Yoruba mythology and its relevance in modern society.

Essay by TullyUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, May 2002

download word file, 6 pages 3.3 2 reviews

Downloaded 133 times

'Every culture, it would seem, has its mythology and seeks answers to the unknown to satisfy an inner urge to understand mysteries' (Saxby, 1987, p.150,). The Yoruba are no exception. The Yoruba have lived in Southwest Nigeria and Benin for thousands of years. Due to the redrawing of borders in Africa there is no state called Yoruba. There are, however, approximately 20 million people throughout the world who speak Yoruba as their first language; 19 million live in Nigeria but many are dispersed around Africa and the rest of the world (African Policy Information Center, n.d.).

The religion of the Yoruba people originated thousands of years ago and is a tradition of nature worship and ancestor reverence (Yoruba Religion, n.d.). The Yoruba worship one god called Olodumare, and also hundreds of deities known as Orishas, who are personified aspects of nature and spirit. The principal orishas include Eleggua, Oggun, Ochosi, Obatala, Yemaya, Oshun, Shango, Oya, Babalu Aiye, and Orula' (Yoruba Religion, n.d.).

The multiplicity of gods are seen by the Yoruba people, not as messengers or subordinate beings, but as aspects or facets of the same divine force. They are part manifestation of the divine spirit and each orisha is accessible to different people (Beier, 1980). This concept is explained in the myth of Orishanla (see Appendix), which explains that all divinities are part of the same arch-divinity and that the divine spirit is scattered throughout the world and can be found everywhere: in people, animals, trees and rocks (Beier, 1980). Olodumare is the considered the Supreme Deity, the creator of the universe, the controller of destiny and the Source Being, who puts beings in person, without which people cannot become a living, rational or 'intelligent' being (Ijo Orunmila - Cosmology, n.d.).

The Yoruba conceive of the cosmos as...