Virtually every ethnic group has cultural norms that are passed down from one generation to another. The ‘Yorubas’ from the South – Western part of Nigeria, are not an exception. They have some unique cultural norms they consider precious and irreplaceable. The ‘dobale’ culture of the Yorubas is one of such practices that is inculcated into the natives even from a very young age.
‘Dobale’ in Yourba language simply means to greet. However, ‘dobale’ as a form of greeting goes beyond words. It goes with the action of prostrating which is to lie face down or lie flat on the floor face down particularly carried out by the male gender. People ‘dobale’ when greeting elders as a sign of respect at home, local town meetings and at ceremonies.
‘Dobale’ is a prominent feature in every Yoruba wedding where the groom and his friends go round to greet elders and family members of the bride as an act of respect and to gain favour before the prospective in-laws.
‘Dobale’ during the Yoruba traditional weddings are usually a lovely sight to behold. It is believed that a Yoruba marriage ceremony is not complete without the groom and his friends carrying out the act of ‘dobale’. It is a requirement that the groom and his friends must doto get the bride’s parents and elders to release their daughter and give their blessings.
‘Dobale’ is a high point of the wedding ceremony as people anxiously wait to see this part of the wedding. Young grooms and their friends have come up with new ways to carry out ‘dobale’ with style to impress their in-laws, the bride and all present. Some choose to lie flat on the floor first and then their friends follow suit, while others choose to fall flat on the floor all at once, at the same time with the friends, making it an interesting sight to behold.
Whichever way a groom chooses to ‘dobale’ before his bride’s family, it is a treasured culture of pride that will remain valuable to the Yoruba people of Nigeria.
Story & Pictures: Hafsat Isah