Change Nigeria’s capital city’s name from Àbùja (‘short cut’ in Yoruba) to change her luck! – Dele Daramola examines names of Yoruba birds

November 1, 2016



This essay was first posted on June 15, 2013 as “What’s in a name? A Look at some views of  Yoruba’s birds’ names by Dele Daramola. Since then, it has consistently generated readers via search engines through terms such as – What is àkalamagbò in Yoruba; what is alápándẹ̀dẹ̀ bird in yoruba; wild animals and birds in Yoruba language, et cetera

Today, for instance, eight (8) blog visitors checked out the post to bring the total number to 7,304 readers, a figure that is among the top three most-viewed essays AFTER one category of AṢỌ ÒKÈ – Yoruba Engagement Aso Oke – which has attracted over twenty-thousand (20,000) readers since it was first posted in October 2012. [Source:]

The same questions that have been posted over the years keep recurring over and over again, and with a brand new question coming up today on a creature I believe is a bird but have no answer – kanankan to the blog visitor’s question, I am reposting the essay with a title that should not only generate new interest but one that I believe also fits the material as well as  keep the discourse going on this “interesting INTEREST in our language”.

I’d greatly appreciate if those with knowledge and interest on the subject can educate us more, and I’m calling on Mr. Daramola to do a revisit to the subject.

I’ve put needed accents on Mr. Daramola’s original essay for ease of reading. 

The comments by Mr. Tao the day after the posting over three years ago – below – is particularly instructive.

 Thanks, TOLA. November 1, 2016.



Are we sure Awodi is the Eagle? The regular references to the chicken raises some discomfort here! The Eagle as a bird of prey is not known to live around human beings and is not known to prey on chicks. Can we take a closer and deeper look at this interesting interest in our language? It’s a worthy pursuit and time too. Ko ni re wa o.tao


What’s in a name? – A look at Yoruba’s views of some birds’ names, A Re-Blog by Dele Daramola. 

On a discussion panel with some colleagues sometime last week, we came up with the dearth of Yoruba language and then, to proverbs and their English translations. A mention was made of “Igún’ and ‘Àkàlàmàgbò’ birds, and the search for their English names.  We drifted to Eagle and its Yoruba name. We were divided by ‘Àwòdi’ and ‘Idi’ nomenclatures, though, close enough (since we know that Yoruba language could shorten a name and still mean the same thing even with a slight difference in pronunciations). For example; Alápatà (butcher) is same as Apata and Adekunle as Dekunle or Kunle.

‘Ẹyẹ Àwòdi’: the Eagle, has kept me wondering since then.

The Nigerian Coat of Arms (our National bird) has an Eagle standing on top of the shield. We are made to believe that it represents ‘Strength’. The Eagle is present in the national emblems of both ancient Roman Empire and modern United States of American civilizations. Nigeria, aspiring to be ‘Giant of Africa’, probably adopts the Eagle too while our constitution was also modeled along America’s, a country that has ‘Liberty’ and ‘In God we Trust” as their motto, so also is Nigeria’s ‘Peace, Unity, Freedom’, changed in 1978 (we didn’t fight for any freedom they must have reasoned) to ‘Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress’.

‘Àwòdi jẹun èpè san’ra’ – Eagle merriments in curse!

Let’s examine this within the Yoruba idiom and its translation to Nigerian situation. Why must our symbol signify merriment in curse? Are we not doing many things imaginably insane? crude?, and wicked, yet, sentimentally, alluding all kinds of reasons why we should forge ahead in questionable “unity and faith”.

How explainable is the ‘quota system’ that qualifies a candidate in Gombe with 58 points or Kebbi with 9 points while Lagos candidate should score 133 to gain admission into the same University system in a test of 200 questions? The helpless boys and girls from eastern fringe are worse affected under a supposed nation in search of “peace”!

Some students from supposedly educationally-backward states would later rapidly get promoted to ranks of director, permanent secretary and later federal minister or legislator based on ‘quota system’. They will make laws that shape destinies of millions!

It is perhaps only in Nigeria that a head of a major federal institution, allegedly exposed as abusing his office and tax payers’ money to womanize and all he could offer by way of defense was that he did not have a hand in the employment of the woman and that in any case, they were both adults. Really? No shame in reveling in a curse?

