Yoruba Sustainability

by Tobi Kamoru

Author with her mother

As someone deeply rooted in the Yoruba culture, I’ve always been captivated by the intricate relationship my ancestors had with the environment. The Yoruba people, originating from southwestern Nigeria, have a unique way of viewing sustainability that is interwoven with our spiritual beliefs, traditional practices, and cultural values. In this blog post, I’d like to share my personal perspective on how the Yoruba culture shapes my understanding of sustainability and inspires me to live in harmony with nature.

Growing up in a Yoruba household, I was taught to revere nature as a manifestation of the divine. The deities, or “Orisha,” in cultural history are intrinsically linked to natural elements like rivers, forests, and storms. This spiritual connection instills a deep sense of responsibility to care for the environment, as harming nature was considered a disruption of the sacred balance.

From a young age, I learned about the ingenious farming practices of my ancestors. The Yoruba people practiced crop rotation, intercropping, and organic fertilization methods that respected the land’s vitality. Witnessing the way they sustained their communities while safeguarding the earth left a lasting impression on me. It taught me that sustainable living isn’t just a modern concept; it’s a timeless practice embedded in my culture.

One of the most cherished aspects of Yoruba culture is the passing down of wisdom from elders to the younger generation. Elders often shared stories about their experiences farming, respecting the land, and celebrating nature’s cycles. This oral tradition connects me to our heritage and imparts valuable lessons about living in harmony with the environment.

Yoruba festivals and rituals have always been vibrant in the culture. These celebrations, honouring nature, fertility, and seasonal changes, remind me of our intrinsic connection to the earth. Participating in these events is more than a cultural practice—it’s a reminder that our well-being is intertwined with the well-being of the natural world.

Throughout history, the Yoruba people set aside sacred groves and protected areas to preserve the sanctity of nature. As someone deeply proud of my Yoruba heritage, I find inspiration in these practices. They motivate me to be an advocate for protecting our environment and promoting sustainable practices in the modern world.

My Yoruba heritage has shaped my identity and deeply influenced my perspective on sustainability. The spiritual bond with nature, the timeless wisdom of traditional practices, and the celebration of nature’s rhythms have all taught me to be a steward of the environment. As I continue to learn from my culture, I’m empowered to make choices that align with the Yoruba values of harmony and balance, ensuring that the legacy of sustainability continues to thrive within me and the generations to come.

About the Author. Tobi Kamoru is a graduate engineer with a major in biomedical and mechanical engineering who started medical school fall 2023. She has been working as an intern with Biosphere Eco-Cities Canada.