Oduduwa- Person or Title?

To speak of Oduduwa, is to tell the history of the Yoruba people.

The Yoruba people are an ethnic group that inhabits western Africa, widespread across Nigeria, Benin, Togo and part of Ghana. Across the globe, the Yoruba constitute around 47 million people. The majority of this population being Nigerians- 21% of Nigeria’s population- making them one of the largest ethnic groups in Africa. The language of the Yoruba people is called the Yoruba language, which is the Niger-Congo language with the largest number of native speakers.

As an ethnic description, the term “Yoruba” (or more correctly “Yaraba”) was initially in reference to the Oyo Empire and is the usual Hausa name for Oyo people as noted by Hugh Clapperton and Richard Lander. It was hence popularized by Hausa usage and ethnography written in Ajami during the 19th century by Sultan Muhammad Bello. The expansion of the term to all speakers of dialects associated to the language of the Oyo (in modern terminology North-West Yoruba) dates to the second half of the 19th century. It is due to the influence of Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther, the first Anglican bishop in Nigeria. Crowther was himself an Oyo Yoruba and compiled the first Yoruba dictionary as well as initiating a standard for Yoruba orthography. The alternative name Akú, derived from the first words of Yoruba greetings (such as Ẹ kú àárọ? “good morning”, Ẹ kú alẹ? “good evening”) has survived in certain parts of their diaspora as a self-descriptive, especially in Sierra Leone.

Where do Yoruba people come from?

There are many oral traditions about the origin of the Yoruba people. Some accounts claim the Yoruba people were created at Ile-Ife and Ile-Ife is the beginning of life. Other accounts assert the Yoruba people migrated from a farther region to settle in present-day West Africa.

However, the history of Yoruba people is generally accepted as the migration of an East African population across the trans-African route leading from Mid-Nile river area to the Mid-Niger. Archaeologists, according to M. Omoleya, educate us that the Nigerian area was occupied more than forty thousand years ago, or as far as 65,000BC. During this period, the Nok culture colonized the region. The Nok culture was visited by the Yoruba people, between 2000BC and 300BC. According to historical accounts, a group of people was led by a divine-king, Oduduwa, who settled peacefully in the already established Ile-Ife, the sacred city of the indigenous Nok people.

This period is known as the Bronze Age, a time of great civilization of both of these groups. According to Olumide J. Lucas, “the Yoruba, during antiquities, lived in ancient Egypt before migrating to the Atlantic coast.” He made use of resemblance of languages, religious beliefs, traditions and names of persons, places and things. Furthermore, numerous ancient papyri discovered by archaeologists point at an Egyptian origin. (Tariqh Sawandi: Yorubic medicine: The Art of divine herbology).

That brings us to an ultimate question;

Who is Oduduwa?

Aboriginal traditions, which contemporary Yoruba historians accord precedence, narrates that Oduduwa was an emissary from the community of Oke-Ora, the easternmost part of the Ife cultural area which spans towards the Northeastern Ijesa people. He came down from the Hills on a chain, earning the oriki Atewonro (i.e ‘one who descends on a chain’). He is said to have been a warrior that wore armour made of iron. At that moment, a confederacy existed between the 13 communities of the valley of Ile-Ife, with each community having its Oba; the Oba of Ijugbe, the Oba of Ijio, the Oba of Iwinrin etc.

When Oduduwa emerged as a prominent citizen of ancient Ife, he and his faction are speculated to have dominated most of the 13 component communities and expelled Obatala, subsequently evolving the palace structure with its practical centralized power and dynasty. Due to this, he is commonly referred to as the first Ooni of Ife and progenitor of the legitimate kings of the Yoruba people.

Oral religious traditions about the inception of time claim that Oduduwa was Olodumare’s favourite Orisa. As such, he (or she, as the primordial Oduduwa is said to have represented the Divine Feminine aspect and Obatala the Divine Masculine) was sent from heaven to create the earth upon the waters, a task he/she had usurped from his/her consort and/or sibling Obatala, who had been equipped with a snail shell filled with sand and a bird to scatter the said sand in arrangement to create land. These beliefs are held by certain Yoruba traditionalists to be the cornerstone of their creation story. In this narrative, Oduduwa is also known as Olofin Otete, the one who took the Basket of Existence from Olodumare.

This cosmological myth has occasionally been blended with the belief of the historical Oduduwa. Based on a few accounts, the historical Oduduwa is considered to be called after an earlier version of Oduduwa who was female and related to the Earth called Ilẹ. This myth would assert that, Oduduwa was the wife of Obatala as cited in Odu Ifa Osa Meji, a verse of the Ifa oracle. In this Odu, Obatala uncovers the mystery of his wife and steals the masquerade’s robes from her to wear it himself. This is indicated to be a historical expression of a switch from matriarchy to patriarchy. A few historians would claim Yoruba women used to own the ancestral cults of Gelede and Egungun.

