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Friday, 1 February 2013


In the Yoruba community, the iyàwó ilé; house wives are the home makers, they take care of the family (ìtọjú ilé); bath the children, feed them and take responsibility of their well being. She also socialize and teach the children (ẹkọ ilé) how to be of moral behaviour in the community, else, the mother receives the blame of the child's bad manners, this is why the elders say 'ọmọ to ba ku dí ẹ ka to fun, oun ní ti ìyà, eyi to ba yégè ní ti baba'

The Yoruba mother takes charge of the home front when the man is away either in the wild hunting for games (oko ọdẹ), fishing in the river (dẹ ẹjá) or on the farm, oko making some beds and ridges (ebe) for his next plantation.

Its not that the Yoruba women don't farm, fish or do external shores,they are most of the time expected to be in the home environment and not too far from the home where the ilé idana, kitchen is her main spot. And when they are not in the ilè idana, they are in the ọjà, market place selling their wares, which includes, aṣọ-òkè, òfì (clothing), àgbọn (basket), ikòkò; clay pots and other goods sold at the ọja. 

Women are not allowed in the affairs of government in Yoruba land, but one woman is exceptional. She is the only female noble in the midst of the Ọba's (king's) chieftains and advisers dominated by men. Of every woman in the ilú, community the iyálóde stands out.

Iyálóde; iyá - ní - óde or iyá - to - l'óde  means ''head of the women" or "queen of women".
 She is the first lady of the ruling council in the Yoruba setting. The iyálòde is a title bestowed on the wealthiest, prominent woman in the Yoruba community by the ọba. She is usually a market woman. An instrument of the ọba, the iyálòde influences the women folks who are traders majorly found in the market if not at home. She rapport with the ọba on behalf of the women, gives feedback to the king on the views of the markets women or what they expect of the king because they are "mothers" (àwọn ìyá) of the community of which the king is one of their sons.

To quantify the assets of the iyálòde; her massive fertile farmlands (oko), her unnumbered slaves (ẹrú), businesses (owó), houses (ilé) and other things makes the iyálòde title a respected woman power in the ilu. An elder community counsel. Women come to her for advice on child related matters as well as home issues.

As time went on, the iyálòde position became more powerful and she began having assistance or lieutenants; selected by the iyálòde herself.

Notable iyálòde of Yoruba land in the 18th century are iyálòde Subuola, Efunsetan Aniwura of Ibadan and Madam Efunroye Tinubu of Lagos respectively. The later, an ẹgba woman, was a slave business tycoon.