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The Ida is a kind of sword used by the Yoruba people of West Africa. It is a long sword with a narrow to wide blade and sheathe. The sword is sharp, and cuts on contact but begins to dull if not sharpened regularly. It can be single-edged or double-edged.

During wars, pepper and poison are added to it to paralyze anyone who is cut by the sword. It can be wielded in any way (either one-handed or two-handed). The Yoruba people use this sword for hunting, war and other uses. The blade of the sword is in an elongated leaf-shaped form. It is designed for cutting and hacking.


The Yoruba blacksmiths were among the most skilled in West Africa. They employed different techniques in the making of these Ida swords. They were involved in the mining and smelting of iron ore before 800 A.D. This style of sword was also sometimes used by other surrounding peoples such as the Bini and the Igbo.


There were many other variations of the Ida. The Yoruba also used many other bladed-weapons.

Some of them were;

  • Ada—Used for clearing brush, fighting, or hunting. It is similar to a cutlass or machete.
  • Obe—Daggers carried by the Yoruba soldiers.
  • Agedengbe—Single-bladed and eccentrically curved. Also quite heavy.
  • Tanmogayi—Similar to the sabre.


Ida in popular culture

  • In Things Fall Apart, the main character, Okonkwo is frequently mentioned to have a machete, which is the common translation for blades of this type. E.g.: Dao

See also

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