Yoruba of old used t
he Aroko system of symbols. Physical objects were used as symbols and their meaning was shared among people in communication with each other through a messenger. The response to the message was also sent back through a messenger.
Yoruba in those days used symbols to convey warnings, make a beloved one aware of impending threat, advise a lover of a break up or disagreement, advise family of a death. Symbols were used in every aspect of life
A weapon wrapped in palm fronds was a warning of war
A pile of earth wrapped in a leaf and sent to someone was an ‘invitation’ for the recipient to go into exile
Palm fronds torn from the leaf were used to disown a blood relative
A fire brand would be laid at the back door of a man who was having an affair with the sender’s wife to communicate that the husband was aware and to demand that the recipient desist or face dire consequences
Feathers were also laid at the door of adulterers for the same purpose as the fire brand
Cowrie shells tied back to back was sent by a lover to break up a relationship with the recipient
Two cowrie shells tied together with black thread signified an impending danger and was sent to advise the recipient to take heed
Three cowrie shells wrapped in a leaf was a demand to pay up a debt or face consequences
A comb for parting the hair signified the irreconcilable end of a relationship
To signify a serious disagreement with the recipient the sender would despatch three agbaarin (a non edible fruit )
Overbearing or arrogant characters would receive a pile of odan leaves at their door to request that they check their behaviour
Kings also were not exempt. A king who no longer had the confidence of his people would receive a calabash of parrot eggs as a message that his reign had come to an end. such a king was expected to commit suicide or submit to be killed by his wives.