Yoruba Americans

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Yoruba Americans
Total population
195,000 (estimate) [1]
Regions with significant populations
Boston, Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia, Houston and Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. New York, Maryland, New Jersey, Florida, Louisiana, California and most Southern States.
English (American English, Nigerian English, African American Vernacular English), French, and Yoruba
Islam, Christianity, and Yoruba religion
Related ethnic groups
African Americans, Beninese Americans, Black Canadians, Nigerian Americans, Nigerian Canadians, Yoruba Canadians, Yoruba people

Yoruba Americans are Americans of Yoruba descent. The Yoruba people (Yoruba: Àwọn ọmọ Yorùbá) are a West African ethnic group that predominately inhabits southwestern Nigeria, with a smaller community in southern Benin.


The first Yoruba people who arrived to the United States were imported as slaves from Nigeria and Benin during the Atlantic slave trade.[2][3] This ethnicity of the slaves was one of the main origins of present-day Nigerians who arrived to the United States, along with the Igbo. In addition, native slaves of current Benin hailed from peoples such as Nago (Yoruba subgroup,[4] although exported mainly by Spanish,[5] when Louisiana was Spanish) -, Ewe, Fon and Gen. Many of the slaves imported to the modern United States from Benin were sold by the King of Dahomey, in Whydah.[4][6] [note 1]

The slaves brought with them their cultural practices, languages, cuisine[8] and religious beliefs rooted in spirit and ancestor worship.[9] So, the manners of the Yoruba, Fon, Gen and Ewe of Benin were key elements of Louisiana Voodoo.[10] Also Haitians, who migrated to Louisiana in the late nineteenth century and also contributed to Voodoo of this state, have the Yoruba[11] Fon, and Ewe among their main origins. The Yoruba, and some northern Nigerian ethnic groups, had tribal facial identification marks. These could have assisted a returning slave in relocating his or her ethnic group, but few slaves escaped the colonies. In the colonies, masters tried to dissuade the practice of tribal customs. They also sometimes mixed people of different ethnic groups to make it more difficult for them to communicate and bond together in rebellion.[12] Today, most African Americans share ancestry with the Yoruba people.[13][14]

After the slavery abolition in 1865, many modern Nigerian immigrants of Yoruba ancestry have come to the United States starting in the mid-twentieth century to pursue educational opportunities in undergraduate and post-graduate institutions. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which allowed for a significant number of Nigerians of Yoruba ancestry to immigrate to the United States. During the 1960s and 1970s, after the Nigerian-Biafran War, Nigeria's government funded scholarships for Nigerian students, and many of them were admitted to American universities. While this was happening, there were several military coups and brief periods of civilian rule. All this caused many Nigerians to emigrate.[15] Most of these Nigerian immigrants are of Yoruba, Igbo and Ibibio origins.

Notable people[edit]

  • Cudjoe Lewis, one of the last known survivors of the Atlantic slave trade
  • Scipio Vaughan, slave
  • Brendon Ayanbadejo, football player
  • Femi Emiola, actress
  • Lola Ogunnaike, entertainment journalist
  • Angélique Kidjo, singer
  • Adewale Ogunleye, football player
  • Toyin Falola, historian
  • Oluwatoyin Asojo, biochemist
  • Hakeem Olajuwon, basketball player
  • Oye Owolewa, politician
  • Wale, rapper
  • Kehinde Wiley, artist
  • Oshoke Abalu, architect and futurist
  • Toluse Olorunnipa, political commentator
  • Abiola Irele, literary scholar
  • Babatunde Ogunnaike, chemical engineer
  • Ilesanmi Adesida, physicist
  • Akintunde Akinwande, electrical engineer
  • Kamaru Usman, mixed martial arts fighter
  • Chamillionaire, rapper
  • Tomi Adeyemi, novelist
  • Wally Adeyemo, United States Deputy Secretary of the Treasury
  • Luvvie Ajayi, blogger
  • David Oyelowo, actor
  • Dot da Genius, music producer
  • Tanitoluwa Adewumi, chess player
  • Deji Akinwande, electrical and computer engineering professor
  • Akinwumi Ogundiran, archaeologist
  • Bamidele A. Ojo, political scientist
  • Kunle Olukotun, computer scientist
  • Mojisola Adeyeye pharmacist and professor
  • Fela Sowande, musician and composer
  • Nelson M. Oyesiku, neurosurgeon
  • Olufunmilayo Olopade, hematologist
  • Yewande Olubummo, mathematician
  • Kate Okikiolu, mathematician
  • Rick Famuyiwa, film director
  • Temie Giwa-Tubosun, entrepreneur
  • Folakemi T. Odedina, pharmacy professor
  • Bo Oshoniyi, soccer player
  • Sope Aluko, actress
  • Sade Baderinwa, news anchor
  • Folake Olowofoyeku, actress
  • Tunde Adebimpe, lead singer of TV on the Radio
  • Adebayo Ogunlesi, lawyer and investment banker
  • Jimmy Adegoke, climatologist
  • Dayo Okeniyi, actor
  • Arike Ogunbowale, basketball player
  • Benson Mayowa, football player
  • Bayo Ojikutu, creative writer
  • Adebayo Alonge, entrepreneur
  • Tosin Abasi, founder and lead guitarist of Animals as Leaders
  • Nelson M. Oyesiku, neurosurgeon
  • Lola Eniola-Adefeso, chemical engineer
  • Deborah Ayorinde, actress
  • Jacob K. Olupona, scholar of indigenous African religions
  • Mobolaji Dawodu, fashion designer
  • Stephen Adebanji Akintoye, historian
  • Ade A. Olufeko, artist and technologist
  • Toyin Ojih Odutola, graphic artist
  • Esther Agbaje, attorney and politician
  • Abiodun Koya, classical opera singer
  • Ibiyinka Alao, architect
  • John Dabiri, aerospace engineer
  • Adewale Ogunleye, football player
  • See also[edit]