One of the many Yoruba traditions critics is the London-based Yoruba Muslim scholar, Sheikh Dr Abu-Abdullah Adelabu. In an interview with a Nigerian media house, the founder and spiritual leader of Awqaf Africa Society in London dismissed the common belief that all Yorubas are descendants of Oduduwa as “a false representation by Orisa worshippers to gain an unjust advantage over the spread of Islam and the recruitment of Christianity”. The Muslim scholar advised his followers against using phrases such as Omo Oduduwa (or Children of Oduduwa) and Ile Oduduwa (or Land of Oduduwa). He argued that the story that all the Yorubas are children of Oduduwa was based only on word of mouth.

Other Arabic/Islamized people have claimed a connection to Oduduwa. According to the Kanuri, Yauri, Gobir, Acipu, Jukun and Borgu tribes – whose founding ancestors were said to be Oduduwa’s brothers (as recorded in the early 20th century by Samuel Johnson), Oduduwa was the son of Lamurudu, whom Yoruba call either Lamurudu or Lamerudu, a prince who was himself the son of the magician King Kisra. Kisra and his supporters are said to have fought Mohammed in the Battle of Badr. Kisra was urged to depart from Arabia into Africa after losing the war to the jihadists in 624 AD. He and his supporters founded numerous kingdoms and ruling dynasties along their migration route into West Africa. This tradition is a variant of the belief that held that Oduduwa was a prince originating from Mecca. Nonetheless, this belief is thought by some scholars to derive from the later influences on Yoruba culture of Islamic and other Abrahamic religions, and conflicts with other traditions from the corpus of Yoruba myth.

Regardless, the identity of Oduduwa has sustained many attacks in modern times. The Bini people of Benin kingdom in present-day Benin, Edo state, claiming he was a Benin prince (Ekaladerhan), who later became Imadoduwa or Izoduwa, and then Oduduwa. Some Igbos would also claim he was an Igbo man from Nri. Some Igalas claim he hailed from Igala land. Meanwhile, the Igalas have many Ifes, and they claim Oduduwa was from one of such Ifes. The Igala language is close enough to the Yoruba, to assert a common origin for both peoples.

This article is however focused on the possibilities and claims of a relation to the ancient Kemet. The closest link so far would be the last indigenous Kemetic King- Pharaoh Nectanebo II.

Pharaoh Nectanebo II, the last indigenous Kemetic king, was exiled from Kemet by the Achaemenids (Persians); along with hundreds of thousands of indigenous Africans from Kemet, who considered him the divinely anointed king. In the long run, Nectanebo departed into inner Africa. His descendants maybe those that reached Yoruba land were Oduduwa, a kemetian, became the founder of the great dynasty at Ife.

Pharaoh Nectanebo 2

Just like in Ile-Ife of Oduduwa, religion played an important part in Nectanebo’s domestic policy. He started his dynasty by officiating over the funeral of an Apis bull in Memphis. There, Nectanebo developed a relief decoration to the eastern and western temples of Apis. Among significant sanctuaries constructed under Nectanebo II are a temple of Khnum in Abu and a temple of Amun at Sekhtam. He also dedicated a diorite naos to Anhur-Shu (a fragment of it was found in the temples of Tjebnutjer). Nectanebo II was responsible for the increasing popularity of the Buchis cult. During Nectanebo II’s reign, a decree forbidding stone quarrying in the so-called “Mysterious Mountains” in Abydos was issued.

Foreign affairs under Nectanebo II were impeded by repeated Achaemenid effort to take over Egypt. Before the accession of Nectanebo II to the throne, the Persians strived to reclaim Egypt in 385, 383, and 373 BC. Nectanebo used the peace to raise a new army and employed Greek mercenaries- which was a common practice at the time. In about 351 BC, the Achaemenid Empire launched on a new operation to reclaim Egypt. After a year of fighting, Nectanebo and his allied generals, Diophantus of Athens and Lamius of Sparta, managed to defeat the Achaemenids. Having achieved a resounding feat, Nectanebo II was acclaimed “Nectanebo the divine falcon” by his people, and cults were set up in his name.

In 345/44 BC, Nectanebo aided the Phoenician rebellion against the Achaemenid Empire, led by the king of Sidon, Tennes, and dispatched military aid in the form of 4000 Greek mercenaries, led by Mentor of Rhodes. However, having learned of the strategy of the forces of Artaxerxes III, Mentor opened communication with the Persians in collusion with Tennes.

At the end of 344 BC, ministers of Artaxerxes III arrived in Greece, asking for the Greeks’ participation in a crusade against Egypt. Athens and Sparta attended to the ministers with formality but declined from engaging in an alliance against Egypt. Other cities, however, decided to support the Persians: Thebes sent 1000 hoplites and Argos 3000.

In the winter of 343 BC, Artaxerxes set off for Egypt. The Egyptian army, steered by Nectanebo, consisted of 60,000 Egyptians, 20,000 Libu, and as many Greek mercenaries. Also, Nectanebo had a volume of flat-bottomed boats intended to prohibit an enemy from entering the Nile’s mouths. The weak links along his Mediterranean sea border and east boundary were safeguarded by battalions, fortifications and entrenched camps. Persian forces were strengthened by Mentor and his men, well acquainted with the eastern border of Egypt, and by 6000 Ionians.

