu?
It’s 3 o'clock Ago meta lolu
Give me this! Fun mi leleyi!
Are you sure? S'o da e loju?
Take this! (when giving something) Gba eleyi!
It’s freezing (weather) Otutu gan nibi gan
It’s cold (weather) Otutu nibi
It’s hot (weather) Ogbona nibi
Do you like it? S'o feran e?
I really like it! Moferan gan!
I’m hungry Ebi npa mi
I’m thirsty Orungbe ngbe mi
He is funny Apani lerin ni
In The Morning l'owuro
In the evening N'irole
At Night L'ale
Hurry up! Se kia!
Cuss Words (polite)
This is nonsense! (or: this is craziness) Kantan kantan leyi!
My God! (to show amazement) Oluwa o!
Oh gosh! (when making a mistake) Mogbe!
It sucks! (or: this is not good) Eyi oda!
What’s wrong with you? Kilo ndamu e?
Are you crazy? S'onsiere ni?
Get lost! (or: go away!) Kuroni'waju mi!
Leave me alone! Fimi sile!
I’m not interested! Ko wunmi!
Writing a Letter
Dear John John mi owan
My trip was very nice Irin ajo mi dara
The culture and people were very interesting Asa ati awon eyan yi daa gan ni
I had a good time with you Mogbadun igba ti molo pelu e
I would love to visit your country again Mafe lati wa si orile ede re si
Don’t forget to write me back from time to time Magbagbe lati mak'owe simi ni gbogbo igba
Short Expressions and words
So-so (or: not bad not good) Koda kobaje
Me (ie. Who did this? - Me) Emi
Him Owun (okunrin)
Her Owun (obinrin)
When? Nigba wo?
Why? kilo fa?
O!: Placed at the end of sentences for emphasis and effect E.g. I go broke bottle for yua head O!
Oba: Traditional ruler. Also Olu, Ovie and Sultan.
Obey the wind: Skinny, Very underweight individual.
Obioma: See Mobile tailor.
Obito: 1. All night wake.
Objectiv: Multiple choice examination.
Obobo canda: Light skinned person.(Derogatory).
Obokun: 1. Cat fish 2. Mercedes Benz limousine
Obrokotor: Obese person.
October rush: Frantic chasing of female freshmen (Jambitoes) in Nigerian universities by senior male students.
Odeku: Large bottle of Guinness stout.
Odu: Shady business.
Odudoof: (Derisory) Overweight individual.
Ofofo: Yoruba word for Gossip.
Oga: Person in charge. Also Oga pata pata.
Ogbele o!: Goodness gracious! See Ye pa!
Ogboju: Bluff your way through. See Bold face.
Ogbologbo: Old hand
Ogbono: Soup made from ground Ogbono seeds, crayfish, beef, dried fish, okra, spinach and pepper.
Ogi: Pap made from corn. Also Akamu.
Ogogoro: See Apketeshi.
Ojare: Said at the end of sentences for emphasis. E.g Comot for road Ojare!
Oje marina: Big lie.
Okada: 1. Name of Nigerian Airline. 2. Motor cycle taxi. See By air.
Okirikpotor: 1. Eczema. 2. Dermatitis.
Okpetu: 1. Trouble 2.It has happened!
Okporoko: Stork fish.
Okrika wake up: Second hand clothes. Also Gorgio Amadi.
Ol'boy: Yo my man.
Ole: Theif. Also Teif.
Olofofo: Gossip ( Yoruba word). Also Tatafo and Amebo
Olopa: Police officer.
Omi ni polish: Patent leather shoes.
Omo: 1. Child 2. My friend 3. Popular detergent powder.
Omo ale trousa: Literally means Prisoner’s trousers i.e. Trousers that barely reach the ankles. See Jump up pee. Also called Michael Jaskin.
Omolanke: Labourer for hire who carries goods in a large custom made wooden wheelbarrow.
Omoge: Fine girl. Also Chinani, Chickito, Gboyen, Si si and Babi.
Omota: Ruffian or rude boy.
One day one day: One of these days. Used as a warning for those involved in dodgy acts e.g One day one day monkey go go market e no go come back meaning everyday foe the thief one day for the owner.
One kain: Odd E.g Dat guy dress one kain.
One thousand and four: Popular block of flats in Lagos Island.
Onioburu: Night soil man. Also Agbepo.
Opari: It is finished.
Opeke: Good looking girl. See Omoge.
Open eye: 1. Wise up. 2. Become sexually active.
Open mouth: 1. Talk e.g Abeg no open mouth laik dat.2. Astonishment e.g Ol’ boy, the way dem spray money nyanfu nyanfu for dat party, Omo na so I open mouth.
Open ya sense: Use your intelligence.
Operation: Armed robbery.
Operation sweep: ( Defunct) Special police anti-crime task force.
Opon: Yoruba word for prominent forehead. Also Crash helmet.
Oppressor!: Owner of big car.
Osa straight: Molue. Literally means Straight into the lagoon. Called so because of accidents involving Molue Buses plunging into the lagoon in Lagos.
Otopiapia: Rat poison.
Over-graduate: Postgraduate student. (As opposed to undergraduate).
