What Are the Duties of Wives in Yoruba Culture?

Written by dan taylor
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What Are the Duties of Wives in Yoruba Culture?
Yoruba men and women do not typically share income. (Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Yoruba is a cultural region in west Africa that today is made up of the countries of Nigeria, Benin and Togo. Cultural traditions run deep in the area, especially when it comes to the family. The wives, who are considered subservient to often-polygamous husbands, have a number of duties that revolve around child-rearing and producing income for the family.

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Nigerian culture calls for the wife to bear lots of children all at one time, although this practice is decreasing due to economic conditions. Childbearing is so important in Yoruba culture and women are so tied to this duty that the mothers are often known by the name of their firstborn child. The family names the child on the eighth day after birth during a naming ceremony.

Providing for the Family

Wives typically work independently of the men, earning income to be spent on themselves and their children, but only after they have first paid for food, clothing and sundries. Yoruba culture looks at men who take their own produce to market as misers, so women usually do that and are often able to raise extra funds for trading in other goods. Women do not act as full-time housewives in Yoruba culture; society expects them to earn an income.

Raising Children

Since children are so important in Yoruba culture, raising them is an important duty for the wife. Children are expected to start earning income as early as five or six years old to contribute to the household, and it is often the mother who must train them. The wife, along with the husband, provides support and opportunities to the children.


The wife is responsible for housekeeping chores in Yoruba culture. She can delegate chores to children and others in the family consider junior to her. She must do all this while maintaining an income and raising the children. A husband may discipline his wife, although neighbours may intervene if they consider the punishment to exceed the crime.

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