kd: The Yorb Practice of the Religious Maxim of Total Acceptance

By DR. T.F JEMIRIYE of the Department of Religious Studies, University Of Ado-Ekiti, Ado-Ekiti.


One of the many roles of religion in its essence is the call for total acceptance, hence peace within humanity. This call for total acceptance at the turn of the new millennium is very crucial in the face of crises, and conflict all around in the global village. The practice of total acceptance, wherever it could be found, could therefore serve as a model for the rest of humanity to borrow a leaf from. The practice of total acceptance of humanity, an ideal religious maxim, is found in at least the kd system of living among the Yorb. This work therefore recommends the positive values of kd as one of the roles that religion must perform within humanity in order to bring more peace to humanity. The context of the study is the Yorb culture and religion, while the intended scope of application is the global village. The methodology in use here is to look at different bits of the topic and draw conclusion that could be recommended to the global humanity.

Religious Maxims

Religious maxims are general truth, proverbs, rule of conduct, principles, (Foreman 1968 p.320), behaviours, norms and moral teachings, which are found in religions. The problem however at this stage is the word religion itself. Religion should not be used as a blanket word, which may not convey any precise meaning. It therefore becomes very necessary to define religion especially within this context.

Truth, justices, love and good works are some of the universal religious maxims that are subscribed to by most of the religions of the world. This work wants to focus on just an aspect of love acceptance, from whatever possible list could be put out as religious maxims.

There are many operative words that depict one aspect of love or the other. Such include, care, forgiveness, tolerance, concern and acceptance. It is the view of this writer that the actual practical operative word for love is acceptance. This is why acceptance becomes the operative word in the attempt to find a role model for religion in the global village.

In other words, the role of religion is to provide acceptance for humanity. Religion must work relentlessly to remove the inhumanity of man to man under any guise; be it piety, playing god to another person or American visa lottery which is the modernised slavery without the option or possibility of reparation. It is this acceptance that is here claimed to have existed in kd long before the twenty-first century. It is the acceptance that the twenty-first century may unwillingly and unwittingly destroy if care is not taken. It is the call to the kd consciousness that is now to be explored.

kd in Yorb Community

A. Background

kd is a Yorb word that depicts a peoples practical living of total acceptance. The word in itself does not seem to be much until the concept it stands for is adequately examined and exposed. This is therefore an attempt to show the concepts embedded within the kd system and to recommend the principle of total acceptance that is stands for as a necessary and possible in-road to world peace. In order to reveal the deep concept that kd contains the word is here discussed in stages. The first stage defines the word, exposes the architectural configuration and the physical structure of the kd. The second stage looks at the sociology of the people living in the kd. Here the composition of the people, their political setting, the economic setting, and the religious setting are examined. The third stage evaluates the kd crisis management principle and establishes the relationship between the survival of one and the survival of all. Stage four is the conclusion and it shows that survival stands for acceptance, for peace and for continuity.

B. Definition of kd

kd is a Yorb word that has etymological definition as well as a concept representation definition. Etymologically, kd is a combination of five alphabets three vowels A, O, I, and two consonants K and D. the word kd could be broken into k and d. k means hard or male and d means wall or boundary. Odi could also mean deaf a deaf person. kd as a combination of k and d is possible and explainable in the sense that the coming together of o o in k -d to give o alone in kd is a contraction. The vowel contraction at the coming together of two vowels into one is a common phenomenon in Yorb language.

From the concept representation point of view, the meanings portrayed by k and Odi are all contained in what kd stands for. The physical structure of kd and the architectural configuration of kd show that the concepts represented by the component words k and Odi are well grounded in kd. The conceptual definition of kd is shown in the following to one degree or the other.

B1 Physical Structure of kd

The physical structure of kd is a building of a special type. Like most buildings (if not all buildings), it is made of natural objects. The walls are often built from moulded earth and the roof is often of thatch leaves or, recently, pans with woods as rafter. All the materials are hard and in a sense could be regarded as k nkan- translated Hard materials. There is the view that A k fi nkan yepere kl; Ohun t le ni a fi n k il. Translated:- People do not use soft or cheap things in building. Rather people use hard, tough and lasting things objects in building. Thus kd as a building must be tough, and sturdy as to be able to stand the strain of weather and the test of time.

B2 Architectural Configuration or kd

A Study of the ground plan drawing of the kd shows the first concept of oneness. The kd is usually a large concentric rectangular setting as shown in the diagram. At the corner is the head of the setting and the apartment is called K Bal, translated The court of the head Father:

Defining Religion in configuration

Figure 2
Ground plan of an kd

There is usually another smaller court called K Bal kker, translated as the Court of the second in command or of the small father. There is usually a main door as entrance and smaller back door passage in the compound. There is always a veranda-passage that runs round the inner side of the rectangle. The open court is for evening social gatherings especially by age groups. The children are usually in a corner having moonlight plays and stories, while the women are busy with usual domestic core. The young men are often relaxing over palm wine while the elders are usually busy with issues and decisions affecting the kd as a whole.

The configuration of the kd is usually on a flat terrain that allows the compound to be assessable to all. Expansion of the compound is always made in such a way as to keep the rectangular shape of the kd. Modern or Western patterns of buildings be it flats, face to face or condominium are very different from the unique, simple, yet fully functionally comprehensive structure called kd. Of more particular highlight is the composition of people in the kd however.

B3 Composition of People in the kd.

