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Oyinbo is a Nigerian word used to refer to Caucasians. In Nigeria, it is generally used to refer to a person of European descent or people perceived to not be culturally African. The word is pronounced oyinbo in Yoruba language and oyibo in Igbo speaking areas. Both terms are valid in Pidgin English.
The word may be coined from the Yoruba translation of “peeled skin” or “skinless,” which, in Yoruba, translates to “yin” – scratch “bo” – off/peel; the "O" starting the word "Oyinbo" is a pronoun. Hence, "Oyinbo" literally translates to "the man with a peeled off skin". Other variations of the term in Yoruba language include Eyinbo, which is usually shorted as "Eebo".
Oyinbo is also used in reference to people who are foreign or Europeanised, including Saros in the Igbo towns of Onitsha and Enugu in the late 19th and early 20th century. Sierra Leonean missionaries, according to Ajayi Crowther, a Yoruba, and John Taylor, an Igbo, descendants of repatriated slaves, were referred to as oyibo ojii (Igbo: black foreigners) or "native foreigners" by the people of Onitsha in the late 19th century.
Olaudah Equiano, an African abolitionist, claimed in his 1789 narrative that the people in Essaka, Igboland, where he claimed to be from, had used the term Oye-Eboe in reference to "red men living at a distance" which may possibly be an earlier version of oyibo. Equiano's use of Oye-Eboe, however, was in reference to other Africans and not white men. Gloria Chuku suggests that Equiano's use of Oye-Eboe is not linked to oyibo, and that it is a reference to the generic term Onitsha and other more westerly Igbo people referred to other Igbo people. R. A. K. Oldfield, a European, while on the Niger River near Aboh in 1832 had recorded locals calling out to him and his entourage "Oh, Eboe! Oh, Eboe!", and linked to modern 'oyibo'.
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