The eight tallest buildings in Nigeria are in Yorubaland, Nitel Building being the tallest in West Africa with 525ft, built in 1979 and is located in Lagos island. Cocoa house, Independent house and UBA house all make the cut
The most expensive place in Nigeria is Banana Island (according to Forbes) with a three bedroom flat costing about 2 million dollars. Victoria Island and Ikoyi are also among top five
The busiest airport is in Yorubaland, it is the Lagos International Airport (now MMIA) built in 1947, it dealt with over 10 million passengers in 2012
Third Mainland Bridge is the longest in Africa, let alone Nigeria, with total length of 11.8 km and opened in 1990. It links Oworonshoki with Obalende all along Lagos lagoon and has a partway link at Herbert Macaulay Way, Yaba
Ibadan is the largest city in Nigeria
CMS Grammar School, Bariga Lagos is the oldest secondary school in Nigeria, founded on 6th of June, 1859
Yaba College of Technology is the first ever higher educational institution in Nigeria, founded in 1947, Lagos
University of Ibadan is the oldest University in Nigeria, established in 1948 at Ibadan
First television station in Nigeria is the WMTV, Ibadan and commenced operation in October, 1959
The first suspension bridge in Nigeria, opened for use in May, 2013
The most important road network in Nigeria is the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, it was commissioned in August 1978
The First Stadium in Nigeria is the Liberty Stadium now renamed Obafemi Awolowo Stadium with historic 25,000 seats, located in the city of Ibadan and was opened for use in 1960
The most popular river in Nigeria is River Osun, being a sacred river, it is popular among Yoruba Religion faithfuls around the world and receives thousands of foreign visitors at every Osun festival
The most popular street in Nigeria is Nnamdi Azikiwe street, Idumota Lagos (according to a recent poll)
The first storey building in Nigeria is in Badagry, Lagos. It is adjacent to Marina waterfront and built in 1842
First Nigeria Hospital was built in Abeokuta (Sacred Heart Hospital) and was officially opened in 1895
the list is endless
Photo: A property in Banana Island, Lagos
By: Bola Olalekan
DID YOU KNOW THAT …. The eight tallest buildings in Nigeria are in Yorubaland, Nitel Building being the tallest in West Africa with 525ft, built in 1979 and is located in Lagos island. Cocoa house, Independent house and UBA house all make the cut The most expensive place in Nigeria is Banana Island (according to Forbes) with a three bedroom flat costing about 2 million dollars. Victoria Island and Ikoyi are also among top five The busiest airport is in Yorubaland, it is the Lagos International Airport (now MMIA) built in 1947, it dealt with over 10 million passengers in 2012 Third Mainland Bridge is the longest in Africa, let alone Nigeria, with total length of 11.8 km and opened in 1990. It links Oworonshoki with Obalende all along Lagos lagoon and has a partway link at Herbert Macaulay Way, Yaba Ibadan is the largest city in Nigeria CMS Grammar School, Bariga Lagos is the oldest secondary school in Nigeria, founded on 6th of June, 1859 Yaba College of Technology is the first ever higher educational institution in Nigeria, founded in 1947, Lagos University of Ibadan is the oldest University in Nigeria, established in 1948 at Ibadan First television station in Nigeria is the WMTV, Ibadan and commenced operation in October, 1959 The first suspension bridge in Nigeria, opened for use in May, 2013 The most important road network in Nigeria is the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, it was commissioned in August 1978 The First Stadium in Nigeria is the Liberty Stadium now renamed Obafemi Awolowo Stadium with historic 25,000 seats, located in the city of Ibadan and was opened for use in 1960 The most popular river in Nigeria is River Osun, being a sacred river, it is popular among Yoruba Religion faithfuls around the world and receives thousands of foreign visitors at every Osun festival The most popular street in Nigeria is Nnamdi Azikiwe street, Idumota Lagos (according to a recent poll) The first storey building in Nigeria is in Badagry, Lagos. It is adjacent to Marina waterfront and built in 1842 First Nigeria Hospital was built in Abeokuta (Sacred Heart Hospital) and was officially opened in 1895 the list is endless Photo: A property in Banana Island, Lagos By: Bola Olalekan #HistoricYorubaland #ProudlyYorùbá.
One of the most striking features of Yoruba religion is its tolerance of pluralism. This was already a feature of traditional religious organisation. The choice of cult group was left largely to the individual, and the following of a particular orisa cut across descent-group boundaries. Membership of the various denominations and sects of the world religions has been dealt with with the same tolerance. The rapid spread of Christianity and Islam means that young members of the same household often belong to different world religions, while the older people alone keep the traditional cults alive.
It may be that the cleavages between Christians and Muslims, and between members of individual sects or denominations, are widening. This is predictable, given that wives normally follow their husband’s religion, and children follow that of their parents. Christians and Muslims are becoming endogamous groups, a trend which is reinforced by the importance of religious egbe in social life in many towns.
Nevertheless, Yoruba of all religions have much in common. There is a body of customary law which all groups follow in matters of marriage, succession and inheritance. In other ways, the world religions have themselves had to adapt to Yoruba social organisation, and this produces other similarities and a degree of ritual and institutional convergence in the world religions.
A good example of this is in the organisation of rites of passage. Naming or ‘outdooring’ ceremonies, ikomojade, are the simplest of these. They take place early in the morning, a week after the birth of the child. The main ritual element is a short Muslim or Christian service, attended by the members of the compound and other friends and relatives of the parents. This may take place in the room of the bale if it is large enough, in a courtyard or in front of the house. In the Muslim case it is attended only by men, and it is conducted by the Imam for the town or quarter, or one of his deputies. Verses of the Koran are recited, and the Imam announces the Muslim name of the child. A series of prayers follow: for the child itself the parents, relatives, friends, or for anyone else. The person requesting the prayers places a sum of money before the Imam, and he and his followers divide it between themselves after the ceremony.
The Christian service is also very simple. Both men and women attend, and the local minister or pastor officiates. It consists of a Bible-reading, the blessing and naming of the child, prayers and a hymn.
In some cases, as with Muslim namings during the fast of Ramadan, the religious service is all that happens. But usually food and drinks are provided for the guests and these may be lavish. In the Muslim case, a goat of the same sex as the child is slaughtered to mark the occasion. Part of the meat is reserved for the Imam and his followers, and part is sent to senior relatives. But a well-to-do father of either religion might decide to slaughter a cow, provide beer, palm wine and soft drinks for the guests, and call in drummers. The food is prepared by the women in the compound. If either of the parents is an egbe member, the whole egbe will be invited and will receive special treatment, with a room, food and drinks reserved for them. The members make a contribution towards the parents’ expenses.
