Monday, 27 February 2017

Mythical Gods of the Yoruba

Opon Ifa (La Mesa de Ifa in Latin America) divination tray

A friend in the United States recently sent me an email informing me that he was almost done reading his latest book Fingerprints of the Gods which he finds to be “dry and repetitive”.

But he is also appreciative of the background concepts behind the book which according to him “are the most interesting and unbelievable FACTS in the history of mankind that I have ever encountered.”

This includes aspects of congruence between the pyramids and structures found in both Central and South America and in Ancient Egypt even though the two cultures never interfaced.

It got me thinking and I sent him a reply including the following about the similarities in culture and belief system between the Yoruba and the Ancient Greeks and Aztecs. Leo Frobenius who made the claims of an African Atlantis did theorize the link with Africa in a decidedly racist manner:

“Did the narrative stray into the realms of Atlantis? The German archeologist Frobenius postulated a link between Yoruba civilization and that of Etruria, that is, the Etruscans, the pre-Roman era inhabitants of northern Italy. Yorubaland is mostly in modern south western Nigeria. He believed that both were provinces of Atlantis.

The Yoruba and Etruscans share a similar culture and spiritual belief system. For instance that of lightning emanating from the sixteen regions of the sky. Their cities are divided into 16 (the Yoruba have 16 ancient kingdoms) and the 16 regions of the sky each have a deity representing a distinct character-personality.

There are many similarities between the gods of the Yoruba, the Aztecs, the ancient Greeks and the Etruscans.

The Yoruba god of heaven is Obatala whose equivalent Uranus, is the primal Greek god of the sky. And Hephaestus, the Greek god of blacksmiths is the counterpart of Ogun, the Yoruba god of iron who in the modern syncretized Yoruba religions in Brazil, the Caribbean and southern United States is the patron deity of smiths and craftsmen. Olokun is the god of the sea whose rule of the oceans is complemented by the goddess Yemanja, the role fulfilled by Poseidon, and Shango is the god of lightning as are Zeus and Thor respectively of Greek and Norse mythology.”

© Adeyinka Makinde (2017)

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England.

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