The Yoruba Peoples

Olowe of Ise was a Yoruba, one of Africa's most numerous peoples. The Yoruba-speaking peoples share a rich and complex heritage that is at least one thousand years old. Today 18 million Yoruba live primarily in the modern nations of southwestern Nigeria and the Republic of Benin. The Yoruba diaspora, a result of the Atlantic slave trade and religious pilgrimages to Mecca, extends from Senegal to the Nile in Africa and from North to South America. Through most of their history, Yoruba-speaking peoples have referred to themselves by particular group names (e.g., Oyo and Ekiti) or town names (e.g., Oyo and Ise). Their language, of which there are numerous dialects, provides the main evidence for a common identity. In addition, the various groups, including many in the Ekiti region, share the belief that the world was created at Ile-Ife, the first Yoruba kingdom.

The map of eastern Yorubaland shows the towns where Olowe of Ise is known to have worked.