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Extra resources for Orature and Yorùbá Riddles

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Essentially they arise from a keen observation of details in one’s environment. This includes the household and harvest; the world of animals, birds, and insects; plants and crops; the heavens and celestial bodies; the local topography, such as mountains, forests, rivers, and the like. Moreover, riddles deal with concrete objects and, on occasion, with processes. Rarely does a riddle deal with abstractions. For example, there are many riddles about ears, but few about hearing. Some may address coconuts, but not the activities of picking, husking, or drying the coconut meat.

Participant 10: Which Arẹrẹ? All: The Arẹrẹ at Mògún. Participant 10: Which Mògún? All: The Mògún of Onírè. Participant 10: Which Onírè? Yorùbá Riddles in Performance 21 All: Onírè of Àfọ̀n. Participant 10: Which Àfọ̀n? ́ Participant 10: Which Ìyẹ́? All: The Ìyẹ́ on a hill. Participant 10: Which hill? All: The hill located on the mother-earth Participant 10: Which mother-earth? All: The mother-earth that produced cotton. Participant 10: Which cotton? All: The cotton from which clothing is made.

Moreover, each participant is expected to consider multiple solutions and to remember the framing of the riddle—just in case s/he Yorùbá Riddles in Performance 27 is called upon to lead the next session. This process stimulates children’s memories and improves their reasoning abilities. A further function of riddles is to introduce Yorùbá children to culture and tradition. As we shall see in the next four chapters, riddles may refer to Yorùbá myths and legends or call attention to historical events and geography.

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