YORUBA BELIEVE IN ONLY ONE GOD CALLED OLODUMARE.
The Oral tradition from Ilé Ifẹ̀ said that the Universe was a vacuum several million years ago. Olódùmarè asked the Sea to come manifest in the planet. For another several million of years the sea was by itself. Olódùmarè in his busy time recognized the loneliness of the Sea and decided to put more time to the creation of planet Earth. He then sent Ọ̀ruńmìlà with some soil from the heavens and a five towed roaster that helped spread the soil on top of the Sea. From then the Earth continue to spread. The Yorùbás believed that the spot where it first started was in Ilé Ifè.
The Yorùbás believe in existence of only one God, but also as maintained by orthodox Christians, divine essence is manifested in more than one person or elements. So there are the other energies in which the supreme energy manifested. Such elements to the Yorùbás are the Sea, the Oceans, the Mountains, the Rivers, the Wind, the Sky, and the Thunder and Lightning, Volcanic eruption sites and so on.
The Yoruba religion, as well as Judaism, Islam and Christianity are the chief monotheistic religion of the world. However every traditional African community has its own label to describe the religion of his people. Thus Chukwism have been suggested for the Igbo of Nigeria. The Mendes for Sierra Leone and Olódùmarè for the Yorùbá of Nigeria. Some people like Late Fagbeńro Beyioku and Chief Fágbèmí Àjànàkú suggested Orunmilaism for the Yorubas. Some converted Yorubas that have converted to Islam and Christianity call the traditional Yorubas “ Abòrìsà” meaning (Òrìṣà worshipers). Ọ̀ruńmìlà in the system of Yorùbá traditional worship is only one of the several entities that the Yorùbás praise. These entities appear to be completely autonomous each with different practices, practitioners and rituals. But none of the practices disagree the supremacy of Olódùmarè (God) in Yoruba language.
Dr. Bólájí Ìdòwú in his book Olódùmarè ( God in Yorùbá Belief) pointed out that “It is not easy to find a name that precisely a descriptive of real nature of African traditional religion. Other scholars like P.A Talbot and E.G Parrinder also recognizes this difficulty. They both realizes that the Traditional African society believes in the existence of omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscience, supreme God and also in a large number of subordinate Òrìṣàs and deities. It however appear that they fail to note the point that traditional Africans in spite of his belief in subordinate deities would refer everything to God as the ultimate one. The Òrìṣà are considered as the intermediaries between the people and God. Just as the Saints in some other religious practices are considered as the privilege spiritual begins who could help their followers to reach the supreme God. Like most African religions the Yorùbá religion and believe was never given a chance. But ironically the slaves that were sold to the Europeans were shipped to the Americas and the Caribbean Island about four to five hundred years ago. They took their religion and culture with them. The Yorùbá religion which comprises of worship of Olódùmarè the supreme energy of the Universe and the forces of the Universe called the Òrìṣàs .The knowledge of which is taught through the sacred scriptures of Ifá called the Odùs by Ọ̀ruńmìlà the witness of creation according to Yorùbá mythology. Ifa is the sacred words of Olódùmarè which was taught to humanity by Ọ̀ruńmìlà. There had been several controversies on what to call the traditional African religion. Since Ifa is the wisdom of it all I will say it is appropriate to call it Ifaism. Most Africans believe in the existence of supernatural powers which is responsible for the creation of the universe and all things in it, including Man. Their religious practices is the result of their belief in Olódùmarè the Òrìṣà, and the energies of the universe. God is called Olódùmarè in Yoruba language and the Yoruba believe He/She is responsible for the creation of all life. Dr Osadolor Imasogie in his book African Religion used an example how a Yoruba greets their loved ones goodnight. Yoruba usually says “Olórun a ji wa o ”.Which literally means may the supreme God wake us. The Gwari of Northern Nigeria has a similar goodnight greeting. For example, (Sheko gife nyi) which means. May God awaken us tomorrow.”.. Yoruba belief Olódùmarè created the other energies and the forces of the Universe to help continue the evolutions of the Universe. Yoruba says, everything in the world is in the hand of Olódùmarè God. Many scholars have done comparative studies of the world religion, and this has thrown much light to the awareness of the Origin of religious ideas of the world. According to some research the great world religions which still have a great number of followers are Christianity, which has perhaps about 685 million followers, divided among is three main branches, of Roman Catholics with about 330 million members, Orthodox Eastern Catholic about 142 million followers, and protestants about 208 million people. Islam or Mohammedanism has about 510 million followers worldwide. Judaism has about 16 million followers, Hinduism about 234 million followers, Buddhism can perhaps claim 452 million followers, many of which will also declare themselves adherents of Taoism, Confusiasm, or Shinto. Traditional Yoruba religion claimed approximately 10 million followers worldwide. Ifa had been recognized as the great Oracular religion of the Yorùbá people and originated from Ọ̀rúnmìlà in Ile-Ife. Now there are organizations being put together under one to represent Ifá, Òrìṣà and the practitioners in the international world. But it is still in the beginning stage and there are a lot of problems doing so but it must continue.