The egbe are also involved in wedding celebrations. A relatively uniform pattern had developed in the towns where we worked. Formal invitations are circulated well in advance, printed in English and Yoruba, and they provide a major item of trade for the local printers. They set out in great detail the programme of events: entertainment at the house of the bride, the religious ceremony, a reception at the house of the groom, and possibly an all-night dance, with an imported band. A large proportion of the marriages take place, one after the other, at Christmas, after the harvest and when many salaried workers make their annual visits home. Members of the younger egbe are involved in several marriages in succession, so they are arranged consecutively where possible.
Many elements of traditional Yoruba marriage ritual (cf. Bascom, 1969a: 59ó64) have survived, with the addition of the Christian or Muslim service, though each town, and sometimes each compound, has its own variants. The festivities usually start in the house of the bride, where the guests are distributed in rooms throughout the compound according to age, sex and status, and are served with food and drink by members of the bride’s egbe. This is followed by a blend of old and new elements. To give an Igbeti example, after the feasting the bride and her two closest friends were driven to the church for a service, complete with ring and presentation of a marriage certificate. A short reception at the church was followed by the traditional procession with drummers to the husband’s house, accompanied by relatives and egbe members in their uniform (aso egbe). These processions usually take a roundabout route, and it may be hours before they reach their destination, with frequent pauses to greet relatives and dance en route. The celebrations had already started at the groom’s house, and they continued for several days. Two cows were slaughtered, and drummers appeared each day, singing the praises of the guests and their descent groups, and collecting money. The following day the bride returned to her own compound to greet her parents in another procession, and there was an all-night dance at the husband’s house with a band brought in from Ilorin.
Islamic marriages among the Yoruba follow a similar pattern of feasting and involvement of the egbe, though the bride usually leaves for her husband’s house at night. The difference lies in the religious service. Marriage in Islam is a secular contract, requiring the presence of representatives from both compounds, not necessarily the bridegroom or bride. Usually, the father of the girl invites the Imam and his followers to the house, and the Imam satisfies himself that both parties agree to the match. He then recites from the Koran and declares them man and wife. This is followed by the usual round of prayers and contributions by those assembled. This rite, isoyigi, is only performed for four wives at any one time. In some cases, the ritual is modified, and the Imam insists on the presence of the couple so that he can deliver an address on marriage.
A second way in which the world religions have been adapted to Yoruba society is religious leadership, especially where the boundaries of religious groups and descent groups coincide. In traditional Yoruba religion, the bale was usually responsible for rituals in honour both of the ancestors and of the main orisa worshipped by the descent group. The principle of seniority operates in the world religions as well. Lay leadership in many congregations is based on age, wealth, seniority and a large following of descentgroup members. The pattern of leadership means that a congregation may divide into factions, reflecting other major disputes and cleavages in the community, or it may break up completely, in a series of schisms.
Another common form of dispute reflects disagreement over the criteria for leadership. In both Christianity and Islam, this can be based either on seniority within a descent group, or on religious expertise. In northern Ghana, trouble arose in a Yoruba Baptist Church when a group of literate evangelical Christians, supported by the junior egbe in the church, came into conflict with a group of wealthy elders over church policy (Eades, 1977). The evangelical group saw the main role of the church as the conversion of other ethnic groups. The elders regarded it as a means of establishing their own leadership in the migrant community. There are parallels with the struggles in the African churches in the early part of the century. A similar conflict has developed among Muslims over the selection of the Imam: should he be chosen on the basis of scholarship alone, or should the office, like other Yoruba titles, become hereditary in a single descent group (Gbadamosi, 1972)?
Given the importance of the elders in the large congregations in many towns, it is not surprising that much innovation has taken place among smaller, more marginal groups, such as groups of immigrants. In Ibadan, the first Aladura congregations to be established were mainly in the immigrant areas: only more recently have they spread to the indigenous quarters.
One result is that there is some correlation between church membership and social status. The most influential men in a community are usually staunch members of either the largest mission church or the central mosque. Oba Akinyele of Ibadan was unusual in that he was both a member of the Christian establishment in the town and an Aladura leader. In the same way, a generation before. Z.W. Thomas was unusual in that he was an African church leader and a member of the Lagos elite. The African churches have gradually acquired more of an ‘establishment’ image, but the Aladura churches are still viewed with suspicion by many of the mission Christians. Certainly the level of education among Aladura leaders is probably lower than that in the missions. They also make extensive use of drumming and dancing, and accept many aspects of the Yoruba worldview. But the Christ Apostolic Church in particular has tried hard to improve its image through its involvement in education, and as the number of second generation members of the Aladura churches grows, the stereotypes held by other Christians will gradually be modified.
The status hierarchy within Islam is more complex. There are two routes to high status: the first is through adopting a more distinctively ‘Islamic’ lifestyle, often based on Hausa Islamic models. This may involve Tijani membership, the intensification of ritual activity, knowledge of Arabic and the Koran, and the seclusion of women. The second is through membership of the AUD, the Ahmadiyya or similar groups, the encouragement of western education, the modernisation of ritual, and a more liberal attitude to the role of women. It is members of these groups who have the most in common with the Yoruba Christians.
But at the level of individual belief, how have the traditional Yoruba world-view and those of the world religions been reconciled? For many this has been little problem. Yoruba religion is instrumental in its emphasis. If imported elements appear to work, they are retained. There is no coherent and systematic theology with which to measure of reject them. Before the colonial period, the If a system had come to terms with Islam, treating it rather like another orisa cult. If a remains a body of lore which many Christians and Muslims still consult.
There are two main ways in which Yoruba belief and the world religions have interacted. The first is syncretism ó the blending of the new beliefs with the old. There have been syncretist religious movements among the Yorubaó reconciling the Bible with Ifa, or fitting Christ into the Yoruba pantheon ó but these are of minor importance. The second, and more usual, pattern is for those aspects of the world religions to be emphasised which are most in line with traditional beliefs. Olorun becomes God or Allah, while Esu can be identified with Satan. Christians can see witchcraft as the work of the devil, and continue to accept its reality, while the archangels take over the roles of the orisa as messengers of Olorun. The parallels extend to ritual. Passages of the Bible or the Koran can be used instead of Yoruba incantations, while Aladura prophecy and Islamic divination provide alternatives to Ifa. The Yoruba have succeeded in adapting the world religions to meet their needs, while at the same time retaining their own cultural identity to a remarkable extent. The traditional cults may have lost their power, their adherents and much of their vitality, but religious institutions and beliefs among the Yoruba still show many continuities with the past
Yoruba Christians fall into three main groups. Firstly, there are the members of the mission churches. The four oldest and largest denominations are the Anglicans, represented by the Church Missionary Society (CMS), the Methodists, the American Southern Baptists and the Catholics. Some smaller, mainly American, missions have arrived more recently: the Jehovah’s Witnesses are perhaps the most successful of these. The Catholics are less numerous in the west of Nigeria than they are in the east. Of the protestant missions, the Anglicans and Methodists are strongest in the south and east of Yorubaland, while the Baptists are strongest to the north and west (cf. Grimley and Robinson,1966).