Nectanebo II was eventually defeated and, in the summer of 342 BC, Artaxerxes arrived Memphis and installed a satrap. Nectanebo retreated to Upper Egypt and finally to Nubia, where he was granted asylum. He, however, maintained a level of power there for some time. With the help of Khabash, Nectanebo made a vain attempt to regain the throne.

Several oral traditions are rampant with these stories. The Awujale of Ijebu land has proved that the Ijebus are descended from ancient Nubia (a colony of Egypt). He was able to use the evidence of language, body, scarification, coronation rituals that are similar to Nubians etc, to ascertain that the Ijebus are descendants of the Nubians. What the present Awujale claimed for the Ijebus, can be verified all over Yoruba land. The Awujale even mentioned (2004) that the Itsekiri (an eastern Yoruba dialect) are speaking the original Ijebu language.

Since the Nubians were descended or colonized by the Egyptians, the Ijebu, and by expansion, all Yoruba customs, derived from the Egyptian. Numerous traditional Yorubas have always alleged Egypt as their place of the original habitat, and that their monarchical tradition derives from the Egyptians. Apostle Atigbiofor Atsuliaghan, a high priest of Umale-Okun, alleged that the Yorubas vacated Egypt as a result of a big war that engulfed the whole of Egypt. He said the Egyptian remainders settled in various places, two significant places being Ode Itsekiri and Ile-Ife. Chief O.N Rewane also says “Oral tradition has it also that when the Yorubas came from South of Egypt they did not go straight to where they now occupy. They settled at Illushi, some at Asaba area, Ebu, Olukumi Ukwunzu, while some settled at Ode-Itsekiri.

What are the possible connections?

There has been a scarcity of archaeological researches in Nigeria. However, any research that has been done is not final, for new finds can be found in future.

The most ancient archaeological finds in Nigeria are the following:

(1) the relic at Iwo Eleru (with a radiocarbon date of about 12,000BC). Iwo Eleru is close to Akure, Ondo State.

(2) The findings at Igbo-Ukwu of about 6000BC.

(3) The findings at the Mejiro cave near Oyo (about 4000BC). The Nok culture that is more than 1000BC.
(4) The Oke-Eri walls and graves purported to be more than a thousand years. The walls are reputed to be the biggest in the world, but for the walls of China.
(5) The bronze heads at Ife about 1000AD.
(6) The bronze heads at Benin about 1400AD. This might authenticate the Ife claim that the Binis got the civilization of bronze casting from the Ifes. Both the Binis and the Ifes claim that Igueghae was the one who taught the Binis how to cast bronze, during the reign of the Oba Oguola, fourth king from Eweka, the son of Oramiyan, a distant descendant of Oduduwa from Ife.

Opa Oranmiyan (The Staff of Oranmiyan) and the Black siltstone obelisk.

Opa Oranmiyan as seen at the Oranmiyan temple

Oranmiyan Omoluabi Odede was a Great Prince of Ife, King of the Yoruba people. Also known as Ọranyan, he was the youngest child who then became the prime successor of Oduduwa upon his return to claim his grandfather’s throne.
Oranmiyan was said to be a giant who was also a warrior.

Oranmiyan Staff, which is traditionally called “Opa Oranyan”, is an erected long obelisk looking staff located along Ondo-Ife Road, Mopa, Arubidi, Ife, Osun State and it represents the cradle of the Yoruba race. It is a narrow carved granite column that is almost six metres tall (more precisely, 5.5 metres). So that makes it relatively tall in comparison with the average human height. Oranmiyan used the staff as a walking stick and a symbol of his royalty when he was in existence.

Black siltstone obelisk of Pharaoh Nectanebo II.

Black siltstone obelisk of Pharaoh Nectanebo II. According to the vertical inscriptions, he set up this obelisk at the doorway of the sanctuary of Thoth, the Twice-Great, Lord of Hermopolis. Today, it is located in the British Museum, London.

Obelisks are very common monuments amongst the Egyptians. It is erected in front of temples in dedication to certain Neterus/Orisas.

The terracotta sculpture from Ife bares a striking resemblance to pharaoh Nectanebo’s statue on the right. Notice the prognosis and thick African lips, just like Kemet’s first monumental statue, the great Sphinx. This shows that for the span of Kemet’s pharaonic history, Africans ruled it all.

The appearance of Nectanebo II next to his cartouches not only makes him seem responsible for carrying out the rituals of all the deities that were depicted inside them, but also makes him seem to become part of the realm of the deities; he had the legitimacy of Horus, the power of Montu and Anhur, the protection of Bastet, and the eternal rebirth by the heart and tongue of Ptah. To keep his name safe from becoming erased or destroyed by his enemies, he made use of cryptography, as had been done by Hatshepsut and Ramses II before him.

Nectanebo II also utilised cryptography on his cult statues that were found in Memphis and Heliopolis. These can now be found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art under No. 34.2.1. and in the Musée du Louvre under No. E III52(fig. 10). These statues show the king as a small figure standing between the claws of the falcon god Horus. This corresponds to the fact that Nectanebo II had a royal cult that included priests who served his statues that
bore the name of Nxt-hr-Hbyt-pA-bik, “Nectanebo, the falcon”.