As I have previously explained Olodumare, Ifá, Egúngún, and Òrìṣàs were the ancient traditional believe of the Yorùbás. Their whole existence was based on those principles. Before the advent of Christianity and Islam, Ifa and Òrìṣà was the only way the Yorùbá knew. Yorùbá religion and beliefs have been suppressed over the centuries. Many Yorùbás had been brainwashed by the missionaries with Christianity and by the Arabs with Islam. They were told that their faith in the energies of the Universe like Òṣun, which represents the rivers, Yemoja, which represents the Ocean, and Olókun, which represents the Sea, are demonic and that the Yorubas are pagans. Many were forced and intimidated to convert to Christianity or Islam. Now many Yorubas don’t see anything positive in traditional beliefs. In many homes, the children no longer speak Yòrúba. They deem everything about their culture and believe to be negative and evil. I hope in time these perceptions will change. In the Nigerian history, Bishop Àjàyí Crowder was one of the first Yorùbá Nigerians to be converted to Christianity by the missionaries and later translated the English bible to Yoruba. He was one of the African slaves who were freed after the abolition of slave trade. He was taught how to read and write by his missionary masters and rose to the position of a Bishop. A major war was waged against the indigenous African by the converts to Islam. In 1804 A.D. a Fulani scholar by the name of Uthman Dan Fodio declared a Jihad (holy war) against the Hausa State named the (Hausa Bokkoi), whose rulers he condemned for allowing Islamic practices to deteriorate. Some of the local leaders of the Fulani received Othman blessings and support and cleverly overthrew the Hausa rulers. The Fulani, with their superior cavalries and well-organized armed forces, easily defeated the untrained and poorly equipped Hausa warriors. They overthrew the Hausa rulers and they also conquered areas beyond the Hausa states, including Adamawa to the east and Nupe and Ilorin to the south. Othman Dan Fodio and his men raided most of the northern parts of what is now Nigeria down to Ilorin. Many of the people were captured, and their belongings were looted and their homes destroyed. Thankfully, the warriors of Ìbàdaǹ in conjunction with the other warriors of the Yorùbá land pushed the Fulani back to the place they now occupy. Many of those captured were later sold to the Portuguese and other Europeans as slaves. Most of those slaves were transported to the Americas to work on the plantations. Also, the Christian missionaries brought Christianity to the Yoruba and systematically imposed their beliefs in Jesus Christ on the Yorubas. They came with the philosophy and ideology of the “three in one”: “fhe father, the son, and the holy spirit.” They condemned the Yorubas for their belief in Olódùmarè. The Yoruba were told that their belief was wrong and evil. They were told that they were worshiping idols, although the Catholic Christians themselves kneel before the cross and various other images of lesser divinities such as St. James, St. Michael, St. Mary and St. Peter as the Yorùbá do before the Òrìṣàs like Ọbàtálá, Ṣaǹgó, Yemọja, Olókun and so on to pray. The Muslims face the east, where the sun rises, for daily prayers and also use the half moon and the stars as their icon, even though they do not have images. Every culture has its focus and beliefs.
Nevertheless, it is fair to mention that the fratricidal wars among the Yorùbás were another reason for the slavery in the New World. At this moment, Yorùbás and the Yorùbá language are going through a drastic transition. We are in a situation where our children no longer have Yorùbá as their first or even second language. Our values and culture continue to degenerate as everyone tries to adopt Western cultures. Ìwó Ẹlẹrọ, near Akurẹ in the southern part of the country, is the oldest archaeological site in Nigeria. Stone tools and human remains at the site date back to 9000 B.C. Recent discoveries were made at Wuńmoníjẹ̀ Compound in Ilé Ifẹ̀ by an archeologist who was also a native of Ifè, Dr. Ọmọtọṣọ Elúyẹmí́. Some of the objects dated back to between the fourteenth and eighteenth centuries. The first well-documented kingdom in what is now southwestern Nigeria was centered at Ilé-Ifẹ̀. It was established as the first Yorùbá kingdom in the eleventh or twelfth century. Ilé Ifẹ̀ was believed by the Yorùbás to be the cradle of the world. The oral history of Ilé Ifẹ̀ claims that the Garden of Eden referred to in the Bible was an old myth from Ilé Ifẹ̀̀ in which Edina was referred to as the garden where Adam and Eve were created. It is an old Yorùbá myth from the scriptures in the Odùs that explains how Olódùmare,̀ the creator of the universe, decided to make use of the planet Earth, which was a vacuum several million years ago. Olódùmarè ask the Sea to come manifest in the planet. For another several million of years, the sea was by itself. Olódùmarè, in his busy time, recognized the loneliness of the Sea and decided to put more time into the creation of planet Earth. He then sent Ọ̀rúnmìlà with some soil from the heavens and a five-toed Rooster that helped spread the soil on top of the Sea. From that time the Earth continued to spread. The Yorùbas believed that the spot where it first started was in Ilé Ifẹ̀. There are many myths about the creation of the universe. No one knows which one is true or false. The Yoruba people belief in the existence of only one God. It is also maintained by other religions the divine essence can be manifested in more than one person or element. That is why in Yorùbá, Yemọja is the goddess of the ocean. Ṣango is the god of thunder and lightning as in ancient Greece, when Thor was the god of thunder and lightning. It is very interesting that we inherit our days of the week after the days when the ancient Greek worship their gods. Sunday was Sunday and Monday was the moon day. Saturday was Sabbath day and so on. However, traditional Africans have their own name to describe the religion of their people.
