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Oríkì Sokí(Individual Praise Poetry)

In the South-Western part (Yorubaland) of Nigeria, there are various types of names.
According to Oyeronke Ouewunmi, customarily, Yoruba names were not gender-specific and as such, males and females bore the same names. But now, names themselves are beginning to describe gender. Although there are different categories of Oríkì such as Oríkì Orile (family/lineage praise poetry), Oríkì ilu (town/community praise poetry), Oríkì of Dieties (which supply information on deities’ preferences, characteristics, taboos, and exploits) among others. Today we are focusing on Oríkì soki. Oríkì soki is gender-specific even though they do not align with the logic of the practices of naming in Yoruba. These are among the names that are given to an individual during the eight-day naming ceremony in most but not all parts of Yorubaland. These names are informed by a number of factors such as circumstances of birth, position of the child in the line of siblings, and the level of success/wealth of the family at the time of the child’s birth.

Map of Nigeria showing the Southwest region as the study area. in a new tab)

Oríkì is known as praise poetry or panegyric. The Oríkì soki is a kind of name used in a unique manner and always has its meaning visibly embedded in it. It is a kind of name that is used as an endearment or to placate an individual when hurt.
It is noteworthy that with the Yoruba culture is the Oríkì (praise poetry). Every tribe and every household has its own Oríkì soki just as each individual has his or her own Oríkì. Each name is given to individuals for symbolic reasons.

Enjoy the glossary of poetic names below (Here is a short version of the list of names available)

Female NamesMale Names
• Abeke –One that is begged to be care for or pampered.
• Akanke – One who is especially cherished or pampered.
• Àlàké – One that circumstances had to be overcome to take care of her.
• Ayinke – One meant to praise and pet.
• Àbèbí – One given birth to after a lot of persuasions (probably a difficult birth).
• Amope – One whose knowledge is complete.
• Àbèní – One we begged to have i.e. a child that was begged for to have or born (from God or, more often traditionally, the gods).
• Ànìké – One born to be pampered.
• Abegbe – A child that we begged to carry.
• Adubi – One we struggled to birth. Usually, given to a baby born via breech birth.
• Àshàké/Asake – One picked or selected to be pampered or cherished.
• Ajoke – One who is jointly cherished or jointly beloved or meaning meant to be taken care of by all.
• Adunni/Aduni – It could mean a joy to have or one we struggled to have.
• Asabi –It means one selected for birth.
• Apeke – One called or born to be cared for or pampered. The name is usually followed by soothing words and songs.
• Àdùké – One that people will fight over the privilege to care for her and pamper her.
• Ayoka –One who causes joy.
• Akanbi – It means one that is consciously or deliberately born.
• Alabi – It means one born to the white cloth (of Ọbàtálá).
• Ayinla – A child meant to be praised, feted, and disciplined.
• Àjàní – Yoruba Oriki name meaning a child we fought for to have. It is a name given to a son that is valued and cherished because of the victory fought and overcame to have him.
• Adisa – The literal meaning of this Oriki is one bundled up and spread to dry.
• Ajadi – The end of a conflict.
• Akanni – One that is special to have.
• Alani – One we survived to have.
• Ayinde – One who arrives when praised.
• Adigun – The perfectionist.
• Àkànde Àgàn – Yoruba Oriki name meaning favourite of the prince.
• Ajala – One who has fought and survived.
• Akande – One who purposefully came.
• Alade – One who survives to arrive.
• Àjàgbé – One we fought to carry.
• Akangbe – One consciously or deliberately carried.
• Akanmu – One who is personally chosen.
• Atanda – One created to shine brightness.
• Àkànní – Yoruba Oriki name meaning “met only once to have this child.” It is also a Yoruba Oriki given to a first male child.
• Àkànjí – One whose touch gives life.
• Ariyo – One with whom we rejoice at his sight

Your culture to an extent explains your identity.
Irrespective of your tribe, embrace your cultural heritage. Since culture is not static, strive to improve them.

Your words have meaning, your names carry power-Tobi Oloyede

The list is inexhaustible, feel free to add yours.

Source: Oyewumi, Oyeronke, “To Gender or Not to Gender: Making Sense of Oriki Soki in the Yoruba Naming System (April 12, 2013).” Accessed March 21, 2020.


Published by Tobi Oloyede

Tobi Oloyede is a young visionary with a flair for personal and population developments. Rather than being pinned down by the challenges around her, she is dedicated to learning new ideas and getting the best out of life. She is one that is inspired by the popular Yoruba saying, "Ona kan o wo oja- There is no one/single route to the market." She holds her first degree in English and Literary Studies from the Ekiti State University, Nigeria, a Master's degree in Gender and Diversity from East Tennessee State University, and is currently a Sociology graduate student at Georgia Southern University. Writing is one of the several other things she loves to do and she brings it upon herself to make the world a better place through her writings. For her, 'the pen is always mightier and with it, she speaks volumes.' BE THE LIGHT, BE THE CHANGE…A BETTER YOU, A BETTER WORLD.

5 thoughts on “Oríkì Sokí(Individual Praise Poetry)

  1. I can’t find ARINPE and ISHOLA there, I am hailed with that at home, and I do not know the meaning🥴

    Also helpful to be educated about the fact that names we’re not gender-based before. That explains a lot to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am sure this piece of writing has touched all the internet people,
    its really really pleasant post on building up new web site.


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