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YORUBA RELIGION AND LANGUAGE: THE SLAVE CONNECTION TO THE AFRICAN ROOT By Anago James Akeem Osho

YORUBA RELIGION AND LANGUAGE: THE SLAVE CONNECTION TO THE AFRICAN ROOT By Anago James Akeem Osho


The Yoruba religions survived condemnation and ban byEuropean Missionaries during the Trans Atlantic Slave trade through individualand group consciousness on the part of the Yoruba slaves. The survival of theYoruba religion and language in the Americas depend on the value and importancethe Yorubas placed on their culture.
However, the religion and language of the Yoruba slavesserved as a connection between them and their Ancestral root in Africa.

The Yoruba religion and language are interwoven. Thelanguage is spoken when Orisa rites or ceremonies are performed. The Yorubareligion was the key to the preservation of the Yoruba language and equally,the Yoruba language preserved the Yoruba religion.
The slave revolts in the Americas were motivated by the slaves’spiritual consciousness. This is evident in the motivation of the slave revoltthat took place in Haiti. The slave revolution that occurred in Haiti in 1791was one of the most successful slave revolts in the world. The success of therebellion motivated other slave revolts.
Zeferina, a Yoruba slave woman also organized a slaverevolt in 1826 against plantation masters. She was the leader of a Quilombo; arunaway slave settlement formed by Yoruba slaves outside the city of Bahia inBrazil.
The Yoruba intelligence, love for freedom, diplomacy,tolerance, civilization e.t.c. are derived from their culture and religion. TheYoruba adherence to ancestral culture and beliefs are highly celebrated andrespected throughout the world. Although there are Muslims and Christians amongthem but religious freedom and synergy is another secret for the development ofthe Yoruba race. From the beginning of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, theCatholic Church had banned African religions. It is very interesting that theYoruba slaves took their religion with them. The Yorubas worship one SupremeBeing called Olodumare and a group of gods that form the Yoruba Orisa pantheon.For their religion to survive, they created a syncretism. This means merging ofreligious practices. The syncretism allow them to worship the Catholic God onthe altar but see the African God and His pantheon of Orisa’s behind it.

The African slaves gave double personalities to theCatholic saints. Each of the saints was given an Orisa name and the Africangods and goddesses (Orisa) also took on the names of Catholic saints.
Obatala – Saint Barbra (Obatala is identified withdifferent catholic saints).
Babaluaye – Saint Lazaro
Sango/Chango – Saint Barbara
Osun/Ochun – Virgen de la Caridad
Ogun/Oggun – Saint Peter
Yemoja/Yemaja/Yemaya/Xemaya – Virgin Mary (Virgen deRegla in Cuba)
Osho - Oshu – Saint Abert (Cuba), Saint George (Brazil)
Oya – Saint Catherine
Ibeji – Saint Cosmos and Damian
e.t.c.
According to the Yoruba Ifa Corpus there are 401 Yorubagods (orisa). On the American continent, Obatala is believed to be the one whoact as an obligatory intermediary between mortals and spirits. He is the firstdeity (orisa) to be worshiped in any service. Obatala is also known as a skydeity and protector of the town gates. He is believed to form children in thewomb and was therefore believed to form albinism and congenital deformities.Obatala is identified with different catholic saints.
Sango/Shango/Xango/Chango religion is practiced throughout the Americas and the Caribbean Islands. The religion is well practiced inBrazil and because of his popularity in the country, the Yoruba people (where Sangooriginates from) are also called by his name SANGO.
In Trinidad and Grenada, the origin of the practice ofSango and other Yoruba beliefs began in 1849, when indentured Yoruba labourersand slaves were brought into the Islands from Ijesha (Yoruba land) South Westin Nigeria. Sango religion was created in honour of the OrisaSango who was the fourth King-Alaafin of Oyo. In his time, he was the most powerfulking in West Africa.
The Yoruba religion and language is the connection between the Yoruba Slaves and their African root. A people without a language and Culture is a people forgotten. Africa should respect and stop calling her languages Vernacular. If Africa neglects her Language, History and culture, then the hope of the future is in the Americas where descendants of the enslaved Africans live in great numbers. The Americas is the Africa of the new world.

NOTES:
Orisa: These are gods or deities worshiped among theYorubas in Africa, Europe and the Americas.
Americas: In this note, the Americas representcontinental America which includes; North America, Central America, SouthAmerica and the Caribbean Islands.

REFERENCES:
-            http://science.jrank.org - 2013, Net industries and its licensors.
-           Awake,July 8, 2000, The lure of Santeria, page 23-25.
-           OritzFernandez, Los Negros brujos, page 34
-           Bastide,African Civilizations, page 117
-           Courlander,the Drum P. 322

Anago James Akeem Osho is a Tourism Director, TouristGuide, Trans Atlantic Slave Trade Educator, Historian and Folk singer.
anago.tourism1893@yahoo.com.   +234(0)8037043233
anagoadventures.blogspot.com.
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