Many people have suggested different names for their religions. That is why we have Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism and so on. Chukwism has been suggested for the Igbo and Olódùmarè for the Yorùbá. Some elders like Late Fágbénró Beyioku and Chief Fágbèmi ́Àjànàkú have suggested Ọ̀ruńmilaism for the Yorùbá. Yorùbá who converted to Christianity call the traditional Yorubas “Abọ̀rìsà,” meaning “Òrìṣà worshipers”. Ọ̀ruńmìlà is only one of the several entities the Yoruba worship and praise. These entities appear to be completely autonomous, each with its practice, practitioner and ritual. But none of the practices disregards the supremacy of Olódùmarè (God) in Yorùbá language. They believe that instead of bothering God for every little thing, they can approach the Orí́, Ọbàtálá and other Òrìṣàs, who are used as intermediaries between humans and Olodumare. Just like the Christians pray to God through Jesus Christ and the Muslims pray to Allah through Prophet Mohammed (May the blessing of Allah be with Prophet Mohammed). Most Africans, in spite of their belief in subordinate deities, would refer everything to God as the ultimate one. That is what Yoruba do. The deities are considered the intermediaries between the people and God. Just as the Saints in some other religious practices are considered the privileged spiritual beings who could help their followers to reach the supreme God, the Yorùbá use the Òrìṣá.
The Odù Ìwòrì wosa explains the origin of the Irunmales. It explains why man has to go through the Iruńmalẹ̀s, calls it the Òrìṣàs, the Saints and many other Messiahs that we may know.
Here goes the Odù Ìwòrìwọ̀sá.
Ìwòrìwọ̀ṣá l’difa fuń Olódùmarè.
Ìwòrìwọ̀sà cast divination for Olódùmarè.
A bukin fuń ọmọ ara’ye.
Cast Ikin for the World.
Nigbati ti awọn ọmọ aráyé ndaamu Olódùmarè.
When the people of the World were troubling Olodumare.
Ọmọ aráyé nbi Olódùmarè fun ohun gbogbo.
Humans were asking Olódùmarè for everything.
Ati nkan ti Olódùmarè ti ṣe fuń Ayé́
Including the things Olód̀umarè has already done for the World.
Wọn ni ki Olódùmarè ru ẹbọ ki ofi Òrìṣà sọjà. Ki ọmọ aráyé maa nọ
Olódùmarè was advised to make offerings and to surround himself with the Òrìṣàs. The same offerings are what humans make to the Òrìṣàs in order to reach Olódùmàre today. If we don’t make it in the Church we make it in the Mosque.
Like most African religions, the Yoruba religion and beliefs were never given their due respect by the Christians and the Muslims. But ironically, the slaves who were sold to the Europeans were shipped to the Americas and the Caribbean Island about 400 to 500 years ago. They took their religion and culture with them. The Yoruba religion comprises worship of Olódùmarè, the supreme energy of the Universe, and the forces of the Universe called the Oriṣas, the knowledge of which is taught through the sacred scriptures of Ifá called the Odùs by Ọ̀ruńmìlà, the witness of creation. If́á is the sacred words of Olódùmarè that were taught to humanity by Ọ̀ruńmìlà.
There have been several controversies over what to call the traditional Yoruba religion. Since Ifá is the compendium of the knowledge and wisdom of it all, I will say it is appropriate to call it Ifa. Most Africans believe in the existence of supernatural powers that are responsible for the creation of the universe and all things in it, including Man. Their opinion and practices are as a result of their beliefs. God is called Olódùmarè in Yoruba language, and the Yoruba believe He is responsible for the creation of all life. When Yoruba greet their loved ones good-night, Yoruba usually says God will look after us (Ọlọ́run ásọ́ wa o) God will wake. (Ọlọ́run a jí wa o) The Gwari of Northern Nigeria has a similar goodnight greeting” (Sheko gife nyi) which means May God awaken us tomorrow”
Olódùmarè created the other energies and the forces of the Universe to help continue the evolutions of the Universe. Many scholars have done comparative studies of the world religion, and this has thrown much light on the awareness of the Origin of religious ideas of the world. Many traditional indigenous people still adhere to some of the ritualistic beliefs; such are the Yorùbá. Ifá and Òrìsà as discussed in this book have been recognized as the great Oracular religion of the Yorùbá people. They originated from Ọrúnmìlà in Ilé-Ifẹ̀. The book discusses the cradle of Yorùbá culture and religion. I hope it will give the reader some insight into Yorùbá culture.