Nectanebo cult statues show that his name consists of three elements: The falcon has the phonetic value hr and embodied the protection and legitimacy for the king at the same time, the sword that is in his left hand called nxt, “power”, and in his right hand Hb(t) sign.

The royal cult statues of Nectanebo “the falcon”, or “pA-bik”, were spread in the main temples of Egypt and the king dedicated priesthoods for them.

So, it seems that Nectanebo had established another special cult for himself in Bubastis, which was the cult of his royal cartouche “Nxt-hr-Hbyt-mry-in-Hr-sA-BAstt”, and had a priesthood attend to this cartouche and carry out the rituals for his sacred name. Therefore, Bubastis was a site with this unique sort of worship. There are traces of a cartouche showing the goddess Neith; and the king in kneeling position making offerings. It must be noted that the goddess Neith can be read as (n) in cryptographic writings, thus, this cartouche may refer to the name of Nectanebo “snDm ib Ra stp n in-Hr”, as a substitute form to his normal cartouche that was part of a naos for the goddess Bastet.

Nectanebo created for himself a special divine magical personality. Through it, Egypt enjoyed a few peaceful years, which helped him to carry out a lot of his construction projects.

The earlier myths of either a gender-fluid or an expressly female Oduduwa are seen in the spirit’s representation in the Gelede tradition. Initiates of Gelede receive a shrine to Oduduwa along with a Gelede costume and mask. This speaks to the primacy of Oduduwa as associated with the divine ancestral mothers that are known as Awon Iya Wa or Iyami. Here, Oduduwa is revered as the great mother of the world.

Nectanebo finished six temples in Delta at least and in Middle and Upper-Egypt he established more buildings whether new ones or renewed old ones, in addition to numerous chapels.

Hieroglyphs

Hieroglyphs are sacred carvings. It was a character of the ancient Egyptian writing system. Logographic scripts that are pictographic in form in a way reminiscent of ancient Egyptian are also sometimes called “hieroglyphs”.

A few hieroglyphs from the ancient Kemet, can be relatable to the Yoruba people.

Pyramids

The pyramids were built during a period when Egypt was one of the richest and most influential civilizations in the world, the pyramids—especially the Great Pyramids of Giza—are some of the most extraordinary man-made structures in history. Their massive scale evaluates the unique role that the pharaoh, or king, played in ancient Egyptian society. However, there is a pyramid in ancient Benin Kingdom.

Language

Certain Egyptian and Yoruboid words have similarities in spelling and translations. Several linguistics scholars have been able to identify over 100 words that are similar to both cultures- covering all Niger-Congo native Languages.

1. Wu (rise) Wu (rise)
2. Horise (a great god) Orise (a great god)
3. Ta (sell/offer) Ta (sell/offer)
4. Sueg (a fool) Suegbe (a fool)
5. Kum (a club) Kumo( a club)
6. Enru (fear / terrible) Eru (fear / terrible)
7. Kun / qun (brave man) Ekun (Tiger/title of a brave man)
8. Odonit (festival) Odun (festival)
9. Ma or mi (to breath) Mi. (to breathe)
10. Khu (to kill) Ku (die)
11. Hika (evil) Ika (evil)
12. Mhebi (humble) Mebi, (humble to one’s family)
13. Unas (lake of fire) Ina (fire)
14. Tan (complete) Tan (complete)
15. Beru (force of emotion) Beru (to be afraid)
16. Pa (open) Pa (break open)
17. Bi (to become) Bi (to birth, to become)
18. Heqet’Re (frog deity) Ekere (the frog)
19. Feh (to go away) Fe (to blow away)
20. Kot (build) Ko (build)
21. Omi (water) Omi (water)
22. Oni (the title of Osiris) Oni (the title of the king of Ife)
23. Dudu (black image of Osiris) Dudu (black person)
24. Ra (possess) Ra (possess/buy)
25. Beka (pray/confess) Be/ka (to plead/confess)
26. Po (many) Po (many/cheap)
27. Horuw (head) middle Egyptian Oruwo (head) (Ijebu)
28. Ash (invocation) Ase (invocation)
29. Do (river) Odo (river)
30. Do (settlement) Ido (settlement)
31. Aru (rise) Ru (rise)
32. Fa (carry) Fa (pull)
33. Kaf (pluck) Ka (pluck)
34. Bu bi (evil place) Ibi’bi (evil place)
35. Mu (water) Mu (to drink )
36. Abi (to be against) Abi(to be questioned/blamed)
37. Ak( male )Ako (male)
38. Se (to create) Se (to create)

Custom and Ettiquette

The art of prostrating is not new to Africans. The Egyptians were known to prostrate to venerate the King or an elder.

