According to researchers, Igala is a Yoruboid Language because of the striking similarities between Igala and Okun-Yoruba words and pronunciations and the entire Yoruba Language.
Among all dialects of Yoruba, the Owe dialect of Kabba in Kabba/Bunu Local Government Area of Kogi State resembles Igala the most.
Over the years, people have wondered how the resemblance came into being, and they have argued about the history connecting the Igala tribe with the Yoruba Nation.
There have been several oral history and theories on why Igala language is similar to Yoruba Language, take a look at some of them;
Yorubas were the first settlers in Idah town
Some historians have argued that in the ancient times, when the Yorubas were migrating down south, Eledumare (God) told them that their final destination is a place where a big river is located.
So when some migrants got to Idah town and saw the great River Niger, they decided to settle there, believing they had reached their final destination. These Yorubas that settled in Idah are believed to be the modern day Igala.
Oduduwa is the grandfather of Igala
Another belief is that one of the sons of Oduduwa came to settle in a place in present day Kogi. He was living on top of a hill, which he later named Oke aba (now Kabba).
After living in Kabba for many years with his family, his eldest son decided to leave his father to form his own family, that was how he moved towards the east to form the Igala tribe. Apparently, Oduduwa is the grandfather of all Igala people.
All Yoruba groups and subgroups originate from the present day Okun land
According to some historians, all Yoruba Cities, Towns, and villages in existence today, including the Yoruboid languages of Igala and Itsekiri in Warri, originated from Okun land in the present day Kogi, even before the establishment of Ile-ife. Evidences have shown that Ife-Olukotun, a town in Yagba is older than Ibadan and most Yoruba Cities.
Some researchers have argued that Ile-Ife was not the first settlement of Yoruba nation, they all migrated from Kogi!
Cultural and language similarities does not only happen as a result of Birth or blood lineage, it can also happen over time as a result of cultural diffusion caused by interaction with different cultures due to business transaction, traveling, coexistence etc.
Cultural diffusion and similarity between languages doesn’t only occur between Okun and Igala, it is applicable to almost all languages of the world.
Some similarities between Igala and Okun-Yoruba :
Eja is fish in both languages.
Omi is water in both languages.
Oja is market in Yoruba, while Aja is market in Igala.
Omo is child in Yoruba, while oma is child in Igala.
Edo is Chest in both languages.
Epo is Palm oil in both languages.
Oko is husband in both languages.
Oluku mi is my friend in Yoruba, while Onuku mi is my friend Igala.
Iye is mother in both languages.
Omo iye mi in Okun. Oma iye mi in Igala. Same meaning.
Number counting in Igala and Yoruba
Ini – one
Eji – two
Eeta – three
Eerin – four
Aarun – five
Eefa – six
Eje – seven
Eejo – eight
These numbers are pronounced the same in both IGALA and Okun diaect.
Now you can see how it is easy for an Igala person to migrate to Yoruba land and quickly understands the language, and vice versa.
Other similarities between Igala and Okun – Yoruba are as follows:
Igala would say LE A GBA means come and take. In Yoruba – WA GBA
Igala would say OMA IYEMI meaning
Child of my mother. In Yoruba – OMO IYA MI.
Igala would say NAIRA MAALU meaning five Naira. Yoruba – NAIRA MARUUN.
There are a lot of Igala intonation that sounds like Okun and Yoruba, you will understand better when you speak both languages.
Some Igala phrases and their Okun/Yoruba meaning:
Ugbo Élo: where are you going … Okun/Yoruba – Kabi elo.
Egba Élo: when are you going … Okun/Yoruba – Igba elo.
Natene momi: I want to drink water … Okun/Yoruba – Mofe momi.
Natene Jujenwu: I want to eat food … Okun/Yoruba – mofe jeun.
Liya/lewa-gba: Come and collect … Okun/Yoruba Wa gba.
Liya Kalo: Come let’s go … Okun/Yoruba – Jeka lo.
Dumi: give me … Okun/Yoruba – Fumi
Komi: give me … Okun/Yoruba – Mukomi
Falu wéde: keep your mouth shut … Okun/Yoruba – Parun rede.
During the Nigerian colonial era, there are evidences that some Okun families in Bunu were moved to Bassa and Igala land. This also contributed to the cultural diffusion in the two tribes, this contributed to the striking similarities between Igala and Okun-Yoruba language and culture.
Learn more about the YORUBA PEOPLE OF KOGI