Over stone: Disallowed goal when stones are used for goal posts and the ball goes directly above the stone.
Owambe: Yoruba word meaning it is there, denoting a lavish party with live music.
Owo: Urhobo soup made from palm oil, dried meat and fish, crayfish, potash, pepper, cassava starch and Egidije. Also called Oil soup.
Oyinbo: 1. Caucasian 2. English 3. Big English words.
Oyoyo: 1. Good times 2. Jollification.. See Ariya.
A whole.. Used when a man of substance is belittled e.g See how mobile police trash the guy, a whole managing director for dat matter
Abi?: Is it not?
Abi na wetin!: What is it?
ABU: Amadu Bello University.
Acada: 1. Intellectual 2. University student 3. Book worm.
Acata: 1. USA or UK 2.Someone who lives in those places.
Acting big man: Deputy exercising power in the absence of the boss.
Adire: Dyed cloth.
Adonkia: contraction for I don’t care attitude
Afang: Efik soup made from Afang leaves, beef, dried fish, crayfish, palm oil, and periwinkle.
Afraid catch me: I was scared.
Afta much:Inebriated after much alcohol.
Agaracha: Woman of easy virtue.
Agbada: Large traditional garment usually worn by men over a shirt.
Agbepo: Night soil man. (See - Onioburu).
Agbero: Labourer who carries heavy goods for a fee.
Agip: Any Government In Power. Derisory term for person who changes alliances as goverments come and go.
Ah-ah: For goodness sake.
Aircon: Abbreviation for air conditioner.
Ajasco: Dancing with fanciful footwork. Also called Ajasco Toronto.
Ajebota: One used to butter; rich spoilt kid. See Ajepako.
Ajepako: Literally means -one used to eating wood i.e. uses a wooden chewing stick as toothbrush.
Akamu: Pap made from corn. See Ogi.
Akara: Bean cake made from fried ground black-eyed beans.
Akara school: Nursery school.
Akata: 1. Recent arrival from abroad (especially UK or USA) into Nigeria
2. Nigerian nickname for an African American
Alaba: Abbreviation for Alaba International Market, Lagos. Famed for the sale of electrical goods.
Alan Pozza: Poser.
Alau him: Give him a break.
All na: It is all a .e.g All na wayo.
All night: Night vigil.
All Weda: Shoes worn all the time, come rain come sunshine.
Along!: Shouted when hailing taxi cabs in some states in Nigeria.
Am: Used in place of 'him’ or 'her’ in sentence e.g. 'Warn am O!’
Amala: Dough like meal made from yam flour and hot water. Usually served with Ewedu soup.
Amebo: 1. Gossip 2. Name of a character in a Nigerian soap opera (The village headmaster), with a penchant for gossiping.
Amugbo: One habitually smoking Indian Hemp. (Marijuana)
And Co: Wearing the same clothes or fabric with someone else especially married couple.
Andrew: One wishing to emigrate out of Nigeria. Term originates from government sponsored advert in which the main character - Andrew threatens to ‘check out’ of the country due to various hardships.
Angola: Prison. Also Angola.
Animal and Sontin: Elephant and Castle (in Southeast London).
Any attempt!: Don’t even think about it!
Anyhow: 1. Shoddy 2. Inappropriate
Akpere: 1. Basket 2. Bad goalkeeper in soccer match.
Apoti: Yoruba word for small stool
Appear: 1. Arrive unexpected usually to something good such as a meal. Host will then say 'you waka well o’. 2. Arrive uninvited.
Apketeshi: 1.Illicit gin. 2.Native gin. Also called Kai Kai, Ogogoro, Push me-push you, Sapele water and Burukutu.
Apkroko: Gossip. See Amebo.
Apku: Cassava flour. See Fufu
Apollo: Conjunctivitis. (an epidemic swept Nigeria around the time of the Apollo 11 moon landing hence the name)
Arrange yua sef: 1. Make your own arrangements 2. Everyman to himself.
Arrangee: 1.Soiree. 2. Exclusive 3.Preplanned set up.
Area boys: Unemployed street-wise youth loitering in the neighbourhood. Also called 'Alaye boys’ in Lagos.
Area girls: Female Anopheles mosquitoes.
Ariya: Good time.
Aro: 1.Abbreviation for large psychiatric hospital in western Nigeria. 2. Lunatic.
Aromental: 1. Lunatic 2. Eccentric personality. (See Mentalo).
As: How it e.g. 'Tell am as e take happun’.
As for: That’s the way it is.
Ashewo: Prostitute. See Agharacha.
Askology: Sarcastic reply to irritant question. Also- Askor.
Aso oke: Tradition Yoruba fabric worn on special occasions. Means Upper class cloth.
At-all: Not at all. Also- At-all ah-tall.
Atachee: 1. Hanger on 2. Social climber forcing themselves on the in-crowd
Attachment: Small stool placed along the aisle of luxurious buses for passengers who can’t afford proper seats.
Aunty: Any older female. Used when first name terms not appropriate.
Awoko: Burning the midnight oil.
Awoof: Freebie. Without charge. See FOC.
Away: Foreign especially Europe and America.
Away Baffs: Imported clothes from Europe and America; especially designer labels. See Sputs, kack and Sputeez.