Aì lè w’ojú Awòdi l’ó jẹ k’áladìẹ̀ sọ ọ́ di Òòṣà – [Because of fear, Fowl owner turns Eagle to a deity!]

The likes of retired Generals Obasanjo and Babangida and other shameless leaders under whose watches Nigeria became a very corrupt country are still relevant because they have many Nigerians still worshiping them in the rottenness that has become Nigeria and Nigerians’ lot.  While Obasanjo and Babangida and others may be old school, there are younger ones in and out of power but who remain very much in control of vast resources and despite their being known for the same corrupt practices of the earlier leaders, are still venerated as demi-gods simply because of the crumbs we can get from them.

 ‘Àwòdì nfò fẹrẹrẹ, ó l’óhun fẹ m’Olúwa. Ibi tí yíò fò dé kò yé mi ó; ó fẹ ṣ’ẹlẹ́yà ni’ (Juju musician General-Prince Adekunle)– 

[The eagle soars relentlessly to high heavens expeditiously in reaching God’s enclave, but shame shall its lot be!]

How over-ambitious! ‘Giant of Africa” and “Big Brother” are some of the puffed-up labels we pride ourselves in during recent times. We strive to outdo each other as if we are permanently in a competition. At bus-stops, in Churches, at social gatherings, we want to be noticed and felt ‘Me and only me first syndrome’. That he has 3 (three) houses, I want to have 10 (ten) and even more that no one can beat. Nigeria gives neighbors grants and electricity when the home front is hungry for the same items, all just for pride and to look big!

While we may not realize it, these are the same sentiments that drive the corrupt government officials into so much excess that sees a local government chairman suddenly becoming a multi-millionaire soon after getting into office. 

‘Àwòdì nrà bàbà, inú al’ádiẹ nbàjẹ́’ –  [As eagle hovers, owners of chickens grieve in nervousness.]

Nigerians are ridiculously becoming more perceived as thieves and untrustworthy. It takes extra personal effort to shed the toga anywhere in the world because a’ genuine hard-working and honest Nigerian carries a big red letter ‘419’ and ‘Yahoo-Yahoo’ (an acronym for scams in Nigeria) which some unscrupulous Nigerians have earned for all Nigerians.


We even cheat the name ‘Eagles” when we compete.  Just last week, a Nigerian soccer star (a twin) celebrated his 25th birthday in the U.K while the other had his 33rd in Nigeria!  How low are we going to fall before the country fights back, not by “rebranding” through expensive advertisements in foreign papers but through re-education of the masses and, most especially, through working hard at eradicating corruption among the few who came by riches through looting.



Our leaders are truly Awodis – Eagles, how?


Emi´ ‘ò le j’óyè Àwòdì kí nma lè gb’adìẹ́!  [I can’t be conferred a chieftaincy, titled ‘Àwòdì’, if I can’t steal a fowl!]


So, no wonder they are concerned only about what they can steal.


A kìí kó adìẹẹ re àpátá l’ójú àwòdì [No one exposes fowls on top of rocks in the sight of an Eagle.]


Where are we headed in Nigeria? An NGO on voters’ registration awareness was frustrated because all they got as response from street and local voters was “how much are you going to pay so we can go to registration centers?”  The words in the street: “you better get what you can get anyhow from them before the election”.


That’s the level to which the masses have sunk who have come to equate the power of votes (fowl) and the Àwòdìs – politicians!


Àwòdi re Ibarà, wọ́n ṣe bí ẹyẹ kú – [The Eagle went home and his adversaries thought he was dead.]


With all the Eagle’s symbols with good meanings and many advantages among which are success, power, triumph, royalty (imperialism) or social status, and omniscience, I think we are only displaying one out of many:  resilience which, in English may denote hardiness, never-say-die, etc. but in Nigeria denotes ‘suffering and smiling’.

Finally, if we ever have the chance to sit together for a true National Reform, it will make sense to take a long hard look at our name, symbol and motto:


Ile ni a nwo ki a to s’omo l’oruko; [family antecedents or values dictate the name of the child.]