According to traditional worshippers, when singing the egungun song they say “bi Aja ba GBE egun wo, mo ma dobale boro ro, idobale lomo ki baba…” (If a dog wears the Egungun mask/costume, I will prostrate cause to greet your ancestor/elder, is to prostrate…)

This tradition of prostrating before a respectable figure still lives on today in inner Afrika. Royals were not only to be expected to be shown with the upmost respect but elders also. In Yoruba culture, the groom must bow down and lie flat down to ask the bride’s family permission for the marriage.

Similarities can also be found in the art culture:

Oduduwa- Name or Title?

Oduduwa= Odu to da iwa ( The Odu that gave birth/created righteousness )

The Odus teach more about the Yoruba culture and tradition:

The History- Creation- Songs of Praise- worship practice- Priest-hood- Proverbs- Messages from God- Way of life etc.

The Yoruba’s believe that as it was in the beginning, so shall it be in the end (Reincarnation/Karma).

Since we understand this and we have details of causes/actions that brought about events that occurred in the past, we can use the ODU (Our-Story) as a formula to deciphering future occurrence, accustoming existing events that are similar with our past events in the Odus. Hence, we can use the explanations of the Odu to get the answer to the future.

Oduduwa is the Title given to:
Yoruba history of the Creation of the World(Beginning)
Yoruba history before they were exiled (Past)
Yoruba new beginning at Bini, Ile-Ife, Oyo and other Volta-Niger (Present).

A few Christian Scholars would refer to the Bible that says in Zephaniah 3:9/10 :

9: For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve him with one consent.

10: From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia my suppliants, even the daughter (children) of my dispersed, shall bring mine offering.

The Yoruba Religion is built around Offering (Ram/Ebo) to God

Oduduwa is purely a title given to the Yorubas by Olodumare.

Oduduwa= Odu to da iwa ( The Odu that gave birth/created righteousness )

Ọmọ Oduduwa- The children of Oduduwa- The ones that walk in righteousness. The Ifa traditions constantly preach righteousness- Iwa Pẹlẹ- to have a righteous attitude.

Oduduwa would then mean- the righteous leader- a Pharaoh.

The mystery behind Oduduwa being female or male, might be a starter question- why was the title not retained in Ile-Ifẹ.

Ọrun- The Sacred Abode and The Aboriginals

Ọrun (the sacred realm) is the abode of sacred and unseen beings, it habituates a countless number of life forces and energies such as Olodumare, the Oriṣas (divine energies), Oku ọrun/Alalẹ/Egungun (ancestors), Oro, Iwin, Ẹgbẹ(variety of spirits).

Olodumare (also known as Eledumare, Eledua, Ẹlẹda, Odumare, Ọlọrun) is known to be the creator of existence, the vessel of all energies. However, Olodumare has never been identified with gender, as a result, the native speakers of the Yoruba language refer to Olodumare as O/Wọn(It/They). As one of the names imply, Olu-ọrun- Ọlọrun is known to be the one that embodies Ọrun and all of its habitants. Olodumare is the source of Aṣe, the life force possessed by everything to come into existence. Olorun isn’t just the Lord over ọrun, It embodies both Ọrun and Aye within and as a result can’t be seen but seen in various manifestations as spirits, humans, animals and plants. As a result, all life forces- in this realm shall call ọrun home.

The Oriṣas

The Oriṣas are the divine forces- primordial, deified and sometimes personified divinities.
The primordial divinities are the ones known to be involved in the creation of the world we see today- Ogun (The God of iron, clearer of the path for both humans and divinities), Eṣu (The inspector General of Sacrifices, divine messenger and activator), Oṣun (the river Goddess, mother of love and fertility), Ọbatala/Oriṣa NLA (the divine sculptor of humans), Ọrunmila (the giver of wisdom, the one who reveals the unseen to humans, the witness of humans and the destiny).

The deified/personified divinities are ancestors who have been deified for possessing an unnamed Aṣe of Eledua. Sometimes, the deified ancestors are reincarnated to manifest in various forms. The most known deified divinity is Ṣango (Former Alaafin of Ọyọ, The will, fire and thunder of Eledua), Ọya(mother of whirlwind and lightning) there is also Mọrẹmi (mother of liberation), Oduduwa (the father of Yorubas). The use and meaning of names can, however, confuse those with little understanding of the Yoruba Cosmos. In the case of Oṣun (the wife of Sango, Mother of all twins) she is sometimes mistaken to be the primordial Iyami Ọṣun (Mother of rivers, fertility and love) It is no news that Gods/Goddesses possess devotees to manifest in a certain lifetime.

The Oriṣas can be grouped into two categories based on their personalities and operations. There are some with a cool temperament and the ones that have no chills. The ones with the cool temperament are known to be gentle, calm, soothing, reflective and includes; Ọbatala/Oriṣa NLA, Oṣoosi(Hunter, God of focus/Patience), Ọsanyin (Lord of leaves and medicine), Oduduwa (the first Monarch of Ile-Ife and deified patriarch of Yorubas), Yemọja, Ọṣun, Yewa, Ọ̀bà,( Queen mothers ruling respective rivers), Olosa, the Queen mother of the Lagoons to come as one- Olokun (Mother of the Sea, Oceans and Sky waters). They are mostly called upon for guidance, blessings and protection.