In the early stages of mission work in the interior, the CMS relied mainly on Saro clergy. However, in the 1880s they abandoned the policy of developing a self-governing native pastorate, and British control was gradually consolidated (Ajayi,1965; Ayandele, 1966). Discontent at European paternalism was one of the factors leading to the foundation of the African churches from 1891 onwards. The other major issue was polygyny to which the missions were firmly opposed.
Despite the schisms, the mission churches held on to most of their members. They had a status and respectability which the African churches initially lacked, and they were in firm control of education. The African church movement was founded by the laity: with few exceptions, the Saro clergy stayed loyal to the missions. It is still broadly true that the educated elite belong to the main mission congregations.
The protestant missions had a broad agreement not to compete in each other’s main spheres of influence. This means that in most towns there is one church which is by far the largest, and it usually belongs to one of the main protestant denominations. Besides this, there are usually other, much smaller, congregations belonging to the other missions, or to the African and Aladura churches. In Igbeti the largest congregation belongs to the United Missionary Society. The smaller Baptist church was started by former members of the UMS but now includes a number of Baptist migrants from Igboho and Ogbomoso. The Igbeti CMS church is smaller still. It was founded by the previous Onigbeti before his exile, and in 1970 its congregation consisted of a few of his supporters, together with Anglican migrants from other towns. In both Ogbomoso and Igboho, on the other hand, the great majority of Christians were Baptists, and there were separate Baptist churches in different areas of the towns.
The first thing which strikes the outside observer of Yoruba Christianity is the sheer amount of activity. The larger churches are crowded on Sundays, and the more active church members attend prayer meetings, choir practices, Bible-study groups, committee meetings, and rites of passage on other days as well. Many Yoruba Christian families hold early-morning prayers in their compound. On Sundays, the timetable includes the two main services, egbe meetings and Sunday School, which is attended by both children and adults. Much of the ritual is familiar. The services and most of the hymns are direct translations from the English, and the hymns are sung to the same tunes. Yoruba music plays a much more important part in the African and Aladura churches.
The fundamental unit of organisation within the church in this area is the egbe. The number of egbe varies from church to church, and new members usually join the one belonging to their own age-group. In the larger churches, some age-groups have more than one egbe, and membership is based on level of education. The women have their own associations. Egbe meet weekly, to raise funds, discuss church affairs, and to settle disputes among the members. But their significance extends beyond the church. Normally a person’s closest friends are members of the same egbe, and much of his leisure time is spent with them. The members attend each other’s rites of passage and celebrate Christmas and Easter together. The Muslims are increasingly organised in a similar way.
The African church denominations evolved out of the main mission churches in a series of schisms between 1890 and 1920 (Webster, 1964). The first schism was in fact in the Baptist Church in 1888, resulting in the formation of the Ebenezer Baptist Church, but this was reunited with the parent church in 1914. Permanent splits within the CMS took place in 1891 with the formation of the United Native African Church, and in 1901 with the formation of the African Church (Bethel). The split within the Methodist Church came in 1917. There were also a number of schisms within the African denominations themselves: by 1922 twenty-two separate African denominations had 33,000 members between them.
Amalgamations followed, many of them the result of financial difficulties. By the 1940s, four large African denominations had emerged: the African Church, the United Native African Church, the United African Methodist Church, and the West African Evangelical Church.
The doctrines of the African churches are very similar to those of the protestant missions. The innovations were in church leadership patterns and in attitudes to polygyny (Webster, 1968). Their formation reflected the discontent of the laity at the growing racialism and paternalism of the missions and the shabby treatment of particular African ministers. The 1901 split, for instance, was sparked off by the replacement of James Johnson as the minister of St Paul’s (Breadfruit) against the wishes of the congregation. In the event, Johnson remained loyal to the CMS, but part of his congregation, led by J.K. Coker, formed its own church. Coker represented the evangelical wing of the African church movement. After 1905 he became established as a planter at Agege. The new churches had considerable success in evangelising some of the more remote Yoruba areas where the missions were not yet established. Coker’s cocoa labourers spread the church to Ikirun and other towns, and he himself toured the interior, preaching and encouraging cocoa cultivation (Webster, 1961; Berry, 1975: 40ó53). His main rival for church leadership was Z.W. Thomas, who represented a more conservative ‘church’ approach, based on consolidating the movement rather than extending it (Webster,1964: 136-90).
The struggle for power between them led to a schism in 1907, but the removal of Thomas from church leadership in 1921 allowed a reunion. Whereas Coker was a planter, Thomas was the Deputy Registrar of the Lagos Supreme Court, and one of the few members of the professional elite attracted into the movement. The struggle between them gives a good insight into Yoruba church politics. The main protagonists were supported by large followings, built up from among their employees, kin and friends by means of their wealth. The church, in short, had become another arena in which the big men in the community could display their wealth and influence, and gain prestige.
While the African churches developed out of discontent with European mission organisation, the Aladura churches developed to meet some of the perceived needs of Yoruba Christians which were not being met within the missions. The name Aladura itself is derived from adura, prayer, and ‘praying churches’ is an apt description of these organisations. The founders of the Aladura churches formed ‘praying bands’ within the mission churches, and they only separated when their activities were seen as unorthodox by the mission authorities.
The major difference lies in their approach to the problems of everyday life, as seen by the members. Whereas the traditional cults and Islam were able to offer healing techniques, protection against witches and knowledge of the future, mission Christianity did not. The mission churches were seen as being more concerned with salvation in the next world rather than solving their members’ problems in this. The Aladura prophet, on the other hand, by interpreting dreams and visions, performs a role similar to that of the alufa and babalawo. Not surprisingly, most converts to the Aladura churches come from the mission churches: Muslims seldom join (Peel, 1968a).
While the Aladura still regard the Bible as the ultimate source of spiritual authority, and their basic theology and liturgy are close to those of the mission churches, worship tends to be a more enthusiastic affair, especially during the healing sessions which supplement the regular services. The key figure is the prophet, a charismatic preacher and healer. A problem of the mission churches in the period when Christianity was expanding most quickly was the shortage of trained staff. There is still little contact between clergy and laity in some of the larger congregations. In the Aladura churches, as in the African churches, the distinction between church and laity is less sharp. The Cherubim and Seraphim churches, for instance, have an elaborate hierarchy of patriarchs, prophets, evangelists and other officials, and it is open to anyone to be promoted on the basis of his (or her) spiritual gifts (Omoyajowo, 1971: 590ó5). Disgruntled would-be leaders may move away and found their own churches, and the Aladura churches have experienced continual schisms since their original foundation. But this growth through fission has meant that congregations remain small and that contact between the prophet and the members is maintained.
