HOW DOES IFE AND YORUBA PRACTICE PRESERVE NIGERIAN CULTURE?
The Yoruba religion is the religious belief and practice of the Yoruba people both in Africa (chiefly in Nigeria and Benin Republic), and in the Americas. It has influenced and given birth to several Afro-American religions such as Santeria in Cuba and Candomble in Brazil. Though specific numbers are unknown, it is possibly the largest African born religion in the world. Though claims are made for an ultimately Egyptian/African origin to Judaism, Judaism was finalized as the religion of the Hebrew people of the Levant. Christianity and Islam also have long histories in Africa, but neither of those can claim to be African identified in origin, in their present state, like the African tradition of the Yoruba. While much of Africa has increasingly adopted foreign religions, many indigenous faiths remain. The lack of proselytizing or establishing written "rule books" prevents these religions from spreading as much as Islam or Christianity. Regardless, they survive, both in Africa and the Western Hemisphere. Santeria is one of the many syncretic religions created in the Americas. It is based on the West African religions brought to the Americas by slaves, forcibly relocated, to the Caribbean to work the sugar plantations. These slaves carried with them their own religious traditions, including traditions of: herbalism including holistic medicine and possession trance for communicating with the ancestors and deities. There is also the use of animal sacrifice and the practice of sacred drumming and dance. Those slaves who were brought to the Caribbean as well as Central and South America were nominally converted to Catholicism. However, they were able to preserve some of their traditions by fusing together various Dahomean (Benin), BaKongo (Kongo people) and Lukumi (Yoruba people) beliefs with rituals. In addition, these rituals and beliefs were synchronized with elements from the surrounding Catholic culture as well as the beliefs of local indigenous peoples. In Cuba this religious tradition has evolved into what we now recognize as Santeria. Today hundreds of thousands of Americans participate in this ancient religion. Some are fully committed priests and priestesses, others are "godchildren" (yahwo) or members of a particular house-tradition, and many are clients seeking help with their everyday problems. Many are of Hispanic and Caribbean descent but as the religion moves out of the inner cities and into the suburbs a growing number are of African-American and European-American heritage. As the Ifa religion of Africa was recreated in the Americas, it was transformed.
WHO ARE THE YORUBA PEOPLE?
The African people who lived in the lower western Niger area, at least by the 4th century BC, were not initially known as the Yoruba, although they shared a common ethnicity and language group. Both archeology and traditional Yoruba oral historians confirm the existence of people in this region for several millennia. Contemporary historians as well as Yoruba legend contend that the Yoruba’s are not indigenous to Yoruba land, but are descendants of immigrants to the region. It is believed that the forefather of all the Yoruba people was an important man called Oduduwa, (also known as Odua or Eleduwa). It is also known that he was a Prince from the royal family in Mecca. At the time when he was a young prince in Mecca, the people of Mecca including the royal family were worshipers of different idols and deities. When the Islam religion was adopted by the royal family and introduced to the kingdom of Mecca, Oduduwa rebelled refusing to convert to Islam. This caused a split in the royal family and amongst the noblemen loyal to the prince. As a result, Oduduwa was expelled and...