A majority of the Oriṣas that have the hot temperament are masculine energies, only a few are feminine. They include; Ogun (the God of iron, war and clearer of paths), Ṣango, Ọbaluaye(the Lord and bringer of pestilence), Ọya, Ṣopona(Lord of smallpox). The hot-tempered ones are usually called upon to bring justice upon violators, protect and defend the land during wars or invasion.

However, the classifications of these Oriṣas doesn’t have a thing to do with good versus evil. All Oriṣas possess their different values- positive and negative- order and chaos. Their modes of operation differ based on their manifestation of the unique Ase, as seen by their personalities. Moreso, they are not ranked in a hierarchy as each of them are relatively important in the Yoruba cosmos. Even when they are invoked in ceremonies, they are summoned based on their roles in the ritual and their relationships with each other.

The Oriṣas, however, engage in the affairs of the world through their mediums- devotees who have been trained and initiated to receive and manifest the divinity within. When the Gods/Goddesses manifest this way, they speak and act through the devotees.

Amongst the Oriṣas, there are two key ones; Ọrunmila and Eṣu- they are the pillars between the sacred and human realms. Ifa is the divination system given to the Yorubas by Ọrunmila. Eṣu is the divine messenger between humans and the sacred realm.

As Ọrunmila is the giver of wisdom and witness to humans and their selected destinies, Ifa offers the knowledge of unseen forces that influence the humans and their abode. The diviner is known as Babalawo (Father and keeper of secret wisdom) or Iyanifa (Mother and Keeper of Sacred realm and wisdom). The diviners use the poetry and rituals of Ifa to understand the cosmic forces. The Ifa system can also reveal to every human what their life path is, what sacrifice is needed from them to live life as chosen by the Ẹda(being) before coming to earth. Ifa can warn about a necessary/reversible evil, its causes, and how to reverse it.

Where Ifa reveals, Eṣu plays the role of an agent to execute the action. Eṣu, the inspector general of sacrifices, the one who accepts or declines the sacrifice given to whatever Oriṣa or ancestor. Eṣu doesn’t choose who he likes or hates when inspecting a sacrifice or offering. He looks into the intentions and conscience of the giver. Eṣu is also the God of crossroads- the revealer of choices one can make- this makes Eṣu the free will of humans, the reason he is called a trickster God- whenever humans summon Esu with woeful and uncalled for intentions, he offers choices and the invoker tricks themselves. Esu is not a devil but the reflection of choices we all make.

The Ancestors

According to Kwame Gyekye,

The ancestors are certain individuals of the past generations of a lineage who are said to have distinguished themselves in many ways and, in particular, to have led virtuous and exemplary lives worthy of emulation by succeeding generations of the lineage. Such individuals are regarded as… as mortal paragons.

Africans generally do not consider death as the end of the journey in life, only a transition to the state of immortality and in so doing, a link between the other realm and the physical one mortals habituate. Among the Yorubas, death gives more power and prestige- this helps the ancestors oversee the affairs of their younger ones. As a result, an ancestor can be reincarnated. When an ancestor is reincarnated, the male is called Babatunde(Father has returned) or Babajide(Father has risen)- the female is called Yetunde/Yeside(Mother has returned).

The ancestors are venerated in different levels; the ones prayed to as Ara/Oku Ọrun(The immortal/the dead that lives on). To be venerated as such, one must have lived a good life, done good deeds, died a good death, and given the proper funeral rites. One will hear the true practitioners of the Yoruba religion say “Oku Ọrun ki’n sun (the dead ones living don’t sleep)”

Egungun is the mask/regalia that represents the ancestors during festivals or sacred rituals. Certain sacrifices can’t be offered without the presence of the ancestors- many ceremonies would be considered void if the Egungun of the ancestors is absent.

A few African scholars assert that veneration of ancestors is not the same as worship, but veneration is a part of worship. According to Idowu- when African people venerate their ancestors, they go beyond boundaries and this propels observers to refer to the act as worship. A close observation when practised makes it clear that ancestors are not worshipped but venerated to sustain a cordial relationship between offspring and transcended elders- to prostrate/bow is to greet an elder, to feed an elder is to attract their blessing, and this is how the society continues to venerate their ancestors.

During communal ceremonies and festivities, the presence of ancestors as Egungun restores unity. The Egungun would dance; the community would sing, clap and dance along in merriment. According to Awolalu and Dopamu,

The coming together of the people is re-enacted and many people for the first time in the year meet on festival occasions. Men and women are brought together in one crowd and there is usually a sort of social reunion.

It is of a great tragedy that modernization seeks to eliminate the place of ancestors in the Yoruba and African society at large. Originally, the ancestors are consulted through the oracle before any ceremony but today, humans have taken over the positions of ancestors and money is the oracle. As a result, the ancestors depart from us and let us remain in a state of confusion- bad governance, mishaps on ceremonies, joys turning sour. The ancestors by now would be crying for justice, restoration and reinstatement. I can’t help but agree with Kofi Awoonor when he said:

The gods are crying, my father’s gods are crying for a burial… for a final ritual… but they that should build the fallen shrines have joined the dawn marchers singing their way towards Gethsemane… the gods cried, shedding clayey tears on calico; the drink offering had dried up in the harmattan and the fetish priest is dressing up for the Easter service.

