The Yoruba Faith

The Yoruba  people are descendants from a variety of West African communities. They are united by Geography, History, Religion and most importantly Language...  They all speak Yoruba.   

In present day West Africa, the main countries where Yoruba speaking  people live are  Nigeria, Togo and Benin. These countries are very close together.

Many years ago, before African slavery,  the Yoruba people inhabited an area which  stretched, along the coast of West Africa, all the way inward and down to Angola in South West Africa.

 During the period of African Slavery, from the late 1500's to the late 1800's, millions of Yoruba people were forcibly taken out of  Africa.  Their numbers dwindled  and so did their land area. After Slavery, the European powers (i.e.) the British; French; Dutch; Spanish and Portuguese, cut up the continent of Africa into different pieces and imposed new countries and languages in Africa.

The Yoruba people suffered greatly, they were divided. Their people were scattered all over the Americas. They now spoke many different languages...Spanish, English, Dutch, French, and Portuguese.


Yoruba Culture in the Americas

During the period of African slavery, millions of African peoples including the Yoruba, were forcibly brought here to  the Americas.  The Yoruba and many other African peoples (see the chart above) worked  as slaves, or forced labor on the plantations of different European nations:

The Spanish plantations in South America,  Central America, Cuba, Hispaniola. 

The British plantations  in the English speaking Caribbean.

The American plantations in the American South. 

 The Dutch plantations  in the Dutch Caribbean and South America. 

 The French plantations in the Caribbean .. especially Haiti..

As slaves, the Yoruba people were no longer free. They were not allowed to practice  their religion, play on their drums, which was integral  to their worship, or engage in any other religious Yoruba practice.  They were forced into  European religions which were Catholicism and other forms of Christianity.

Far away from home, the Yoruba had only themselves and what was in their hearts...their religion...their God.   

What is significant about the Yoruba people is that they kept their religion hidden under the guise of  Catholicism, or Protestantism.  Whatever religion was forced upon them, they accepted but  the Yoruba religion was carried inside of those Christian religions.

Not only did the Yoruba  people survive slavery,  but the Yoruba  religion survived as well.

Yoruba civilization has had a significant impact on the culture and make up of Latin America, in particular, Cuba, Haiti, Brazil, Trinidad and Puerto Rico.  Most of the Yoruba in today's America, originated from what is today's Nigeria, Benin and Togo.    

Modern Yoruba beliefs in Africa will be slightly different from what is practiced in the Americas because of centuries of influence with Christianity.  While the basic religious beliefs remain the same, the religion  is now a fusion of authentic Yoruba from Africa;  indigenous native (Indian) beliefs and Christianity from Europe.

Basic Yoruba belief involves ritual practices such as singing, dancing, drumming, spirit possession, ritual healing, respect for ancestors and divination.

Originally prohibited from practicing African religions, slaves and free people of color mostly frequented the Catholic churches but they carried their African beliefs and over the centuries worked  both religions together into one. Most of its adherents came from West and Central Africa.

Today in the year 2002,  a full eighty percent of Latin America practice Syncretic Yoruba religions.  While the religion is called differently in different countries... it is basically the same Yoruba religion.

 

 Modern Western  Orisha / Yoruba Worship

 Cuban Santeria; Hatian Vodun (voodoo);  Brizilian Candomble;  Trinidad and Tobago Shango are all Yoruba or Orisha  based.

All of these religions are African derived religions having different names in different countries.  They  combine beliefs from the Kabbalah and  Yoruba speaking  peoples of West/Central Africa, with elements of Catholicism  or Anglicanism. Even some Hinduism is included in Trinidad,  because of  the East Indian influence in that country.

The foundation of this religion is interaction between human beings and a group of spirits called "Orishas". Each Orisha is associated with  particular ideas, objects or natural phenomena.  For example the Orisha Shango is associated with thunder and fertility.  The Orishas make appearances at religious celebrations through possession trance of Orisha believers. This religion also emphasize continual feeding and supplication to the dieties or Orishas. When one is possessed by an Orisha, one speaks and  behaves as though one were  that Orisha.

Western Syncretic Religion & Countries

 Canboulay/ Candomble / Santeria /  (Yoruba Faith & Catholicism) ................Brazil

Canboulay/  Candomble /  (Yoruba Faith & Catholicism) ...........................Columbia

Santeria/  (Yoruba Faith & Catholicism)...... ............................................................Cuba

Voodoo/ Vodun / (Yoruba Faith & Catholicism) ......................................................Haiti

Shango/ Obeah / (Yoruba Faith & Catholicism) ...............................................Trinidad

Pocomania/ Rastafarian/ (Yoruba Faith & Anglicanism) ...............................Jamaica

Christianity / Obeah (Yoruba Faith & Anglicanism)  ...........,,,......................Barbados

Christianity............................................................................................................St.Vincent

Christianity...............................................................................................................St. Lucia

Christianity (Some Yoruba ) ..........................................................................The U. S. A.

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