One of my favorite threads from 2006 was this one, about (among other things) the history of the word Yoruba. Unfortunately, I had to close it, like so many old threads [insert rant against spammers], so a reader named Hugh was unable to add a comment and instead e-mailed me. With his permission, I am reproducing portions of his e-mail here:
In my research, I also came across the following explanation…
“The word ‘Yoruba’ metamorphosed from a derogatory phrase the Igbos had used for the Oyo people. Before Oduduwa and his Obas put the whole Southwest to rout, the Oyos, who thought they were enjoying Oduduwa’s civilisation, would call the Igbos ‘bush people.’ The Igbos, to pay them back their insult, would call them ‘Oyo Oru Oba’ (Oyo, slaves of the Oba). That is how the name Yoruba came about”.
The point of my online research was to find an appropriate equivalent to the American prejorative “Uncle Tom” for a specific application… The phrase “Uncle Tom” exists as a pejorative, intended to describe a certain kind of black man deemed subservient to whites for which the term “ebonekhui” in the Edo language will work.
But another phrase needs to be identified or invented, to describe the black man who is subservient to Arabs and to Muslims. For the long history of Arab Muslim enslavement of black Africans… Perhaps someone knows that such a word or phrase already exists, most likely in Swahili, but possibly in one of the Kwa languages of West Africa, or in Igbo, Yoruba, or Hausa. Anyone out there have suggestions for the Muslim equivalent of “Uncle Tom”?
So: can anybody help Hugh out? (No political rants, please!)