The Yoruba Religion

The slavery of our Ancestors did not make the Yoruba Religion a slave

The Yoruba Religion corresponds to a series of ancestral beliefs and traditions based on the cult of Òrìṣà and Ifá. He was born in the Yoruba people, originally located in Nigeria, in the western part of the African continent. The Federal Republic of Nigeria is currently a country whose borders are delimited to the north with Niger, to the south with the Gulf of Guinea in the Atlantic Ocean, to the east with Cameroon and to the west with Benin. The peoples of the Yoruba kingdom are also located in the area belonging to "African Guinea", a term that in the 20th century refers to: "areas inhabited by blacks." This territory belongs to the States currently identified as: Gambia, and Angola. The Yoruba kingdom had a great economic, social and religious development in its time, therefore, it exercised the domain of most of the African territory, even, the Yoruba language was the most used in the region, since it allowed the easy commercial relationship between different states. This area is one of the most populated in Africa. Likewise, it was one of the regions where the greatest number of people were stolen to be enslaved during the XV to XIX centuries, an approximate figure of 10 million individuals is estimated, of which XNUMX million died during the transfer to American soil, product of the overcrowding, and the precarious conditions during the trip.

The place of creation, the city of ilé ife

Originally the Yoruba State was made up of the most prominent kingdoms of Africa, with Ile-Ife being the center of all of them, it is calculated that it is the oldest city and its foundation is approximated between the 170th and XNUMXth centuries AD, having as ancestor more original and founder to: Oduduwa. Ife was defined as the center of the Yoruba cities and therefore the spiritual center, the cradle of the Yoruba religion. Its name means: "Earth in expansion" as a reference to the myth of the creation of the world that considers that city as the place where existence begins on earth. It is located approximately XNUMX kilometers northeast of the city of Lagos.    

Yoruba society has been economically sustained thanks to agriculture in a large percentage. Their political organization differs from one region to another. Each city has a main authority (Oba) who acquires that hierarchy by inheritance, by election of the previous ruler or by participation in certain social groups. Normally, the Oba is considered to be a direct successor to the founding ancestors of the place. He is accompanied by an advisory group made up of the Ogboni with whom he discusses relevant decisions and a Balogun (Warchief).

In its beginnings, the royal palace was located in the middle of the kingdom. In front of him, the market was placed. Similarly, the Oni (king, ruler) was the highest leader of the religion of the Yoruba people revered as a sacred being, incarnation of the Gods.

Besides Ile Ife, there are other cities that shared in a certain way the spiritual traditions regarding the Yoruba religion.

The cradle of the Alafin Shango, the mighty Kingdom of Oyo

It is considered a state of great relevance among the Yoruba peoples. It is estimated that it was founded in the year 1350 AD. Its king, the Alafin of Oyo to this day is respected as such, like the Oni of Ife, but nevertheless, they do not possess the same political power of times past.

In the XNUMXth century it was characterized by the search for expansion of its territory, which led it to raise its level until it was considered an empire. In the XNUMXth century it suffered a great internal war in which the Fulani ethnic group participated, who ended up dominating the control of Oyo at the time, displacing the Yorubas towards the south of the continent.

In 1888, the Yorubas and the Fulanis reached an arrangement in which they allowed the Yoruba people to regain their territory. In 1901, they are colonized by the British, who later defined a direction that mostly contemplated the Yoruba style of government.

Learn: All about the Signs of Ifa, Yoruba Religion.

The ancestors of the Candomble: the kingdom of Dahomey

Its creation is calculated for the seventeenth century by an ethnic group named Adja, it arises in response to the locals against the slave hunts. They were formally organized and had a professional army. Over time the Adja gave rise to the ethnic group that is currently identified as: Dahomey or Fon.

During the last decades of the seventeenth century the fierce hunting by the slave owners destabilized the different states of the African continent, for which, at the beginning of the eighteenth century Dahomey signed pacts with the traffickers, which generated facilities, but also sought limit them. This caused the kingdom to become dependent on the income provided by this activity, motivating constant wars.

For the year 1755, the Portuguese slavers founded the city of Porto Novo, with the purpose of dedicating themselves with greater zeal to the trade and trafficking of Africans, generating that during the nineteenth century the kingdom of Dahomey went through a period of instability and absolute deterioration, motivated to all the infighting produced by this decadent practice.

In the XNUMXth century, the brutal slave trade was diminishing and replaced by the Palm Oil trade among other activities related to agriculture. For their part, freed slaves began to participate in foreign trade related to this particular area. Through these groups of the African diaspora, the syncretism of the Yoruba religion was generated. In the case of the preceding Africans from this area, most of them were taken to Brazil, where the cult called: Candomblé arises.

At present, what was formerly known as the Dahomey Kingdom is identified as: the Republic of Benin, whose location is in West Africa. It is bordered to the east by Nigeria, to the west by Togo, and to the north by Burkina Faso and Niger. Its capital is: Porto Novo. Its economy is mainly agricultural and its official language is: French, but, in the same way, the use of autochthonous languages ​​such as: Yoruba and Fon is maintained.

Kingdoms and more kingdoms

Other kingdoms of relevance practicing the Yoruba Religion and participating in the ancestral heritage of the religion are: Ijesha and Ekiti located to the northeast; the Shabe, Ketu, Egbado, Ijebu, and Awori located to the southwest; Ondo, Owo and Itsekiri in the southeast area. Ibadan and Abeokuta to the south.

It may interest you: What is the Santeria or Rule of Osha and Ifa?

Let's talk about the Yoruba Religion: the cult of òríşá (Orisha) and Ifá in Cuba

Known as the Osha-Ifa ruler. The cult of Orisa and Ifa is the product of the African diaspora in Cuba. Heritage of the African slaves brought to America by the colonizers. It follows directly from the Yoruba religion, originally from the African ethnic group that responds to the same name. As previously stated, the Yoruba people were victims of cruel human trafficking, being transferred in subhuman conditions to the New World. It is estimated that approximately 1.3 million slaves were transferred to Cuba, ripped from their homes on the other side of the world.

During this period, the colonizers used to refer to slaves and their practices as "the Lucumí", since it was common to hear them use the expression: oloku mi, which means my friend. In the same way, faith in their deities was referred to disparagingly by the slavers as: "Santeria" a term that was used in a mocking tone in reference to the religiosity and excessive devotion that practitioners showed towards their saints.

Cuba was one of the territories whose colonization was later during the time of discovery. Most of the slaves who came to the island came from Yoruba lands, so the influence of their customs and traditions is severely marked on their cultural heritage. It is evident in its music, gastronomy, dance, dialect, among many other sociocultural aspects, but, in a greater percentage, it remains present in its religious legacy. Those customs that today are considered ancestral were admirably and heroically maintained by the characters of that time. With extreme care for meaning and symbolism, their beliefs were adapted, giving way to the syncretism that originated between the Catholic saints and the Yoruba pantheon. During this process, the capacity that Africans had to maintain deep conviction and devotion in relation to what it meant to be themselves stands out, surviving the most degrading, limiting, unjust and inhumane conditions. The African did not lose his faith and under the strictest respect for the meaning of all his traditions gave way to new practices that to this day have allowed his legacy to survive. They were stripped of everything they knew, their freedom, their lives were taken from them, physically bowed but morally they never achieved it, it is thanks to them, to those who suffered firsthand the meaning of the sacrifice that is known today in Cuban and Venezuelan lands, Mexican, Brazilian, in the Caribbean islands, and throughout the world, the heritage originally emanated from the people and the Yoruba Religion.

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