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April 28, 2013

Nigeria is a better place than its image outside


on April 27, 2013

in Saturday Magazine

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Dr. Paula Gomes is the only white face in the palace of the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi 111. Fast-pacing, quick-talking Gomes first visited Oyo 20 years ago; and ever since, she has been going and coming to the ancient town. Recently, the Alaafin of Oyo noticed her interest in the culture of Yoruba people and the monarch honoured her by making her his Cultural Ambassador. In this interview with GBENGA ADERANTI, this Portuguese shares her experience in Oyo in the last 20 years and why she has embarked on a crusade to preserve Yoruba culture. Excerpts:


What do you really do for Alaafin?

I’m the Culture Ambassador for Alaafin.

How did you meet Alaafin?

My first contact with Alaafin actually was the beginning of last year, but I have been in Oyo already for a while, coming and going.

What were you doing in Oyo before now?

I came to Oyo because of the culture. I used to come to Nigeria while I was a student of History about 20 years ago. I know Yoruba land though I cannot say very well but quite well; 20 years ago was the first time I came to Oyo and I thought there was no more culture in Oyo. When you talk about culture, culture is in everything, food, literature, the way you dress. All this time while I was a student, I always shuttled between Osogbo and Oyo. With time and mixing together with people, I saw that a lot of cultures came from the ancient town of Oyo Ile. That is why I actually came to Oyo to make more research on it.

Does that mean you are leaving Oyo after the completion of your research?

No, I’m not going to leave, I’m just telling you that while I was a student, I used to come to do research and after that I came to Oyo not on my private interest to know more but because Oyo had nothing to offer more about their own culture. If you go back to the history, you will know that Oyo Empire dominated all the kingdoms in Yorubaland and you as well know that it was when Alaafin Sango was a very strong king ruling, actually during the 7th or 8th century, that the influence of Oyo Empire in Yorubaland was massive. And much of the culture in our day not only in Yorubaland but also in the Diaspora, everything was connected to Sango. That was why I came here to know more about him and like I said, I have been around for four years. There is a lot here to be preserved because that is the history of a ethnic group that has survived outside and is really appreciated.

In Europe nowadays, we are looking for the ancient culture that has something to give to the humanity because what we are expecting from life is to live long and to live long with quality, you can have a good car, you can have lots of money but if your body is not in the equilibrium, if you die young, what is the essence of life? Life is long life with quality and quality means first of all, your body has to be strong, has to be healthy and the philosophy and the knowledge of the Yoruba is like the philosophy and culture from India and China.

Acupuncture from India is based on lots of ancient culture, they are very similar to Yoruba culture. What we are looking for is that deep knowledge of Yoruba which they have about the nature, that you can find the equilibrium between the body and the spirit, because Yoruba believe that there is one God who is called Olodumare. Then this Creator has created, and when He created the earth, He sent the energies to the earth which are divided into four elements and these are known all over the world: water, you cannot live without water; air, you cannot live without air, that is oxygen; fire and earth.

These are the four elements that the Yoruba people believe and if you go to other ancient cultures, all of them are the same. They are all talking the same language. So the Yoruba people like to personify those energies like other ancient cultures and they believe that if the body, which is the aye; the material life which is also aye and the spiritual life, which is orisa. Orisa is not God; orisa is what you cannot see, it is invisible. You have the visible world which is aye and the invisible world which is orisa, people used to think that orisa is another God, it is not. It is not the correct translation because when you say orisa sango, orisa osun, all the 401 orisa are the invisible power of the nature. They are everywhere in the world. You cannot live without water, you cannot live without air, so people should be very careful when they translate.

We don’t say Olodumare Sango, Olodumare Osun . When you have the equilibrium of the invisible world, aye and not visible world, orisa, you have what you need to live, you have ase, you have power; it is very simple. These people have philosophy, these people have a very strong knowledge which is given through Ifa. It is an oral history coming from very ancient times like all the other ancient cultures, and these need to be preserved. That is why I’m here, to try in my own capacity to show the Yoruba people that they are very valuable.

How vast are you in Yoruba language?

Mo ti gbo die die, sugbon Yoruba ko rorun (I understand smattering Yoruba, but it is not easy).

How old are you now?

Normally you should not ask a lady how old she is.

You should be…..

(Cuts in) I will not tell you.

What about your family?

I have my family, like I said, I go and come back but I have been here for two years without going home.

I’m talking about your husband and children?

Well, I will not like to go to my private life; you know that is very private. I will just like to talk generally; I will not like to say anything about my private life.

Some people spell your name Gomez why is yours Gomes?

My name is a Portuguese name, it ends with an ‘s’ it is Portuguese but if it is ‘z’, it is Spanish.

Have you read anything about Suzanne Wenger?

Yes, I know her very well. Like I said, I’ve been coming for 20 years, I used to be in Osogbo, so I knew Suzan Wenger very well. Actually I can say that she was and she is an inspiration for me because she really tried for Osogbo and Osun State, especially Osogbo. Today, what is there, people should be very grateful because if not for her who fought for it, it would have gone long time ago. She really preserved what people who said were the bush, the history of Osun Osogbo. Every people has its own history. People are crazy to travel abroad to go and see our culture, let me tell you, you have to appreciate your culture as well because we preserve our culture, so you have to preserve your culture as well. That is what I’m trying to do. I know Suzanne very well.

Don’t you sometimes feel you are going Suzanne Wenger’s line?

Look, I’m not Suzanne, I don’t want to follow Suzanne’s line, I want to follow my inside. I want to follow what my inside says. Suzanne did what her inside said; me, I’m doing what my inside tells me. So I can never be Suzanne because each individual is unique and special, so I don’t want to imitate Suzanne and I don’t want to be Suzanne. Do you understand me? Suzanne is Suzanne. She was a great person that I have in my heart; I only follow what my inside tells me, so I can never be Suzanne because if I try to be Suzanne, I’m not myself. I’m just doing what I feel is correct to do. I’m not an artist, Suzanne was an artist so I can never try to be an artist but I have passion for this culture because I believe it can give a lot to humanity; the way India people and Chinese people are, they are already giving to the humanity.

I believe that Yoruba people can give as well but for that to happen, Yoruba must be proud of themselves and they are not, they are losing their own identity, the Indian people are not like that, they preserve their culture and they are proud of it. Chinese people, they are proud of their culture. They teach their own children to continue and today, if you go to Europe, if you’re a VIP, instead of you to go to hospital, you go for alternative medicine. Because we got to a point that we realised that all the chemical medicine you take will cure one part and destroy the other part.

Actually what you want in life is to live long, it is through the natural thing that your body can stay longer, do you understand? People want to go to Europe, people want to go to America, what kind of life do we live? A lot of people are dying too young through heart attack; the life we live is to go to work and come back home. You know we are an old continent but now we are turning the thing around. We want to go back to what we don’t have anymore; we want to eat bio-ecological, we are tired of plastic food because of cancer.

If you put a Yoruba child who has nothing inside one compound and you put a white child, which one is stronger? Why do you think Europeans live longer? It is because we have access to medicine for free because the society is organised, but if we don’t have access to medicine and the hospital to maintain us alive, we cannot live the way you people live because you are too close to nature.

I know you are not in the Niger Delta area, but foreigners are constantly being warned to be wary of Nigeria, do you sometimes get scared that you could be kidnapped too?

Look, let me talk about myself, I do go to Delta State, I’m not afraid to go. I think that the image which is given to the outside world about Nigeria is different from actually what is happening in Nigeria. I’m not saying that it is not dangerous but Nigerian people are very nice. I think the government should rebrand. For example, when you think about Brazil, you think about football and carnival, but there are people who are still eating from the garbage. There are people when you go outside they will steal your things.

But when you talk about Brazil, people think about football and carnival, people don’t talk about those who eat in the garbage or people robbing people. I’m in Oyo, nobody robs me, I travel, I don’t have any trouble with anybody. But when you talk about Nigeria, you think about 419; they tell you it is a bad place, why don’t you rebrand it? Nigeria has many things to offer the people outside. People love your culture, people really appreciate your culture but they are afraid because of the image that have been created. If government rebrands the country, I believe that bit by bit, people will start coming because of culture. So there is need to rebrand.

People go to America; me I don’t have anything to do in America. I studied in America, I went back to Europe because if you go to America, you have to be careful, if you are not careful, somebody may follow his gang and they will shoot you. You train your children to shoot because they can just come and kill you. Do you understand? Everything has to have an equilibrium, Nigeria needs to be rebranded because it has a lot to give to people. I cannot talk about Hausa and Ibo, I can only talk about Yoruba, that is what I know. Yoruba people are beautiful, the culture is beautiful, people are friendly and they should not lose their identity because if they lose their identity, they will never find it. They can never be white, I cannot be black. I have to accept who I’m and people should be free and be proud of what they have.

The introduction of foreign religion has eroded the belief system of the Yoruba people, what do you think will happen in the nearest future?

I don’t like to talk about religion because for me it is a private thing, religion is like politics, you are a Christian or Muslim, you are ACN or PDP or whatever. Religion is something that is private, but you know if you go back to the history, it was always a problem with religion, religion tries always to dominate and control and when you talk about Africa, especially West Africa, it has suffered a lot, through the slavery, families were destroyed, alot of blood in the name of money was shed. Religion for me, I respect everybody, I don’t look at people from their religion, I respect people because everybody is special and everybody is a creation of God. So, that is why I don’t want to go deep into religion.

Religion is a personal belief it is not only going to be today, it is yesterday and going to be tomorrow and the process that is going on now in Nigeria was in Europe before. Life is a mystery and because it is a mystery, people try to control people through religion. Me, I don’t believe in anything, I believe in what I feel because I’m a creation of God but I respect everybody and every belief, if you tell me now that this is what you believe, this chair, I will respect you.

You were talking about your support for nature and local herbs (agbo), Yoruba herbs are from nature, do you drink agbo?

Yes of course, it is not only Yoruba, we Europeans we use herbs, we have different herbs, different teas. Why do you eat efo (vegetables), why do you eat all these vegetables? Why? Because you need vitamins and minerals, so the herbs are here to help us but the new sicknesses that are in the world, they are killing people. They are sicknesses that you can cure or maintain but you destroy other parts of your body. This is not a belief, this is science, that is natural science not a belief, a belief is something you cannot prove, but 1+1=2, that is science. Yoruba herbs are science; they are natural science, not a belief. If you are feeling something, you take the herbs, like a natural tea, if you feel better, your body has eliminated what is not good.

It is not only the Yoruba people that use herbs, if you go to my country, we have alternative medicine which we are preserving, we use alternative medicine. We are no more going to doctors and Yoruba have big knowledge in this science and they are putting it as a belief because culture is part of everything, what you eat is part of your culture.

At times I wonder why people like you will leave your comfort zone for a place like this where you have to struggle to get things done. What was on your mind when you were coming here?

It depends on what you call comfort. What is comfort for you?

Light, good roads etc.

In life, we cannot have everything, if you have light 24 hours, if you have good roads, we have everything, we stay in AC office, and you leave for AC cars. Lots of people are getting sick because AC is provoking problems in the lungs. A lot of people in Europe are now putting the AC off and now open their windows. I do say we’ve given the experience to them and we want to go back to olden days. In the office we have the AC, we have the car, we don’t have to walk too much. We take the car, we go to the supermarket. We have everything we need from the supermarket, we go home, we have the TV, we get the quality of life. We human beings are meant to live up to 120 years, but at times we don’t live more than 50 and 60 because we need comfort of life, we have no exercise and we eat junk food. Lots of children are born already with diabetes and cancer because they want comfort of life.

In life, there are positive and negative sides. The individual is responsible for his own life . So we have to look the other way. Most people in our own generation in Europe, we want freedom, they want to live long. We are tired of all this imposing life style, we want freedom, we want relief, we want long life. Most people in Europe are isolated, they live alone, is it not better to live in community? We should live together. Are we meant to live alone inside houses?

A lot of people in Europe have problem with depression, they have neurotic problem because of the life they live. They are not living the life creature gave us. We are living a plastic life, we are staying alone isolating ourselves, in front of television 24 hours. No exercise, is that a good life? Can our bodies live long? It is not possible. Good life is fresh air, to breathe, to exercise. Good life depends on the concept of each individual. I love privacy, but I want to live long.

The last time I saw you, you were not wearing Yoruba attire, today, you are not still wearing Yoruba attire, why?

You know I have to be what I’m, I can never be a Yoruba. I don’t mind, sometimes I dress in batik an indigo or adire. I’m not Yoruba, the same way you are not from my culture. I have to be who I’m and I have to dress the way I feel comfortable. That is why I’m not putting on Yoruba dressing. You people are putting on Yoruba dress because it is beautiful in you, when you put on Yoruba dress, you look elegant. I used to say that and I’m not the only person, that you people have natural beauty; even if you don’t have anything when you dress, even if you go to the market, even if you go to clean something, the way your people dress, you look elegant and it looks magical. So I have to dress the way I feel comfortable with.

Do you sometimes feel home sick?

To tell you the truth, no, I don’t feel home sick. Nobody sent me here, I’m here because I want. I feel good, I feel healthy, I feel strong and I feel I’m doing what I like. I’m not the kind of person that wants to stay in the office; I don’t want to live that kind of life people call comfort, I don’t .

Do you know anything about Ifa (Oracle)?

I know what I can feel, what I can see; I can never know it well as the native people. Number one, language; for you to really know it very well, you have to start from small because it is a knowledge which is given orally, it is not a written knowledge. And there is something that is very powerful, people from generation to generation transfer this knowledge orally. See how powerful, look, we have to write them. We have to go back to religion which I don’t want to talk about, Christians and Muslims carry the Bible and Koran respectively, and do you see Yoruba carrying anything? Their brain is powerful, you know the level of capacity assimilation you are exercising with your brain but we if we don’t write it down, we forget. The question is why are you destroying all these?

How have you been coping with the food?

I don’t have any problem. I eat everything. But I don’t like snake or this kind of frog, I don’t know what they call it, I don’t like it and I don’t like bush meat but I like okete (bush rat) if it is well cooked but all the remaining, I eat everything, eba, amala, fufu, semo. I don’t like so much, but I eat eko (corn paste), moimoi , ekuru (beans paste), ewa (beans).

What do you really do for Alaafin?

I’m trying to preserve the Yoruba culture and trying to reeducate the people that they are very important, they are very valuable, that they have a lot of value and they should preserve the culture. I’m trying to promote what is ancient, what is history because without history, how can you tell your children that you are Yoruba? People without history don’t have direction. I’m trying to promote what is in existence because if Yoruba don’t want it, the international people will appreciate it. There is no problem because tomorrow, we are ready to teach your children Yoruba and we are ready to teach your children about your own culture.

How did you meet Alaafin?

As I said, I had been in Oyo already and I asked Bashorun (one of the Oyo high chiefs) to bring me to Alaafin because I wanted to meet him. For me, everybody is important, I’m not saying this king is important, this king is not important but relating to history, he (Alaafin) is the strongest king in Yorubaland. I wanted to see him and tell him that he has to preserve his culture and if he fails to preserve his culture, tomorrow, nothing will be there to show to the world. So these were the reasons I wanted to see him.

