Ibadan occupies a pride of place in the development of Yoruba language. There is hardly an Ibadan person who is not gifted with oratory skills. Everyone in Ibadan is a linguist. Or let me say that I haven’t come across an Ibadan person who is not an orator.
The hallmark of Ibadan Yoruba is the ability to come up with situational wisecracks. You only need to visit Oja Oba to confirm this. Whatever you say to the traders will be met with a sharp retort and you start to wonder whether they have rehearsed it beforehand.
Let me share with you four of these witty sayings.
1. Adélabú ta panla ri… [Adelabu was once a dealer in stockfish…]
Now, to someone who does not know Adegoke Adelabu (Penkemesi), this would have no meaning. But to an Ibadan person, this is the proper response to someone who delights in telling irrelevant stories. For instance, if you are boasting to an Ibadan lady that you were in the same class with MKO Abiola in elementary school, she would look at you from head to toe before retorting with ‘Adelabu ta panla ri’.
2. Bi Agbaje ba n wo knicker s ni igboro Ibadan, O mo egbe baba eni ti o nse [If Agbaje is seen wearing shorts around Ibadan city, he knows the social class that he belongs to].
This is reference to Agbaje Salami, one of the richest merchants of Ibadan in those days. Agbaje was reputed to have produced the first medical doctor from Ibadan [Dr. Saka Anthony Agabaje] as well as the first legal practitioner from the city [Chief Mojeed Agbaje]. That’s Ibadan way of telling you not to assume someone’s worth based on his appearance; a cassock does not make a monk.
3. Ti Oke Ibadan o ba gba malu, kii se enu alagbaro lo ye ki a ti gbo! [It’s not from the mouth of a commoner that we ought to hear that a cow is to be sacrificed to Oke Ibadan]. Believe it or not, it was from an Arab that I heard this saying. In Arabic, Oke Badan is ‘Jabal Ibadan’.
4. Mo fe ko ile mi bi ti Adebisi, esu aini ko rara ni [If you want to wait till you are as rich as Adebisi to build a mansion like his, you may not build anything at the end of the day.] Reference here is to Sanusi Adebisi Giwa of Idikan [1882-1938], one of the richest men of Ibadan in those days. That’s Ibadan way of telling you to cut your coat according to your cloth; start small.
On the other hand, people who are envious of the good people of Ibadan have come up with their own witty sayings intended to ridicule d9ty7’s town of birth.
Anytime you want a reaction from an Ibadan indigene, say to them; “Iyalode Ibadan, omo Egbe ni l’Eko” [Ibadan High Chief is but equal to a floor member in Lagos.]
When they say ‘Ibadan mesi ogo’ it is in reference to their spontaneity at responding with witty sayings.
Like or hate him, the Oyo state governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi is a typical Ibadan man and having listened to him on numerous occasions, he perfectly displays this witty saying traits of the regular Ibadan man. Witty, funny and spontaneous.
Coincidentally, today, Ibadan lost an illustrious daughter, Alhaja. (Chief) Aminat Abiodun(Mrs). The Iyalode of Ibadanland 2007 – 2018. May her soul rest in Perfect Peace.
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