Mitchell divides the Aladura churches into two broad groups: apostolic and spiritual (1970a: 14). The largest of the apostolic churches is the Christ Apostolic, which by 1958 had become the third-largest church in Western Nigeria. In general, the apostolic churches are more tightly organised than their spiritual counterparts. The role of pastor, as opposed to that of prophet, is more important, and worship is more restrained. The Christ Apostolic Church itself bans polygyny and the use of all forms of medicine, whether traditional or western. Like the mission churches, it has become involved in education (Mitchell,1970b; Peel, 1968a).
The largest group of spiritual churches are the various offshoots of the Cherubim and Seraphim movement (Omoyajowo, 1971). It is here that the tendency towards fragmentation has been greatest. The Church of the Lord (Aladura) (Turner, 1967) also falls into this category. The prophet is all-important in these churches. They are less opposed to the use of medicine, and polygyny is allowed. The long-haired prophets of the spiritual churches wearing colourful robes, the congregational processions through the streets, and the ‘Houses of Prayer’ with their singing and dancing are among the most distinctive features of present-day Yoruba religious life.
The origins of the three major Aladura denominations are similar. The church which later became the Christ Apostolic developed from a prayer band which was formed after an Ijebu girl had seen visions during the influenza epidemic in 1918. Its members were influenced by a small American sect, the Faith Tabernacle, and this was the name that the new church took. It separated from the CMS in 1922 over the questions of faith-healing and infant baptism. In the 1920s its membership consisted largely of educated migrants in clerical jobs in the larger towns, and it took an early interest in education.
The church grew rapidly as a result of the Babalola revival of 1930ó2, which started in Ilesa (Mitchell, 1970a: 143ó238). Babalola was the most important of a number of itinerant preachers at work during this period. He was a road worker with the government until a vision in 1928. He started preaching and joined forces with the Faith Tabernacle. It was from a Tabernacle meeting at Ilesa that a spontaneous revival developed which continued for two years, and which led to mass conversions in Ijesa, Ekiti and Akoko. At first the movement was tolerated by the colonial authorities and the mission churches, whose membership increased rapidly as a result. In 1932 official attitudes hardened. Babalola was arrested and imprisoned for making witchcraft accusations. To gain greater legitimacy, the Faith Tabernacle formed a link with the Apostolic Church in Britain and changed its name. The final break with the British church, over the issue of the use of malaria prophylactics by the British missionaries, came in 1939.
The Cherubim and Seraphim movement also developed out of a praying band within the CMS, after a young girl, Abiodun Akinsowon, had seen visions in Lagos in 1925. Abiodun and an itinerant prophet from Akoko, Moses Orimolade, were the founders of the band which separated from the CMS in 1926. There was a rift between them in 1928, and their two factions never came together again. Offshoots have proliferated ever since. There are now well over 100 independent Cherubim and Seraphim churches, and the largest of these, the direct descendant of Orimolade’s faction, has over 400 congregations of its own.
In the remote Ilaje areas of southern Ondo State, the Cherubim and Seraphim have become the largest Christian denomination. An unusual feature here has been the development of fifty or so utopian communities, the best-known of which is Aiyetoro (McClelland, 1966; cf. Barett,1977). This extraordinary community was founded by a group of persecuted Aladura in 1947. Through its unique social organisation, it achieved a rapid degree of modernisation, and operated a fishing fleet. The key to its success appeared to lie in the communal organisation of labour, though this has since been abandoned.
The third major Aladura church is the Church of the Lord (Aladura) founded by J.O. Oshitelu at Ogaere in Ijebu in 1930 (Turner, 1967). He was a CMS catechist, but was dismissed in 1925, again over the issue of visions. In 1930ó1 he became involved with Faith Tabernacle and with offshoots of the Babalola revival in Ibadan and Abeokuta. He founded his own church in 1939. The Church of the Lord has spread rather more slowly than the other two, but has well-established branches in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Ghana.
The dividing line between spiritual and apostolic churches is not rigid, and there are also broad differences between the older and younger congregations (Mitchell, 1970a: 306). In the more recently established apostolic congregations, forms of worship are more emotional and they are less involved with educational work. Peel has pointed to the extreme rationality of Christ Apostolic doctrine, with its ban on all medicine and its reliance on faith and prayer alone. From Mitchell’s data, it seems that the younger apostolic congregations fit this description less well (Peel,1968a; Mitchell, 1970a: 327).
What then are the main points of similarity between Aladura practice and traditional religion? Firstly, words are thought to have an inherent power of their own, and the recitation of ‘holy names’ or passages from the psalms as magical formulae is common. Some prophets prepare charms using written verses from the Bible in the same way as the alufa uses the Koran. Secondly, there is the use of categories similar to those of traditional beliefs in explaining misfortune. The emphasis given to combating witchcraft is an obvious example. Aladura prophets also have a reputation for being able to deal with abiku spirits (Mitchell, 1970a: 344), and the extensive use of holy water and the exclusion of menstruating women from ritual are both reminiscent of traditional practices.
The forms of service used by the Aladura are largely based on Anglican models (Turner, 1967: Vol. 2; Omoyajowo, 1971: 369ó72), but they have been supplemented by special forms for founder’s day services, the feasts of the archangels, and annual pilgrimages to sacred hills. (Hill festivals are common in Yoruba traditional religion: the best-known are the annual festivals in Ibadan and Abeokuta.) Generally, the Aladura have emphasised ritual rather than a developed theology. Fasting and prayer to achieve visions and holiness are more important than doctrinal disputes. All of them emphasise the importance of spiritual power (agbara), and the role of the Holy Spirit. The importance of the archangels in the Cherubim and Seraphim churches is especially interesting. Each of them guards one of the gates of heaven, and is associated with one of the four elements. Each has a clearly defined role in mediating between man and God, and their feasts are among the most important church occasions (Omoyajowo, 1971: 426). The parallels with the orisa are very striking
At present the two world religions are approximately equal in their strength among the Yoruba. Islam predominates in Ibadan and Oyo, but there is also a large Christian minority. In Egba, Ijebu, Ife, and Igbomina the religions are more equally balanced, while in Ondo, Ekiti, Ijesa and Kabba there are large Christian majorities.
The western areas where Islam is now strongest are those with which it had made contact before 1800. In eastern kingdoms like Ondo, on the other hand, the missions arrived before Islam had made much of an impression. When the missions started work in Ekiti, there was already a nucleus of Christians who had been converted elsewhere. Ijebu is unusual in that, during the 19th century, it remain aloof from both religions. After 1892, conversion was rapid. One of the attractions of Christianity was the mission monopoly of education, but the proximity of Lagos and Epe, both Muslim strongholds, meant contact with Islam as well. Almost alone of Nigerian ethnic groups, the Ijebu have succeeded in combining Islam with high rates of western education.
