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The Yoruba are one of the largest African ethnic groups south of the Sahara Desert. They
are, in fact, not a single group, but rather a collection of diverse people bound together by
a common language, history, and culture. Within Nigeria, the Yoruba dominate the western
part of the country. Yoruba mythology holds that all Yoruba people descended from a hero
called Odua or Oduduwa. During the four centuries of the slave trade, Yoruba territory was
known as the Slave Coast. In several parts of the Caribbean and South America, Yoruba
religion has been combined with Christianity. In 1893, the Yoruba kingdoms in Nigeria
became part of the Protectorate of Great Britain. Until 1960, Nigeria was a British colony
and the Yoruba were British subjects. On October 1, 1960, Nigeria became an independent
nation structured as a federation of states.

Gujaratis live in Gujarat, one of the western states in India. The name comes from
“Gujara”, a branch of the White Huns. This group ruled the area during the eighth and ninth
centuries. Gujara also is the name of a pastoral caste (social class).
Archaeological evidence shows the region had cities as early as 2000 BC. Muslims
conquered Gujarat in the thirteenth century AD and ruled for the next 450 years. Control
passed to the British East India Company in 1818. After India’s independence in 1947,
Gujarat was incorporated into Bombay state. In 1960, the Gujarati-speaking areas of
Bombay were split off to form the present-day Gujarat.
The Yoruba homeland is located in West Africa. It stretches from a savanna (grassland)
region in the north to a region of tropical rain forests in the south. Most Yoruba live in
Nigeria. However there are also some scattered groups in Benin and Togo, small countries
to the west of Nigeria. The occupations and living conditions of the Yoruba in the north
and south differ sharply. The Yoruba population is estimated to be 5.3 million.

Gujarat currently has a population of 48 million. Gujarat lies on India’s west coast. Part
of its western boundary lies at the edge of Pakistan. Its coastline runs from near the mouth
of the Indus River, curves around the great peninsula of Saurashtra, and swings south to a
point about 100 miles (160 kilometers) north of Bombay. Gujarat has three broad
geographic divisions:
Mainland Gujarat, the Saurashtra Peninsula, and Kachch. Mainland Gujarat consists of
coastal plains. These merge with lowlands around Ahmadabad and northern Gujarat.
Fringing this area on the north and east are the uplands of the southern Aravallis, the
western vindhya and satpura ranges, and the Western Ghats. The southern areas are good
for farming, even though most of the state is dry.

The Yoruba language belongs to the Congo-Kordofanian language family. Yoruba has
many dialects, but its speakers can all understand each other. Yoruba is a tonal language.
The same combination of vowels and consonants has different meanings depending on the
pitch of the vowels.

The language, Gujarati, comes from Sanskrit – an ancient language. There are several
dialects of Gujarati. These include Kachchi, Kathiawadi, and Surati. Bhili, a language
similar to Gujarati, is spoken by tribal groups in northern and eastern Gujarat. Gujarati is
written in a cursive script. Many Gujaratis can also understand and speak Hindi.
As many as 20 percent of the Yoruba still practice the traditional religions of their
ancestors. The practice of traditional religion varies from community to community. For
example, a deity (god) may be male in one village and female in another. Yoruba traditional
religion holds that there is one Supreme Being and hundreds of orisha, or minor deities.
The worshipers of a deity are referred to as his “children”.
There are three gods who are available to all. Olorun (Sky God) is the high god, the creator.
Eshu (also called Legba by some) is the divine messenger who delivers sacrifices to Olorun
after they are placed at his shrine. Ifa is the god of divination, who interprets the wishes of
Olorun to mankind. Another god, Ogun (god of war, the hunt, and metalworking), is
considered one of the most important. In Yoruba courts, people who follow traditional
beliefs swear to give truthful testimony by kissing a machete sacred to Ogun.
Shango (also spelled as Sango and Sagoe) is the deity that creates thunder. The Yoruba
believe that when thunder and lightning strike, Shango has thrown a thunderstone to earth.

About 90 percent of Gujaratis are Hindu. The Vallabhacharya sect of Krishna worshipers
has a particularly strong following among the Gujarati bania (trading) castes. Dwarka is an
important place of pilgrimage for this sect, and is considered one of India’s seven sacred
cities. Shiva also has his following among Gujaratis. The Somnath temple, on Saurashtra’s
southern coast, is an important Shaivite shrine.
Muslims make up about 8 percent of Gujarati population. Jains, although comparatively
few in number, have played a major role in shaping Gujarati culture. Girnar and Satrunjaya
Hill, near Palitana, are major centers of Jain pilgrimage. There are small Parsi communities
in the cities of Surat and Navsari.

Western-style dress is worn in urban areas. Traditional clothing is still worn on important
occasions and in rural areas. It is very colorful and elaborate. Traditional fabrics were block
printed with geometric designs. Women wear a head tie made of a rectangular piece of
fabric. They carry babies or young children on their backs by tying another rectangular
cloth around their waists. A third cloth may be worn over the shoulder as a shawl over a
loose-fitting, short-sleeved blouse. A larger cloth serves as a wrap-around skirt.

