Religions


The Africans are “incurably religious people” Religion is part and parcel of life in traditional African society. Religion permeates all aspects of life be it politics, law, economics, education, marriage etc. Thus, to be an effective member of the community, one must belong to the religion of the land. Right from birth to death religion controls every aspect of life of the individual. African Traditional Religion, however, has been grossly misrepresented and misconceived by western scholars and foreign missionaries.

The misconception of African traditional Religion is most apparent in the terminologies wrongly applied to it. Traditional religion is part of African culture. One cannot separate oneself from traditional religion. African Traditional Religion is the product of the thinking and experiences of our ancestors or fore-fathers.These fore-fathers formed religious ideas, they formulated religious beliefs, they observed religious ceremonies and rituals, they uttered proverbs and myths which conveyed religious meanings, and they enacted decrees,interdicts, laws and customs which safeguard the moral life of the individual and the community.

A religion is an organized collection of beliefs, cultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to an order of existence. Many religions have narratives, symbols, and sacred histories that are intended to explain the meaning of life and/or to explain the origin of life or the Universe. From their beliefs about the cosmos and human nature, people derive morality,ethics, religious laws or a preferred lifestyle. According to some estimates, there are roughly 4,200 religions in the world.


The word religion is sometimes used interchangeably with faith, belief system or sometimes set of duties. Many religions may have organized behaviors, clergy, a definition of what constitutes adherence or membership, holy places, and scriptures. The practice of a religion may also include rituals, sermons, commemoration or veneration of a deity, gods or goddesses, sacrifices, festivals, feasts, trance, initiations, funerary services, matrimonial services, meditation, prayer, music, art, dance, public service or other aspects of human culture. Religions may also contain mythology.



Unlike in other world religions, traditional religion has no one founder. It can be said to have arisen from the way of life within the traditional African society. Thus, African Traditional Religion is based on oral traditions which are handed on by word of mouth from one generation to the other. Members of the society learn the tenets of the religion through practical examples from generation to generation. This religion can also be learnt through myths, folklores, informal stories of gods and goddesses, proverbs, songs, conversational music and dance.

The Yorùbá religion comprises the indigenous religion of the Yoruba people. Its homeland is in Southwestern Nigeria and the adjoining parts of Benin and Togo, a region that has come to be known as Yorubaland. Yorùbá religion is formed of diverse traditions and has no single founder. Yorùbá have evolved a robust philosophy,that thoughts and actions of each person in Ayé (the physical realm) interact with all other living things, including the Earth itself.


Each person attempts to achieve transcendence and find their destiny in Òrún-Réré (the spiritual realm of those who do good and beneficial things). Yoruba religious beliefs are part of itan, the total complex of songs, histories, stories and other cultural concepts which make up the Yorùbá society. One's Orí-Inu (spiritual consciousness in the physical realm) must grow in order to consummate union with one's "Ipônri" (Orí Òrún, spiritual self).


Olodumare or Olorun as the supreme, self-existing deity. According to author Bolaji E. Idowu:"He is supreme over all on earth and in heaven, acknowledged by all the divinities as the Head to whom all authority belongs and all allegiance is due. . . His status of supremacy is absolute. Things happen when He approves, things do not come to pass if He disapproves. In worship, the Yoruba holds Him ultimately First and Last; in man's daily life, He has the ultimate pre-eminence." In the Yorùbá belief system, Olodumare: God in Yoruba Belief has àṣẹ over all that is. It is for this reason that He is considered supreme.

women occupy a central place in the religious of Ifá and life of the Yoruba people and shows how men and women engage in mutually beneficial roles in the Yoruba religious sphere. Visit Osun Osogbo: Sacred Places and Sacred People. It explores how gender issues play out in two Yoruba religious traditions-indigenous religion and Christianity in Southwestern Nigeria. Rather than shy away from illuminating the tensions between the prominent roles of Yoruba women in religion .Click here for Women in the Yoruba Religious Sphere (Mcgill Studies in the History of Religions, a Series Devoted to International Scholarship)

Those who stop growing spiritually, in any of their given lives, are destined for "Òrún-Apadi" (Lit. the invisible realm of potsherds). Life and death are said to be cycles of existence in a series of physical bodies while one's spirit evolves toward transcendence. This evolution is said to be most evident amongst the Orishas, the divine viziers of the Almighty God.

Iwapẹlẹ (or well-balanced) meditation and sincere veneration is sufficient to strengthen the Orí-Inu of most people. Well-balanced people, it is believed, are able to make positive use of the simplest form of connection between their Oris and the omnipotent Olu-Òrún: an adúra (petition or prayer) for divine support.

Prayer to one's Orí Òrún has been known to produce an immediate sensation of joy. Ẹlégbara (Eṣu, the divine messenger) initiates contact with Òrún on behalf of the petitioner, and transmits the prayer to Ayé; the deliverer of àṣẹ or the spark of life. He transmits this prayer without distorting it in any way. Thereafter, the petitioner may be satisfied with a personal answer. In the event that he or she is not, the Ifa oracle of the Orisha Orunmila may also be consulted. All communication with Òrún, whether simplistic in the form of a personal prayer or complicated in the form of that done by an initiated priest of divination, however, is energized by invoking àṣẹ.





Comments