The history of Islam among the Yoruba probably goes back to the 17th century, when it was introduced, probably from Nupe. Slaves passing into Oyo from the north included Muslims, and a number of itinerant Muslim preachers were travelling in Yorubaland in the late 18th and early l9th centuries: the most important of these was Mallam Alimi. The Fulani coup in Ilorin created difficulties for Muslims in the other towns. Many were killed and others fled to Ilorin for safety. Some of the towns with large Muslim communities such as Oyo-Ile, Ikoyi and Igboho were destroyed, but Islam started to revive with the foundation of the successor states and the reabsorption of many of the refugees (Gbadamosi, 1978).
A number of Owu Muslims found their way to Abeokuta and they were joined there by Muslim Saro. In Lagos, Islam was established in the early l9th century, and there were a number of Muslim traders in the town. It was strengthened during the reign of Kosoko: after his expulsion from Lagos, he founded an important Muslim settlement at Epe in the east. The proportion of Muslims in Lagos itself rose from 17 per cent in 1871 to 44 per cent in 1891, and the indigenous Lagosians have been predominantly Muslim ever since.
In the interior, Muslims and Muslim sympathisers began to have more political influence. Alafin Atiba had stayed at Ilorin himself and was well disposed to Muslims, and Iwo had a Muslim oba by 1860. Towns like Iseyin, lwo, Epe, Ibadan and Abeokuta developed reputations as centres of Islamic learning, and under the influence of itinerant teachers a standard form of Islamic leadership started to develop (Gbadamosi, 1972; 1978). During the wars, the teachers were also in demand for their skill in preparing amulets for protection in battle.
The expansion of Islam was most rapid in the period around the turn of the century. With the end of the wars, the return of Muslims to other parts of Yorubaland helped the religion to spread, even in the eastern areas where it had previously made little impact. Resistance was strongest in Ekiti, and the most rapid progress was made in Ijebu, partly thanks to the conversion of Seriki Kuku, the leading military chief after the British invasion (Abdul, 1967: 27ó38).
The two religions differed in their attractions. Islam was better adapted to Yoruba social structure because it permitted polygyny. Christianity had a monopoly of western education. In 1894 there were 32 schools in Lagos, all run by the missions. Muslims constituted 44 per cent of the Lagos population, but only 13 per cent of the schoolchildren. Muslim antipathy to western education was widespread. School attendance left little time for learning the Koran, and there was a (justified) fear that Muslim children sent to mission schools might be converted. After 1896 the Lagos government founded Muslim schools in Lagos, Epe, and Badagry, but the further development of Muslim education had to wait another twenty years (Gbadamosi, 1967). The educational imbalance between the two religions still remains.
Islamic life in the Yoruba town centres around prayer: the five daily prayers, the weekly prayers in the Friday mosque, and the two great annual festivals. Some Yoruba Muslims perform the daily prayers in private, but many pray at small mosques attached to their own or to a neighbouring compound. These range from a simple concrete slab covered with grass mats at the side of the house, to a separate building with a courtyard and a supply of water for the congregation to wash.
Near the centre of most towns is the large central mosque where the Friday prayers are held. This is often the largest building in the town and has often been financed by migrants living abroad. In Igbeti in 1970 the Friday mosque was a small temporary structure: the old mosque has been demolished to allow an extension of the market, and the new mosque was only partly completed. Igboho had been more successful: there had been rivalry for many years between two areas of the town, and by 1970 they had both completed imposing mosques. Attendance at Friday prayers has political implications and a dispute over other issues will often result in one group of Muslims withdrawing to pray on its own. The prayers for the annual festivals at the end of the Ramadan fast and at the climax of the pilgrimage season are held in a separate praying-ground, usually a large open space outside the town.
In most towns, a standard hierarchy of Islamic officials has developed, headed by the Imam of the Friday mosque, and his deputies, led by the Naibi. Other leading Muslims may be given quasi-military titles like Balogun Imale (Balogun of the Muslims) though these are often given on the basis of seniority rather than knowledge of Islam. The appointment of a new Imam in the large towns can also become a political issue. In some, there has been controversy over whether the title should remain within a single descent group, or whether it should go to the most qualified candidate in terms of learning (Gbadamosi, 1972). In the larger towns, there are Imams for each quarter under the authority of the chief Imam.
Most towns have koranic schools, run by local scholars known as alufa or mallams. Children attend these either before or instead of primary school, and the main instruction consists of learning by heart passages of the Koran. Some of the students may later carry on to learn Arabic, but most stop after the elementary training.
The income of the alufa comes from three main sources: gifts from the parents of his koranic pupils, offerings made for prayers at rites of passage which he attends, and income from divination and the preparation of charms and amulets. Islamic divination among the Yoruba has many similarities with Ifa (Abdul, 1970). The alufa makes a series of double or single marks in a tray of sand and then interprets them. Amulets consist of appropriate passages of the Koran written out many times and wrapped in cloth or leather. In other cases, the verses are written on a writing-board in ink, which is then washed off and drunk by the client. The dividing line between Islamic ritual and Yoruba magic may be narrow. In Ogbomoso I met a young alufa who had been to secondary school in Ghana. He was preparing a charm to send to one of his clients, a Ghanaian army officer. It consisted of an egg, covered in Arabic writing, and set in black Yoruba soap in a calabash.
Even though an alufa’s income is irregular, many are wealthy men. An important investment for an alufa, or for any Muslim wanting to improve his standing in the Muslim community, is the pilgrimage to Mecca. Influential men who can afford it may pay for their relatives or political followers to go as well. The pilgrim gains the title of Alhafi and is recognisable by his distinctive style of hat. Many Yoruba women also make the trip. With the advent of charter flights in the 1950s and 1960s, the number of Nigerians making the pilgrimage has steadily increased. In 1970ó1 it stood at around 40,000 annually.
Despite the apparent unity of the Muslim community during the Friday prayers and the annual festivals, there are sectarian divisions. In Ijebu Ode, for instance, neither the members of the Ahmadiyya movement nor the followers of a local prophet attend the central mosque (Abdul,1967). The Ahmadiyya movement originated in India in the l9th century, and has become well established along the West African coast (Fisher, 1963). Though regarded as unorthodox by other Muslim groups, it has taken a lead in the development of Muslim education and in raising the status of Muslim women. There are similar divisions in Ibadan (Mitchell, 1970a: 263ó4; El-Masri, 1967: 254). As well as the central mosque at Oja Iba, there are two Friday mosques belonging to the Ahmadiyya, a Friday mosque belonging to a local reformer, and the Tijaniyya mosque in the Hausa quarter at Sabo which has a few Yoruba in its congregation.