How much of support have you gotten on your crusade so far?

What kind of support?

Financial support

Nobody is helping me financially. I’m doing it by myself and now I have a foundation people can support because there is need to preserve the temple, preserve the palace. These monuments, these are culture heritage, there is need for preservation. Why do you want to go to England to see the queen and the palace? For what? Because it is history. So that is why people want to come to Nigeria and see the history of Alaafin, the history of Yoruba. This palace is the biggest and oldest palace in Yoruba land, it is falling apart. I’m trying to raise fund to repair this palace in its old originality so that Oyo children tomorrow will come and ‘say that my grandfather, my ancestors were living like this’ because I can take you to my country and tell you that my ancestors are like this.

Quite funny, why is it that it is foreigners or Yoruba people abroad that are interested in this project like this?

Go back to the history, we white people have colonised and have destroyed your culture. We brought our culture, we forced people to change inside and outside. You have lost your identity, you want to be what we are. That is why now people from outside come to support what still exists for you to appreciate.

If you go to the slavery time, look, all the slaves that went to America, if they did not practise Christianity, they would be killed. What is happening again? I believe what is happening today is that everything that our people destroyed, let’s rebuild it again, we should not be ashamed. The Europeans go to Kenya to see African culture, Africa is beautiful, African people are beautiful, why not Nigeria?


March 14, 2009



South West Daniel hosts S’West govs, monarchs Oct 2
Daniel hosts S’West govs, monarchs Oct 2

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

IN the continuation of efforts toward unity and development in Yorubaland, Governor Gbenga Daniel of Ogun State will be hosting other South-West governors and prominent traditional rulers on October 2 in Abeokuta.
The meeting which is being co-ordinated by the Chief Organiser of World Festival of Yoruba Arts and Culture (WOFEYAC), and publisher, Alaroye Newspapers, Mr. Alao Adedayo, is aimed at jump-starting the process of unifying Yoruba leaders with a view to harnessing human and material resources to develop Yorubaland.

A similar meeting was hosted by Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala of Oyo State last July in Ibadan at which the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade; Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi; chairman of each state council of Obas and chiefs and the governors.

The Abeokuta meeting, which is aimed at strengthening the achievement of the Ibadan meeting will involve all the governors of the SouthWest and traditional rulers from all the senatorial districts in the zone.

It is also expected that at the Abeokuta meeting the modality and logistics of the WOFEYAC programme will be perfected and endorsed.

The festival which begins in Ile-Ife, Osun State, in November will run for six months, with the grand finale in Lagos and Abeokuta next April. It will attract Yoruba at home and in the diaspora and lovers of arts and culture worldwide.

It will no doubt beam the rich traditional culture of the Yoruba race to the whole world and project the tourism finesse of Nigeria.


March 14, 2009


Crucial Talks Over Yoruba Unity

By Demola Abimboye
Sunday, June 15, 2008

Yoruba leaders discuss problems of disunity at a well-attended one-day meeting in Ile-Ife

It was the biggest gathering of Yoruba traditional rulers and elders from Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ondo, Ekiti and Kwara states in Ile Ife, the ancestral home of the ethnic group, since Oba Okunade Sijuwade, Olubuse II, became the Ooni of the ancient town in 1980. All the monarchs radiated happiness for coming to ‘The Source,’ as the town is often referred to. The gathering was for the formal endorsement of the World Festival of Yoruba Arts and Culture, WOFEYAC, at the palace of the king on Friday, June 6, 2008. The main festival comes up in November. The traditional rulers hugged, backslapped and shook hands, as drummers repeatedly drummed it into their ears: “Orirun wa l’awa yi o,” that is, “we are at our origin.”

Lateef Adegbite, secretary-general, Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs in Nigeria, SCIAN, and chairman of the occasion, was equally ecstatic about the spirit of unity that pervaded that day. “This is the hallmark of your reign as Ooni; it is epochal,” he declared. Although it was a cultural event, the leaders used the occasion to address the lack of unity among prominent sons and daughters of Yorubaland. Adegbite first called attention to what he called “the growing signs of discord in the house of Oduduwa.” He said that due to political differences, governors of the six Yoruba states could hardly meet on a purely Yoruba platform while the principal royal fathers, whom he said, should lead by example would not attend the same ceremony or event, unless at Abuja on federal government’s invitation because of the lingering supremacy tussle among them.

The SCIAN scribe bemoaned the erosion of his people’s commanding position in the economic sphere largely because the customary cooperation and collaboration which gave the group a head-start in the Nigerian economic race have declined. He noted that the ongoing WEMA Bank crisis would not have endured if the Yoruba had invoked the economic solidarity of old to deal with the mess. “Nor can we talk of socio-cultural leadership of the Yoruba when we are yet to create a neutral platform in which all shades of political opinions and tendencies would co-habit and feel at ease,” he said.

Adegbite said that WOFEYAC could stimulate unity and restore the sense of belonging among the Yoruba. But he enjoined the people to ensure that WOFEYAC was devoid of fetish displays or any form of idolatry in order to carry Christians and Muslims along. “Everyone must be actively involved and contribute to the success of the fiesta. There should be no impediments whatsoever. Every Yoruba state government should participate fully in the planning, execution and funding of the festival since the project must be seen as a major plank in the development endeavour of the South-West region,” he said. He added that “it is the abiding obligation of every Yoruba man and woman to promote and preserve Yoruba culture, the cornerstone of his or her identity.”

Due to the large turn out by the royal fathers, each state selected an oba to speak on behalf of the others. All of them praised the Ooni for his efforts at uniting the region’s monarchs. Olojudo of Ido Osun and Abdullahi Akamo, Olu of Itori spoke on behalf of Osun and Ogun traditional rulers, respectively. The duo employed Ifa, Yoruba divination culture, extensively in praying for the ethnic group. The former prayed that Oyere which symbolised cohesion would ensure unity in Yorubaland. “If all of us stay together, no group in Nigeria can denigrate the Yoruba,” he said. Akamo prayed that Obaraka, the antidote against evil will remove envy and hatred from among descendants of Oduduwa.

Alaaye of Efon Alaaye, Oniru of Iruland and Amapetu of Mahin kingdom spoke on behalf of Ekiti, Lagos and Ondo states’ obas respectively. They expressed joy at the calibre of those in attendance and wished there would be regular meetings of such magnitude to engender unity in the land. The Lagos obas donated three million Naira towards the November event while their Ondo counterparts promised a heftier sum.

Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Osun State governor, charged the traditional rulers to work towards peace, cohesion and good leadership. “We must come together to be able to speak with one voice and ask for our dues in the larger Nigerian society,” he said. He enjoined the leaders to bring into their fold their kit and kin in Kwara, Kogi, Edo and Delta states as well as promote the Yoruba language as no language is inferior to the other. “No nation develops while underplaying its culture and adopting foreign ones,” he said, adding “How many of us converse with our children in Yoruba? There must be a rebirth of our language, culture and tradition.”

Obateru Akinruntan, chairman, Obat Oil, who was openly hailed as the king-in-waiting for the stool of Olugbo of Ugbo kingdom in Ondo State donated two million Naira towards the November 2008 grand celebration of Yoruba culture.

Oba Sijuwade, who was elated at the endorsement of WOFEYAC, said it might be necessary to set up a committee of eminent leaders which would include at least 10 monarchs to resolve all differences among Yoruba sons and daughters. “The team will work towards a final settlement that will bring all of us together as one family. Such a committee can have a period of between three to six months to carry out this assignment,” he said.

Given this royal declaration, many eagerly hope the trio of Oba Sijuwade Olubuse II, Ooni of Ife, Lamidi Adeyemi III, Alaafin of Oyo and Sikiru Adetona, Ogbagba II, Awujale of Ijebuland will sit beside one another discussing Yoruba unity on or before November this year.

© 2007 Newswatch Communications


November 26, 2008



Los Angeles Sentinel, 01-25-08, p. A-7
Nowhere is the profundity and beauty of African spirituality more apparent than in the Odu Ifa, the sacred text of the spiritual and ethical tradition of Ifa, which is one of the greatest sacred texts of the world and a classic of African and world literature. Its central message revolves around the teach-ings of the Goodness of and in the world; the chosen status of humans in the world; the criteria of a good world; and the re-quirements for a good world. Although these themes are throughout the Odu Ifa, nowhere are they more explicit than in Odu 78:1. The Odu (chapter) begins by declaring “Let’s do things with joy…” For it is understood that the world was created in goodness and that we are to find good in the world, embrace it, increase it, and not let any good be lost. It is obvious here that all is not well with the world, given the poverty, oppression, exploi-tation and general suffering of people. But inherent in this firm belief in the good that is found in the Odu Ifa is the faith that in the midst of the worst of situations there are good people, good will and possibilities for creating good, increasing good and thus constantly expanding the realm of good.
The chosen status of humans is a sec-ond major tenet of Ifa. Odu 78:1 says we should do things with joy “for surely hu-mans have been divinely chosen (yan) to bring good into the world” and that this is the fundamental mission and meaning of human life. And we are chosen not over and against anyone, but chosen with everyone to bring good in the world. Thus, all of us are equally chosen. In fact, the word for human being is eniyan which literally means chosen one, and we are divinely chosen without dis-tinction of nation, race, gender, special reli-gious relationship or promise. Surely this poses an ideal many other world religions are still striving to establish as a central moral doctrine.
But even as we’re chosen, we must also choose to be chosen by doing good in the world. Thus, Odu 78:1 also says that no one can reach their highest level of spiritual-ity or rest in heaven until we all achieve the good world “that Olodumare, God, has or-dained for every human being.” This estab-lishes a divinely ordained right to a good life for every human being. But joined to this human right is the obligation of shared re-sponsibility of humans to make the world good so that everyone can enjoy a good life. The important contribution this makes here to theological and social ethics is that it teaches that transcendence in the spiritual and social sense can never be individualistic, but must always include the happiness and well-being of others. The Odu Ifa says all deserve a good life and good world; ultimate transcendence is impossible without it, and it is a shared task of all humans to achieve it.
The question is, then, posed to the sage and master teacher, Orunmila, of what is a good life and the conditions for the good world. Orunmila answers by saying that the achieving of a good life or good world is de-fined by several essential things: full knowl-edge of things; happiness everywhere; free-dom from anxiety and fear of hostile others; the end of antagonism with other beings on earth, i.e., animals, reptiles and the like; well-being and the end of forces that threaten it; and finally, freedom from pov-erty and misery. Now, it is of great signifi-cance that the first criteria for good life and good world is knowledge. In fact, Orunmila also says that knowledge or rather wisdom is the first requirement for achieving the good. This points to knowledge or education as a basic human right, necessary not only for our understanding our humanity in its most
Los Angeles Sentinel, 01-25-08, p. A-7
expansive forms, but also to realize it in the most meaningful and flourishing ways.
But again the good world will not come into being by itself. Thus, five re-quirements are necessary to bring it into be-ing. The first requirement Orunmila lists for achieving a good world, as noted above is wisdom. The text says we must develop “wisdom adequate to govern the world.” This reaffirms human responsibility for the world and the need to obtain adequate wis-dom to carry out this responsibility effec-tively. The core wisdom here is of necessity moral and spiritual wisdom which conceives the world in its interrelated wholeness, re-spects its integrity and works constantly to save, renew and expand the good in it.
Orunmila also taught that humans must move beyond moralities of convenience to a morality of sacrifice, i.e., self-giving in a real, meaningful and sustained way. The Odu Ifa says that “one who makes a small sacrifice will have a small result” (Odu, 45:1). It says to us “be able to suffer without surrendering and persevere in what you do” (Odu, 150). Also, a central moral quest in the Ifa spiritual and ethical tradition is to achieve iwapele, a gentle character or iwarere, good character which are often in-terchangeable. Orunmila cites this as the third requirement to achieving a good world. “It is gentle character which enables the rope of life to remain strong in our hands” according to Odu 119:1.
Orunmila teaches that another one of the main requirements for achieving the good world is “the love of doing good for all people, especially for those who are in need and those who seek assistance from us.” This requirement seeks to create a moral community based not on cold calculation of rule and duty, but on the love of doing good and the joy and benefit it brings to the doer and the recipient of the good. Odu 141:1 says, “Ofun is giving out goodness every-where. (But) Ofun does not make noise about it.” Indeed, to do things coldly and/or loudly is to diminish the good done.
The last requirement Orunmila cites as a requirement for creating a good world re-turns us to the fundamental meaning and mission in human life. He says what is re-quired is “the eagerness and struggle to in-crease good in the world and not let any good be lost.” Again, Orunmila calls for a profound commitment to the good world, and an ongoing and intense struggle for it until it is achieved. The Odu suggests that we must stay ever-ready and engaged, for it says in the pursuit of good, “a constant sol-dier is never unready even once” (Odu, 159:1).
Dr. Maulana Karenga, Professor of Black Studies, California State University-Long Beach, Chair of The Organiza-tion Us, Creator of Kwanzaa, and author of Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Family, Community and Culture, [ and].


August 26, 2008


Saturday, August 23, 2008

What a pity that some individuals, especially in leadership positions, have never learnt to leave well alone! Oyinlola, embattled governor of Osun State on multiple fronts, raced to Sydney, Australia, to seek audience with Ulli Beier, seeking a way out of the unsavory dilemma into which he had been thrust by his former military boss to whom his allegiance remains fixated over and above the claims of truth, culture, decency, and the people of Osun state over whom he was presumably ‘elected’; to preside. His mission: to seek a face-saving formula from the Beiers.

Ever his gracious, Yoruba acculturated self, Ulli Beier consented to receive him but – alone, without his entourage. There – and I do not speculate – he was duly scolded like the errant scion of a royal house he is, called to order, reminded by his elderly host of a long cultural collaboration with his late father. Oyinlola emerged duly chastened, knowing that he had no choice but to revert to the path of honour. However, does he leave well alone? No, he had to present the nation with his own version of that closed-door session, laying the seeds of further distractions and/or new ways to pursue a tenacious agenda. It is not by accident that the FESTAC collection has been mentioned in documents connected to this saga of acquisitive obsession. We had better start screaming right now, even before ‘facts’ become facts, and a national acquisition ends in the bowels of presidential Laundromats.

Now, what are these ‘facts’ that Oyinlola advises his betters to verify before exercising their ‘elder statesman’ interventionist compulsion? It is a demeaning exercise, but I must try public patience with a reiteration of some already stated facts – facts as in factual, without the inverted commas. The following are excerpts from a letter of 4 July 2007 to Mr. Koichiro Matsura, Director-General of UNESCO, by Ambassador Michael Omolewa, the Nigerian Permanent Delegate to UNESCO:

“Permit me to present to you formally my Government’s proposal: the Government of Nigeria has decided that the Institute shall be established on the premises of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library in Abeokuta, Ogun State……”

Now, turn to page 3 of that letter, under “Explanatory Note” and see the guaranteed contents of this Institute. I quote:

“Ulli and Georgina Beier have signed an agreement with the Government in which they agreed to transfer their archive and collection of some 10,000 items of books, articles, photographs, negatives and albums, films, videos, audio cassettes, record CDs, ephemera about concerts and exhibitions and other cultural items and material pertaining to Nigerian and in particular Yoruba culture…..”

