A short satire recorded in Yoruba in the early 1950s by Ulli Beier, the German-Jewish scholar who went on to make distinguished contributions to Nigerian literature. Onalu, Kurumi, and Adela were nineteenth century Yoruba chiefs. See also In Oyewumi Alabi’s Time.

In Onalu’s reign we changed our dress frequently
In Kurumi’s time we used cloth on the finest material
In Adela’s time our best dress becomes everyday apparel. (1)

H.U. Beier,
“Yoruba Vocal Music”,
African Music Society Journal 1.3 (1956) 26.


  1. It’s implied that people who wear their best clothes to work are trying to disguise their poverty.