Did you know that the original word for wife in the Oodua (Yoruba) language is AYA and not IYAWO? The latter is quite commonly used nowadays than the former.
I would take you through how Iyawo came about; Wura who was in the phase of choosing a spouse was faced with the task of selecting the most suitable one for herself, she was the first child and the daughter of the King of Iwo (An Oodua [Yoruba] town). Oduduwa (Yoruba) deities like Sango, Ogun, and other known male deities went to Iwo to seek her hand in marriage.
Wura mistreated them, Wura was very rude and uncouth. She meted the worst behaviour one can think of onto her suitors. Every one of them failed to accomplish the prospect of marrying her because they could not withstand her behaviour, they all abandoned their mission on their first day, and that was how tough Wura was.
The Origin of Iyawo.
However, when it was Orunmila’s turn before he set for Iwo, he sought wisdom from Olodumare through Ifa. He was duly informed that no matter the treatment Wura might subject him to, he must not react accordingly, he should have patience and lots of endurance. He was highly warned to expect humiliation from Wura but must not be provoked.
When Orunmila got to Iwo, Wura looked at him scornfully, she did not welcome him. She hissed at him, called Orunmila all sorts of names, she did not even give Orunmila any food or entertained him. Orunmila just ignored her attitude. The first day, the second day, till about the seventh day. To cap it all, Wura took Orunmila’s Opon-Ifa [divination board] and used it as firewood, she took Orunmila’s Pouch [Apo Ominijekun] from him.
This angered Orunmila greatly but he still conducted himself alright. He refused to react to her behaviour having been warned of the consequences of not heeding advice. In the long run, the King noticed that Orunmila was humble and well behaved The king was amazed that Orunmila did not react or show any sign of anger towards his daughter despite the humiliation.
Orunmila’s behaviour gave him the assurance that he would take good care of Wura his daughter if she became his wife. All along, unknowingly, Wura’s behaviour had been a test for all the prospective suitors. The King eventually summoned Orunmila and handed Wura over to him as his wife and he divided his property into two.
He gave Orunmila half of it, and Orunmila thus became rich and had Wura as his wife. Upon Orunmila’s arrival back home, his people welcomed him enthusiastically for his accomplished task. They asked for some details of his new wife, his answer was direct: Iya-ti-mo-je- ni-Iwo (the result of my indignation at Iwo town). This eight-syllable word, “Iya-ti-mo-je- ni-Iwo” became known as Iya-Iwo, and now Iyawo. Story by Orunmila.