”Iwa Lewa”…The Yoruba’s talk.

Posted on March 16, 2010


“Iwa lewa”, a term from the deepest regions of West Africa, from one of the ancient ethnic groupings found in the most populous black Nation on earth– Nigeria! “Iwa lewa” cannot be heard anywhere else than among the Yoruba speaking people of Nigeria. This term literarily consists of two different words, yet a very essential criterion when it comes to social relations and acceptance for this ethnic group in question, and possibly most group of people on earth as I would emphasize as I proceed.Like I mentioned earlier, “Iwa lewa” consists of two words-“Iwa”, meaning “Character” and “Lewa”, meaning “to Beautify”. “Iwa” is pronounced “eewah”, while “Lewa” is pronounced “le-wah”. Most times I’ve heard this phrase; it always had something to do with the female folks, even if it can be used to refer to anyone. Something to do with what and how an ideal spouse should be like. Something to do with good moral standards. According to the beliefs attached to this phrase, beauty is not only attributed to the physical appearance of a person, but also and most importantly to the character such a person displaces. Ones good character is far better than the cold feet one’s beauty or charm can cause.When a typical Yoruba man or woman wants to introduce his/her fiancée to members of their family or friends, everyone knows the number one criteria asides others like, family background, ascribed or achieved status, financial security, etc. The character of the spouse in question is always fundamental and most times used as an absorber to the shortcomings of other criteria. Parents most times assume the roles of deciphering who and who not has a good character. They sometimes see beyond what the young adults might call “good” character.

Wonder why your mother or father responded in such a cold manner to the last person you introduced to them?

Wonder why they couldn’t even stand the presence of that friend of yours who comes over to the house?
Wonder why they keep correcting you when you dress improperly?
Wonder why they warn you endlessly about the kind of friends you keep?

Wonder why they refer to the girl next door, the one who greets them at every opportunity and lends a helping hand- a girl of good character?
Wonder what they really attach to greeting with a degree of courtesy-bending the knees for females and prostrating for the males?
Wonder what they attach to a female who is good with cooking meals?
Wonder what they mean when they always remind you to “remember the house of whom you came out from”?
Remember the times they emphasized patience, humility, tolerance, respect, faithfulness, love, kindness, truth, honesty, purity and hospitality?
Hope you’ve not forgotten so soon the hidden lessons you got on how to behave in times of lack and in times of plenty?
Remember the kinda looks you always got when people offered you things and they didn’t want you to get fond of receiving or begging?
Or when they played little tricks to teach you the act of giving cheerfully?
The list is endless with regards to traits of a good character. Some aren’t as obvious as they sound and some can’t be deciphered without an acid or fire test. But in all, a good character cannot be hidden, it cannot be trampled upon. Even when it resides in the ugliest of bodies, its beauty cannot be but noticed and appreciated. Even the most outwardly pretty ones-fashionable, fluent in speech, crowd pullers, but who lack good character, sooner or later end up trashed waste.
Hope you got some renaissance to uphold or make you work on your good character, as it has a way of making you outstandingly beautiful. And don’t forget to keep your ears on the ground, ‘cos you don’t know when next you’d be hearing “Iwa lewa”. Or better still, when next you’d be using the word yourself…lol.

Posted in: Cultures, Fresh, Nigeria