Will Prince Oyinlola kindly tell the nation to which Institute, according to Omolewa’s letter, this collection was to be transferred?

In the immediately preceding paragraph, Ambassador Omolewa actually assures the Director-General that sub-branches of the Obasanjo Library based Institute will be created, the first of which shall be the ‘ULLI AND GEORGINA BEIER CENTRE FOR BLACK CULTURE AND INTERNATIONAL UNDERSTANDING” This was the picture presented to Ulli Beier, only for this laudable recognition to be appropriated by the Olusegun Obasanjo Library, on behalf of which the UNESCO Category II accreditation was to be sought.

It is a tedious, ignoble affair, and I have already laid out the heart of the matter in my earlier article that alerted UNESCO to the danger of it being turned into a Laundromat for Failed Rulers. So let me cut straight though the brambles of deceit, manipulation and confusionist tactics at ambassadorial level. Here is the title of the actual petition that went before the Executive Board – Document 177 Ex/69) of 17 September 2007- for presentation to the General Assembly:


Lo and behold, the ULLI AND GEORGINA BEIER CENTRE FOR BLACK CULTURE AND INTERENATIONAL UNDERSTANDING, on the basis of which the archives were bought, presented to the Director-General for endorsement in July 2007 by the Nigerian Government through her Ambassador Omolewa, has become, by September of the same year, the OLUSEGUN OBASANJO INSTITUTE. Based on what credentials? The ability to swallow, intact, the Ulli and Georgina collection, salted and spiced by public funds. This was the Grand Larceny that would have become a fait accompli in April this year, but for the naturally resented intervention of those who are now advised to get their ‘facts’ straight. The shameless posturing of Oyinlola takes one’s breath away.

More facts? In the Memorandum of Understanding signed by Babaloola Borishade, Minister of Culture, on behalf of the Nigerian Government,and dated 10th May, 2007, the honourable Minister provides the genesis of the conspiracy to appropriate the Beier archives in paragraph 5 (Background). In the Minister’s words:

‘Subsequently President Olusegun Obasanjo requested Professor Borisade, Professor Omolewa, and Hans d’Orville to explore and negotiate with Mr. and Mrs. Beier the terms and arrangements of a transfer of the archive from Sydney in a newly to be created centre in Oshogbo, as part of a new Institute for Black Culture and International Understanding being established under UNESCO s auspices at the Olusegun Obasanjo Library”

Put all those ‘facts’ together, and all they form is a crooked line. As it happens however, a substantive issue has been raised that must be confronted by UNESCO. Now that Oyinlola’s authoritative voice has been raised to assure the nation, and the people of Osun state, that the archives will now go where they were originally designated, what does that make of the earlier aspirant, now thwarted custodian, the Obasanjo Library? In cultural terms, a koroo isana. An empty matchbox, and I consider it my duty to pass on this development, and its implications, formally to UNESCO in my capacity as Goodwill Ambassador, among other hats I occasionally put on my head.

My prolonged collaboration with that institution indicates quite plainly that it endorses actualities, be they of Nature or man’s intelligence – Angkor Wat, Osun Grove, Sintra, Abu Simbel, the Alhambra, active programmes with records to show for their existence, specialised institutions etc. etc. I have yet to learn that ‘yet-to-be-created’ notions, expectations and intentions, even when backed by five-star hotels and promissory notes and government subsidies qualify for UNESCO designations. Functioning is the ultimate criteria, not simply a building, or complex. Those who want to pursue illusions are free to do so. It is when attempts are made to stuff such illusions with the palpable life labour of others as credentials that we are forced to bring the House of Cards crashing down on their heads.

Facts, Prince Oyinlola? There are plenty more, but we’ll reserve them for the effective time and place. My advice to you is that you stick to the guardianship and preservation of those archives when they arrive in Oshogbo – at least, while you’re still governor. For the unfinished part of this tawdry business, the dateline is October/November, UNESCO, Paris. We’ll see you there, with your entourage – or whoever is governor. In the meantime, let the appropriate Ministry – and public – take stock of all the bits and pieces the nation has managed to salvage from FESTAC.

A Press conference, foreign architects in attendance, has already bragged of building a museum in the Library complex. New functions for a Presidential Library are being touted that were not canvassed during the extortionist exercise that launched the five-star hotel and yet-to-be-created Institutes. Experts, scholars and diplomats are already under recruitment. Tracks are being laid to ease the passage of FESTAC archives into the baskets of the Presidential Laundromat, upon whose porous containers the UNESCO recognition as a cultural estate will now be based. Mischief is yet afoot, let no one be deceived.

There are some guests , when they leave the house, you have to count the forks and knives.

(published with kind permission from the author)


August 26, 2008


WOFEYAC: Objectives

i. Promote, preserve and protect Yoruba culture and its people

ii. Offer a credible platform for Yoruba cultural revitalization

iii. Use the platform for positive economic, social, cultural and historical advancement of Yoruba as a people

iv. Serve as a good means of projecting the creativity, rich spiritual and cultural artistry of Yoruba nation

v. Inculcate in our youths the core values of the Yorubas and the concept of Omoluabi through culture to make them better citizens of the world.

The Festival of Yoruba Arts and Culture, seeks to bring to the fore, the rich cultural heritage of the Yoruba all over the world. From the South west Nigeria to the rich agrarian hinterlands of Kwara, Kogi, Edo & Delta State as far as, Ghana, Benin Republic, Brazil and even the United State of America, Europe and other continents of the world, the Yoruba nation has a culture which needs to be revisited and revive.


— To organise a programme that will ensure we remain a people
– To showcase the artistic and cultural values of the Yoruba nation
— To re-awaken in the consciousness of the people and the ethics embedded in the culture of the people.
— To preserve our culture and arts for the on coming generations

– The Festival has no fetish inclination
– It is purely entertainment
– It involves no sacrifices of any idol
– It is only meant to re-awaken our artistic and cultural values
– It has no religious tendency


– Pre event
– Event
– Post Event

3.1.1 Stakeholders forum
This is a forum where the agenda for the festival and the activities of the same is unveiled and other issues discussed. At the end of the meeting, a communiqué will be issued

The meeting will form the basis for follow-up activities in keeping the forth coming festival in the minds of the enlightened segments of society through the print & electronic media.

The group of Stakeholders includes:
Royal Fathers, South-West States Governors Dignitaries, Media Community, Commissioners for Culture and Tourism, Information and Youth and Sports, Ministers for Information, Culture & Tourism, Professionals and Institutes of Arts and Culture/ Tourism, Academia, Leaders of various Yoruba socio-cultural groups.

These groups have been selected into various categories such as:
Life Patron,
Grand Patron
Life Advisers
Special Ambassador
Special Partners

3.1.2 Stakeholders’ Dinner
A found Raising Activity
The essence of this is to raise funds for the festival. This will complement sponsorship drive within selected Public & Private sector organizations.

A three day extravaganza of the Yoruba culture & heritage, exhibited at street level, out door and indoor venues in a selected city within South West, Nigeria.

– Availability of appropriate venues for street level, indoor & outdoor activities
– Availability of hotels, motels & guest houses capable of accommodating anticipated local & foreign guests.
– Availability of hostels capable of serving as camps for invited performing troupes.
– Availability of good road and accessible road

3.2.2 PROGRAMME OF EVENTS Street exhibition of Arts and Culture
A 3 – day exhibition of arts/crafts, trades, professions, vocations, food, music, agriculture etc in about two or three streets in the host town. This is to afford the entire citizenry of the host town get a feel of the festival at street level.

– Each road will accommodate specific items for exhibition
– Efforts will be made to provide literature for each exhibited item/activity
– Opportunity for food/drink vendors especially of traditional Yoruba meals to sell to visitors.
– Each road will equally play host to various traditional musical group who will provide all –day entertainment.
– Each road will also play host to selected masquerades to add colour to the street level festival.

The Streetl activities offer various opportunities such as:
Direct Sales activities Opening Ceremony
The festival will be flagged off with funfare States Performance
The three days have been designated for all the participating states in the South west and those in the Diaspora.
The performance will include music, poems, masquerades, dancing, dressing and other performances of special interest.
This will form the basis for the daily activities at the festival grounds.

Immediately after the opening ceremony, the first three states and their troupes begin their performances.

Day Two
Performances by three other State & their troupes:

Day Three
Performances by troupes from Yoruba in the Diaspora including Kwara, Kogi, Edo, Delta, Benin Republic, Ghana, Brazil, Cuba, Europe, the United State and other continents. SPECIAL RECEPTION
The Host Governor & The Paramount Ruler will receive the visiting Governors & leading traditional rulers of the performing states each day.

This colourful display of royalty will afford us an opportunity to showcase our Royal Fathers as the centre of our modern culture.

It will equally provide the platform for governors from other state to catch the excitement of the festival thereby preparing themselves in the hosting of subsequent editions.

The festival grounds provides the following opportunities
Establishment of out door viewing/entertainment centres
Direct sales activities


This will include:
Nights of Yoruba Poetry
Grand Finale
Night of musical entertainment Nights of Yoruba Poetry/Drama
– Literary events spiced with rich traditional music in an inviting atmosphere.
– Invited guests will be treated to reading of rich Yoruba literature, e.g. Drama, Alamo, Ewi, Itan, Aroba, Aalo, Arofo, Ijala, Rara, Ekun Iyawo etc.
– This activity portends full/part sponsorship by various groups in the public/private sector. The Grand Finale
This event will serve as an opportunity to felicitate with all Stakeholders for a successful hosting of the World Yoruba Festival 2008.

Dignitaries from the public & private sectors – the sponsors and representatives of the participating States & communities will be feted by the host governor.

Leading Yoruba World Class Musicians will be on the band stand supported by other artistes.

Government support
Media partnerships
Brand/corporate support
Service partnerships

These will include, but not limited to the following:
Stadium Rental
Street Branding/Sponsorship
Cultural centre Rental
Sponsorship of the Culture Gala Night/Closing Ceremony
Poetry/Artistes Night
Transportation, accommodation and welfare support for the State Contingents.
Police command and other security agents for security of lives and properties.
Payment for services at the outdoor/indoor venue e.g. P.A System, Big screens.
Coverage & Broad cast on TV/Radio Stations.
Other entertainments by Artistes/Musicians
To mention but few

Platinum Sponsor – Full payment for all sponsor able items
Gold Sponsors – A maximum of two sponsors who together pick up the bill for the entire festival
Silver Sponsor;s) – A maximum of four sponsors who take up full sponsorship of the event
Partners –Brands/service that pick up specific items on our sponsorship bouquet.

Festival partnership will be sought from:
Electronics Media
– Television
– Radio

Print Media
– Newspapers
– Magazines

Also, support of the following service providers and festival partners will be solicited:
Banking partner
Airline partner

Contributions are expected from all our Stakeholders as a tree does not make a forest.

The festival is our collective responsibility and its success is a joy to all of us and a pride to our great nation – The Yorubaland, Nigeria and Africa in general.

Oodua a gbe wa o!




The Yoruba is the largest contiguous group in Africa. South Western Nigeria, which is the economic nerve Centre of Nigeria and home to media, has the largest concentration of the Yorubas in Nigeria .

The World Festival of Yoruba Arts and Culture is conceived and designed to showcase the rich cultural content of the Yorubas, their socio-cultural artistry, tradition, heritage and other historical dynamics of the Yoruba people as a nation.

The event, which may appear sectional and exclusive, was meant to sensitize other nation and nationalities to mobilize and take advantage of what arts and culture has on offer to strengthen bond of friendship, global peace and harmony. It ultimately aims to serves as a bridge-building mechanism for all Yorubas in the African continent and the Diaspora.

i. Promote, preserve and protect Yoruba culture and its people.

ii. Offer a credible platform for Yoruba cultural revitalization.

iii. Use the platform for positive economic, social, cultural and historical advancement of Yoruba as a people.

iv. Serve as a good means of projecting the creativity, rich spiritual and cultural artistry of Yoruba nation.

v. Inculcate in our youths the core values of the Yorubas and the concept of Omoluabi through culture to make them better citizens of the world

Programme Content
It will feature exhibitions, performances, convention of all Yoruba traditional rulers at home and abroad, world Yoruba leaders’ conference, street level artificial markets, packaged tours, regatta and a platform for individual and corporate investment opportunities. It will have a children’s village for drama sketches, story telling and traditional games.

Target Participants
There are about four categories of participants namely:

i. Nigerian participants from States with people of Yoruba extraction ( Lagos , Ogun, Oyo, Ondo, Ekiti, Osun, Edo, Kwara, Delta, Kogi and Niger States )

ii. People of Yoruba extraction from Brazil , Cuba , USA , Trinidad and Tobago , Canada , Republic of Benin , Togo , Cote D’Ivoire , Sierra Leone and so on. These countries are to stage performances at the festival

iii. Foreign tourists who may wish to savour the glamour, fun and taste the rich cultural heritage of the Yorubas

iv. Corporate and individual bodies who may wish to buy into the festival to showcase their services

Lagos and Ogun states are being considered to co-host the Festival being the first of its kind and in view of the facilities required for a befitting outing. This consideration would not however preclude these two states from competing with other States with people of Yoruba extraction for the hosting right of the next festival in two years time.

Expected Outcomes

Among others, the Festival promises to:

i. Serve as an avenue for cultural renaissance

ii. Serve as unification platform

iii. Harness the economic, moral and cultural potentials of the Yorubas

iv. Offer direct economic gains/values to the people and corporate citizens

v. Promote investment opportunities

vi. Project and boost tourism potentials of the Nigerian nation

vii. Serve as avenue to promote global peace and harmony

Benefits to Sponsors


i. It will have direct bearing to the host communities in view of the grassroots content

ii. It is also a most effective mass mobilization strategy

iii. It offers tremendous opportunities to project tourism potentials of the various localities, creativity of local participants and economic opportunities of your state

iv. It offers an informal interactive platform for would-be investors and potential stakeholders in your state’s economy.

i. It will give the organization the benefit of reaching out to a broad and very captive audience and potential customers

ii. Tremendous branding opportunities

iii. It is a one-stop international market place

iv. In view of the international involvement in this festival, organizations will invariably enjoy the best of media publicity

v. Broadening of market outreach

vi. Organization’s logo will be included in our promotional materials including our website, programme of events banners, posters and souvenirs

vii. It will undoubtedly offer organizations a most potent means of fulfilling corporate social responsibility to a critical mass of the people

It is against the aforementioned that we seek your collaboration; participation and sponsorship to enable us achieve the outlined objectives.


FROM the Guardian Newspaper,Nigeria

Organisers shift Yoruba arts festival

RECENT political developments in Ekiti and Ondo states have led to the postponement of the finals of the World Festival of Yoruba Arts and Culture (WOFEYAC) to the last quarter of this year.

The train of the festival, which opened in Ile-Ife, Osun State last November, should have moved to Ondo and Ekiti states before arriving in Ogun and Lagos states for the finals, but for the leadership changes in Ekiti and Ondo.

