Yoruba Society

Whilst there was once a very narrow class division between the 'Royal Class' and the 'ordinary people,’ the social climate has changed and a powerful 'educated class' has emerged, causing greater societal division.

Emmanuel argues that Yoruban society has become materialistic and people are judged by their wealth, whether they have achieved it through education or less commendable means, “They’ve lost the spirit of giving, they just want to grab, grab, grab, grab, take, take, take.”

For many young people, the solution to these socio-economic issues is to begin a new life abroad. This has caused the gradual erosion of the quality and culture of Yoruba.

For those who stay, traditionally family values remain important, particularly in more rural, conservative villages. For instance, the family share responsibility for the care of less fortunate relatives. Additionally, patriarchal values are strong. Upon the death of a father, the wealthiest son becomes head of the family. The mother is then answerable, to some extent, to that son and must, for example, ask his permission to remarry. There is also a tradition for the head of the family to ‘marry’ a widowed relative, to take care of her and her children and keep the family together. This arrangement is purely economical.

In terms of the economy, much of Nigeria’s wealth comes from oil and corruption. This wealth breeds corruption at higher levels – colloquially known as “old boy’s ties” in reference to the close relationships between rich, privately educated men – rather than a more violent ‘mafia’ type of corruption.