One kd normally occupies all the members in a family clan. The good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful, the lazy, the hard working, the super lazy drone and the workaholic all live together in the same kd. Even the mad insane, lunaticperson is accommodated in the kd. This possibly explains the existence of the saying in Yorb: Tor wr ta ni a se n wr il, translated, It is because of the mad man (or bad man) outside that you keep or have mad man (bad man) inside

Thus in the kd all kinds of people are fully accommodated, known, noted and accepted for what ever the individual is and encouraged to fulfil his/herself as best in the common interest of all within the kd. The lazy man, while often rebuked is still accommodated in the kd. The saying ?gbn in ol ni ol nje, translated It is the cleverness or cunningness of the lazy man that he is eating living on shows the level of acceptance or at the least toleration given to even the lazy person. The only person that is not tolerated in the kd is the thief. Stealing is abhorred within the kd. Within children, pilfering is punished and discouraged in many ways. By the time a young person becomes a full professional thief such a person is either killed or exiled from the kd for life.

In the kd, the aged, the just born babe and all in the different grades and levels of life live together. The organisation is such that there is a family clan head usually a man, and all men in the kd are responsible to him. There is equally a head mother an old woman to whom all the women are responsible. Duties like filling the water-pot in the quadrangle with water is the responsibility of the young women and girls in the kd under the monitoring of the head woman.

Within the kd there are all sorts of family relationships that include father, mother, children, uncles, cousins, half brothers, half sisters and such like. All the relationships in the male domain could be summed up as gbn or br meaning Senior brother or Junior brother as the whole clan is regarded as just a family.

In essence, the composition within the kd is based on acceptance by all for all, as well as of the individual by the individual. Even when strangers have to live in the kd, such persons are integrated and accepted into the kd by the one and by the all. Apart from the composition of the people in the kd the economic and religious setting within the kd equally point to the philosophy of acceptance as the principle of survival of all.

B4 Economic and Religious Setting within the kd

The economic principle of the ancient kd is based on practical survival principles. Selfishness is abhorred while hard work is encouraged, praised and recommended. Economic interests include full gainful employment, mainly farming. This is supplemented by the clans needs hence jobs like gbde - the smith, yn the drummers, ?j market and such like are in the kd. Ostentatious life styles are not common in the kd as the survival of all is the survival of the individual.

The religious setting in the kd is totally absorbed in the entire activity of the kd. As rightly put by Idowu about the Yorb In all things, they are religious. Religion forms the foundation and the all-governing principle of life for them. (Idowu, 1975 P. 5). Thus in the kd religion penetrates all of the peoples live economic or otherwise.

There are periodic religious festive celebrations like ?dn j?su new yam eating festival, kr harvest, and such others. There are also local prescribed religious celebrations or sacrifice given to individuals often by the Baba awo the Chief priest. All such festivals and celebrations are done in the spirit of survival for the all and the one in the kd. This then leads to the need to evaluate the kd crisis management principle and hence establish the survival of all as the survival of one.

C Evaluation of kd crisis management principles

The kd has its crisis. The crises include defending the clan against outside aggressions as well as solving internal misunderstandings and problems. The main management principle used in the kd is that of acceptance, there by, making maximum use of the one and the all. The kd depends on every one in the system to contribute his/her best to the survival of the system. The kd accepts the best of each person. The single water pot illustrates in very clear terms that we either all survive together or we all die together. In the days of old, the identity of the one was the identity of the kd and clan. What one has is what all have. Individual possessiveness was not the practice. This was properly illustrated in the days of the re-diffusion. Only one was in the kd, and the one was put in the open square under the tree. No one stole it. Crisis of information, up-dating, projection and decision in direction, were all solved collectively often by the elders.

The principles thus called into play include:

(i) Knowing that the survival of all is the survival of the one
(ii) Knowing that if the kd or community does not survive no individual in the kd or community will survive
(iii) Acceptance is the clue to solving all problems in the kd.

This is illustrated in the saying Baba t k bn ni omo r np meaning It is the father that is not angry that has many children in other words, it is the father that is tolerant, that accepts all that has a large kd. In this sense many children or large kd implies strength, confidence and unity. These are the crisis management principles involved in the life of the kd.

D Conclusion of the kd in Yorb Community:

It can now be said that kd is a comprehensive concept that illustrates acceptance as the main survival strategy. It is the acceptance that generates peace. It also guarantees continuity of the community.

Final Appraisal

The import of this paper is that in all religions there are maxims. The maxims must have included love in one form or the other hence acceptance, which has been shown as the main operative word for love. The Yorb have demonstrated the acceptance in practical terms in what is called kd.

The western consciousness that every individual can live alone, thereby struggling to possess the whole world until he dies in egocentric futility is not with the kd concepts. The dehumanising economic mirage that one should buy television for every room rather than make the children accept themselves and share a television is a full negation of the kd concept. The Yorb have demonstrated the theory of acceptance in the kd. It is for the man of the global village to learn and apply the concept of acceptance as best for the improvement of humanity in all aspects of life.

Cited Works on kd

Awolalu, J.O.(1979) Yorb Beliefs and Sacrificial Rites, Longman, London,
Berry, C. G. Religions of the World, Barnes and Noble Inc. N. Y. 1964.
Foreman, J. B. (Ed.), New Gem Dictionary, Collins, London and Glasgow 1968.
Gove, P. B. (Ed.), Websters Third New International Dictionary, of the English Language, Unabridged, G & C Merriam Company, Springfield, U.S.A. 1971.
Idowu, B. African Traditional Religion: A Definition, SCM Press Ltd., London, 1976.
Popoola A & Co (Ed.) Ondo State in Perspective, Ondo State Government, 1996. P110-117 Text of a lecture delivered at Cultural Centre Akure on 24th January 1996. by Jemiriye, T. F. Religions and Development of Ondo State. p.2.

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