In Yorubaland, giving birth is an important occurrence and congratulatory message is always followed by the question ” Ako̩ n B’abo ” which simply means ” Male or Female ? This was a normal question which I believe would be common in any community around the world.
Previously in Yorubaland, people usually wish to hear ‘Ako̩’ (male) after such question and they feel dejected in a controllable way if the answer is ‘Abo’ (female). Reason being that, preservation or continuity of a family name was a big deal but a female child is expected to lose the family name after getting married. Therefore, the advantage that a male child retains the family name and pass it along to his subsequent offspring worths celebrating, which also gives the family more sense of ownership of the grand children.
Moreover, there are certain traditional titles a female child could not attain in Yorubaland. Also, male child is always considered to be ‘Olu’ of a family, Olu can be translated to mean ‘Pride’, that is why there is a proverb that goes thus ‘ Ti o ba ni idi, Obinrin o kin je ikumolu ‘ which literarily means ‘ if there is no tangible reason, a woman cannot bear Iku-molu ‘ Iku-molu could be translated to death has taken the family pride. For all these reasons, male children are, in many cases, more cared for than their female counterparts. This scenario is contrary to the acts of some non-Yoruba tribes where higher bride-price is charged on a female child, in such tribe, female children are usually more cared for.
But as the Yoruba society becomes more open and diverse, female children are found to be conveniently playing the role of ‘Olu’ in many families like that of my own personal family. They dream, strive and uphold the glory of the family on equal ground with their male counterparts despite some irremovable limitations. Their closeness and incomparable care for their parents at old age turn around the table. Even, grand children from a female child are found more closer to the relatives of their mother. Up till this moment, no matter the number of male children family has, they are still longing for a female child which could be named as ‘ Tanwa ‘ meaning ‘yet to be found’. This situation is vice versa anyway as it is also applicable to a male child.
That is why in a present Yoruba society, if you ask such question ‘Ako̩ n B’abo’ in a suspicious way, do not be surprised to receive a response like ‘ E wo ni o kin s’o̩mo̩ ‘ meaning ‘ which of them is not a child? ‘ because both male and female children are now equally cherished in Yorubaland.
Source & Written By: Raymond Ajeigbe