Having explored the role of the ancestors in the society, it is understandable that colonialism displaced the position of ancestors. According to Alamu A.G,

The current paradigms of the ancestors as well as their achievements indicate that they must be remembered, praised and celebrated, but cannot enjoy such a powerful position and influence that they once enjoyed. The post-independence terrain does not guarantee such a place anymore.

We must venerate our ancestors because they lead the way long before us. Understanding the place of the ancestors in our society eventually puts us in position to be venerated as well. We are our ancestors because we are a seed from the family tree that sprouted from one seed.

ORO

Oro is the spirit of fierceness, tempest, or provocation- he is the personified executive power. When Oro haunts the forest, neighbourhood of towns, he makes a whirring, roaring noise to avert perpetrators and trespassers of his community. Due to the fierce nature of Oro and his provocation, women are to shut themselves in and avoid looking out on the pain of death. Where Egungun comes out for social activities, Oro comes out for political and security reasons- criminals condemned to death are for Oro as Oro fiercely wards off thieves and corrupt political practices. When a valuable person is assassinated, Oro is called upon to assist the victim to find justice. Oro is not a spirit to be toyed with or invoked when there are order and peace in the community. Unlike Egungun which prays for the community, Oro only comes out to execute a state of emergency. In other words, the Oro may be considered an Oriṣa of its own.

Iwin

Iwin is a spirit that likes to travel, looking for the human worthy enough to serve. The closest to translate it as is the fairy. Just like in the English fairytales and the famous Genes- Iwin assists humans to carry out activities on command by calling out their names.

Ẹgbẹ (Sacred Mates)

Ẹgbẹ means group/society. It is the classification of spirits in the sacred realm. There are more than groups/societies in the sacred realm.

Ẹgbẹ Emere (Spirits of Children that can transcend through realms), Ẹgbẹ Abiku (Spirits of Children who tend to teach relatives a lesson or not comfortable with the affairs of the lifetime they visit), Ẹgbẹ Omi (The marine spirits).

The Ẹgbẹ spirits are the ones in human form many may consider weird, dangerous, or unnatural. They come with special attributes- healing people emotionally and spiritually- high intuition to judge and guide. The Ẹgbẹ are not the same as the Oriṣas, they all have missions before coming to this earth and unlike everyone else, they remember who they were, what Ọrun is and how to transcend between both realms without death. They are the ones with the knowledge of all truth as they are the ones to ensure the continuum of the universe- creating causes and effects, maintaining order when there is chaos and bringing an end to the wicked.

Not all humans that we see walking the surface of this realm are ordinary. some are Gods/Goddesses, some are spirits, some are initiates, few are all, and many are clueless.

KEMET AND KUSH: EDUCATION AND TECHNOLOGY

Hey guys, it’s your local celebrity. I will be signing autographs soon; meet me at Honey and Dough *insert Majimbo’s laugh*. When women said,”Consistency is key”, I certainly did not feel that. I am really sorry about my inconsistency; life just happens you know. However, thank you all for the support. I really appreciate. I […]

KEMET AND KUSH: EDUCATION AND TECHNOLOGY

ìYÀMÍ ÀJẸ́- Witches or Sacred Mothers?

Pay no mind to the words/works of Afrikan Christian/Muslim scholars. A large number of them had to twist their school of thoughts to maintain the greatest part of their mental slavery.

As a result, on the continent today; many youths find pleasure in lynching women who manifest.

An ìYÀMÍ ÀJẸ́ is not evil. The concept is broad. Every woman with a womb is an ìYÀMÍ. An ìYÀMÍ ÀJẸ́ could also mean one who possesses powers of divine.

These ones with powers of divine could either be in spirit realm, human form or WINGED form. The ones who have been incarnated in physical form would then meet with the spirit of other female ancestors to discuss matters. They group up into sacred societies to defend and enrich our lands and anyone who calls on their spirits for assistance.Contrary to the indoctrinated continental film and literature accounts of them meeting to ruin lives, they meet to discuss the threats against their families and the community, then sought to eliminate the threats. Just as every mother would discipline a stubborn child, the sacred ones also discipline “stubborn children.”

When KhepeRa came into being for the first time, he needed Ma’at (The winged Goddess of Balance, Order, law and Truth) to “lay the foundation”. According to the Yoruba creation story, Orisha Nla, laid the foundation of the earth with the help of a Winged Being. The Yorubas believe awon ìYÀMÍ ÀJẸ́, are the Onile(Earth owners). You hear the Shamans, Gods and Priests refer to them as ẹyin Iya ti o ni Aye(The mothers that own the world). As a result, you can assert the first thing to be created was a WINGED being- if the WINGED weren’t here first. You can also identify the Sun God with an Eagle/Falcon. Why did it have to be a being that flies- the female even?