The two main Islamic brotherhoods in Nigeria are the Qadiriyya and the Tijaniyya (Fisher, 1963: 22ó3; Trimingham, 1959). The Qadiriyya is the longer established, but the Tijanis have grown more rapidly in recent years. Tijani Muslims are rather stricter in their attitude towards women. Yoruba women are generally extremely independent, and few Yoruba Muslims seclude their wives: in the Hausa areas of Nigeria this is extremely common. In Igbeti, the only secluded wives belonged to two Tijani alufa. The most distinctive Tijani ritual is the dhikr in which the members of the brotherhood sit around a white cloth in the mosque each Friday, chanting the name of Allah several hundred times (Cohen, 1969: 10). In Igbeti the Tijanis celebrated Friday prayers in their own neighbourhood mosque. The separation of the Hausa Tijanis in Ibadan was due to complex political reasons, but normally the members of the order worship in the central mosque along with the other Muslims. So do members of Muslim associations like the Ansar-Ud-Din, though in Ibadan even the AUD has its own Friday mosque. It was founded after a dispute with the rest of the Muslim community, and was kept going after the dispute was solved because it was useful in fund-raising (Mitchell, 1970a: 263ó4).
Islam among the Yoruba has had little effect on the social structure. In inheritance, it is Yoruba customary law rather than Islamic law which is followed, and the same is true in other areas of law. While many descent groups are now almost entirely Christian or Muslim, the rapid spread of the two religions has meant that often pairs of full siblings belong to different religions, and yet they are able to live together amicably. In public affairs, some care is taken to accommodate both religions. In meetings, if the opening prayers are made by a Muslim, the closing prayers will be made by a Christian. A Christian organising a funeral or a naming to which Muslims are invited will often have the animals slaughtered by a Muslim. It is difficult to predict how far religion will create a major cleavage in Yoruba society in the future. In the towns where we worked, the groups had become virtually endogamous. As residential units become smaller, it will probably become less common for people of different religions to live together, at least in their home compounds, though rented accommodation will remain heterogeneous. Egbe are now formed mainly along religious lines, restricting friendship networks to members of the same religion. On the other hand, schools cut across religious boundaries, and the growth of a literate subsulture has tended to obscure religious differences. Given the Yoruba’s instrumental attitude to religion and their tolerance of religious pluralism and innovation, it is not surprising that members of both religions are quite prepared to use the services of other religious specialists when need arises: prominent alufa often have a number of Christian clients
Orunmila is the God of Wisdom and Destiny
Like the other Deities, Orunmila existed before man and is the only Orisa to witness creation. Orunmila therefore has the knowledge concerning the fate of every man, woman and child. Orunmila is the youngest Deity out of all the Deities created by God before the creation of the earth. This circumvents the position for Orunmila to be the final manifestation of virtue for man to follow.
Orunmila sojourned to earth on various occasions to assist man at the crossroads. The crossroads I speak of are the moments we come to in life that require major decisions or points we get to in life that will affect the rest of our lives. Esu, the Deity that sits at the crossroad, is forever indebted to Orunmila and has vowed to serve and assist Orunmila like non other (Ogbe-Di).
Orunmila, through the sheer power of wisdom, sacrifice and patience became the commander and prosper of all Orisa (Irete-Wori).
The expansion of man all over the earth and the frequent needs for Orunmila to sojourn to earth for the benefit of mankind became cumbersome and frustrating for even Orunmila, this great God of Wisdom. So Olodumare (God) endowed upon Orunmila a means for mankind to communicate with Orunmila to reveal ones individual fate. This means is called Ifa. Ifa is the embodiment of Orunmila and is also another name for Orunmila. Ifa is a literary corpus that entails the fate of man and all of his accomplishments and transgressions. Only priests of Orunmila have the authority to sound the voice of Ifa. These priests are called Babalawo. Orunmila vowed to serve man in spirit with his infinite wisdom and the Babalawo hold the same secrets to creation and the fate of man that Orunmila held through the medium of Ifa.
Orunmila the Deity represents the power of wisdom to overcome misfortune.
Orunmila the Deity represents the power of Divination to analyze our past, reveal our present and forecast our future.
Orunmila the Deity represents the power of sacrifice to achieve what would other wise be impossible.
This is the popular saying in some parts of Africa, a response to the claim that the missionaries who came to Africa were on a humanitarian “civilizing” mission, bringing salvation to the “primitive” tribes and “lost souls”. We however know from all the available evidence on the activities of the “missionaries” that they were just the fore-runners who paved the way for the colonial conquest and subsequent rape of the Africa, nation states which accepted the culture of the missionaries, called Christianity, without a fight were left with little disruption of their traditional and cultural values. This was the beginning of the system called Indirect Rule introduced first by the British under its governor Lord Lugard in Northern Nigeria. In return for the agreement to allow the British colonialists to carry on their imperialist activities and maintain “law and order” the Northern Nigerian Hausa and Fulani chiefs were allowed to keep their traditional institutions, their culture and even their Islamic religion. The situation was however different in other parts of Africa where the people resisted the introduction of colonial rule.
The Asantes in Ghana fought the British at every turn and even defeated the British in a brutal war in 1826 in which the British Commander Charles McCarthy was killed. In these areas the colonialists used the missionaries on strong “civilizing” missions. The Presbyterian Missionaries were the worst offenders. In the areas that they settled they sought to divide the population by creating separate living communities called “Christian Quarters”, for those who converted to Christianity. These were the “civilized, clean souls” who were not expected to mix with the “uncivilized heathen ones”. This practice divided family units and the divisions have endured till now to the extent that children were separated from their parents, wives from husbands and so on because parts of certain family units would not convert to Christianity.
There is abundant evidence to show that the introduction and imposition of this European colonial culture was a direct extension of European capitalist expansion. The Christian missionary activities was just a guise for European commercial activities. They were the most ambitious ideological agents of the British Empire, bearing with them the fanatical zeal to reconstruct the native world in the name of God and Great Britain. The British “Christian” missionary, David Livingstone who is portrayed as the most dedicated missionary with a passionate vision for the “Dark Continent” (Africa) summed up their intentions in a speech at Oxford University in 1864. He argued that:
“Sending the Gospel to the heathens of Africa must include more than implied in the usual practice of a missionary, namely, a man going about with a Bible under his arms. The promotion of commerce ought to be specially attended to as this, more than anything else, makes the heathen tribes depend on commercial intercourse among civilized nations.
I go back to Africa to, open a new path to commerce. Do you carry on the work I have started?” Passionate vision indeed!! Even in modern times, the policies and practices of financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the foreign and economic policies of most Western nations towards Africa have not diverted from the vision of David Livingstone.