Before the advent of the Catholic missionaries and the Jihadists of Uthman
dan Fodio, the Yoruba had their own traditional religion called Ifa and Orisa, which contained their faith and beliefs. Despite the enormous pressure, hatred, and animosity of the Yoruba converts to Christianity and Islam, the remaining Yoruba people still passionately embraced Ifa and the Orisa because of the enormous wisdom it contained.
The Yoruba Christians and Muslims were converted and taught that the traditional practices were evil and demonic, eventually creating an overwhelming
divisiveness which is still prevalent today. However, in the Yoruba churches and mosques today, the traditional belief is always the center of the preaching.
This alienation was as a result of the forceful attitude of the Jihad and the raiding of the northern part of Africa by the Muslim Arabs beginning in the 1400’s and Uthman dan Fodio in the 1800’s. In 1804, Fodio declared a Jihad (holy war) against the Hausa state of Bokkoi, whose rulers he condemned for allowing Islamic practices to deteriorate.
Some of the local leaders of the Fulani received Fodio’s blessings and support and shrewdly overthrew the Hausa rulers with their superior cavalry and well organized armed forces, effortlessly defeating the untrained and poorly equipped Hausa warriors. His army swept beyond the Hausa states, smashing Adamawa to the east, Nupe and Ilorin to the south, pillaging most of the northern parts of what is now Nigeria down to Ilorin. Countless people were captured, their belongings looted and homes destroyed, most of them never to
see their homeland again, and later sold to the Portuguese and other Europeans as slaves. A great majority were transported to the Americas and the Caribbean to toil mindlessly on plantations.
Fortunately, the warriors of Ibadan in conjunction with the other warriors of Yoruba land drove the Fulani back to the current place they now occupy. Their abhorrent activities increased slavery and the slave trade of the 19th century. There is a Yoruba saying “Aye laba fa Aye la bamole”, which is why Islam is called
“Imole”, faith by force, and Christianity “Igbagbo”, faith by belief. The Christians and Muslims represented themselves as godlike, while they impugned the traditional believers as evil and demonic. They imposed their philosophy and ideology of the “three in one; the father, the son, & the holy ghost”, condemning Olodumare (God) and idol worship, although the Christians kneel before the cross and worship statues of saints and angels.
Every culture has its focus and beliefs.Christians use statues of saints, Muslims use the quarter moon and stars; Yoruba use crowns for Osun and Yemoja, a double head axe for Chango. The damage to the traditional people has left profound mental and physical scars on all aspects of our lives. Thus, we have been mired in a morass of never ending conflicts, compared to the Chinese people who steadfastly embrace their culture and beliefs, turning themselves into a technological juggernaut in the process. On the positive side, the Yoruba received the benefits of education and awareness. A great example was Bishop Ajayi Crowther, who translated the English Bible to Yoruba. Reverend Lijada was another example of a Yoruba convert who was taught to read and write. Today in many Yoruba homes, the religious concept is 3 in 1, which we sometimes call Metalokan. It’s the combination of the three belief systems; traditional practice, Christianity and Islam. As an example, both my parents were born into the traditional practice. My father from the Famoriyo family was born into the family of Ifa, and my mother was born into the family of Ogun practitioners. My father’s family was later converted to Islam before I was born and my mothers family converted to Christianity. I discovered more depth and spirituality in the traditional practice. The idea that we were born sinners according to the Biblical stories is foreign to the Yoruba. It is also foreign to the Yorubas that humans were created by god as slaves & servants of God, only to worship God as the Quran stated. The revelation and the notion of the Ten Commandments is also a foreign concept to the Yoruba. In Ifa, the Odus teach that humans should learn from their mistakes, pay the price and be redeemed, then rewarded for their good deeds here on earth and in the afterlife. That is a reality. We must live by the order of nature.
The Yoruba can still regain their preeminence on the world stage if we look back into the past, reclaim and engage our lost heritage, using it to spread the goodness of Ifa and the Orisa onto the four corners of the earth.
In fact, the same Yoruba who were kidnapped and sold into slavery in the past have now reconnected with the motherland, reintroducing Ifa and Orisa worship to indigenous Yoruba in the Americas. What’s’ more, Europeans and former Catholic followers helped to build some of the ancient Yoruba Shrines. Such is the case of Suzzana Wenger, who dedicated her life to building the Osun shrine at Osogbo back in the early 1970’s. It is now an international monument and festival which the Yoruba Kings, Chiefs and people were happy to reclaim.
The annexation of Yoruba traditionalists’ through Christianity and Islam came about by virtue of Yoruba tolerance and accommodation. They were disinclined to confront and altercate. There is a Yoruba proverb which states “Ati da ileke sodo oju laro”, meaning “we are reluctant to throw jewelry in the blender”. The Yoruba intendment was to assimilate the two foreign religions into their culture, much like the syncretization of their Orisa to the Catholic saints in Cuba, which formed the present Lucumi religion.