The Planning Co-ordinator of the festival, Mrs. Banke Akinlaja, said in a statement yesterday that the dates of the finals were shifted to allow calm return to the political terrain in the South-West.

“This festival is a programme that will continue years after years and we have to ensure that the foundation is well laid. Even if it takes us three years to get there, the task must be to get it right and have a programme that all Yoruba in the world will be proud of.”

Akinlaja said some of the programmes of the festival would continue from April where events promoting Yoruba culture and heritage would be taken round all the South-West states before the finals in the last quarter of the year.


March 15, 2008

World Festival of Yoruba Arts and Culture (WOFEYAC)

Country and Region Nigeria — Lagos
Type of Festival Dance, Music
Location of Festival Lagos, Nigeria
Festival Description The inaugural festival’s aim is to exhibit the arts and culture of the Yoruba people and thereby preserve their African heritage. In addition to the Yoruba of Africa participating, so will the Yoruba of the Caribbean, America, and Europe. These countries will demonstrate the cultural heritage they have kept alive through cultural ancestors.

Festival Dates NOV. 2008

Other Sources:
Articles and Reviews:
Nigeria: Soyinka Endorses Festival of Yoruba Arts And Culture (This Day, September 10, 2007)

WOFEYAC Honours Tinubu
By Olaide Adekunle

The World Festival of Yoruba Arts and Culture, WOFEYAC, has made the former Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu its National Ambassador.

At the investiture, which was organised by the Alaroye Group of Newspapers under the chairmanship of Chief Omolade Okoya Thomas, it was announced that the festival is to promote the Yoruba culture around the world.

In his speech, General Adeyinka Adebayo (retd) described Tinubu as an ambassador of cultures, languages, politics and a worthy leader.

“I can’t call him an Ambassador of Culture alone but also an Ambassador and Grand Patron of Politics and indeed a worthy leader,” he said.

Tinubu, who spoke after the investiture, pledged to submit himself to the promotion of arts and culture, while urging Yoruba elite to take culture seriously and promote it like other tribes.

“I beseech you my fathers and our elders of the land to take our culture to a greater height,” he said.

At the occasion, the Governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Raji Fashola, lamented that among cultures in Nigeria, only the Yoruba culture is backward because the language itself is dying due to the negligence of the elders.

Dignitaries present at the occasion include the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu; the Onido of Ido Osun, Oba (Arch) Aderemi Adedapo Olumore who represented the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuade and the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Gbadebo.

Others are Sen. Ibikunle Amosu, Abike Dabiri, Chief Razaq Okoya, Amb. Segun Olusola, the Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Mr. Adeyemi Kuforiji and his wife; Gen. Bolaji Johnson (retd), Mr. Kola-Kuforiji and wife, and the permanent secretary, Lagos Television, Mr. Lekan Ogunbanwo, among others. ############################################################### ARTS SECTION:

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Update swing for WOFEYAC

NO stone would be left unturned to record a successful first edition of the World Festival of Yaba Arts and Culture (WOFEYAC), the organisers have insisted.

Headed by the publisher of Alawoye, a weekly news publication in Yoruba, Mr. Alao Adedayo, the organising committee has expressed satisfaction with the preparation so far made to host the festival in NOV. this year.

With focus on showcasing the rich cultural content of the Yaba, the festival is also expected to sensitise other nations and nationalities that make- up Nigeria, to mobilise and take advantage of the merits of arts and culture in strengthening bond of friendship as well as fostering global peace and harmony.

The team just returned from a tour of countries in the West Coast to mobilise support for the festival. Billed for NOV., 2008, participants are expected from Benin-republic, Togo, Sierra-Leone, Brazil, Cuba, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, USA, Europe and others.

The acceptance, recently, by the former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to serve as national Ambassador for the festival, was described by Adedayo as positive step towards positive direction.

Tinubu said that he accepted to be the National Ambassador of WOFEYAC because he believes that it has the potential to reposition the Yaba race and Nigeria at large among the country of nations.

According to a statement signed by a member of the organising committee of the festival, Mrs. Banke Adelaja, Tinubu said he was inspired by the fact t hat participants and tourists, who would attend the festival from different continents, would be pleasantly surprised by what they would find in Nigeria “as it will go against the negative information they have been fed with.”

The former governor was quoted to have said “When the publisher of Alawoye, Alao Adedayo, and the WOFEYAC team approached me to be the National ambassador because I saw it as a programme that, if institutionalised will come with huge benefits.”

Tinubu was of the opinion that t he programmes of the festival would be packaged in a way that would continue to draw international participants year after year.

Being organised to promote rich artistic and cultural heritage of the Yoruba as well as to enhance national land international integration, the WOFEYAC has also won the support of many prominent Nigerians including the Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka. Late last year, Soyinka was decorated as the festival global ambassador.
© 2003 – 2007 @ Guardian Newspapers Limited (All Rights Reserved).
##################################################################################################################### FROM SOLTAI.WORDPRESS.COM An exceptional gathering
February 26, 2008 by soltai
First published in The Nation, Lagos

Rich in distinctive cultural heritage, the Yoruba people at home and in the Diaspora often manifest their values in unique dimensions. Now, in what promises to be a celebrated gathering, they are coming together from all over the world to celebrate the first ever Yoruba Festival of Arts and Culture (WOFEYAC). The clarion call is “Let’s go home to celebrate” as

Fatherland beckons

With Professor Wole Soyinka and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as ambassadors, the World Festival of Yoruba Arts and Culture scheduled for April promises to be an uncommon gathering of the nation as the man behind the project, Alaroye publisher Alao Adedayo, told Group Arts and Culture Editor, SOLOMON TAI ADETOYE

His sojourns around the world exposed Alao Adedayo to cultural trends among his Yoruba people scattered across the globe. What he saw left him not only worried but also inspired. So after sharing the vision with his top team at Alaroye, a stakeholders’ meeting was quickly summoned. The purpose of which was to work out modalities for hosting a cultural festival of the Yoruba peoples.

Legal practitioner and Islamic leader Dr. Lateef Adegbite, former Vice Chancellor of Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife Professor Wale Omole, cultural icon and former Nigerian ambassador to Ethiopia Chief Segun Olusola, Oodua People’s Congress founder Dr. Fredrick Fasehun and retired General Alani Akinrinade were among personalities at the stakeholders’ meeting. All South West state governments were represented.

“The whole thing began in June last year,” Alao Adedayo told The Nation. “I was out of the country in May. During the trip, the erosion of cultural links of our people abroad came up again and again. I can’t say how it actually happened… that is how I got the vision. But it was on my return to the country after the trip that we at Alaroye decided to organise a festival of Yoruba arts and culture.”

It goes beyond cultural concerns. Alaroye is at the forefront of indigenous language print medium in Nigeria. A Yoruba language, its patronage is predominantly by the people of the South West Nigeria. In Adedayo’s words, “It is the Yoruba people who had brought Alaroye to where it is today. And it is Alaroye that has brought us to limelight both home and abroad. So, the festival is part of our giving back to the society where we got everything. It a gesture of appreciation and social responsibility.”

When Adedayo shared with those present at the stakeholders’ meeting, his proposed Festival of Yoruba Arts and Culture nomenclature for the proposed event earned an addition. According to Adedayo, “Those present said if we were planning to bring organise an event that would involve people from all over the world, while no name it so? So, ‘world’ was added. Hence the name World Festival of Yoruba Arts and Culture (WOFEYAC).”

One of the people who could not make the first stakeholders’ meeting was Wole Soyinka who was out of the country at the time. On his return, he placed a call to Alao Adedayo to be updated on developments. After another trip abroad, one of the first things he did on his return was to call Adedayo again to get updated. The events that took place at the Ake Palace Ground at Abeokuta last October 2 therefore came as no surprise.

On October 2, 2007, the logo of WOFEYAC was formally unveiled at a ceremony the had in attendance the crème de la crème of Yoruba sons and daughters from all walks of life. The ceremony also doubled as the official announcement of Wole Soyinka as the Global Ambassador of WOFEYAC.

As the Alake of Egbaland Oba Adedotun Gbadebo, Professor Wole Soyinka and a handful of other dignitaries came out of the residential section of the sprawling palace complex to the Palace Ground, an open events venue with VIP sitting area, drumming and singing resounded in the air. The excitement was infectious. By the time the events proper took off, nobody was left in doubt of the enormity of what was happening – a landmark event that those present will proudly announce their witnessing when culture historians refer to it in future.

The front row of the seating that was several rows deep would convince anybody that the organisers were serious. If King Suny Ade represented the Yoruba musical constituency its royal sector was ably represented by the Alake and the Olowo of Owo Oba Folagbade Olateru-Olagbegi. The intellectuals? Dr. Lateef Adegbite was present while Professor Akinwunmi Isola, Yoruba author and linguist delivered the lecture of the day. Oodua People’s Congress founder Dr. Frederick Fasehun who sat alongside business moguls said the opening prayer – of course, in the traditional way. Representatives of the South West states’ governors later took their turns to deliver solidarity messages. Scintillating performances by the cultural troupes of Lagos and Ogun states gave a foretaste of what one can look up to at WOFEYAC.

This was not the first time Alaroye was gathering Yoruba leaders together. Beginning from 2002, the publishing house has organised a series of forum tagged Gathering of Yoruba Leaders. These forums boasts of having great names in Yoruba land present at different times and in different capacities. Among these are Professor Bolaji Akinyemi who delivered the lecture at the first forum, Chief Richard Akinjide, Pa Abraham Adesanya and Pa Emmanuel Alayande who sent a representative. Others are Dr. Lateef Adegbite, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, the Alaafin of Oyo, retired Generals Adeyinka Adebayo and Alani Akinrinade, Otunba Gani Adams and Dr. Frederick Fasehun who never missed any session.

“We organised Gathering of Yoruba Leaders to bring together leaders of thought in Yoruba land to ponder on issues of unity and progress of the Yoruba people,” Adedayo said. “We were concerned with creating a vision for the future development of our people.”

Adedayo said the Alaroye team was concerned by the state of affairs in the land whereby a people with great potentials for development had been reduced to their present state because of what he described as self interest of the leaders. Immediate gratification, he said, had taken the place of planning for say the next sixty years.

“It would be stupid for any set of people to start thinking of separation in Nigeria today,” he said. “We have gone beyond that level. What we are saying is that the Yoruba people have the potentials of becoming more economically powerful, politically developed and socially advanced than any other group in Nigeria.”

According to him, the reason for this is not far fetched. Its root is in the early education of the Yoruba people which produced among them professors and doctorate degree holders at a time when some other groups were yet to reach out for university education. He referred to two pointer during the colonial era. “Way back in 1945, late sage Chief Obafemi Awolowo wrote a book challenging the presence of colonial rulers in Nigeria. Education is a tool of liberation. It is a fact that because of the edge the Yoruba people had in the area of education they were the administrator running the government in the north and part of the east during the colonial days.”

Regrettably, gains of the gatherings could not be consolidated. According to Adedayo, “The gatherings brought great promises. For example, it was at the first gathering that Chief Richard Akinjide raised the issue of two thirds and called upon those who might have been aggrieved to let’s put it behind us.”

The two thirds issue was when Chief Richard Akinjide representing Alhaji Shehu Sagari of the National Party of Nigeria whose 1979 presidential election victory had been challenged by Unity Party of Nigeria presidential candidate late Chief Obafemi Awolowo. In what not quite a few Yoruba consider betrayal of great mischievous proportion of Yoruba interest, Akinjide went before the election tribunal and in what would earn any mathematician a Nobel Prize calculated two thirds of nineteen states. Twelve states and two thirds of one!

Gestures such as Akinjides and promises of united front for progress ended up falling on their face as soon as political jostling for power took over.

“We had thought the leaders would steer Yoruba people in the right direction,” said Adedayo. “But we have discovered that it was wrong not to also try and carry the people along.”

WOFEYAC which is scheduled to hold in Lagos and Abeokuta simultaneously is an attempt at this.

Alao Adedayo went further to paint a vivid image of second motivation for WOFEYAC. All over the world, there are Yoruba people who had travelled abroad to better their lots in life. Most of them, he said, did not plan to stay long. They only planned to stay maybe five or ten years. At the end of the day, lack of concrete achievements keep them there for long.

Offspring of these Yoruba people end up growing up not as Yoruba. Apart from the fact that they are in different cultural environment, there is the problem of their parents who do not have the time to raise them. They are brought up by foster parents such as day care centres as the parents have to go to work early and return late. By the time they grow up, there is nothing in them resembling Yoruba heritage. Some, contends Adedayo, end up marrying people from other countries and getting to settle down in places like the Caribbean.

The fate of these people is different from that of earlier Yoruba Diaspora of the slave trade era. Completely uprooted in groups and settled permanently, the latter held on to their cultural heritage. The Diaspora of this age is made up of individual sojourners whose plans never went beyond going away for a few years.

To convert this disadvantage into an advantage, the Alaroye crew believe the World Festival of Yoruba Arts and Culture is a veritable tool. Drawn back to their roots, these scattered Yoruba will become part of the movement to move the Yoruba nation forward.

While Professor Wole Soyinka who according to Adedayo hardly stays more than two weeks at a stretch in Nigeria is mobilising the outside world, former Lagos State governor Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has been named the National Ambassador of WOFEYAC. His own former presentation in this capacity is billed for next month.

Adedayo explained how these choices were made: “Prof. you know is an arts man, a cultural man. His itinerary takes him all over the world. He is therefore well positioned to spread the message. At the same time, we need someone who can take the message to all parts of Nigeria. I am talking of someone who has access to places like the presidency and national assembly because we need to present a clear image of what we are doing before people will come to the wrong conclusion that it is paganism. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is well positioned for this.”

The event itself is billed as a cultural fiesta featuring different aspects of Yoruba life – dance, music, festivals, arts, food, just name it. While groups like Yoruba Council of Elders have representatives on the planning committee, Professor Wande Abimbola is the link with the Ifa devotees. Talks are on with Osun State government to stage a mini Osun Festival. All governors in the South West are patrons while traditional rulers are life patrons. Either as part of the steering committee or as advisers, hardly is there any part of Yoruba leadership that is not involved in WOFEYAC. Adedayo explained that this was to carry everybody along.

Egypt’s role as a base of Black civilisation brought the country in as it is expected to send a cultural team. Countries of West Africa with Yoruba presence, Europe and the Americas are sending delegates. In fact, there are groups in the Caribbean who are requesting that the dates be moved forward a little to enable them prepare better.

In the entrenched Yoruba cultural habit of wrapping even the most serious notions in fun and excitement, the payoff of the festival is Omo Yoruba, e je ka rele odun o. Yoruba sons and daughters, let’s go home for festivities. Homeland beckons. No doubt millions are bound to respond.
Tuesday,November 27, 2007

Segun Fajemisin | ABOUT COLUMNIST




orld Festival of Yoruba Arts and Culture (WOFEYAC), the cultural event slated for spring 2008 in south-western Nigeria has received yet another boost with the inauguration of the UK Coordinating Committee.