One of the painful destructive legacies unleashed by the Christian missionary adventurers was the perversion of the natural names of Africans. Every African name has a meaning and a significance. For example children born in Ghana carry names of the day on which they were born. We do not carry family names. The surnames reflect the
significance of the circumstances in which the child is born. Parents name children after people who have done significant things in their lives. To keep the good name of such persons parents honor them by
naming a child after that person. For example I was born on a Friday. My first name is therefore Kofi. I was named after my grandfather whom my father really admired. Baffour in some areas my name means
an adventurer, a fighter. My sister is called Afua (female Friday born). Her surname is Maanu which means she is the third female born in the family. Therefore anybody from Ghana looking at my sister’s
name: Afua Maanu knows exactly what it means. I have a Nigerian friend whose parents were so happy that they had a son that they named him Olu Gbenga, meaning “God has elevated me”. And there is my Ugandan friend from East Africa who is named Muhumuza (one who brought relief). His sister is called Nankunda Katangaza: (the little one who amazes) However our Christian invaders decided that those names were heathen, primitive, uncivilized. At baptism, (another cultural imposition) the civilized parents are expected to give Christian names to their children. I was therefore called Michael instead of Kofi. This signified that I had been transformed from paganism to a new civilized life. I do not even know what Michael means. My Nigerian friend was christened Thomas instead of Olu Gbenga and my Uganda friend is Gabriel instead of the beautiful Muhumuza.
Many Africans who have arrived in Canada have had to fight uphill battles with immigration department on their names. They do not understand why family members do not bear the same names. I have two brothers but they do not carry my father’s name because we have nothing designated as family name. There is now a cultural revolution going on in most parts of Africa. Many people are shedding their Christian names for the natural meaningful names given to them at birth. For me I would still carry my Christian name, Michael. At least it will continuously remind me that once upon
a time I came into contact with a bunch of strange people who sought to civilize me by just changing my Name!
The Yoruba People, of whom there are more than twenty-five million, occupy the southwestern corner of Nigeria along the Dahomey border and extends into Dahomey itself. To the east and north the Yoruba culture reaches its approximate limits in the region of the Niger River. However ancestral cultures directly related to the Yoruba once flourished well north of the Niger.
Portuguese explorers “discovered” the Yoruba cities and kingdoms in the fifteenth century, but cities such as Ife and Benin, among others, had been standing at their present sites for at least five hundred years before the European arrival. Archeological evidence indicates that a technologically and artistically advanced, proto-Yoruba (Nok), were living somewhat north of the Niger in the first millennium B.C., and they were then already working with iron.
Ifa theology states that the creation of humankind arose in the sacred city of Ile Ife where Oduduwa created dry land from water. Much later on an unknown number of Africans migrated from Mecca to Ile Ife. At this point the Eastern Africans and Western Africans synergized.
Ife was the first of all Yoruba cities. Oyo and Benin came later and grew and expanded as a consequence of their strategic locations at a time when trading became prosperous. Ife, unlike Benin and Oyo, never developed onto a true kingdom. But though it remained a city-state it had paramount importance to Yoruba’s as the original sacred city and the dispenser of basic religious thought.
Until relatively recent times the Yoruba’s did not consider themselves a single people, but rather as citizens of Oyo, Benin, Yagba and other cities, regions or kingdoms. These cities regarded Lagos and Owo, for example, as foreign neighboors, and the Yoruba kingdoms warred not only against the Dahomeans but also against each other. The name Yoruba was applied to all these linguistically and culturally related peoples by their northern neighbors, the Hausas.
The old Yoruba cities typically were urban centers with surrounding farmlands that extended outward as much as a dozen miles or more. Both Benin and Oyo are said to have been founded by Ife rulers or descendants of Ife rulers. Benin derived its knowledge of brass casting directly from Ife, and the religious system of divining called Ifa spread from Ife not only throughout the Yoruba country but to other West African cultures as well. A common Yoruba belief system dominated the region from the Niger, where it flows in an easterly direction, all the way to the Gulf of Guinea in the south.
It is no accident that the Yoruba cultural influence spread across the Atlantic to the Americas. European slave hunters violently captured and marched untold millions of Africans to their demise on over crowded slave ships bound for the Americas. Slave wars launched by the kingdom of Dahomey against some of the Yoruba kingdoms, and slave wars between the Yoruba’s themselves made war casualty Africans available for transportation to the Americas. Yoruba slaves were sent to British, French, Spanish and Portuguese colonies in the New World, and in a number of these places Yourba traditions survived strongly. In Brazil, Cuba, Haiti, and Trinidad, Yoruba religious rites, beliefs, music and myths is evident even at this late day. In Haiti the Yoruba’s were generally called Anagos. Afro-Haitian religious activities give Yoruba rites and beliefs an honored place, and the pantheon includes numerous deities of Yoruba origin. In Brazil, Yoruba religious activities are called Anago or Shango, and in Cuba they are designated Lucumi.
Slavery in the United States was quite different from other colonized regions. In the U.S. chattel type slavery was the means where the language and culture was whipped and beat out of the African captives. In the U.S. throughout the Diaspora, the African generally received the death penalty for practicing his or her birthright. Today the religion has undergone a phenomenal surge in popularity and interest. Santeria, the adaptation of Yoruba and Ifa with Catholicism, came to the states first with Puerto Ricans in the forties and fifties and then with the flood of Cuban refugees in the sixties. In all of these places mentioned above, the pantheon of major Yoruba deities has survived virtually intact, along with a complex of rites, beliefs, music, dances and myths of Yoruba origin.
In resent years, availability of attainable air travel has enabled African Americans to go back to the essence from which this great culture derived (Africa) and gather the information needed to teach and assist others. Places like Oyotunji village in Beaufort South Carolina, DOYA (Descendants of the Yoruba in America) foundation in Cleveland OH, Ile Ori Ifa Temple in Atlanta GA, and African Paridise in Grffin GA where Yoruba culture and religion is still practiced, are just a few of many locations that offer a place to reclaim the religion of self awarness, inner strength, inner peace and unlimited power for our evolution.
It would be a negligent oversight to examine the Afrikan family structure without making reference to polygyny (the practice of several women joining unto one man), which incidentally was first introduced into ancient societies by the Afrikan Woman. In the old days of Afrika’s glory the woman considered herself nothing without a man to defend her and a man was nothing without a woman and a family to defend. At this time polygyny was generally practiced throughout most of the world, a result of the Black Man’s cultural influence all around the globe. Polygyny or polygamy, as some call it, was adopted by Black Women to ensure every woman in the society having access to a man, whose primary role was protector, guide, provider and keeper of the realm.