Thusly, we can now view the diverse styles in which they practice these foreign religions. Among the Christian Yoruba religions we encounter the Cherubim & Seraphim, Pentecostals, African Baptist, Celestials, etc. Among the Muslims we find the Ansarudeen, Hammadiya, Isabatudeen, and the Teblics.
Lamentably, the current history seems to be repeating itself with the emergence of the Boko-Haram Islamic sects who are committing atrocities in the northern parts of Nigeria in the name of Allah. The Fulani nomad cattle herders let their hordes destroy farmlands in Yoruba areas and disgracefully rape their women. The government has advised the people that this problem will be solved, but at the current time, no clarification has been announced. The Yoruba should absolutely not go into another war. A governmental and religious peace calling for tolerance and respect for all is what we need.
I am writing this book in the wake of imminent and potential religious and cultural conflicts that can happen in Nigeria. Yoruba have always been in harmony since the fratricidal wars that got them into slavery, which caused the coercive migration of the Yoruba people to the Americas for 400 years. More than 6 million Yoruba were sold into slavery during that time. It should not happen again. For these reasons the Yoruba should remain in harmony.
The following is a time line featuring some of the Yoruba fratricidal wars;
About 1820, the Fulani conquered Ilorin. Abdul Salami became the first Emir of Ilorin. That marked the beginning of the fall of the Oyo Empire. Oluyole became Basorun to Alaafin Atiba.
Ijaye. Ibadan won in 1862.
1864 Ogunmola Balogun of Ibadan
Ijebu ere war (Johnson
Batedo war between Ibadan
Ijaye war between Ibadan and
was defeated and the Egbas attacked Ikorodu. Ikorodu asked
for help from the British Government. Modekeke attacked the
1865 A peace agreement was signed between Ibadan and Egbato.
1867 Ibadan defeated the Ijesa and Owa Obokun surrendered.
1870 Ilesa was captured by Ibadan. 1878 Jalami war. Ekiti, Ijesa, and Ilorin attacked Ikirun. Ibadan drove them out.
1880 Kirijii war. Egba and Ijebu were in the midst of raiding the borders of Ibadan.
By this time, the Oyo Empire had been weakened. War went on between Ibadan and Ilorin. Through the intervention of the British, a peaceful agreement was reached. Igbajo would belong to Ibadan. Modakeke was to be evacuated. Anyone who wanted to be with Ibadan would build a new town, and anyone who wanted to be with Ile Ife would stay in Ife towns.
In 1889, a treaty was signed between the
British Government and Adeyemi, (the Alaafin of Oyo), to allow free trade between the towns. At that time, the French protectorate of Dahomey had be laying claims to some territories along the coastline of Lagos. The British decided to act quickly.
In 1893, treaties were made between Oyo, Ibadan, and others. The order to evacuate Modakeke was never obeyed. The British successfully dismantled the war camps at Ibadan, Ikirun, ad Ilorin.
in 1897, Ilorin and Bidah, which were
raided for slaves, was captured by the Royal Niger Company, which was already taking control of the territories. Tapa Nupe and Ilorin were warned against continuous slave trading and were eventually fell under the control of the Royal Niger Company.
In 1901, the Yoruba Land became attached to the colony of Lagos under the British and Royal Niger Company. The Yoruba Land was eventually colonized by the British under an indirect ruling system that emulated the similar system of Yoruba
governance in the 1900’s.
Here is a timeline of the Yoruba ancestors’ middle passage to the Americas.
1841- Portugal built the first European fort (Fort Elmina) on the coast of Africa.
1501- King Ferdinand of Spain started the trading of African slaves to the colonies in the “New World”. 1517 Bartolome’ de Las Casas made a deal with the Spanish King Charles I. On his request, “Indian “workers in the Caribbean can be replaced
with African slaves.
1619-1620- A group of Africans arrived in Jamestown. They were indentured servants.
1620- Mayflower lands in America 1624 Samuel Maverick in Massachusetts owns two African slaves.
1672- Royal African Company is formed. Colonies can now buy slaves from the English.
1705- Virginia government tells slave owners that they are not guilty if they kill their slaves
while they are punishing
1712- Slave revolt in New York. 1721 South Carolina says that only “Christian whites” can vote.
1735 -Georgia, one of the English colonies in America, makes slavery illegal, but this was done
so that Georgia would profit by selling slaves not to free slaves. Slave
owners paid a small
fine and slaves were not set
1739 -The Stono Rebellion, Stono, South Carolina. Twelve slaves kill several white men while trying to escape to Florida.
1740- Slave Act in South Carolina makes it a crime to teach a slave to read and write.
1770 -Crispus Attucks, a runaway slave, led a group of Boston citizens to protest against a contingent of British soldiers. When the soldiers opened fire, Attucks was killed.