Let us look deep into Yoruba culture and we may come to a realization that some of these motto/name/symbol, etc., including the name of the capital city, Abuja which means “short cut” in Yoruba language – need to be reconsidered.

90 million people in Argentina, Benin Republic, Brazil, Cuba, France, Germany, Haiti, Jamaica, Nigeria and Trinidad and Tobago can’t be wrong, I think.


SATURDAY, JUNE 15, 2013.  5:09:41 p.m. [GMT]

UPDATE:  September 16, 2013.

Idì is eagle. Igún is vulture. Àsá is kite


And special thanks for including the accents.  That is very helpful. TOLA.

Submitted on 2014/06/05 at 5:04 pm

Awodi is eagle, asadi is hawk, igunugun is vulture, asa is kite, alapandede is swallow, adan is bat.



29 Comments on “What’s in a name? – A look at Yoruba’s views of some birds’ names! by Dele Daramola”

    1. Biodun Says:
      February 24, 2016 at 11:57 am eGbogbo yin ni mo ki pe e ku ise opolo (brain)Reply

    2. Like
    3. uslov.haghat Says:
      December 1, 2015 at 2:00 pm eakalamogbo is known as phoenix.Reply

    4. Like
    5. Sitou Says:
      November 21, 2015 at 1:00 pm eAwodi is not eagle. Eagle is Idi. Awodi belongs to the falconidae family it is actually hawk. Even some Yoruba’s don’t know this. God blessReply

    6. Like
    7. Tope Says:
      May 30, 2015 at 5:43 pm eThe essay and comments were fantastic. However, a question that re-occurs but for which no answer was proffered is, “What is the English word/name for akala or akalamagbo?”Reply

      • emotan77 Says:
        May 30, 2015 at 8:49 pm eThanks, Mr. Ayodele but I really do not have an answer to your question. You may wish to go through a Yoruba Department at any university in the southwest, or, you may try experts like mr. Adebayp Faleti.Like
      • Reply
      • Regards,
      • banji Says:
        May 30, 2015 at 9:15 pm emr ayodele the ground horn bill (Bucorvidae) is surely akalamagbo . akalamagbo, akalamagbo e bo dun lo. it lives up to 60 years old in captivity, 50 years in the wild . By God,s grace one day a zoo or reserve specifically for animals in Yoruba mythology will be built in western Nigeria so the stories can make sense. These slowing-fading animals like agbanrere (rhino) efon (west african buffalo) and so on will not just be animals our children will read about but don’t have the slightest idea what they look like. God help us. keep it up adminReply

        • emotan77 Says:
          May 31, 2015 at 4:39 am eDear Mr. Banji,It would be great if those at the helm of power in Western Nigeria would one day rise above the many challenges that face our people and look to the past to create lasting institutions for Yoruba people, including such a lofty one you’ve come up with.Like
        • My regards,
        • Thanks for this illuminating contribution.
      • Like
    8. Like
    9. Adenegan Says:
      March 19, 2015 at 3:13 pm ePlease can you translate this proverb ” Iwo ta’n wo awodi bi ki afi daa’la ni, ori eye ni’o pa eye”Reply
    10. Like
    11. temitope felix Says:
      February 5, 2015 at 12:51 pm ewhat is the english name of AKALAMAGBO?Reply

      • emotan77 Says:
        April 3, 2015 at 9:18 pm eDear Mr. Felix,Thanks,

        • banji Says:
          May 23, 2015 at 10:38 am eakalamagbo is a ground horn bill (Bucorvidae) it is closely associated to the vulture in yoruba culture and lore because of looks and it,is greatly respected because of its vast intelligence and its ability to live long, one of the very few birds which can live up to fifty years. hope this helps
        • Like
        • emotan77 Says:
          May 23, 2015 at 6:40 pm eThanks v much. I’m sure it does. It has helped me understand the bird because I knew nothing beyond the taunts kids gave each other when we were young which included: akalamagbo ma yo oju e”! It’s a wishful thinking promising that the bird will peck out somebody’s eyes!