As already stated, in these ancient Afrikan societies women were held in the highest honor and respect, the female entity was revered and oft-times worshipped as the Great Mother, Nourisher and Sustainer of life, the source of all terrestrial inspiration and the maintainer of revitalized life. This was the usual way of life in those wonderful days when the Black Man dominated the earth, widespread love, respect and affection was consistently demonstrated by the Black Man to the Black Woman. He delighted in adorning her with gold and silver often rhapsodizing to her in the most beautiful language (perhaps this is why sisters still love to hear a Black Man lay down some good “rap” even unto this day), the norm in ancient Black Society, where each gender clearly accepted and dignified their distinguished roles in the community with mutual affection and respect for one another. In those days of amorous joy Black Women delighted in dancing and singing praises to their men especially after they had returned from the battle (usually in defense of the homeland) or the hunt.
The family practices of the Black Man’s High Culture System began to deteriorate in certain parts of the world namely Europe and northern Asia when the Caucasian appeared on the scene. At first white Europeans with no real culture of their own, other than the insatiable love of warfare, tried to emulate the Afrikan in the practice of polygyny although there was no general change in his attitude regarding the treatment of the Caucasian woman. With the coming of syphilis and its wide-spread infections among the women of his race, which caused the largest percentage of the female population to die out like flies, the nomadic Caucasians leaving their bodies where they fell, the shortage in the already limited female population was intensified so the European shortly returned to monogamy, homosexuality and the wide-spread practice of polyandry – one woman, many men. In the European custom of polyandry one woman, be she mother, daughter, sister and in some cases a queen, became the wife of as many as ten or more men, included in this group might be her father, her son, her brother, her cousin, her uncle as well as her husband and on certain occasions, at the whim of the family head man she was made available for the pleasure of all the men in the community. The ancient Europeans said their rationale for doing this was an attempt to minimize the constant fighting and bloodletting of rivals over the limited amount of women available. It was out of this confusion that the patriarchal line of descent and the modern European system of monogamy was born. As a result of eventual European world domination many Black People and other peoples of color have been forced to adopt monogamy and in same cases rape and homosexuality as a cultural frame of reference. Subliminally this is one of the manifold reasons for the many traumatic Black Male-Female relationships in the United States and other parts of the world today. But in spite of this mental conditioning we as a people must join unto our own and through the proper light of understanding correctly put into practice those systems that will prosper and sustain us, insuring Our survival and longevity on the earth.
At this point a word of caution is in order. The above statements of historical fact – and it is an irrefutable fact that the practice of polygyny was the norm for Afrikans before the coming of the European – were not intended to denigrate or condemn those families where the Black Man and Woman mutually prefer a monogamous relationship, rather they have been cited to present the cultural roots, validity and obvious advantages of polygyny for Black families who wish to practice it today. Of course it must be clearly understood, especially by the brothers that this is not something you just up and jump into without careful thought and preparation, for there are great responsibilities involved. But those Black Men and Women who are serious and adequately prepare themselves through consultation, study and self discipline applying the practice of polygyny on the high spiritual plane of which it was originally developed will eventually become some of the most respected and powerful men and women in the world. It is believed by some Black Scholars who have carefully and painstakingly studied the societal structures of Afrikan People that the correct application of this system could be a mighty key factor in the economic, spiritual, mental and physical survival of Blacks wherever we are in the world today.
One of the main reasons why polygyny was developed and practiced by the ancients was to enhance the economic power of the family, community and nation. Wherein a brother might achieve moderately well in a basic monoganous structure, he could maximize his efforts a hundred fold with the right combination of sister-wives. Bear in mind this idea was first introduced into the community by the women of the society. The biblical story of Jacob, the reputed father of the Israelite nation, mentions his four wives and how the first two brought the latter two into the family. In this present Euro-centric dominated society which is adverse to our very nature, it is somewhat difficult for us to practice those traditions which are more in tuned with our cosmic vibrations. Therefore we must adopt the wisdom of the Kawaida doctrine which advises us to practice “tradition and reason” as we strive to create a new society a better condition and a better world. There is much truth in the old adage “Where there is a will, there is a way.”
As always it is imperative for us as a people to be constantly advancing in knowledge and understanding ever cultivating the habit of doing those things which contribute to our growth. Above all we must not allow ourselves to become stagnant or we will be like the sitting waters that provide a habitation and breeding ground for blood sucking mosquitoes which can be likened unto our natural enemy hovering overhead, ever ready to feed upon our spiritual being and suck out the life blood of our mind, buzzing about and laying the eggs of his degenerate society. Those brothers and sisters who may react to the above statements out of wild undiciplined emotion instead of the logic and scientific analysis of a sound mind which was originally created and given to you for the purpose of deductive reasoning, we advise; investigate and examine before you rush forward to condemn. Black People must be very certain that the concepts and decisions on the part of both male and female regarding the practice of polygyny are based on knowledge, wisdom, logic and understanding rather than negative emotional reaction. In light of this let not the white-mindedness that to some degree has infected all of us be a stumbling block to our progress as a race.
In raising this issue we are fully aware that humans tend to see into a concept that which appeals to their own personal desires, therefore we do strongly urge this subject be approached with the right mental and spiritual attitude. For it is our fervent prayer that we as a people may soon move from a position of weak powerlessness to our own proper position of power and strength on the Earth. Again we admonish those brothers and sisters who are desirous of practicing polygyny to study and investigate it well,being certain to properly prepare themselves mentally, physically and spiritually so as to avoid the emotional pain and suffering which is repercussive of incorrect and clandestine dealings. At all times the brother must be honest, fair, wise and strong in order for the sisters to feel confident and secure in the relationship. In light of the wide percentage gap between the Black Female and Black Male population, particularly in America, sisters should adopt a cooperative spirit, while seeking ways to remedy this situation. Every Black Woman who needs and wants one should have a Black man. Remember the survival of the race is at stake here, not our uncontrolled emotions.
As I review the great benefits of polygyny to our ancient societies I’m inclined, while at the same time considering our present position here in the western hemisphere, to propose that this way of life must be revived and redeveloped in this day but it must be done correctly and in harmony with good principles. There is much information and many living examples of this practice available to those who diligently seek it out. Again let us reaffirm that this subject was not presented to foment consternation or to cause brothers and sisters to throw up their defenses, “jump salty with each other” and become polarized into forming opposing camps but rather as a review and examination of a historical reality which has been a component of the Afrikan way of life from earliest times unto the present. We trust those few who may not be in agreement with us in this matter will not assume a hostile posture and discount all the other points of vital information in this book. And so with undying Black Love for all, ponder it will understand the true spirit in which it was set forth. Surely the Creator who revealed the divine light of understanding to our Ancestors in the past is the best knower and the best doer.