1773- Four Boston slaves petitioned for freedom based on the same reasons colonists used to
justify separation from England in the Declaration of
1775 -Society for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage was formed in
Philadelphia by Quakers. 1780 Pennsylvania becomes the
first state to pass the law that ends slavery. 1785 John Jay and Aexander
Hamilton started the Manumission Society in New York.
1787- Northwest Ordinance was passed.
1791-1804 Haitian Revolution-the only slave rebellion that succeeded.
1787 -The Three Fifths Amendment was adopted. According to it, slaves should be counted as
three-fifths of a person.
1789- Benjamin Franklin starts the
Pennsylvania Abolition Society.
1793- Fugitive Slave Act. This act
allowed slave owners to catch and return slaves who escaped to the “free states”.
1794 -The first national antislavery
organization was formed. It was called the American
Convention for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery.
1796- Boston’s black community starts Free African Society of Boston. 1800 Gabriel Prosser Rebellion.
1800- James Forten and Absalom Jones write a petition to strike down the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793
1808- International slave trade beomes illegal.
1829- David Walker writes his appeal.
1831- William Garrison starts publishing the “Liberator”.
1833- American Anti-Slavery Society formed.
1837- Elijah Lovejoy was murdered. 1859 John Brown attacks Harper’s Ferry, Virginia.
1861- Southern states secede.
1861- Civil War starts.
1862- Emancipation Proclamation issued effective January 1, 1863, stating all slaves will be free in America.
IFE ORAL TRADITION
The Oral tradition from Ile Ife said that the Universe was a vacuum several million years ago. Olodumare asked the Sea to come manifest on the planet. For another several millions of years, the sea was by itself. Olodumare in his busy time recognized the loneliness of the Sea and decided to put more time to the creation of the planet. He then sent Orunmila with some soil from the heavens and a five toed hen / rooster to help spread the soil on top of the Sea. From there, the Earth continued to expand. The Yorubas believed that the spot where it first started was in Ile-Ife.
The Yorubas believe in the existence of only one God, but as is also maintained by Orthodox Christians, divine essence is manifested in more than one person or
elements. So there are other energies in which the Supreme Energy manifested, such as the Sea, the Oceans, the Mountains, the Rivers, The Wind, the Sky, Thunder and Lightning, Volcanic eruptions, etc.
The Yoruba religion, as well as Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, are the chief monotheistic religions of the world. However, every traditional African community has its own label to describe the religion of it’s people. Thus Chukwism has bee suggested for the Igbo of Nigeria,
The Mendes for Sierra Leone, and Olodumare for the Yoruba people of Nigeria. Some people, like Late Fagbenro Beyioku and Chief Fagbemi Ajanaku suggested Orunmilaism for the Yorubas. Some Yorubas that have converted to Islam and Christianity call the traditional Yorubas “Aborisa”, meaning Orisa worshipers. Orunmila in the system of Yoruba traditional worship is only one of the several entities that the Yorubas praise. These entities appear to be completely autonomous, each with different practices,
practitioners, and rituals. But none of the practices disagree with the supremacy of Olodumare (God), in Yoruba language.
Dr. Bolaji Idowu in his book, Olodumare (God in Yoruba Belief), pointed out that “it is not easy to find a name that is precisely descriptive of the real nature of African traditional religion”. Other scholars like P.A. Talbot and E.G. Parrinder also recognize this difficulty. They both grasp that the Traditional African society believes in the existence of an omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient
supreme God and also a large number of subordinate Orisas and deities. It however appears they fail to note the point that traditional Africans, in spite of their beliefs in subordinate deities would refer everything to God as the ultimate one.
