Yoruba non verbal system of communication (Àrokò)

by Adabanija Kamorudeen

In Yoruba culture, AROKO is a non-verbal semiotic system of communication.

For Example, Sending a broom to someone means – you no longer want to see them in your house.

PÁKÒ (chewing stick)
When you receive a chewing stick from an opposite sex, hmmm… It means “I LOVE YOU”

ỌSÀN (Orange)
When you receive an orange from someone, maybe sent through somebody else, it means I am pleased with you. It could also mean I love you.

ÌYARUN/ÒÒYÀ (comb)
A comb is used ordinarily for combing hair, I.e for separation of tangled hair.

This phenomenon is transfered in coded Yoruba Àrokò. Sending a comb to someone far away means separation or ending Of friendship or love affair.

ẸNÍ (mat)
The sending of a piece of mat raffia especially of ore type is an indication that someone is sick in the household of the receiver and such a person is very lean.

Ọ̀JÁ/GBÀJÁ
Receing some part of cloth used to tie Baby means the pregnant woman you left home hassuccessfully put to bed

IGBÁ ÒFÌFO (An empty Calabash)
When a king receives an empty Calabash, parrot egg or skull.

It means the people are no longer pleased with him, he should commit suicide.

OWÓ ẸYỌ (cowrie shells)
Owó ẹyọ is an object widely used to indicate many things in different àrokò, depending on the packaging and their number.

A cowrie shell with a string attached to it is a sign of bad thing or that unfavorable thing happened.
Two cowries shells tied together facing each other sent to a party or another group means we are in agreement with you or your view, there is harmony.

But when the two shells are tied backing each other, it means disagreement, it means discord.

symbolizes rejection and unfavorable message.

Traditionally, the Yoruba abhor the giving of things in three (3).

Three in Yoruba numerology is confusing.

Six cowries tied together in 3 pairs, it is an expresion of emotion.

Ẹ̀fà (6) is symbolic in Yoruba numerology, it Means attraction.

Ẹ̀fà ló ní kíẹ fà mí mọ́ra (It is six that says draw me closer).

So this Àrokò means the sender is longing to see the receiver. Or simply put, it means I MISS YOU.

ÌRÙKẸ̀RẸ̀ (flywhisk/horsetail)
Sending of Irukere – flywhisk and cowrie shells from one monarch to Another is a request for agreement or solidarity or farewell.

ÌBỌN/Ẹ̀TÙ (Gun or gunpowder)
Gun or gunpowder is a communication means between states or towns to express a conflict or war.
It tells the receiving town or village to prepare for an imminent war with the sender.

IYỌ̀ (salt)
Salt or honey is sent in opposite meaning to gunpowder. It means peace, harmony and solidarity between the two towns or parties.

Sending both sword and salt to another party in an unresolved issue means the receiver should choose between war and peace.

©The great Yoruba people

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