As it appears, the new normal amongst youths in South-Western Nigeria is saying “Aje,” either as an exclamation, affirmation, attestation, or swear, including Muslim youths. Before I continue, this article is in no way the concern of anyone whose thought process or belief has no culture in and of itself or adherents of traditional practices. It is for Muslims and any other individual who is a fan of reason.

The seeming inseparability of language and culture often presents contradictions between one’s speech and thought process, especially when the thought process or faith is not fundamental to the culture. Take, for instance, an English-speaking atheist may find himself saying, “Dear God!” as an exclamation when in the real sense, God is indeed not dear to him.

For a Muslim whose religion has a culture of its own in that it explained in detail how a Muslim should live his life, it is very important to understand the symbiotic relationship between his language and culture as evident in the subtle nuances and idiosyncrasies within linguistic expressions. If that is not done, there is a high probability that one may commit shirk ignorantly.

While Aje means wealth, it also could refer to the goddess of wealth depending on context. In the context of praying for someone that ‘Aje a wa,” which is wrongly translated as “wealth will visit you,” Aje refers to the goddess of wealth and not wealth as a mere expression. When we analyze the difference between both use cases of Aje, we begin to see the spiritual connection in one context and a mere expression in the other context.

Another instance is the use of ‘Ori.’ It is also very common to see an average Yoruba person hold his head and say ‘Ori mi gbemi debi’re,’ ‘Ori mi ma gbabode,’ ‘Ori mi je kin lowo,’ which some wrongly understand as ‘my head, take me to a place of success,’ ‘my head, don’t betray me,’ ‘my head, I wish for money.’ ‘Ori,’ which many take for head here does not refer to the literal head; rather, we could loosely translate it as one’s guardian angel, a private orisha which one must worship and act in conformity with it and when things go left, an individual may be asked to appease it.

The ‘Aje’ being used as a slang also refers to this Aje, the goddess. In its full form, it would be Aje ngbo meaning I swear by the goddess of wealth. Other use cases with other deities include Ogun ngbo, Sango ngbo, etc.

It is understandable that this intent behind these statements may have nothing to do with the spiritual aspect of it as we have people who are not Muslims say Wallah (I swear by Allah) 10 times in one minute even though they are lying some will say Jesu! (Jesus) as exclamation just as mere expression, a Muslim should be careful of his utterances.

Given these, Muslims are advised to refrain from using these shirk-related aspects of the Yoruba language. STOP PLAYING…

Bashir Lucas Samson Lukman


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