For most of us, our religion is chosen for us by our family and the culture that we are born into. We are not given a choice as to what spiritual systems speak to us the most truthfully.
At some point in our lives, we begin to either question the religion that we were born into, or we seek to know a truth that is deeper than the mainstream adheres to.
Despite the usual condemnation that we experience when we ‘come out’ to our families that we are leaving the faith, in the Black Conscious community, the desire to explore African spirituality is encouraged. Only with time, knowledge, and exposure does the Seeker come to find the truth for themselves.
The more exposure you are able to gain from different spiritual disciplines, the more likely you are to find one that reflects your unique truth. And as an added benefit, you begin to see connections between other spiritual systems and your own. This is not a coincidence – all spiritual systems share a common African origin and a common truth.
If you have begun your path towards discovering your truth, this article will expose you to one of the oldest and most comprehensive traditional African religions – Ifa. Also known as the Yoruba religion, Ifa has survived into modern times by adapting to other spiritual systems and cultures. It is important to note that the greatest percentage of Africans enslaved and taken to the Americas came from Yorubaland.
Thus, when Roman Catholicism was forced on Yoruba slaves in Cuba, Ifa adapted to become Santería, also known as Regla de Ocha, La Regla de Ifá, or Lucumí. The orishas – divine spiritual forces in the Yoruba religion – were still respected in the form of saints. In fact, the word Santería is a Spanish word that means the “worship of saints”
And when the slaves of Dahomean, Kongo, Yoruba, and other African groups were brought to Haiti, Ifa survived on the island by blending traditional African religion with Christianity to become Voudou.
In Bahia and other parts of Brazil, much of the Yoruba way of life remained unchanged. Many Yoruba words are used in the Afro-Brazilian religion known as Candomblé – a Portuguese word meaning “dance in honour of the gods”. And Brazil’s Minister of Culture, Dr. Sérgio Sá Leitão, has said that Yoruba language will now be incorporated into primary and secondary school curriculum.
Today, more than 5.3 Million Yoruba keep the traditional African religion alive from Nigeria to New York and everywhere in between. This article is not a comprehensive guide, but it will give you a fundamental understanding of who the Yoruba are, Yoruba beliefs and traditions, and Yoruba religious concepts.
According to Yoruba Religious Concepts by Baba Ifa Karade, Yoruba history began not in Nigeria, but in Kemet.