    1. ^ Indeed, Dahomey was one of the main proslavery Kingdoms of West Africa during the colonial period of the Americas and the nineteenth century, arriving to his maximum economic splendor to late of the eighteenth century thanks to its slave trade with the European traders of many areas of the Americas (from the U.S. to Brazil). The majority of his slaves were, from that time, to second half of the nineteenth century, of Yoruba origin.[7]


    1. ^ "Yoruba Language | Joshua Project".
    2. ^ Stephen Prothero (2010). God is Not One. ReadHowYouWant.com. p. 278. ISBN 978-1-45-9602-57-1.
    3. ^ Joseph E. Holloway (2005). Africanisms in American Culture (Blacks in the diaspora). Indiana University Press. p. 250. ISBN 978-0-253-2174-93.
    4. ^ Google books: Creole: The History and Legacy of Louisiana's Free People of Color. Wrote by Sybil Kein.
    5. ^ "Question of the Month: Cudjo Lewis: Last African Slave in the U.S.?", by David Pilgrim, Curator, Jim Crow Museum, July 2005, webpage:Ferris-Clotilde.
    6. ^ EL ELEMENTO SUBSAHÁRICO EN EL LÉXICO VENEZOLANO (in Spanish: The Subsaharian element in the Venezolan lexicon).
    7. ^ Pableaux Johnson; Charmaine O'Brien (2000). New Orleans. Lonely Planet (World Food). p. 26. ISBN 978-1-864-5011-00.
    8. ^ Martin A. Klein (2002). The A to Z of Slavery and Abolition (Reference, Information and Interdisciplinary Subjects Series). Issue 40 of Historical dictionaries of religions, philosophies, and movements. Scarecrow Press (Pennsylvania State University). ISBN 978-0-810-8455-96.
    9. ^ Hall, Gwendolyn Midlo (1995). Africans in Colonial Louisiana: The Development of Afro-Creole Culture in the Eighteenth Century. Louisiana State University Press. p. 58.
    10. ^ "Shotgun Houses". National Park Service: African American Heritage & Ethnography. Retrieved December 3, 2014.
    11. ^ "Ethnicity and the Slave Trade: 'Lucumi' and 'Nago' as Ethnonyms in West Africa"
    12. ^ Fouad Zakharia; Analabha Basu; Devin Absher; Themistocles L. Assimes; Alan S. Go; Mark A. Hlatky; Carlos Iribarren; Joshua W. Knowles; Jun Li; Balasubramanian Narasimhan; Stephen Sydney; Audrey Southwick; Richard M. Myers; Thomas Quertermous; Neil Risch; Hua Tang (December 22, 2009). "Characterizing the admixed African ancestry of African Americans" (PDF). Genome Biology. Stanford University School of Medicine and the University of California, San Francisco. 10 (12): R141. doi:10.1186/gb-2009-10-12-r141. PMC 2812948. PMID 20025784. Retrieved April 13, 2015.
    13. ^ "Complex genetic ancestry of Americans uncovered". Phys.org. Science X Network. March 24, 2015. Retrieved April 13, 2015.
    14. ^ Encyclopedia of Chicago: Nigerians in Chicago Archived January 20, 2014, at the Wayback Machine. Posted by Charles Adams Cogan and Cyril Ibe. Retrieved May 2, 2013, to 16:30 pm.

    External links[edit]