    • Like
    • I do not know. You may wish to check with the Yoruba Department near where you live.
  1. Like
  2. akintunde ijimere Says:
    January 12, 2015 at 4:55 am eI have not read many of the comments here. Yoruba generally have 2 or three names for everything and everybody, one of which comes from the oriki for that thing or person. Yoruba have oriki for animals and some of the more common names for animals come from the animals’ oriki.One of my favorites is the Ifa name for hyena. Ordinary this is ‘ikoko’ which meaning is obscure. Actually the complete name is ‘ikoko ajegunjeran’ “ikoko, the one that eats both flesh and bones’. The Ifa name ‘Ahere soko mamole’, “the hut that seats in the farm but cannot catch a thief’ captures the contradictory nature of the hyena that looks like a dog but is of no protective value, just like the farm hut!Like
  3. Reply
  4. Now that there are several collections of Ifa poetry on the Internet, it’s easy to access these names without having to be a worshiper of Orisa. The context in which these animals are mentioned, in terms of their nature and character, is quite accurate, something that Euro-American scientists and ‘Nature’ filmmakers are just catching up to.
  5. The anims’al oriki seems to have been the specialty of hunters who were the ones in constant contact with the animals. The hunter’s poetic form, something that is unique to the Yoruba, is Ijala. Examples of Yoruba beautiful praise poems of animals (Ijala) are in the book by late Professor S.A, Babalola, “The Content and Form of Yoruba Ijala”. This is a good source for the names of animals (and plants) in Yoruba, including common names and praise names, ‘complimentary or uncomplimentary’. What can be classified as Yoruba scientific (or deeper) name for animals and birds are to be found in Ifa Divination poetry.
  6. Frank Says:
    January 3, 2015 at 2:24 am eplease I like to get list of Nigeria birds with their local names in OSUN state dielet…………….thanks and God blessReply

    • emotan77 Says:
      March 27, 2015 at 3:20 am eDear Frank,Thanks,
    • Like
    • Unfortunately, I cannot help since this is a wide request for which I have neither training, education nor experience. If a blog visitor answers your need, I will forward it to your email shown here.
  7. Like
  8. Engr. Oni johnson Ayodele Says:
    December 16, 2014 at 12:27 pm eIdi is Eagle, I gun is Vulture, Awodi is Hawk. ASA in some quarters is used to referred to either eagle or hawk. But there is a difference between the two birds. Eagles land on high mountains, it hardly come to where people live in like communities. But hawks just like eagles but it comes to where peolpe live to prey on their domestic animals and some meat being sun-dried in communities. Definitely people will rain curses on it whenever it picks their things, hence the proverb( Awodi Jean epe sanra )Reply
  9. Like
  10. Amidu Says:
    October 30, 2014 at 11:31 pm epls can I get the english name of akalaReply
  11. Like
  12. badhoo Says:
    June 5, 2014 at 5:04 pm eAwodi is eagle, asadi is hawk, igunugun is vulture, asa is kite, alapandede is swallow, adan is batReply

  13. Like
  14. Adebola Rayo Says:
    September 16, 2013 at 8:43 pm eAwodi is hawk. Idì is eagle. Igún is vulture. Àsá is kiteReply
  15. Like
  16. TAO Says:
    June 16, 2013 at 8:11 pm eAre we sure Awodi is the Eagle? The regular references to the chicken raises some discomfort here! The Eagle as a bird of prey is not known to live around human beings and is not known to prey on chicks. Can we take a closer and deeper look at this interesting interest in our language? It’s a worthy pursuit and time too. Ko ni re wa o.taoReply

    • emotan77 Says:
      June 17, 2013 at 8:12 am eTao,Regards,

      • Adebola Rayo Says:
        September 16, 2013 at 8:44 pm eAwodi is hawk. Idì is eagle. Igún is vulture. Àsá is kite
      • Like
      • emotan77 Says:
        September 16, 2013 at 9:19 pm eMany thanks, Rayo. Another reader sent the same answers but it was sent to my mailbox and since wordpress no longer makes it possible to cut and paste to the comments section, I simply discarded the comments after the guy failed to go back to the essay and comment below it.Regards,
      • I appreciate it, and I’m sure many readers will.
    • Like
    • Thanks for the observation. In my Yoruba dialect, the Eagle is supposed to be “igun”; I’ll check it out so that we do not pass off wrong translations. Will get back.

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2016. 5:43 p.m. [GMT]



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