Jump to content

Yoruba Americans

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Yoruba Americans
Total population
196,000 (estimate) [1]
Regions with significant populations
Boston, Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia, Houston and Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. New York, Maryland, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Florida, Louisiana, California and most Southern States.
English (American English), Yoruba, Nigerian English), French, Spanish and Nigerian Pidgin.
Christianity, Islam, and Yoruba religion
Related ethnic groups
African Americans, Beninese Americans, Black Canadians, Nigerian Americans, Nigerian Canadians, Yoruba Canadians, Yoruba people

Yoruba Americans (Yoruba: Àwọn ọmọ Yorùbá Amẹrika) are Americans of Yoruba descent. The Yoruba people are a West African ethnic group that predominantly inhabits southwestern Nigeria, with smaller indigenous communities in Benin and Togo.


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,[note 1] 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 2]

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.

Cuban immigrants brought with them the Santería religion, a child of the Yoruba religion and Catholicism.[12]: 1150  In New York City Santería was founded by Oba Ifa Morote.[12]: 1150  Born in 1903 in Cuba, he immigrated to NYC in 1946, took the name Padrino, and began practicing as a babalawo.[12]: 1150 

On May 23, 1980, the city's animal health authorities raided the apartment of one of Padrino's followers on East 146th Street in the Bronx.[12]: 1150  The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) had complained about Santería's practices of animal sacrifice.[12]: 1150  Three goats and eighteen chickens were removed from the dwelling.[12]: 1150 

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.[13] Today, many African Americans share ancestry with the Yoruba people.[14][15]

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.[16] Most of these Nigerian immigrants are of Yoruba, Igbo and Ibibio origins.

Yoruba have often found American habits of pet keeping very strange, culturally unfamiliar.[17]: 18 

List of Yoruba Americans[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ (Yoruba subgroup,[4] although exported mainly by Spanish,[5] when Louisiana was Spanish)
  2. ^ 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 Sub-Saharan element in the Venezuelan 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. ^ a b c d e f Jackson, Kenneth T.; New-York Historical Society (2010). The Encyclopedia of New York City. New Haven, Connecticut, US: Yale University Press. pp. xix+1561. ISBN 978-0-300-18257-6. OCLC 842264684.
  12. ^ "Ethnicity and the Slave Trade: 'Lucumi' and 'Nago' as Ethnonyms in West Africa"
  13. ^ 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. 10 (12). Stanford University School of Medicine and the University of California, San Francisco: R141. doi:10.1186/gb-2009-10-12-r141. PMC 2812948. PMID 20025784. Retrieved April 13, 2015.
  14. ^ "Complex genetic ancestry of Americans uncovered". Phys.org. Science X Network. March 24, 2015. Retrieved April 13, 2015.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ Agwuele, Augustine (2016). The Symbolism and Communicative Contents of Dreadlocks in Yorubaland. African Histories and Modernities. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. ix+210. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-30186-0. ISBN 978-3-319-30186-0. LCCN 2016937716. ISBN 978-3-319-30185-3. {{cite book}}: External link in |series= (help)

External links[edit]