Comprising about ten members drawn from across the diverse social and professional strands in the UK, the body is tasked with creating awareness and rallying up support for the festival scheduled for 15th – 21st April 2008. It will also explore the commercial, tourism and publicity potentialities such as will assist the main organisers in Nigeria give the festival a global facelift.

On Saturday December 8, 2007, the Committee will pull out all the stops to inaugurate WOFEYAC STAKEHOLDERS FORUM (UK) with the sole aim of bringing Yorubas in the United Kingdom together and awakening their consciousness with regards to the festival’s socio-cultural import. The forum will have in attendance the Chief Organiser of WOFEYAC, Alao Adedayo, publisher of the ALAROYE Group. Other prominent Yoruba sons and daughters from Nigeria and abroad are also expected to attend the forum billed to take place in London.

The World Festival of Yoruba Arts and Culture (WOFEYAC) aims at bringing together Yorubas in the Diaspora in a single event which will showcase the unique culture that has been the way of life of the people and the root of their distinctive existence.

Since inception, WOFEYAC has received rousing acceptability from all and sundry but with spectacular support from prominent Yorubas including Professor Wole Soyinka, Chief Segun Olusola, Dr. Lateef Adegbite and Gani Adams. The state governments of the South Western states are also lending support to the fiesta.

Conservative estimates have it that there are over 25 million Yorubas in the Diaspora today with influences felt in the Republics of Benin and Togo, mid-eastern Ghana while descendants are also to be found in Cuba, Brazil and the Caribbean.

WOFEYAC, aside being a potential revenue generating machine is also a potent tool for global acceptance through the creation of awareness and acceptability for Nigeria and Africa in general.

Arguably one of the largest ethno-linguistic groups or ethnic nations in world history, the Yoruba culture is also one of the most vibrant and the people are renowned for their rich civilizing heritage and idiosyncratic ethos. Monarchies, deities, customs, dressing, food, religion, socialisation and artistry are all but a few of the distinct elements of the Yoruba nation.

Over time, it has produced several renowned and successful individuals whose meteoric rise and existence are edifying and have thus livened up history. The Yoruba culture boasts of valiant progenitors such as Oduduwa and Oranmiyan while illustrious sons and daughters include Rev Samuel Ajayi Crowther, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Chief James Ajibola Ige, to mention but a few. Afrobeat icon, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti and the legendary Ambrose Campbell are two of the departed musicians who achieved fame that transcended the borders of Nigeria, nay Africa while others including Chief Sunday Adeniyi (aka King Sunny Ade), Dr. Evangelist Ebenezer Obey-Fabiyi, Fatai Rolling Dollars are alive and bear testimony to the great artistic inclination of the Yorubas.

In the Diaspora, the Yoruba influence spreads as far as Oyotunji Village in Beaufort South Carolina, the Descendants of the Yoruba in America (DOYA) Foundation in Cleveland OH, Ile Ori Ifa Temple in Atlanta GA and African Paradise in Griffin GA, all in the USA. Descendants are also to be found in Brazil, Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago etc.

Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka has given his endorsement to the proposed festival which he described as “one of the best things to happen to Africa and, indeed the global village.”

In his views, widely reported in mainstream Nigerian newspapers, Soyinka, who has accepted to be the Global Ambassador of WOFEYAC affirmed: “We are now in a world where many individuals want to know where their forefathers came from, they undergo DNA test, conduct extensive research and do everything they could to link up with their ancestral homes. And there is no doubt that people outside Nigeria and Africa will want to come to be part of this.” (Guardian online / 6th September 2007).

All roads lead to Majestic Restaurant on London’s Coldharbour Lane SW9 on 8th December where stakeholders including officials of cultural groups and indigenous societies will come together and fly the banners of a proud race in readiness for the big do in Nigeria come NOV. (CHANGE OF DATE)2008.

© Segun Fajemisin / Mediaworks UnLimited

London October 2007

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March 15, 2008


Friday, August 05, 2005
An Analysis of the Survival And Resurgence Of The Yoruba In The Americas:

A perspective of an African American on re-connecting to our cultural traditions

by: Iya Oyatolu Olajejoye



The focus of this paper is on descendants of Africa’s cultural/spiritual systems. The paper offers a perspective on the effects that the slave trade and colonization has had on descendants from Africa. The Yoruba are one of the surviving indigenous traditions of Africa. The Yoruba ethnic group is examined and how the culture/religion persevered a traumatic history. Yoruba tradition and others are unique cultural/religious systems that maintained remnants and propagated rich and complex systems in the Americas. This paper discusses the effects of Christian influence on Africa and its descendants. Finally, I examine how the Yoruba are in the midst of a dramatic global resurgence.


Nearly five thousand years ago civilization was inventing itself from the Nile to the Tigris and Euphrates valleys. Later, in what became the foundation of western civilization, Israel birthed Judaism. As a “result of the invasion of Egypt by the Persians and Alexander the Great, the Greeks began development of western philosophy and science, a millennium thereafter.”[i] As western culture expanded the “big three” religious traditions systems of the western world became Christianity, Islam and Judaism. East Africa is the commonly accepted source of humanity although; European thought distorted the perspective through which the West viewed the world, “having relegated Africa, Asia, and South America to secondary position.”[ii]

For centuries, missionaries were inextricably bound to the economic agenda’s of their respective European nations. Africa, Asia, and South America were each invaded by foreign governments. Dominance of world markets was the first of primary motivations of missionaries to preach and teach that the spiritual salvation of African people (and other conquered people) could only occur when natives relinquished their native belief systems. “Europeans expanded the slave trade and turned the kingdoms’ leaders into collaborators in that dreadful business…which… led to the destruction of their empires.”[iii] The historic trend to encourage abandonment of indigenous beliefs has lasted for centuries and is still a tremendous influence in third world countries. European and American thinkers such as Charles Carroll, The Negro a Beast and R. W. Shufeldt, MD, America’s Greatest Problem: The Negro did not care to understand the complex and varied spirituality of indigenous people. Dominant cultures disregarded the validity of indigenous cultures. The European based “Enlightenment” period defined “truth for ethnic group(s) of people, which denied their traditions, then set out to destroy the authority of those traditions.”[iv] As an example, one commonly known negative trend in thinking resulted in classifying African and African descendants as three-fifths human. Although, the three-fifths human theory is a somewhat distant part of American history and was dispelled, this paper discusses how elements of similar thought still have affect on the consciousness of African descendant’s. European based cultures did not care to understand the value indigenous people placed in natural systems and their worship of nature. Polytheism practiced by indigenous people was deemed as anti God and the worst of spiritual practices. Early missionaries, anthropologists and scholars viewed worship of nature as demonized beliefs that were evil, crazed, sex-frenzied, idolatrous, primitive, fetish worshipping and superstitious. Indigenous spirituality and culture were judged as being without meaningful moral foundation, content or having any valuable philosophy. Conquering nations categorized traditional beliefs as void of any characteristics of meaningful social structure. For Christian theologians blackness of skin color was an indication of damnation. As God’s “emissaries” Christians began to teach natives religion in allegedly “the only way” that God could hear them, and that was in the Christian way. European missionaries claimed they could intercede and communicate with God on behalf of those that their nations oppressed. Christian theologians generally turned a blind eye to the hypocrisies of the mistreatment, subjugation and exploitation of Africa. The only hope for African’s was to submit to the will of the teachings of European nations.

Conquered people that became converts were more readily absorbed into the social benefits that western countries dominated. That trend is a lasting trend that still influences African immigrants today. In colonized Africa, employment, education and status became linked to natives professing denial of traditional ways and abandonment of native belief systems. Economic opportunity, status and western education were tied to Christian and Islamic religion.

Euro centric perspective became the accepted thought from the frontier situation. It generated a psychological orientation in the conquered people of those countries. With a common global agenda, European nations set on a course to profit from market of slaves, to replace indigenous beliefs with Christianity and, simultaneously take the wealth of the nations they conquered. Enslaved deportees were dispersed throughout the Diaspora to various Christian dominated countries. Estimates vary that between thirty million and 100 million slaves left Africa in the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. During the last century of the transatlantic trade, most of the slaves that arrived in the America’s were taken from West African areas colonialists began to call Yoruba land. “The very nature of enslavement linked to intra-African warfare facilitated the deportation of political and religious leaders. “[v] A large segment of the targeted victims of the slave markets groups were religious, political, and social opponents to slave markets. Slavery had existed in Africa for centuries. The system of slavery that existed in the America’s became an entirely different form than in Africa. As an example of a story that describes slavery from one oral tradition: A rich man was a Chief, who owned many slaves, as was the custom in those days. Among his slaves there was a particular slave, whose name was Ida. Ida was the head of all the Chief’s slaves. Ida was more than a slave to the Chief; he had become a son and equally a trusted friend to the Chief.

Over the course of centuries, throughout the dividing of Africa between the English, French, Dutch, Portuguese and Spanish the cultural and religious beliefs of Africa were ignored as “world religions.” The overall success of missionaries converting the colonized can be measured in examination of two of the following 20th century charts on religion. Note in the following chart “Tribal” religions are grouped in one non-differentiating general category. This is noteworthy because the huge continent of Africa has numerous diverse ethnic and spiritual belief systems. This paper focuses on primarily one ethnic group and cultural/spiritual system, the Yoruba. The third chart lists 2002 estimates of Santeria and Lucumi religious practitioners, which evolved in Caribbean countries from the ethnic groups of the Yoruba spiritual systems. The statistics that are cited illustrate huge differences in the numbers of practitioners and therefore raises the questions of accuracy. As discussed indigenous religions have been historically maintained as secret societies. In the interviews that are included in this paper one interviewee states that the Yoruba are the largest unrecognized spiritual systems worldwide. During the 20th-Century the systems of Santeria, Lucumi and Candomble were the most notable surviving spiritual systems of the Yoruba of Africa:

As an example of disclosure of native beliefs and religion the following results were documented. Participants of the survey arguably and silently questioned the motivation of the surveyors. Place of residence and attitude toward retention of traditional Religion of 219 Yoruba, Ibadan 1964:



Should Be Kept

Should Not be kept





Western Christian

Orthodox Christian


Non- religious



Chinese Folk




In 2002, the number of Santeria in North America was estimated as:

According to, various sources predicted:

Florida: 60,000
U.S.: 800,000
North America: 500,000

J.E. Holloway, the author of “Africanisms in America” estimates:

New York City: 300,000

Egbe Lukumi estimates:

U.S.: over 5 million.

The “American Religious Identification Survey, (ARIS)” by The Graduate Center of the City University of New York computes:

U.S.: 22,000

Santeria is currently concentrated in:

Cuba and other Caribbean islands.

The Hispanic population in Florida, Puerto Rico, New Jersey, New York City and Los Angeles.

Argentina, Brasil, Colombia, México, and Venezuela.

France and the Netherlands.

The objectivity involved in the compilation of data on practitioners of Yoruba culture/religion past and present eludes accuracy based on dominant views and perceived non-acceptance of the native traditions. Informant’s lack of truthfulness was and still is motivated by two primary reasons. 1) Fear of denial of access to privileges controlled by the Christian or Muslim majority (namely employment and education). 2) Maintenance of the secrecy of secret societies and oral tradition. “The attack on African Institutions is accompanied by a superimposition upon African communities of alien organizations. In fact, most of the so-called “accepted” and responsible organizations in modern African communities have a European format.”[viii]

All traditions of the world usually have priests, griots, sages and wise men as guardians of tradition. African guardians of spirituality survived and passed on their traditions depending upon where they landed in the slave markets. Guardians of indigenous traditions also remained in colonialized countries avoiding capture into the slave trade. Indigenous spirituality has always been maintained by secret societies. Consequently, the erasure of indigenous beliefs became a prevalent misconception in tracing slave religion in the “New World.” An indiscernible number of indigenous people that remained in Africa maintained traditional religion. One method of retaining tradition resulted in certain select members of families being designated to maintain the religion while allowing others to convert in order to become assimilated. From an African traditionalist’s view the problem of losing “their own” traditions has historically impacted indigenous societies and cultures and is credited with steadily undermining culture in Third World countries.

People aware of their status would, have surrounded African born slaves that had been religious leaders, as they arrived in Caribbean countries. Caribbean countries were predominantly Catholic countries. In Caribbean countries African deities were syncretized and worshipped as Catholic saints. Newly arrived slaves along with freed slaves that arrived in the Caribbean countries began syncretism of their beliefs with Catholic saints while still worshipping in the old way. Africans were therefore, able to hide and pass on their native beliefs “under Mary’s skirts” by way of the Catholic Church. Those were the guardians that survived to pass on the traditions. Syncretization was the key to the preservation and survival of Yoruba deities. Covert syncretization allowed slaves to maintain their ethnic culture. As slavery began to cease, the Trans-Atlantic trade operated by Africans and Afro-Brazilians was, truly motivated by religious values and retention of ethnic culture.

“It is reported that a number of repatriates and their children that returned to Brazil became both prominent figures in Candomble and successful importers of African religious goods. An African born freedman, Adechina is said to have traveled from Cuba back to Africa for initiation to IFA. Later he returned to Cuba. Another free African, Efunche traveled during slavery where he was documented as having a major impact on the religion (reportedly in Cuba and Nigeria).”[ix] According to evidence that exists there were “religious specialist expelled from Brazil for such practices as healing and divination. Between 1848 and 1869 Yoruba speaking people settled by the hundreds.”[x] Yoruba spiritual beliefs were able to survive the transatlantic slave trade in various vestiges in the Caribbean. As an example, 1,000 Yoruba recaptures and descendants settled into “Grenada into a closed community in 1849.”[xi] Aspects of the Yoruba language mixed into Caribbean culture, the languages and were preserved along with religious practices. Yoruba spiritual beliefs were retained in several systems including Batuque, Candomble, Tambor De Mina and Umbanda in Brazil, Lucumi and Santeria in Cuba, Shango in Trinidad and Jamaica, Venezuela, Palo, Vodou or Voodoo in Haiti. Consequently, slaves did not completely disconnect with their culture, nor blindly convert as the Christian Churches describe as “good sheep.” “Autonomous organizational structures, the framework of forced and eventual free migration, mutual contact and exchange stimulated the development of Orisha religions in the New World.”[xii]

The Protestant dominated slavery system differed in the United States. Slave owners intentionally separated slaves that spoke the same language and dialects from one another. As such, the American slavery system did not allow for the maintenance of traditional belief systems in the same way, as in Caribbean countries. For the first two centuries of the U.S.’s beginning it is documented that most slaves in the U.S. were not allowed to attend churches or to learn to read. Slave masters feared slaves would interpret the Bible in ways that would challenge the continuation of slavery. Yoruba practitioners were absorbed into their environments becoming known as conjurors, root doctors and hoodoo men or women in the U.S.
Contact between the African homeland and slaves were almost entirely severed in the U.S. over the next two hundred years after the Civil War, during the Reconstruction period, through the 1960-70’s. The image of Africans as ungodly pagans destined through a biblical curse to remain in a position of perpetual servitude was widely circulated. Racially biased beliefs were embedded in the ethno-centrist outlook of white America and in the Caribbean. Christian theology was interpreted using the Bible to support that blackness of skin color was an indication of damnation. Freed slaves and their descendants were led and left to view the indigenous homeland through a “prism of extrinsic, distorted images that were about them, but not innately from them.”[xiii] Books such as Charles Carroll, The Negro a Beast (1900) and R. W. Shufeldt, MD, America’s Greatest Problem: The Negro (1915) eroded the progress that had been hoped for in the minds and spirits of freed slaves. Racially destructive and divisive propaganda, perpetuated by the formation and growth of organizations such as, the Klu Klux Klan fueled a racist backlash in America.

