Africa Religion: Yoruba gods

The Yoruba tribe has an estimated population of over 20 million people; it is one of the biggest and popular ethnic groups in Africa. The Yoruba tribe is primarily located in the South-Western parts of Nigeria, with smaller groups of the tribe scattered through Togo and Benin. The Yoruba people are also known to be a deeply spiritual people who believe in the existence of one Universal force known as Olodumare or Olorun, the Supreme God and ruler of heavens through whom all life is possible. In addition to the universal force Olodumare; is a pantheon of deities or gods known as the Orisas who are responsible for governing various aspects of the tribe.

The Orisas are said to be around 1700 in number, this being the largest collection of divinities in a single African people. These deities are closely associated with natural objects and phenomena as well as with human activities and experience; they are said to submit to the Supreme Being (Olodumare), annual attributes of their substance, in acknowledgement of his Lordship. Incidentally, these deities form a hierarchical structure parallel to the community’s socio-political structure.

Orisa-nla is the Youruba community’s Supreme Divinity who acts as Olodumare’s earthly deputy in creative and executive functions. Then there is Orunmila, an omnilinguist deity who is reputed to understand every language spoken on earth and who manifests himself to men through the oracle of divination. Another popular divinity among the Yoruba people is the Ogun, known to be the owner of all iron and steel. Ogun is said to have originally been a hunter who paved the way for other deities to descend to earth and it is for this reason that he was crowned as chief among the deities. Finally, in this list of the Yoruba deities is Sango, the deity of thunder and lightning, and the greatest Yoruba warrior whose weapon of choice is the double axe, he represents Olodumare’s wrath. Sango’s wife Oshun is also popular deity of the Yoruba community; she is the deity of sexuality, pleasure, fertility, beauty, and love.

These deities are seen or perceived to be a creation rather a manifestation of the Supreme Being Olodumare in the ontological category of spirits. They are associated with Him, and often stand for his activities as spiritual beings in charge of supernatural phenomena and natural objects.

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