I’ve always felt that love was an empty word. It’s boring and dry and inflexible most times. It’s too broad and indecisive. My highest brand of loyalty to another human is not love but “trust.” I think it is fitting that this translates in Yoruba as well.
Mo ife, mo fe, mo feran – I love, I want, I like – is too broad. The root of the word (‘fe’) could be used to explain your love for everything from your husband to cheese. In the same way we say that we love cheese and love another person. But you’d never trust cheese.
Mo fi okàn tán e. I trust you.
ó jé ènìyàn aláfokàntán. She/he is a trustworthy person.
I like this because the root of it is “okàn” or heart. It literally means ‘one I would let near my heart.’ And this isn’t like heart in the meta sense of heart like soul but in the sense of a literal heart – the beating organ that keeps you alive. It says ‘you are a person I would let near the most center organ of my life because I know that nothing bad will happen.’
I trust you. Mo fi okàn tán e, nife mi. Nitoripe o jé ènìyàn aláfokàntán. I give you my heart. Because you are a person who I can give my heart to.
Language is pretty cool.