The period after slavery saw intensified converting of ex-slaves and their descendants to Christianity. The teachings of Christianity encourage belief in reward in an afterlife, in which, after death African American’s could reap the benefits of suffering on Earth. Followers learned to unquestioningly follow Christian teachings. The learned behavior was to accept their minister’s teachings, in the same manner as Shepard’s lead sheep in a mindless manner. This belief system was seen as encouraging a “layaway consciousness.” Internalization of Christian doctrines therefore resulted in a submissive and/or angry psyche. The combination of internalizing Christian doctrine and lack of information about Africa helps in “understanding why self-hatred engulfed the African American mind from slavery, Reconstruction”[xiv] through today.

Robert Michael refers to “the iron law of oligarchy which suggests that without planning for the contrary authority, power…inevitably gravitates toward a central elite, leaving others on the outside.”[xv] Examination of social, religious and economic systems in the Americas is the key to understanding the effect oligarchy had on racial psyches.
The following chart describes the development the transnational movement among African descendants. The significance of this genealogy is that it supports a better understanding that indigenous beliefs went “underground” rather than actually disappeared in the Americas. It also reveals that the disconnection from Africa has always been a part of the minds of African scattered throughout Diaspora. The resurgence of the movement in the 20th Century to re-claim African spirituality is documented as:

Geographical Scale Of Orisa Voodoo Geneology

Development Of Modern Capitalist Nation-State (1870-1930)
Post-Civil War-Postslavery-Reconstruction
Early Black Nationalist Formations
Racial Segregation-Jim Crow
World War Ii
Racial Segregation-Jim Crow
Development Of Horizontal Institutions/International Community (1950-70)
African And Third World Independence Struggles
Postcolonial State Formation
1959- Oba Of Oyotunji Is Initiated To Ancient African Culture As A Priest Of Obatala In Cuba
1960-70: Spread Of Sanateria Throughout U.S. Urban Centers
Civil Rights Movement
Height Of Black Power
Racial Divisions Insanertia Communities
Vertical Reconfiguration Of Racial Rights/Civil Liberties (1970-80)
Oyotunji’s Formation-Segregation Politics
Beginning Of Early Oyotunji Travels To Nigeria/Benin
Black Cultural Politics-Self Determination
Airing Of Roots Movie
Racial Integration In U.S. Urban Centers
Outward Migration Of Oyotunji Residents To Urban Centers
Development Of Oyotunji Roots Readings
Instutionalization Of Deterritorial Yoruba Practices
New Wave Of Electronic Technologies
Accessibility Of Air Travel
Development Of Linkages Between African And Oyotunji Initiates
Global Market Expansionism Of The Rights Movement (1990-2000)
Popularization Of Kwanzaa Movement
Commodification Of African-Centrism
Black Cultural Nationalism And New Market Heritage Alliances [xvi]

Intellectuals and researchers such as, Martin Delaney, the Father of Black Nationalism opened the doors to African Americans studying ancient cultures and African heritage. In 1859, Delaney formed the Niger Valley Exploring Committee seeking immigration of Africans in America to Africa. Subsequently, in 1916 Marcus Garvey led the Universal Negro Improvement Association (U.N.I.A.), another back to Africa movement. Movements seen as radical and potentially disruptive to the social order by African-Americans, have until recently remained almost invisible to scholars and non-scholars alike. Movements such as those two were movements had a contained influence in the Black community.

For the most part, until the rise of the civil rights and Yoruba movements in the 1950s, African Americans in the U. S. were left to view their African homeland as was described in history books. Movies such as ‘Tarzan’ and ‘Birth of a Nation’ portrayed Africans and their descendants as barbaric savages and contributed to the shame Black people felt about their ancestral homeland and themselves.

It should be noted though that, there have always been historians and anthropologists that described African American history, culture and spiritual systems in a more honest, accurate and objective view. Those writers include: Martin Delaney, Charles Chesnutt, John Hope Franklin, Chiek Diop, and Zora Neal Hurston… The significance of such writers was not appreciated nor marketed to large audiences. Consequently, they were not widely accepted during their time. Beginning in the 1970’s and 1980’s renewed interests in these authors further validated appreciation for their works. The work of Charles Chestnutt (1858- 1932) “The Conjure Woman” and Zora Neal Hurston’s (1900-1964), “Tell My Horse,” described African American’s maintenance of voudou culture. Conjurors, hoodoo and root people always maintained a minority presence within the minority community. Other than conjurors, hoodoo, root men and women’s ever presence, over centuries the disconnection and fragmentation from Africa, Cuba, and Brazil…persisted. In contrast, Caribbean countries that had been major slave distribution countries; namely, Cuba, Brazil, Surinam, Haiti, Trinidad, and Puerto Rico maintained a richer cultural exchange with West Africa during the era of slavery, and after it ended. “The greater the contact those in the Diaspora had with the homeland the more intact their ethnic and cultural identities were likely to be.”[xvii] Conversely, the more the disassociation with the home country experienced by the African descended population, the greater the erosion of customs, ethnicity, and culture. Assimilation into the host country and acceptance of the oligarchy structures of countries throughout the Diaspora was the desired norm.

An African presence was either ignored, reported in a distorted or incorrect manner by the majority of early anthropologists, historians, and missionaries. In general, the African presence was not written about or described “by respected authors” in a positive light. A new wave of anthropologists in the U.S. began with Franz Boas (1932), Robert Redfield (1953) and Melville Herskovits. “In the Myth of the Negro Past” (1941) Herskovits demonstrated that African practices were evidenced in aspects of African American behavior. He also contended that the assumption that culture could be totally lost was historically incorrect. It is unarguable though, that the separation from Africa and the negative mindsets that were perpetuated and generated caused the dissipation of the most distinguishable cultural remnants of the indigenous culture of the African ancestral homeland.

Sociologist W.E. B. DuBois became the first Black to receive a Ph.D. from Harvard in 1895. DuBois described the African American’s racial psyche as suffering from both racial and cultural identity maladies. In the book, “The Souls of Black Folk,” DuBois called the effects a “double consciousness.” DuBois defined “double consciousness as a residual bifurcation process of Americanization,” [xviii]which damaged the minds and affected the DNA of African descendants.

Perhaps, the preeminent thinker of the 20th century on the issue of decolonization and the psychopathology of colonization was Frantz Fanon. Fanon was a native of Martinique and product of a colonial education. He was a noted psychiatrist, intellectual, and scholar. He is most recognized as the author of “Black Skin, White Masks” (1952) and the infamous manifesto, “The Wretched of the Earth” (1961). His research of colonized subjects revealed that a person that “speaks a language not his own creates certain complexes or pathologies.”[xix] Frantz Fanon was able to penetrate beyond the level of anger and outrage to probe deeply into the causes and, more particularly, the effects on the people who are its victims. Fanon recognized that losing language (and culture) castrates the mental and social well being of a people. Fanon began to uncover recurrent pathologies of the condition of African descendants worldwide. The pathologies that derived from the experiences of slave descendants not knowing their ancestral language, heritage, culture and tradition transcended Martinique, France and Algiers where Fanon concentrated his studies. The Statue of Liberty stands at Ellis Island welcoming willing immigrants to become a part of the melting pot of America. As immigrants meld into America they remember the old countries of their parents and grandparents. They generally decide to maintain a sense of racial, ethnic and cultural identity. The melting pot of America allows for the validation of ties of a multiplicity of ancestries, ethnic groups and native languages.

The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s spawned an awakening of African Americans from the effects of “cultural amnesia.” America as a world leader had a profound affect on the world. The civil rights movement played out in the streets of the U.S. The international headlines the civil rights movement generated in newspapers of the world placed America under expose’. The civil rights movement then naturally forced nations of the world to look inside their own borders for examination. It should have become obvious to every country that was a part of the slave trade, colonization and its problems that the civil rights movement reflected upon every country in which African descendants lived throughout the Diaspora.

African descendants as conquered and displaced people suffer from a 600-year history of causal deprivation of links to their ancestry, spiritual values, customs, and defining social culture. The African American community and African descendents throughout the Diaspora suffer from social maladies caused by an unnatural and traumatic separation from their ancestry and customs. Scholars, spiritualists…. debate about the extent to which the reclamation of one’s own culture, and the validation of that culture will cure the maladies of oppression and learned self-oppression of colonized people. Negative imagery of Africa and those of African descent were internalized for generations affecting the DNA, psychology, and sociology of African Americans and colonized persons of African descent. The era of slavery resulted in a global plight: disenfranchised African slave descendants. African descendents continue to suffer from the pathologies that Fanon researched and documented. These symptoms are residue of the systems of oligarchy of America and Europe. Slavery, colonialism, and the after effects of racism transcend today to globalize the plight of disenfranchised African descendants in the Diaspora.

Doug McAdam aptly described…”the timing and fate of the civil rights movement as largely dependent upon the political opportunities afforded by insurgents by the shifting of power by the ideological disposition”[xx] of the time. The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s spawned an awakening of African Americans and African descendants throughout the Diaspora. Many of the African descendants that awakened in the 1960’s, 1970’s were hungry for ancestral traditions, values and culture. To that group of African descendants, the value of Martin Luther King’s Civil Rights movement did not fully address the cultural gap that was felt by African Americans. Dubois saw a double consciousness. The civil rights agenda based on Martin L. “King’s vision of an inalienable right to pursue educational, employment, housing opportunities, and other civil liberties on an equal basis with white Americans”[xxi] satisfied a segment of the slave descended populace.

Black Nationalists believed that since African descendants were kidnapped and unwilling immigrants to America, the answer to their plight was the second part of Dubois’ double consciousness theory, “namely the re-creation of cultural habits based on a traditional African perspective and approach.” In 1916 when Marcus Garvey left for the U.S. he prophesied to his followers to “Look to Africa for the crowning of a Black king, he will be the Redeemer.”

Gamson and Meyer emphasize the critical importance of the framing of political opportunity in the development of social movements. The 1960’s became a time in American history for “radical thinkers” to seize the political opportunity of the time. A number of Black Nationalists moved towards collective action in beginning several counter-movements. Beginning in 1957 a rarely publicized yet, powerful social movement in the “political process ” model began. One Black Nationalist spearheaded a movement for the reconnection of African descendants with African spirituality and culture in a manner that had never been tried before.

At age 30, a Black Nationalist who came to be known as, Oba Oseijeman Adefunmi, traveled to Haiti to become an initiated practitioner of Voudou. The spiritual culture of the people of the Republic of Benin is called “Berceau de Vodoun” which translates to mean, “the cradle of vodoun.” The spiritual system and culture of Vodoun survived in Haiti. Upon returning to America, he opened a temple in New York, the Order of Damballah Ancestor priests. On May 6, 1957, Adefunmi planned and carried out an African Freedom Day. He marketed the first dashiki and other “African garments designed by Adefunmi himself. The parade launched him as a cultural leader, and from that point on, he was a recognized leader and was called upon to speak and plan various activities.”[xxii] Adefunmi was an avid reader and scholar. He researched the ancient Yoruba in writings such as, “ Religion of the Yoruba” by Lucas. Adefunmi learned that the Yoruba people are descendants of Egypt that migrated from the African continent. He collected research from the author of “Stolen Legacy,” George James. James’ research disclosed theories to support that the ancient Egyptian mystery system was the first system of salvation. The foundation of the Yoruba priesthood was developed from Egyptian teachings. Priests have historically functioned as counselors in connection with religious institutions. Counseling through Yoruba oral divination traditions address all manner of human conditions and pre-date the invention of writing. Diviners are trained to address human problems for solution based upon memorization of a binary system, that is interpreted to identify the presenting problem or situation, using divinely inspired counseling. Priests are also trained in herb logy and other prescriptions for healing called ebo. The Yoruba were nature worshippers and pagan. Adefunmi accepted Lucas’ research that documented how Plato copied four cardinal virtues (justice, wisdom, temperance, and courage) from a list of 10 of the Egyptian system.

In 1959, Adefunmi traveled to Matanzas, Cuba and became the first African of North America to be fully initiated into the Orisha (African divinities) priesthood. Cuba had been one of the strong holds in the maintenance of Yoruba culture and religion. Noted anthropologist and scholar Melville Herskovits agreed that although, traditional African culture had been eroded, he documented evidence that nevertheless supported that there was evidence that traditional African culture had survived, as it did in Cuba and Haiti. When European missionaries, frontiersman, and anthropologists invaded the continent of Africa, they did not understand the value African oral traditions placed in maintaining ethnic history and culture.

Some of the priests that initiated him in Cuba warned him not to give this ancient tradition to black people in America. After his initiation into the ancient art of Orisha practice, Adefunmi decided however, that the pantheon of Gods and Goddesses (Orisha) of Africa had to be reclaimed by and for the Africans in America. As an occultist, Adefunmi developed a strategy in creating an African Village to coincide with the astrological configurations that were present and affecting African descendants in the 1970’s. Under his direction, he and his followers re-analyzed the term ‘pagan’ and incorporated appreciation for nature worship into the philosophy surrounding returning African culture to Black Americans. Adefunmi theorized the acceptance of the term pagan “is not at all inconsistent with the ‘Pagan Intellect’. We have no compunction about referring to ourselves as ‘pagan’ since the word does mean ‘the worship of nature or of nature powers’. It comes from the Latin word ‘pagani’ which meant ‘country people.’ So country people, being closer to nature, were bound to have a stronger sense of the relationship and the influence of nature on their lives.”[xxiii]

According to Douglas McAdam the great driving force of…religious belief is to galvanize humans to decisive action and to change them. Reconnection with Africa movements gained momentum from the 1960’s through this present time in the 21st- century. Since the 1960’s, racism has both diminished and persisted over time. Oligarchy discontinued slavery and most systems of colonialization without addressing the mental and social condition of those scattered throughout the Diaspora. Oligarchy left massive injustice and remnants of injustices without adequate plans to correct the plight of those affected by its long-standing institutions. The distribution of wealth in today’s society helps us to understand that the underpinnings of oligarchy have remained in place. African descendants began increasingly to research, discover, and embrace knowledge of their own history.