When you see the Goddess Ma’at, you see wings. This is why they regard the ìYÀMÍ ÀJẸ́ as Ẹ́LẸ́YẸ́ (The One like a bird). Till date, many people in Africa, still see women shapeshift into birds to fly or land. Every Neteru is identified with a certain animal.

However, shape shifting doesn’t mean evil. It is simply manifesting your knowledge of ONENESS with the universe. When you have knowledge of self to a height, you can pick on any form to accomplish whatever you want.They do not offer their children to covens as sacrifices. When their children are inflicted with pain or death, it is simply because the child risked compliance and turned a weak link from threats. This is why you also need to manifest the divine within you. No woman manifesting already will be so ignorant to sacrifice gifts from her womb.

We need the feminine energy and concepts(ìYÀMÍ) to ensure progress in any society. Ra used his wings to measure the mountains and would soar over all that had been created to ensure balance was present in everything- This is the state many might also consider as Astral Projecting- they take on a WINGED form to soar over the affairs of the world. It is only the awareness that makes you know it is you. But if anyone saw you, it would have been a winged animal that was seen.

Furthermore, there is a difference between a Witch and an ìYÀMÍ ÀJẸ́. A witch could mean one who is credited with supernatural powers- a priestess can sometimes be credited with supernatural powers. A witch could also mean a HAG or HOGOBLIN- which is highly disrespectful to the ones that protect children. An ìYÀMÍ ÀJẸ́ on the other hand, is a Sacred Mother- as sacred in the sense of being worthy of veneration- of high value and importance- INVIOLABLE. Never a witch, but a mother who was present at creation of all beings.

There are various types in ONE;

The ones the earth belongs to and agreed to share it- they get upset by the foolishness of men that insults the earth- just like Ma’at, they are the law and judges.The ones that visit from out of the earth to appease the ones vexed at the destruction of the earth- they bring peace and order, they protect children, healing of the lands, mind, body and spirit- just like Ma’at, they are known for truth and order.The ones that appreciate the ways of all worlds- they show off balance- they bring chaos to generate peace- they bring fire to appease water- air to cool the earth- the ones that always listen when you report a transgressor.Lynching, hating, cursing and running from sacred mothers only symbolizes an ungrateful gesture, killing them will only make them return with a vengeful spirit- creating an unfortunate karmic debt for yourself. As a result, lands which used to be green, are turning yellow. We need the full spirituality of our Mothers, Queens, Wives, Sisters and Daughters to manifest. It’s about time to stone the STONE PERSECUTORS. ✊🏿Victory is certain.Hail ìYÀMÍ ÀJẸ́ Mo Jù ìdìDon’t Hate them!
Protect Women!
Don’t Hurt them!

Oedipus, Who’s to Blame?: The Gods Are Not to Blame Book Review

Book Title: The Gods Are Not to Blame Author: Ola Rotimi Pages: 72 pages Genre: Fiction (Drama, Play) Publisher: University Press Plc Buy Release date: 1975 In Ola Rotimi’s version of the Greek mythology about cursed Oedipus, we see a relatable Yoruba man named Odewale – a strong willed man who becomes the very thing he […]

Oedipus, Who’s to Blame?: The Gods Are Not to Blame Book Review

Interview on Ancestral Eyes

Live radio interview with Jean-Jerome Baudry & Teresa Sliwinski I recently got to share some of my research on Slavic pre-Christian beliefs with fellow Slavic witch, Teresa Sliwinski and Jean-Jerome Baudry, an Awo in the Yoruba tradition. Their focus is on how people connect with Spirit and the varied paths of religious belief systems. This […]

Interview on Ancestral Eyes

Significance of the talking drum in Yoruba tradition

What is a talking drum? The talking drum is an hourglass-shaped drum from West Africa, whose pitch can be regulated to imitate the tone and prosody of human speech. It has two drum-heads attached by leather tension ropes, which allow the player to transform the pitch of the drum by squeezing the cords between their arm and body. A skilled player is able to play whole phrases. Most […]

Significance of the talking drum in Yoruba tradition

What was the word of God before the bible? Kemetic Science vs Christianity

One of the questions I often get asked is did ancient Kemet have a bible or some sort of holy book? It’s usually asked by someone that is or was Christian. The unspoken implication in that question is that since Christianity had a book to tell you what to believe everybody including ancient Kemet had […]

What was the word of God before the bible? Kemetic Science vs Christianity

Why Ancient African spiritual systems didn’t have devils or evil explained

In African spirituality there were no devil’s or Satan. As spiritual science there was only energy that was naturally polarized as opposites within creation. There was no room for a make believe monsters in African spiritual systems. Within the Ancient Kemetic spiritual tradition, the soul as an energetic being of light is the true you. […]

Why Ancient African spiritual systems didn’t have devils or evil explained

If “Black Lives Matter”, why can’t their religion/spirituality matter too?

The world has been taken into a storm by the death of George Floyd in police brutality in America which has led to Black lives matter protests and certain responses from different bodies, well known people and different political parties across the world. As the reach of Black lives matter expands outside the borders of […]

If “Black Lives Matter”, why can’t their religion/spirituality matter too?