The Orisa are considered as intermediaries between the people and God. Just as the Saints in some other religious practices are considered the privileged spiritual beings who can help their followers to reach the supreme God. Like most African religions, the Yoruba religion and beliefs were never given a chance. But ironically, the slaves that were sold to the Europeans were shipped to the Americas and the Caribbean Islands about four to five hundred years ago, transplanted their religion and culture with them, syncretizing the Orisa with the Catholic Saints. The Yoruba religion is comprised of the worship of Olodumare, the supreme energy of the Universe, and the forces of the Universe called the Orisas. According to Yoruba mythology, the knowledge which is sought by Yoruba people is taught through the sacred scriptures of Ifa called the Odus by Orunmila, the witness of creation. Ifa are the sacred words of Olodumare taught to humanity by Orunmila. There have been several controversies on what to call the traditional African religion. Since Ifa is the wisdom of it all I will say it is appropriate to call it Ifaism. Most Africans believe in the existence of supernatural powers which are responsible for the creation of the universe and all things in it, including Man. Their religious practices are the result of their belief in Olodumare, the Orisa, and the energies of the universe. God is called Olodumare in Yoruba language and the Yoruba believe He is responsible for the creation of all life. Dr. Osadolor Imasogie in his book “African Religion”, used an example of how a Yoruba greets their loved ones goodnight. They usually say, “Olorun a ji wa o”. The literal meaning is “may the supreme God wake us”. The Gwari of Northern Nigeria have a similar goodnight greeting. For example “Sheko gife nyi”, which means, “May God awakens us tomorrow”. Yoruba believe Olodumare created the other energies and forces of the Universe to help continue the evolution of the cosmos. The Yoruba say that everything in the world is in the hands of Olodumare. Many scholars have done comparative studies of world religions and have thrown much light concerning the awareness of the origins regarding religious ideas of the world. According to research, the great world religions which still have a prodigious number of followers are Christianity, 685 million divided among it’s three main branches of Roman Catholics with about 330 million, Orthodox Eastern Catholic about 142 million, and Protestants, about 208 million people. Islam or Mohammedanism about 510 million worldwide, Judaism about 16 million, Hinduism, about 234 million, Buddhism perhaps claim 452 million followers, many of which will also declare themselves adherents of Taoism,
Confucianism or Shinto. Traditional Yoruba religion claimed approximately 10 million followers worldwide. Ifa has been recognized as the great Oracular religion of the Yoruba people and originated from Orunmila in Ile Ife. Now there are organizations being put together under one roof to represent Ifa, Orisa, and the practitioners in the international world. It’s still in the growing stages, but Ifa continues to grow despite the issues that beset us. In the Yoruba religion, Orunmila is the Great Priest Prophet. He is the intermediary between humans and the other energies of the Universe. He is regarded as the compendium of the knowledge used to create the Universe. He is the know al who can tell the other divinities and humans what they must do to please Oldumare, Orisa and other super human forces through IFA Divination, the WORD, and the Ancient wisdom of the Yorubas. This is why the corpus of IFA is as important in the Yoruba system of faith and worship as the Apostles and Nicene Creed are in the Christian religious practices and the Kalima in Islam.IFA as well as the Christian Bible or any other Scriptures of wisdom contain no definition for God, but consists of much allusion and praises o his being and attributes. Many of the African scholars do not believe or even understand IFA, probably because of how they were educated by Christians or Muslims who presented or interpreted the knowledge in the Odu IFA to them. According to the Yoruba oral tradition from Ile-Ife, Orunmila was the second of the Yoruba supreme beings said to have been jointly responsible for the creation of the world. IFA was therefore praised as the witness of destiny, “Eleri Ipin”. The other two supreme beings are in order, Oduduwa, and Orisa nla. Whilst Oduduwa was said to have been responsible for the general foundation of the earth and for furnishing the materials with which the main creation of the Universe were built from, (Orisa nla was?) I hope the stories of the Odus in this book will help IFA practitioners.IFA in itself is Truth, the living truth that is the Holy Breath of Olodumare, Almighty God. That eternal truth which was and is and ever more shall be the truth that cannot change nor pass away. IFA is about truthfulness, righteousness and peace on Earth. IFA is the Truth as the Yorubas have received it from their Priest and Prophet, Orunmila. IFA contains the five different kinds of truth: the scientific, the historical, the artistic, the theological, and the logical. IFA is the synthesis of Science, Religion, Philosophy and Sociology. There is nothing under the sun that is not covered by IFA.Orunmila, the god of divination has several names;
Baramiagbonniregun , which means the tall straight palm tree.
Orunmila, which replaces Orun mo eni ti yio la, meaning only heaven only knows who will prevail. Amomotan, which means the one that you can never know all of.
Oyigiyigi, the immovable one.Ikuforigi, the one who death forgives. Eni ajiki, the one you first greet in the morning.Obirikiti apa ojo iku da, the one that changes the day of your death. Ogbonileaye, the wisdom of the world. Opitan Ile Ife, the historian of the ancient Ife. Atererekaye, the one that is spread all over the world.Eleri ipin, the witness of destiney.Olokun asorodayo, the owner of the sea that makes all matters become joy. Ope abisewara, the one that when He says so it will be.Orunmila is one of Olodumare’s principal representatives on Earth. Great wisdom and power was bestowed on Orunmila by Olodumare. In turn, Orunmila initiated Awo’s into the IFA priesthood, endowing them the power to practice IFA divination and spread it to the Yoruba people and eventually throughout the world.
There are many symbols used in the religious and ritual practices among Yoruba. We use symbols like the sacred staff by the Babalawo that the Pope and Bishops in Christianity, and the Muslims use the staff that Kalifat carries.
The Ose Sango is as sacred to the Yoruba as the cross is sacred to the Christian. The Islamic icon on top of Mosques is the quarter moon and the star. These are also some of the symbols used among the Yoruba in their religious practices, all in an effort to reach and beseech the Most- High. You can call him Olodumare, God,
or Allah. Their focus is towards the same entity.
