Yoruba language newspapers constitute a major pillar in the development of newspapers in Nigeria. The first Nigerian newspaper was a Yoruba language newspaper, Iwe Irohin, which was also the first indigenous language newspaper in Africa. It was established in 1859. The media landscape of Nigeria has a number of indigenous language newspapers which shared in the credit of developing a vibrant newspaper industry in the country. Here is a list of the oldest Yoruba language newspapers in Nigeria. The first 12 of these newspapers are presented here. Most of them are no longer in circulation.
1. Iwe Irohin Fun Awon Ara Egba Ati Yoruba: This was the first newspaper in Nigeria and the first indigenous language newspaper in Africa. Known in its short form, Iwe Irohin, this newspaper was established in 1859 by Reverend Henry Townsend, a missionary of the Christian Missionary Society (CMS). The first edition hit the news stand precisely on December 3, 1859. The newspaper began as a forth nightly having only Yoruba language edition, but the English language edition was added a year later, in 1860, after which the newspaper became a bilingual weekly publication. Just one newspaper was published consisting of 12 pages, 8 of them in Yoruba language and 5 in English language. In 1866, the English and Yoruba language editions were separated into two different publications. IweIrohin existed for 8 years and ceased publication on October 3, 1867 after a popular local uprising that led to the destruction of libraries and the printing shop where the newspaper was published.
2. Iwe Iroyin Eko: The next Yoruba newspaper that followed was Iwe Iroyin Eko. It was first published in 1888. It was a monthly newspaper published by Andrew Thomas.
3. Iwe Eko: Next in line of oldest Yoruba newspapers was Iwe Eko. It was established by the Anglican Mission as a replacement for the London – based monthly Gleaner.
4. Nigbati Owo Ba Dile: Next in line was Nigbati Owo Ba Dile which was first published in 1910. It was published by two female missionaries at the CMS bookshop. It was the Yoruba edition of the bilingual monthly initially printed in England. It was later printed locally by the Egba government Press till June 1913 when the CMS Mission established its own printing press. Nigbati Owo Ba Dile had lively news, information, entertainment, and humorous content, thus, fulfilling its promise of providing relaxation in leisure hours. The newspaper was popular among readers at that time (Omoloso & Abdulrauf-Salau, 2014).
5. Eko Akete: One of the most vibrant Yoruba language newspapers published in the 1920s was Eko Akete. It was founded in 1922 by Adeoye Deniga. This newspaper was very popular at that time and it was one of the longest lasting publications during that era in the history and development of Yoruba language newspapers. Eko Akete played immense role in fostering the newly awakened nationalism among Nigerians. It was one of the foremost indigenous language newspapers that championed nationalism and fought the colonial rulers. Its success in this regard was premised on the fact that there were so many people in Lagos then who could in Yoruba language than English language so the Eko Akete was a medium for them to express their feelings and promote their interests. Lagos at that time was dominated by Yoruba-speaking residents so Eko Akede had wide audience base. The success of Eko Akede inspired other publishers to venture into Yoruba language newspaper publication.
6. Eleti Ofe: This publication was inspired by the success of Eko Akete which ushered in the floodgate for emergence of other Yoruba newspapers. Eleti Ofe which means ‘The Eavesdropper; was founded in 1923 by E. A. Akintan. The newspaper became popular for carrying gossips related to the social and political life in Lagos.
7. Iwe Iroyin Osose: This was a weekly newspaper published in 1925 by Thomas Horatio Jackson of the Weekly Record fame. Iwe Iroyin Osose was not very successful because Jackson was more interested in sustaining the leadership position of the foremost nationalistic Weekly Record. This newspaper went off the newsstands after recording low patronage.
8. Eko Igbein: Another Yoruba language newspaper which hit the newsstands in 1925 was Eko Igbein. It was founded by Awoliyi.
9. Akede Eko: This newspaper was founded in 1927 by Isaac Babalola Thomas who also doubled as editor of the newspaper. The Akede Eko Newspaper (which meansLagos Herald) was a bilingual Yoruba- English newspaper that made impact in Nigeria’s media landscape in the late 1920s, according to oldnaija.com. The newspaper was sold for three pence. Its pages consisted mainly of letters-to-the-editor and articles appealing to the elites and notable politicians in Lagos. The newspaper became popular among readers for its bilingual concept and style. This made it a newspaper of great reckoning as it began to compete with other very popular English language newspapers such as the Nigerian Daily Times, the Lagos Weekly record, and the Pioneer, at that time. This was a great feat attained by a local language newspaper in the country’s media sector at time.
The Akede Eko was known to have fought for the rights of the masses and the less privileged ones in the society. It Mission Statement which was written in the newspaper was “Lati Kede Anu Fun Awon Otosi Ati Meekunu Ati Lati Gba Awon Ojiya Enia Kuro Lowo Idamu Awon Alagbara. When translated to English language, it means “To Seek Help For The Poor And Masses And To Free The Oppressed From The Oppression Of The Powerful Ones.”
The Akede Eko was one of the newspapers that contributed immensely to the development of the newspaper industry in Nigeria. It also played effective role in increasing newspaper readership awareness among the Yorubas in Nigeria at that time.
10. Irohin Yoruba: This newspaper was founded by Allied Newspapers of Nigeria limited, a company established by the leaders of Action Group (AG). The newspaper is believed by some scholars to be linked to the first newspaper in Nigeria, Iwe Irohin, probably due to the striking similarity in title and presentation style between the two publications.
11. Gbohungbohun: This newspaper was first published in 1970, hitting the news stands for the first time on October 29, that year. It was published by the sketch press limited, an establishment founded by the Western Nigeria State Government (now broken into Oyo, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, and Ekiti states). This newspaper has since ceased publication.
READ ALSO: IWE IROHIN! OLDEST NIGERIAN NEWSPAPER
8. Isokan: This was a publication of Concord Press Nigeria Limited owned by the late Bashorun M.K.O. Abiola. The newspaper first appeared on the news stands on July 15, 1980. It has since ceased publication.
9. Alaroye: This newspaper was first published in 1985. It was published by World Information Agents, and organization run by Musa AlaoAdedayo. The publisher, Adedayo, was then 25 years old when he began publishing Alaroye, while still a staff of Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Tejuosho, Lagos. Today, Alaroye,a weekly newspaper which means “The Explainer”, is the most popular and most widely read Yoruba language newspaper in Nigeria. After it first hit the news stands in 1985, the newspaper ceased publication for a while due to lack of finance as the publisher was still running the publication alone. The newspaper returned in 1990 but disappeared from the news stands again after just about two years. Another attempt was made in 1994 to resuscitate the publication but it could not last after a few editions. It came back stronger in 1996 and gradually rose to become the most visible and most sought-after Yoruba language newspaper in the country.It became the largest local language newspaper in circulation publishing about 150,000 copies every week. It also has a strong online edition. World Information Agents is an organization widely known for publishing popular Yoruba language titles which were added as a result of the huge success recorded by Alaroye. It also had other popular titles on its stable such as Iriri Aye Alaroye, a human angle stories monthly publication and Akede Agbaye, a weekly entertainment magazine which was popular for information that projected Nollywood stars and artists, especially the thriving Yoruba movie industry.
10. Iriri Aye Alaroye
If you have any observation on this list please let us now through the comment section so we can do an update.