The Yoruba have thrived in Western Africa, primarily in the areas of modern Nigeria, Benin, and Togo for thousands of years. Throughout its history, the center of the Yoruba nation, a mostly unified though certainly varied ethnic group, was centered around the city-state of Ilé-Ifè until the rise of the Oyo Empire in the 1600s.
With the rise of colonial powers in Europe, countless Yoruba were captured and sold as slaves across the Southern United States, Carribean, and South America, especially in Brazil. The result of this tragic and horrid episode in human history has been the spread and strong influence of Yoruba culture and religion on the regions they were brought to, serving as the main or major influences for Voodoo, Santeria, Lucumi, Candomblé, and other religions, some that have Christian influences and some that do not.
The Yoruba religion is incredibly fascinating and continues to be practiced widely today. The most important aspects to understand are their gods and God. The central belief in God is tripartite: Olorun is the representation of the heavens and the corporeal representation of God, Oludumare is the embodiment of creation and the life that was breathed into humanity, and Olofin is the embodiment of the connection between God and Earth. These three are all embodiment of one single God who birthed the Orishas, the Yoruba gods of the various aspects of nature and the many rivers of Yorubaland.
Yoruba number in the 40 millions worldwide today and continue to thrive as a people in their native land and in diaspora. Great amounts of information exist on the history, culture, and religion of the Yoruba, so be certain to read more from first-person accounts whenever possible.
Listen to the Holy Star Wars episode where we shared and discussed the Yoruba Creation Myth! Episode 58: Aftermath, Yoruba Creation Myth, and Preparation!