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Oríkì, or praise poetry, is a cultural phenomenon among the Yòrùbá-speaking people of West Africa.

Oríkì Characteristics[edit]

Oríkì varies in length depending on whether it's the name given to a child to describe the future portents of his or her life or a recital of the accomplishments of a person's clan. It is invoked when praising a child for bringing pride to the parents or when attempting to evoke virtuous character traits of bravery, fortitude and perseverance that are believed to be innate in a person due to his or her pedigree.

It is not always clear what was preeminent in the mind of the person who named a child with the shorter praise names e.g. traditionally a boy born with the umbilical cord around his neck is called Òjó (there are exceptions; the Ijebu sub-culture names a boy or girl Àìná), yet the name Òjó has praise poetry that does not even mention this occurrence but implies that the child would be the darling of ladies and might be a little impatient.

Oríkì and surnames[edit]

Usually a family derives its last name from a strong, accomplished patriarch or matriarch, and it is not uncommon to find this person's accomplishments recited in the longer version of the oríkì of all of his or her progeny. An excerpt from praise poetry for the name Òjó would be:

Examples of Oríkì Names[edit]

Examples of oríkì names and their meanings (m and f denote the gender thereof):

  • Àjoké - meant to be taken care of by all. - f
  • Àlàké - to take care of her as a result of victory over circumstance. - f
  • Ànìké - own's property to be taken care of. - f
  • Àshàké - selected to be spoiled (with good things) - f
  • Àbèní - begged for (from God or, more traditionally, the gods) - f
  • Àríké - meant to be spoiled on sight - f
  • Àdùké - people will fight over the privilege to spoil her - f
  • Àbèbí - begged for to be birthed (probably a difficult birth) - f
  • Àjàní - fought to have this child - m
  • Àkànní - met only once to have this child - m
  • Àjàgbé - fought to carry this child - m
  • Àkànde Àgàn - favourite of the prince - m
  • Akanni - first male child - m
  • Adigun - Name of God - m
  • Apeke - Called to be cared for - f
  • Adunni - One sweet to have -f
  • Amoke - Known and cared fori
  • Ajadi - the end of conflict

See also[edit]

External links[edit]