Friday, 2 October 2015

TRIBAL MARKS, IDENTITY OF THE YORUBA PEOPLE by Olalekan Oduntan.



CROSS SECTION OF TRIBAL MARKS: ABAJA, KEKE, BAMU, GOMBO AND PELE.
Tribal marks have been the identity of Yoruba people from the time immemorial and they
have used them to identify their lineage and ancestral homes. Before the advent of civilization,
Yoruba people had their own ways on writing dates of birth on their children so as not to forget
the time when such children were born. In those days, tribal marks were also used to let people
find their homes in case they were missing. Yoruba women started tattooing their bodies to
MRS RASHEEDAT YUSUF
beatify themselves a very long time ago before the modern day of tattooing the bodies.
Tribal marks were used by Alaafin, the king of Oyo in those days to punish the erring slaves in
the palace. The marks were put on them to experience sorrow and anguish for their wrong
deeds. But as time went on, King Alaafin noticed that anytime he put the marks on the slaves as
punishment, the women in the palace and his wives were admiring the marks put on them, he
decided to adopt the marks for himself alone. He then made it mandatory that tribal marks
were forbidden for the slaves in Oyo except for the people with royal blood and lineage. Even
during the wars in those days, tribal marks were used to identify people from certain
communities. 

There are so many different types of tribal marks
in Yoruba land. There are ABAJA MEFA-MEFA originated from Oyo kingdom, the six marks are
made vertically on both cheeks. These tribal marks are meant only for the children of Alaafin
Oyo. So, the people with these marks have their linage from there. There are GOMBO MEJEMEJE AWADORI. These three tribal "L" shaped marks are made from the temple down to the cheeks and four other horizontal marks are made to stand on them. People from Abeokuta, Oyo, Iwo and Kwara normally have these tribal marks on their cheeks. 

The next tribal marks are PELE ELEEGUN META. These tribal marks are three, and they are put horizontally on both cheeks. These tribal marks are strictly for the people that are masquerade
worshippers, and they are common tribal marks on the cheeks of people across the Yoruba land. There is another popular tribal mark called PELE ONDO. It is one horizontal mark very close to the nose on both sides of the face. This tribal mark is common with Ondo indigenes in Yoruba land. 

There are tribal marks called ABAJA MEJE-MEJE. The three horizontal marks are placed up while the four vertical marks are placed underneath them on the two cheeks. And the tribal marks are for both Oyo and Kwara people in Yoruba land. There are tribal marks called MERIN-MERIN. These four marks are put on both cheeks vertically. And the people from Ibadan are known with the tribal marks. 

Also, there are tribal marks called KEKE. These
horizontal tribal marks are done from the temple down to the cheeks. And the number of the marks will be so many on both cheeks. The tribal marks are popular with people from Oyo and Ibadan. 

There is another prominent tribal mark called BAMU. This mark is made across the upper region of the nose, and it is done on two sides of the nose. The tribal mark is very common with Tapa people, and it is their identity anywhere that they are. As I said earlier, just as King Alaafin adopted certain tribal marks for the people of his lineage, his chiefs too adopted their own different tribal marks as a way of following what their leader (King Alaafin) had done.

And many different tribal marks adopted by King Alaafin and his chiefs since their days have become the tribal marks for the people of Yoruba land till today. The Oloola is the one
specialized in cutting the marks with the razor blade and water from the snail is applied to
make it heal up quickly. Tribal marks are going into extinction because they are no longer in
vogue in Yoruba land as before.
 

ABAJA OYO MEJE MEJE ABAJA ILORIN MEJE MEJE

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