Oríkì is a Yoruba phenomenon interpreted in English as praise poetry, others interpret it to mean Eulogy, whatever the right English interpretation is, it seem to be a uniquely Yoruba thing. Oríkì are poetic verses sung or recited in praise of a person, a family or a tribe.
Oríkì is usually sang or recited to a child when they do things that pleases the parent or when they need some encouragement to tackle a tricky task or situation. Oríkì usually delve into the achievements, hopes and history of the family, thereby reminding the child (or even adults) of what their family stands for, what the have achieved, where they came from, what is expected of every member of the family and why the individual whose Oríkì is being recited must find he strength or courage to dig deeper and find whatever is required to accomplish the task at hand.
In Yorubaland, anything or person of importance have an Oríkì, for example all the Orishas naturally have their own Oríkì. Each of the Yoruba sub tribes have an Oríkì and even important cultural items and food have their Oríkì for instance, palm wine has its own Oríkì, part of it goes something like this: Warapa abi ito funfun lenu.
Instead of court jester that English Kings had, Yoruba Kings usually have a praise singer who is versed Oríkì in their court. His task is to come up with Oríkì for the king depending on the King’s mood or situation, for example, if the King is down, the praise singer will come up with an uplifting Oríkì, if the King has achieved success in something, the appropriate Oríkì will be recited and if the reverse is the case, Oríkì to remind the King that there is light at the end of the tunnel will be recited or sang by the praise singer.