The Yoruba worship some of the powers superior to man which are prominent natural objects such as the sky, sea, rivers, metal, earth etc. They are called Orisa. Their reason for worship was to capacitate them to cope with the obdurateness of their natural environment and it’s effect on their activities. In the last 400-500 years, many of the Yorubas that were sold into slavery in the Americas developed a system of worship to reach the same goal so that their culture would not be exterminated. Captured and sold to the Arabs, who were eventually bought by Catholic Europeans and delivered to Cuba and Brazil, where Catholicism was a fundamental part of life, they sustained their culture.
During these turbulent times, the slaves were forced to worship Catholicism under pain of death. They called upon their Orisa via prayers and sacrifice to redeem them and it was the pinnacle of faith named Syncretism that saved them from the desert of religious oblivion, giving birth to Santeria in Cuba and Candomble in Brazil. The camouflage worked beautifully, allowing the slaves to secretly worship the Orisa vis a vis Saints during mass while openly invoking them at night in the forest, away from the prying eyes of their masters. Dutifully attending mass every day, the slaves noticed that the colors of the clothing worn by the Catholic saints were similar to the colors representing the Orisa. The following is a list of Catholic syncretisations according to Cuban Santeria. Please keep in mind that the syncretization is not the Orisa, but simply a camouflage.
Index of Catholic Saints in Santaria synchronizes with Yoruba Orisa.
This is a list of the most common Catholic synchronizations according to Cuban Santeria. Keep in mind that the synchronization is not the Orisa, but simply a camouflage. (Some of the synchronizations refer to specific paths of certain Yoruba Orisas.)
1. San Ambrosio Osanyin
2. Anima Sola Esu, Elegba
3. Santa Ana Nana Buruku
4. St. Barbara Sango
5. San Bartolome Agidai
6. Caridad de Cobre Osun
7. Sta. Catalina Oba
8. Sta. Clara Yewa
9. San Cosme Ibeji
10. San Cristobal Ogun
11. San Damian Ibeji
12. El Diablo Eshu (probably Shigidi path)
13. San Experito Sango
14. Sta. Filomena Alaguema
15. San Francisco Orunmila
16. San Isidro Labrado Oko
17. San Juan bautista Osanyin
18. Jesucristo Obatala; Obamoro
19. San Jose Ogun, Oshagrinya
20. San Lazaro Baba lu Aye
21. San Manuel Aganyu
22. Nino Atocha Elegba, Esu
23. San Norberto Ososi
24. San Patricio Ohango
25. San pedro Ogun
26. San Rafael Inle
27. San Ramon Osanyin
28. San Roberto Oke
29. Santiago Apostol Aboku, Sango
30. San Sebatian Ososi
31. San Silvestre Osanyin
32. Sat.Teresa Oya
33. San Tobias Iroko
34. Viren de la Candelaria Oya
35. Virgen del Carmen Nana Buruku
36. Virgen de Los Desamparados Yewa
37. Virgen de las Mercedes Obatala
38. Virgen del mar Olokun, Yemoja
39. Virgen de la Monserrate Yewa
40. Virgen de la PurisimaConcepcion Iroko
41. Virgen de Regla Yemoja
42. Virgen del Rosario Dada, Awanyin
The literal translation of Orunmila is “Orun ni o mo ati la” which means only heaven knows the way to salvation.
The history of Orunmila is very controversial. In one of the stories, according to the Yoruba oral traditions from ILE IFE, Orunmila was the second of the Yoruba supreme beings said to have been jointly responsible for the creation of the world. The other two supreme beings were Oduduwa and Orisanla. Whereas Oduduwa was said to have been
responsible for the general foundation of the earth and for furnishing the materials which were used in the creation of the earth, namely iron and clay etc, (the information for Orisanla is missing here). Another story said that Orunmila was born of a Nupe tribe and he was a miraculous child. He displayed extraordinary and amazing powers that earned him recognition and respect, which attracted many followers. All this attention and public esteem caused animus among the Muslims, who conspired and eventually
drove him out. Orunmila then crossed the River Niger and started walking his way south, stopping in many places along the way. Wherever he took up residence, he established a group to teach and practice IFA with them. Some of the cities Orunmila stopped to practice IFA and install Awos were Ado Ekiti, Owo, Benin, Ijesa, and Obokun. That is why we consider Orunmila incomparable and praise him thusly; Erinmi nle Ado, (the Hippopotamus at the town of Ado); Erinmi lode owo, (the Hippopotamus at the town
of Owo); Sikisiki lode Iseri; (the big element of the town of Iseri).
Another story about Orunmila was that he was born at Oke Igeti in ILE IFE. The saga said that in the beginning Orunmila was very poor and he had to beg for a living. One day in his sleep he was endowed by a special wisdom and the knowledge of healing and divination, finally waking up to find a bracelet around his wrist. He recalled everything from his reverie and began to practice, getting good results from his clients. More people began to recognize Orunmila. Kings and Chiefs began to send for him and he became famous. Orunmila began to create innumerable followers and people wanted to learn from him. They made him the head among them called Oluwo; meaning the head of those that grasps the secret of life.