In the book, “Intellectual Warfare,” the late Jacob H. Carruthers said, ” Let us build institutions that are not only designed to meet the immediate problems caused by the vicissitudes of white supremacy, but let us establish institutions for eternity. Let us recover and restore our classical civilizations so that it serves us like the classical civilizations of other people serve them.Our classical Nile Valley civilization is…appropriate for us…it is more ancient and achieved more accomplishments than any others…it was an inspiration and model for other cultures.”[xxiv]

Adefunmi founded the Oyotunji African Village in 1970, and coined the phrase “cultural amnesia” to describe the mental condition affecting African Americans. He believed as the Yoruba’s taught, that his ancestors were motivating his focused social movement. The ancestral traditions of the past were leading the Oyotunji movement towards fully embracing an ethnic/cultural consciousness. The ancient Yoruba “were an advanced society with multi-layer and complex roles and divisions of labor, sophisticated political and social institutions buttressed by religious tenets of justice. The Yoruba society engendered supreme confidence, security, and self worth in their inhabitants.”[xxv] Adefunmi’s movement gave the drive for reconnection “to home,” a place in America, the Oyotunji African Village in Beaufort, County South Carolina. The development of Oyotunji Village gave African /American’s a substantive opportunity to reject the law of oligarchy by not seeking inclusion, to validate their own history and to re-embrace their own culture as well as, to choose to establish an African American institution. The Village was designed as a reflection of ancient traditions and societies using ancient Yoruba culture as a model. Worship of Orisha became the Village’s pillar of belief and support. The secret systems of Yoruba priesthoods of the Orisha continued to be taught and preserved in oral tradition. Adefunmi began training priests in the ancient divination systems to address and offer treatments affecting the human condition.

As the Village grew Oseijimann recognized, it was of crucial importance to spiritually address the ancestral effects of cultural amnesia. He found a very dynamic center for the preservation of Fa (the Yoruba deity of wisdom), in the former kingdom of Dahomey (now the Republic of Benin).“Ancestral society mysteries had historically been maintained to a very intricate degree. Dahomey has a reputation for maintaining the cultural traditions of Africa. Among them there is no embarrassment, nor shame, nor attempt to conceal their devotion to the cultural traditions of their ancestors.”[xxvi]

Chief Adenibi Ajamu, Foreign Minister for the Oyotunji Village, one of the original founders of the stated that, “The integration of the Egungun (ancestral) society was spiritually identified as the method critically important to strengthen the progress that needed to be made to uplift the African American’s psyche. We therefore began to implement the veneration of our ancestors that lived through unresolved life experiences of our history through the Diaspora. This element was essential to uplift our people.” Our ancestor’s in the America’s had not been spiritually venerated from the beginning of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, through slavery, through reconstruction and life in America, as a whole. “The psychology of a people is culturally defined. The ancestors that become the venerated dead maintain wisdom. The Yoruba of America had to learn the lost traditions of veneration of the ancestors in order to uplift their descendants on Earth.” African American ancestors had been neglected for four to five centuries. Egungun societies (ancestor societies) and ceremonies were necessary in order to more completely address and “clean up” the social maladies that plagued the African Diaspora experience. Ancestral societies were implemented to begin to heal social and emotional familial maladies caused by the unnatural and traumatic experience and racism that African Americans lived throughout hundreds of years in America.

In 1972, Adefunmi traveled to become initiated into the ancient mystery system of Ifa (the Yoruba deity of wisdom). Subsequently, Adefunmi’s work and reputation won him acclaim and he became a candidate for Baale (ruler of a town). “On June 5, 1981, he became the first non-Nigerian to be pronounced a Baale by Ooni Okunade Sijuwade Olubuse II, at Ife palace, Ile Ife, Abeokuto, Nigeria.”[xxvii] He returned to America, continued to travel, practice and train other priests in his acquired knowledge of Ancestral, Orisha and Ifa priesthoods among African Americans. Returning from the coronation in Nigeria, his followers made him Oba (King) of the Village of Oyotunji. The continued development of the African Village served as a training ground for African American priests and the teaching of the political structure of Yoruba kingdoms. Over four hundred priests were initiated at Oyotuniji African Village in South Carolina.

Oyotunji Village became an institutionalized springboard that catapulted into a domino effect in the U.S. and throughout the Diaspora. During the late 1980’s, many residents of the Village began an outward migration throughout the country to urban centers to form temples in urban centers and migrate to other areas of the country and the world. After that migratory movement began, increasing travel began to occur between the U.S., Africa, Brazil, and Cuba Trinidad… Many African Americans began to choose to go directly to Africa, Brazil, Cuba, and Trinidad… for initiations to Orisha and Ifa.

As the Oyotunji movement grew, between 1960’s and 1980’s white Santeros from Cuba and Puerto Rico increasingly migrated into the U.S. Most of the Cubans that came to America were political exiles that brought the Orisha practices with them. Responding to the civil rights movement and their own mixed lineage’s, Santeros and Lucumi acknowledged that African slaves had given Santeria to them. Santeria and Lucumi practitioners increasingly began to accept African Americans into their temples in America.

African descendants embracing African spirituality and culture began to become firmly rooted in major urban centers in America. As a cultural strategy with a specific aim at addressing African descendants, the Village chose neither to initiate Caucasian converts nor, to include white practitioners. As Adefunmi’s vision of reclaiming African Gods for African American’s practice grew in the U.S., many venues for non-blacks began to spring up around the country as well. White practitioners were referred to Santeros, Lucumi’s and began to develop their own communities and temples using the African spiritual systems of Orisha and Ifa.

“ The greatest accomplishment of the Oyotunji movement was to progress to a new frontier by removing the last chain of bondage from the psyche of African Americans” explained Chief Adenibi Ajamu. Christianity created a lingering spiritual bondage with its beginnings in coercing slaves into practicing Christianity with the threats of fire, brimstone and damnation for those that failed to convert.

The Oyotunji movement freed the African Americans mind to understand the importance of restoration of culture that had been missing for hundreds of years. Ajamu stated, …”A spiritual system is a cultural/ethnic starting point. We see our mission in a similar manner as orthodox Jews see their culture and restrict access to their worship. Less orthodox, Jews embrace non-orthodox application of their spirituality and are more open to membership. We of Oyotunji began our movement with a specific and directed agenda to help African descendants in America. As a cultural group of pagans we were comfortable with and understood we must include astrological data to understand where black people were, where we needed to be and how we must plan to accomplish this divine mission for our future.”[1]

In that way Oyotunji has functioned with a “ conscious strategic efforts (as a) group to fashion shared understandings of the world. This radical framework legitimated and motivated the collective action of building a village, social, hierarchical institutions.”[xxviii] The reconnection movement with African spirituality is “need based” to correct the residual social, psychological, and mental effects and experiences of Africans throughout the Diaspora. Black Nationalist’s in America have continued to maintain a conservative view of their mission to work for the needs of their people. Other activists have a moderate worldview and still others maintain a universal worldview. It is easy to speculate that Martin Luther King would have continued to develop a universal worldview with his background as a Christian minister. African American nationalists do not apologize for trying to specifically address and help their own people heal first. Christianity is basically a Jewish history. The founders of Oyotunji Village defined religion as a composition of the ethnic heritage of a particular people who were African and of the Yoruba ethnic group. In religion important events in an ethnic groups cultural and political history are remembered. Religion is essentially an ethnic celebration, composed of the events and philosophies, which evolved, based upon the environment in which they lived.

Baba Sondodina Ifatunji is an African American Assistant Professor at Chicago State University. He said since 1990 he has traveled to Trinidad, Nigeria, and Cuba dealing with Yoruba culture as a playwright, director and Babalawo. He has traveled to Ghana and South Africa involved with other projects in African culture. When he first traveled to Nigeria to become initiated, as a Babalowo “there was a struggle for the indigenous culture to survive. Today partially because native Africans have recognized that an economic market is open for African culture, it is less of a struggle than in the ‘90’s. In the 1990’s, indigenous practitioners were struggling however now; today there is more strength among the culture bearers. Whether the indigenous people were practitioners of Orishas or Ifa they all had some familiarity with culture.” Some of the indigenous people were surprised that he as an American would return to African traditional culture. His students at Chicago State University petitioned him to add a Yoruba Culture class to the University curriculum. He said it is exciting to see the enthusiasm of the students each time he teaches the class. As a playwright and director he stages plays at least once annually that tell Yoruba folk and Orishas tales mainly to the public school system. “The Yoruba stories are told with subliminal content. The stories have a healing affect” on the lives he touches. Class sizes range from 10 students up to 300. He finds a great joy in giving young people something he didn’t have as a child, stories of Africa and African gods. The stories have “morals and lessons to relate to and there is magic in the healing effect of telling Ifa stories.”[2]

Clients come to Ifatunji for divination in waves, sometimes many and then sometimes only a few. He estimates that he currently has a list serve of approximately 100-150 people. Some of those people he may have seen only once then others he has ongoing spiritual developmental relationships with.

Chief Adelekan, Babalowo was born in Ile Ife, Nigeria (1936) into one of the three royal households of the Yoruba. He is a current resident of London, England and has a degree in Engineering. His father, Chief Laadin, was fifth in rank to the Ooni (King). Chief Adelekan began his religious training as a child, and in 1975 was ordained. He took rigorous advanced training in Ifa, earning titles Oloye Amulewaiye Iledi-Ooni Ile Ife (He who seizes earth upon entering the world), Olumesin Oduduwa Ile Ife (Promoter of the religion), and Orisa Tunwase Obatala Ile Ife (Emissary of Obatala) among many. He said, “Decades ago, no self- respecting doctor or hospital would be caught in association with such things as tai chi chuan, meditation, qigong, acupuncture, etc. A large enough segment of the public has chosen to penetrate the veil that clouded their vision of (the world), and now begun to look past Greece, Rome, and Europe to …for solutions to our most pressing problems.” He said of Africans that disavow their traditional culture in public, to “follow them home (to Nigeria) and you will see that they are hypocrites, they disavow their culture because they are told avenues of opportunity will be closed to them if they acknowledge they believe in the traditional way.” [3]

Fayomi Fasade was initiated to Ifa in California and to an Egungun society in Chicago. She believes that “Ifa and Orisha practitioners represent the largest unrecognized cultural/spiritual group worldwide. Historically the western influence has come after African traditions to tear down the religion and the culture in order to take the vast wealth, natural resources, knowledge, and herb logy of the country. She lived in Ghana for a year in 2000, and learned, that when British colonizers left Ghana giving Ghana independence from British rule, they dismantled the sewer system. As the colonizers had been the controllers of the major infra-systems, Ghanaian people are led to believe that the colonizers running aspects of their lives could result in a better life.” In South Africa, people are led to believe that racism “has been obliterated however, it has not been. Many prominent entertainers in America…are re-connecting to African culture however; they are not practicing outwardly. Our people use duplicity of survival in playing the game in order to survive. “[4]

Baba Songodina Ifatunji, administers the Ile Ifa Jalumi website and on that forum explained his journey into African culture this way:” It was no accident that a Black Nationalist was responsible for turning the tide and making Yoruba culture accessible to Africans of North America. It is because a Black Nationalist would know the next most logical step to take to help with the advancement of our cultural group. Black Nationalists prepared themselves by studying our racial, ethnic and historical soul. We were trying to restore things to something closer to their original, pre-Colonial form and purpose.” Ifatunji relates an odu (ancient story used to apply divination counsel) published from the ESE Ifa (oral archives) of the odu Oturupon Meji as told to him by noted scholar and Babalowo, Dr. Wande Abimbola. In this story, the figure Oyepolu was identified as being one who was separated at an early age from his mother and father and, as a result, knew very little about the rites and rituals of his family’s culture. Oyepolu’s life was not going well. This story has, for me, long epitomized the condition of the African of America. The advice to Oyepolu was that he should return to the graves of his ancestors. He did so and his life became sweet.”[xxix]

In Nigeria World Feb., 1999 an article on ‘Globalization, Its Implications and Consequences for Africa,’ by S.T. Akindele, Ph.D. wrote, “Indigenous peoples will become the chief protagonists of change in the coming millennium. Indigenous people present their challenges to the course of globalization…The convergence of indigenous rights with international human rights advocates throughout the Americas is gaining momentum.”

McAdam recognized the importance of the Internet and transnational travel in the development of social movements. Today the worldwide growth of this social movement is especially propelled forward with communication technologies such as the Internet and decreased costs for travel abroad. The 21st century is opening a way for many people to break from unfulfilling conventional religious practices. A universalistic perspective is another by product of this time in history and result of various social movements. According to Elazar, “ The dynamics and confusions of history must neither obscure the truth…(for)…it must change the course of history through its institutions… “today we have reached a point where a unified world history can be seen by all. What remains is to reorganize our teaching of world history to incorporate the worldwide perspective…and not fall in the trap of making all historical events equal.” [xxx]

George James connected social reformation through a new philosophy on Africa’s redemption in value placed on it in that “the knowledge that the African Continent gave civilization Arts, Sciences, Religion and Philosophy is destined to produce a change in the mentality both of the White and Black people.”[xxxi]

Establishing data on the Yoruba resurgence is difficult because: the movement is resistant to tracking data, data collection, documenting movement mobilization, and fully disclosing increasing transnational links. The Yoruba movement of today though changing, maintains secrecy as a part of its culture. Whether choosing a conservative or universal approach to understanding the global expansion of African Indigenous culture the growth is evident. Examples from the Internet include:

The OrisaWorld Congresses that have attracted hundreds of participants from around the world no matter where the congress was held. To date it has been held in the following countries: – “Cuba: 2003 – Nigeria: 2001 – Trinidad and Tobago: 1999 – USA: 1997 – Brazil: 1990 – Nigeria: 1986 – Brazil: 1983 – Nigeria: 1981. The theme of the Rio, Brazil 2005 OrisaWorld Congress is “Orisa Religion and Culture in the 21st Century.”
The consistent goal among practitioners is worshipping the ancestors, the pantheon of Orisha and increasingly, Ifa. As an example of the growth of the African spiritual systems the Internet google search engine produced the following information: Results 4,320 for Ifa African divination system, Results of about 72,900 for orisha and 1,310,000 for African spiritual systems. The following information from websites was also excerpted:
From the website: / .” We are especially proud of the lasting bonds that have been forged between African and Latinos, through the existence of this site. All of us seek our roots. Western society leaves all disconnected as it encourages us to place our trust in material goods and ways of living that were engineered by marketing firms. More and more people of all ethnicities are turning to Africa to find the solace, focus, and regeneration that they need in life. Temples listed with our service:
VODUN Georgia: West African Dahomean
Vodoun VOODOO Louisiana: Ava Kay Jones
New York: Temple of Yehwe YORUBA/ORISA’IFA
California: Ijo Orunmila, Ile Orunmila, and Awo Study Center
Florida: Ile Orunmila Temple, Ife Ile, Church of Lukumi Illinois: Ile Ifa Jalumi, Ile Osikan, Egbe Imole Agbon Iwosan
New York: Ile Ase, Lukumi Church
South Carolina: Oyotunji Village
Tennessee Mimo Anago Ile Oshun
Texas: Ile Olokun
Virginia Ile Oyigigi Ojuba Orisa AKAN
Georgia: Akan Spiritual United Order
Maryland: Nyame Dua: Shrine House for Spiritual Healing
New York: Obaatanpa N’Abosum Fie
Pennsylvania: Adade Kofi Bosomfie Sankofa, Asona Aberade Shrine, Inc. Washington D.C. Onipa Abusia, Asomdwee Fie,
Shrine of the Abosom and Nsamanfo KEMETIC
Washington DC Region,
Florida: Ausar Auset Society Orlando Study Group
Maryland: Baltimore Branch of the
Ausar Auset Society International Pennsylvania: Ausar Auset Society in Philadelphia
Washington D.C. Ausar Auset Society
Washington, DC “”Mamaissii Vivian Dansi Hounon is (the first resurrected lineage) priestess of the Yeveh Vodoun and Mami Wata tradition in the United States of Congo ancestral spiritual lineage’s. She was initiated in1988 and in 1996 and trained in Togo, West Africa, and in the United States. Mamaisssii is founder and president of OATH (Organization of African Traditional Healers). She is a graduate of Chaminade University, and Augusta State University M.Ed. She has been traveling to West Africa (and other countries) since 1988. Her spiritual lineage descends directly from both sides of her own family who were Mami Wata & Vodoun priests, captured & enslaved as hired-out masons and carvers in America. She believes that she must resurrect her culture from centuries of fear, ignorance, shame, and forced amnesia of who we really are. Her website contains recordings from 1930s compiled” An Episcopal Priest, Henry Hyatt, who was commissioned to collect and preserve these first hand accounts of priceless knowledge on hoodoo culture…
“ODUNDE is a Yoruba word that means “Happy New Year” in the Yoruba language of Nigeria. Lois Fernandez, a devotee of the Yoruba cultural tradition, spearheaded the first festival held in the United States in 1975. This year’s festival marks the 30th year of the festival. Ms. Fernandez visited Africa and witnessed the festivals celebrating the various Orishas in several towns of Oshun’s and being a devotee of Ifa she decided to replicate the celebration in her home town of Philadelphia. Today, the ODUNDE festival is one the oldest most successful African American Street Festivals in the country.”