Gujarati men wear the dhoti, (loincloth consisting of a long piece of white cotton wrapped
around the waist and then drawn between the legs and tucked into the waist), accompanied
by a shirt and coat closed with strings. Women wear the sari (a length of fabric wrapped
around the waist, with one end thrown over the right shoulder) and choli tight-fitting,
cropped blouse).
The Yoruba diet consists of starchy tubers, grains, and plantains. These are supplemented
by vegetable oils, wild and cultivated fruits and vegetables, meat, and fish. The daily family
diet relies on cassava, taro, maize, beans, and plantains. One of the most popular foods
is fufu (or foo-foo), similar to a dumpling, but made of cassava (white yams). Rice and
yams are eaten on special occasions.
The recipes are very popular and are usually served together.

Gujarati cuisine is mostly vegetarian, reflecting the strong influence of Jains and the
Vaishnavas in the region. Wheat and the two kinds of millet (jowar, bajri) are the main
staples. Flour is made into unleavened bread called roti. This is eaten with a variety of
vegetable dishes. The villager takes a light breakfast of roti and milk or curds before setting
out for the fields. Lunch is usually roti and buttermilk. The main meal is eaten in the
evening and consists of rice, split peas (dal-bhat), and vegetables. Meals are served on
a thali, a metal tray on which roti, rice, and small bowls are placed. The bowls may hold
vegetables such as eggplant, potatoes, beans, dal (lentils), and dahi (curds). Kadhi, a
savory curry of curds and fried cakes made from pulses (legumes), is a popular dish. No
Gujarati would eat a meal without generous helpings of ghee (clarified butter). Milk-based
desserts are common. Srikhand is a rich dessert made with curds and spiced with saffron,
cardamom, nuts, and fruit. Gujarat is also known for its delicious ice cream.
The Yoruba oral tradition includes praise poems, tongue twisters, hundreds of prose
narratives and riddles, and thousands of proverbs.
Yoruba music includes songs of ridicule and praise, as well as lullabies, religious songs,
war songs, and work songs. These usually follow a "call and response" pattern between a
leader and chorus. Rhythm is provided by drums, iron gongs, cymbals, rattles, and hand
clapping. Other instruments include long brass trumpets, ivory trumpets, whistles, stringed
instruments, and met allophones. Perhaps the most interesting musical instrument is the
"talking drum." The "talking drum" features an hourglass shape with laces that can be
squeezed to tighten the goatskin head, altering the drum's pitch.

Gujaratis have a cultural heritage that can be traced back to a civilization that existed 3000
years ago. Signs of this include an ancient bead factory discovered at the archaeological
site at Lothal. Gujarati literature dates to the twelfth century.
Many groups contribute to Gujarati culture. From the Vaishnavas come the legends and
mythology of Krishna, to whom are ascribed the popular Ras and Garba folk dances. Jains
influenced temple architecture and developed a distinctive style of painting. Muslim
architecture in Gujarat combined Hindu elements with its own styles.
Crafts include weaving, embroidering, pottery making, woodcarving, leather and bead
working, and metalworking.
Both men and women weave, using different types of looms. Cloth is woven from wild silk
and from locally grown cotton.
Men also do embroidery, particularly on men's gowns and caps, and work as tailors and
dressmakers. Floor mats and mat storage bags are also made by men.
Women are the potters. In addition to palm oil lamps, they make over twenty kinds of pots
and dishes for cooking, eating, and carrying and storing liquids.
Woodcarvers, all of whom are men, carve masks and figurines as well as mortars, pestles,
and bowls. Some Yoruba woodcarvers also work in bone, ivory, and stone. Blacksmiths
work both in iron and brass to create both useful and decorative objects.

Gujarat is known for its beautiful hand-crafts. Silk saris are made in Patan and block
prints are produced in Ahmadabad. Surat is famous for its zari, embroidery using gold or
silver thread. Jumnagar is a center of colorful tie-dyed work, while peasant women in
Saurashtra and Kachch produce embroidery containing tiny mirrors as well as beadwork.
Making jewelry and cutting precious stones also are traditional handicrafts in Gujarat.
Artisans in Kachch are known for their silver work. Woodcarving is an ancient skill in
Gujarat, as can be seen in the fine carvings found in houses and temples throughout the
region. Wooden furniture is also produced in a distinctive Gujarati style.
Traditional entertainment includes rituals, dancing, and music making. Modern forms of
entertainment include watching television and going to movies and discos. Most
households own televisions sets. The more religious households prohibit family members,
especially women, from going to see films. Among urban teenagers, American youth
culture is popular. Most young people listen to rap and rock music from the U.S. Ayo, a
board game, is popular among people of all ages. It is a mancala game—a type of game
popular in west Africa, that is played on a board with two rows of indentations or wells
that are filled with small seeds or stones.

In cities, Gujaratis have access to movies, radio, and television. In villages, however,
traditional forms of entertainment remain part of community life. Traditional entertainment
may be part of religious fairs and festivals or provided by traveling bands of professional
entertainers. Castes who traditionally have been associated with music and theater perform
a folk drama known as Bhavai. The Bhats and Charans are bards and genealogists who
have preserved much of the region's folk culture and traditions.


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