Vibrant transnational communities have developed around the world from an accelerated reconnection of embracing Yoruba and other forms of ancient African spirituality. Marcus Garvey prophesied to his followers, “Look to Africa for the crowning of a Black king, he will be the Redeemer.” A redeemer is someone that returns something of value to those who lost it. I see Garvey’s prophesy to mean that in time, a redeemer would open “flood gates” of awareness that would facilitate mental and spiritual freedom from the consequences of sins, inflicted upon a race of people scattered throughout the Diaspora. Oligarchy and its aftereffects have plagued civilization for 600 years. Reclamation of African culture is vital in healing lives troubled by double consciousnesses and the pathologies caused by oligarchy. Finally, Oseijeman Adefunmi seized the political opportunity of the time, to begin a unique social movement. The movement encouraged practitioners to have an appreciation and value of their own ethnic identities, their history as a people, and an appreciation for themselves. It further validated the cosmogony of life from an [xxxii] African centered perspective.


[1] Interviews with Chief Adenibi Ajamu April 14, 16 and 20, 2005

[2] Interviews with Baba/Professor Songodina Ifatunji April 21, May 9, 2005

[3] Interviews with Chief Adelekan April 16, 2005

[4] Interview with Iya Fayomi Falade April 18, 2005


[i] Stolen Legacy, George James, Introduction {1}

[ii]World History Curriculum, Daniel Elazar, page 7

[iii] World History Curriculum, Daniel Elazar, page 90

iv Runaway World, Giddens, Anthony New York: Routledge, 2003). page 57

[v] Orisha Journeys : The Role of Travel in the Birth of Yoruba-Atlantic Religions, Cohen pages 17-36

[vi] Yoruba Religion and Medicine in Ibadan, Falipe 1970, page 289

[vii] The Clash of Civilizations

[viii] Intellectual Warfare, Jacob Carruthers, page 271

[ix] Orisha Journeys: The Role of Travel in the Birth of Yoruba-Atlantic Religions, Cohen

[x] ibid

[xi] Orisha Journeys: The Role of Travel in the Birth of Yoruba-Atlantic Religions, Cohen

[xii] Orisha Journeys: The Role of Travel in the Birth of Yoruba-Atlantic Religions, Cohen

[xiii] (In) visibility and Duality of the Civil Rights and Yoruba Movements: 1950-1990s, Faola Ifagboyede, California State University, Northridge

[xiv] ibid

[xv] Democracy and the Iron Law of Oligarchy, Michels, Robert, 1876-1936

[xvi] Mapping Yoruba Networks: Power and Agency in the Making of Transnational Communities, Kamari Maxine Clarke, Duke University Press, 2004 page, 136

[xvii] Orisha Journeys : The Role of Travel in the Birth of Yoruba-Atlantic Religions, Cohen pages 17-36

[xviii] The Souls of Black Folks, W.E.B. Dubois

[xix] Black Skin,, White Masks, Frantz Fanon, 1967 page 135

[xx] Doug McAdam, John D. McCarthy, Mayer N. Zald, Eds. Comparative Perspectives on Social Movements. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1966. Introduction and ch. 1, pp. 1-40

[xxi] (In)visibility and Duality of the Civil Rights and Yoruba Movements: 1950-1990s, Faola Ifagboyede, California State University, Northridge

[xxii] ibid

[xxiii]Keynote Address by H./R.H. Oseijeman Adefunmi I, Columbia University 1-16-93

[xxiv] Intellectual Warfare, Jacob B. Carruthers, page 273

[xxv] Nigeria World February, 1999


[xxvii] Funeral Program for Oba Oseijeman Adefunmi I, February 20, 2005

[xxviii] World History Curriculum, Daniel Elazar, page 16

[xxix] /

[xxx]World History Curriculum, Daniel Elazar, page

[xxxi] Stolen Legacies, George James, page 153

Other Works Cited

DuBois,W.E.B. The Souls of Black Folks

Fanon, Frantz, The Wretched of the Earth

Fanon, Frantz, Black Skin, White Masks

Washington, Joseph, Anti-Blackness in English Religion: 1500-1800

Lovejoy, Paul, “The African Diaspora: Revisionist Interpretations of Ethnicity, Culture and Religion Under Slavery” Studies in the World History of Slavery, Abolition and Emancipation, II, 1 (1997), 3

Herkovits, Melville, The Myth of the Negro Past


March 15, 2008


Saturday March 15, 2008

On pilgrimage to Nigeria
Baptism of fire for king of Yoruba clan in America
Thursday, January 24, 2008

•L-R: Fancy the facial marks of Yoruba-Americans, Chief Olaitan and Ol’Oyotunji of Oyotunji, Beaufort, South Carolina.

The traditional ruler of Oyotunji, a Yoruba community in America, had a baptism of fire on arrival in Nigeria following his detention for two nights at Seme Border. The communal king, Oba Adejuigbe Adefunmi II, was arrested in connection with alleged possession of narcotic drugs.

The man, who holds the title Ol’Oyotunji, is monarch of the Yoruba enclave, which stands within Beaufort in the US State of South Carolina.

Oyotunji, the name of the miniature village in Sheldon, Beaufort, alludes to a resurrection of the ancient Yoruba Kingdom of Oyo in southwestern Nigeria, and Oba Adefunmi, 31, said he succeeded his late father, Oba Efuntola Adefunmi I, premiere Ol’Oyotunji of Oyotunji, to the throne.
Apart from the monarch, Mr. Akintunde Meredith, another member of the team of seven African-Americans, said to be on a pilgrimage to Nigeria, also spent two nights in custody with officers of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) at Seme Border, Nigeria’s southwestern frontier neighbouring Benin Republic. Mr. Meredith, 24, is a stepbrother of the Ol’Oyotunji.

The five remaining members of the delegation were however allowed to continue with their sojourn in Nigeria, but they simply could not. Instead, the quintet chose to check into a hotel and await the fate of their co-travellers. Sources revealed they had planned to catch some sleep at a nearby inn, however, even for those that managed to catnap for an hour or two it must have been a fitful sleep.

According to NDLEA sources at that frontier, a white powdery substance, suspected to be Category A narcotic, was found inside the vehicle that the American-born Kabiyesi was riding in. Category A drugs include cocaine and heroin. Furthermore, Mr. Meredith was found to be in possession of some 2gm of weed, suspected to be marijuana.

This led to the arrest of the duo on January 15, which stalled the journey of the team until two days later, when the oba and his brother were released. Oba Adefunmi II was freed because the white powder proved negative after laboratory tests for narcotics. It was however revealed that, though the grass found on Meredith was confirmed to be Indian hemp, the young man was let loose because, going by the quantity he was carrying, it was probably meant for personal use and not for commercial purpose. How naïve of Meredith to attempt taking coal to Newcastle!

Occasionally, NDLEA commands with approval from that agency’s headquarters, release suspected users after counseling, where the volume of drug found on the person was rather small. In Meredith’s case, however, to continue to detain him for counseling would have meant further delay for the entire team. This informed the decision to let him go, and sin no more. But this was only after older members of the entourage had signed undertakings to effect the counseling aspect as well as promised to do all they can to ensure that Meredith does not abuse any drug throughout their stay in Nigeria.

The team’s trip ran into the 48-hour hitch as soon as they entered Nigeria from Benin Republic. Oba Adefunmi later told Travels that the group’s spiritual sojourn in Nigeria actually began on January 8, when their Delta Air flight landed at Murtala Mohammed International Airport, (MMIA), Ikeja. He revealed his group had subsequently travelled to Cotonou, the economic capital of Benin Republic, where a member of the entourage has her roots. That co-traveller was left in Benin, where further search for her ancestral origin, was supposed to take her to Allada.

The other members were subsequently returning to Nigeria when they encountered that go-slow at Seme Border. The pilgrims had planned for a seven-day stay in Nigeria billed to end on January 22, their departure date to the southeastern US State of Miami. Their interception therefore probably caused a reduction or an extension of the duration of their visit.

Asked to comment on the suspected narcotic found on him, the Ol’Oyotunji was quick to stress: “Actually, the substance was not found on me. It happened to be in the car that I was riding in. And I never noticed it, until the officers discovered it. And, when they untied it, I, as a traditional Yoruba Kabiyesi, recognized the powder as Ifa divination stuff called Orosun, and I told them so.”
Responding to Travels curiosity about his attitude to drugs, Oba Adefunmi had this to say: “I, as Kabiyesi, do not do drugs.”

Trained as an artistic mason, Adefunmi recalled that his mother, Mrs. Esuogo Oyewole Adefunmi, had made a similar pilgrimage to Nigeria in 1971/72. His mom hailed from the US oil-rich State of Texas. Esuogo and her husband had 23 children but 18 of these offspring were daughters. As a result, there had been much fanfare, when Prince Adejuigbe was born in 1976. Much publicity and celebration had greeted the birth of this baby boy because, after bearing about a dozen daughters, a male child and heir to the throne had, finally, arrived.

Speaking further on the visitors’ motive and itinerary, Oba Adefunmi said they were in Nigeria to visit Ile-Ife with the hope of meeting Yoruba traditional rulers, especially in Osun State. “Nigeria is the ancestral home of all Yoruba, and Ile-Ife is the spiritual home of all Yoruba people. So, we came to explore means of more communication and collaboration between various Yoruba communities and Oyotunji. We want to promote awareness about the existence of Oyotunji, an Oduduwa Village in North America,” remarked Adefunmi, who is proprietor of a US-based media outfit called Great Benin Films and Books.

The Ol’Oyotunji is also a priest of the Oyotunji-based African Theological Arch-Ministry, which was conceived to promote African religions and culture in America. This explains his appearance and regalia, which featured conspicuous facial marks, a bead-decked staff, flywhisk, and traditional Yoruba headgear, among others. Many of the other men in the group also bear “tribal” marks.
The visiting septet also included Mrs. Ifabunmi Sands, elder sister of the Ol’Oyotunji as well as 59-year-old Chief Apena Olaitan. Mrs. Sands, whose middle names are Olubiyi Adesoji Adefunmi, is eldest daughter of the late premiere Oba of Oyotunji.

Sands, 40, is a mother of four (three sons and a daughter), and the lady, who told Travels that she is into literary studies, added that she had earlier taken a degree in the sciences from a college in Sacramento, capital of the State of California in the US Pacific coast area. Chief Olaitan, whose first name, Apena, derives from his position in the Ogboni cult, introduced himself as a high school science and mathematics teacher. The Apena Ogboni recalled he relocated to Oyotunji in 1978, eight years after the establishment of that commune.

Aside the tourists’ disposition toward Ifa, everyone in the delegation also boasts some comprehension of the Yoruba language. In fact, when we sought the view of Chief Olaitan on the marijuana found on Meredith, and where the group were going from there, this is what the Ogboni chief had to say: “It is sad that a mistake by a silly boy brought embarrassment to the Kabiyesi, our group and country. However, we have consulted Ifa and we’ve been assured that it will all end well.”

Oba Adefunmi I, the founding father of Oyotunji, was once known as Walter King, but he jettisoned these epithets in favour of the Yoruba names of Efuntola Adelabu Adefunmi, among others, after a visit to Cuba in 1959. He had gone to Cuba for initiation rites into Yoruba traditional religion. The late Oba Adefunmi I, who established Oyotunji with 18 US dollars, 30 years ago, was born in Detroit.

Detroit is in the US State of Michigan, whose region is called Mid West, whereas it is geographically located in North Central United States. The American City of Detroit, where Adefunmi I was born, is famed for its automobile industry and the Rhythm and Blues (R&B) hits’ factory, Motown Records. The sports club Detroit Pistons, the R&B group Detroit Spinners as well as Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross and the Jackson Five all had their early careers in Detroit.

Although polygamy is illegal under US law, the taking of multiple wives is allowed in Oyotunji, apparently in emulation of the custom in pre-Christianity Yoruba society. And as a king, who lived what he preached, Oba Adefunmi I married 17 wives in his lifetime! Unlike the late Oba Adefunmi, who sired some 28 children, his successor son is only a father of three, probably because he is monogamous.
The incumbent traditional ruler however reminded us that he was still young, and could still acquire an additional wife or two.

Travels subsequently turned to Mrs. Sands, who is the only wife of her spouse, to find out, if she would support her brother’s drive toward polygamy. Despite her American citizenship, Sands responded in the affirmative, adding: “As Africans, polygamy is not strange to us, so I would encourage him, if he wished to take another wife. But, I would screen the girl to find out whether or not she’d make a good wife.”
How dare a woman interfere in the business of a king, whose word is in some quarters considered law? A king is supposed to be superior to everyone, and therefore could have his way always, wasn’t he? We teased.

Sands again: “I know that Kabiyesi’s word is law, but he’s still my kid brother. His life is our life, so I have the right to screen any woman he wants to take for wife.”
After that, we turned to Chief Olaitan to tell us how many wives he has. “One wife, now,” he said. But how was the population of their community going to grow, when he, another key figure, is also monogamous? “I support polygamy,” he submitted. However, one could say that his support was more in theory than practice. To that, Chief Olaitan agreed but finally revealed, “I’m still looking.”

Speaking on the visitors’ experience, the NDLEA Commander, Seme Special Area, Mr. Isa Adoro Umar, told Travels that much as tourists were welcome, they should bear in mind that his agency would fish out any one given to drug abuse or trafficking, adding that the experience of the Americans showed that no quantity, however small, would escape detection.

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