Thursday, February 23, 2017

USA Africa Dialogue Series - Re: Yoruba Affairs - Fwd: [NaijaElections] Yoruba mythology: The reason why ancient gods are appearing in pop culture

Thanks, Oluwatoyin Adepoju, for posting Ayomide O. Tayo's essay here. It is common knowledge that the Yoruba culture has traveled far and wide through the vehicle of religion, especially. This is more so in the New World. I once worked with R.F. Thompson of Yale University in the mid- to late 1980s, where we transcribed and translated a worship session of the adherents of Santeria religion somewhere in the Caribbean. We ended up with 700 pages! Interestingly, the worshippers had no idea what language they were speaking once they were in the mode of being possessed. Quite interesting! In his popular essay, "In Praise of Metonymy . . ." Olabiyi Babalola Yai spoke to the globality of the Yoruba culture, citing an Odu, "Eji Ogbe"(an Ifa verse), in which Orunmila (Ifa) is said to have sent his disciples to foreign lands "to seek wisdom and knowledge." It is no wonder why the gods are yet to die, and instead, they are popping up even in today's pop culture (no pun intended). Ayomide O. Tayo's observations are so right on the money!

Thanks a bunch!

Michael O. Afolayan

On Thursday, February 23, 2017 4:52 AM, Oluwatoyin Vincent Adepoju <> wrote:

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Kola Fabiyi [NaijaElections] <>
Date: 17 February 2017 at 06:57
Subject: [NaijaElections] Yoruba mythology: The reason why ancient gods are appearing in pop culture

by Ayomide O. Tayo via

There is a reason why Yoruba culture is popping up in the Western world and it has to do with Afrofuturism.

There has been a fascination with Yoruba mythology of late.

Beyonce prancing on the Grammy stage as the Yoruba deity Osun is the latest example of mythology from the Oduduwa tribe stunting on the global scene.

For those who do not know, Beyonce, who has Creole roots (a person of mixed European and black descent, especially in the Caribbean), has a well-documented history of her fascination with Yoruba culture, music and mythology.
The appreciation of Yoruba heritage and mythology does not only revolve around Jay Z's hot wife. There has been an explosion of Yoruba folklore and legends on the global scene.
French twin sisters Lisa-Kaindé Diaz and Naomi Diaz better known as the collective Ibeyi broke into the world scene in 2015 with their brand of spooky, spine-tingling and soulful music dipped in Cuban and Yoruba rhythms.
Lisa and Naomi are worshippers of Osun and are deep into Yoruba mysticism. Their debut album features a track called Oya- goddess (Orisa) of winds, lightening, and violent storms, death and rebirth and on 'River' they implore Osun (goddess of beauty, love, prosperity, order and fertility) to wash them.
Ibeyi's music which has found success in Europe is greatly influenced by Yoruba spiritualism.
The twins were introduced to Yoruba culture and mythology by their late father who took them to Cuba to learn the way of ancestors from Cubans who held on to their Yoruba ancestry. These Cubans are the descendants of Yoruba slaves imported to the island during the slave trade era.

In America, celebrities (and brands as well) have been hooked on to white swirling and enchanting designs called the Sacred Art of the Ori. Everyone from Alicia Keys to Taraji P Henson, Willow Smith, Beyonce, Adekunle Gold, Swizz Beatz, and others have had their faces adorned with the Sacred Art of the Ori.
Nigerian artist Laolu Senbanjo has been the medium for this phenomenon. Born in Nigeria, Senbanjo moved to New York city in 2013. A Nike collaboration and a Beyonce endorsement blew up his brand. Ever since he has been patronised by the high and mighty in Hollywood who want a piece of his afromysterics works.

In 2016, a Brazilian artist, Hugo Canuto re-imagined Marvel's Avengers as Yoruba gods. The successful feedback he got from the endeavour, encouraged him to start a comic based on Yoruba gods. 
What has spurned this appreciation of Yoruba mythology in the Western world? In a time when there is so much tension in the world, racial tension inclusive, black people are questioning their place in the world and where they fit in.
Uncertain what the world holds for blackness in the future, black people all over are tapping into their history and ancestry to create a future that is Afrocentric.

Think Jidenna using Igbo culture to create his own unique sound and visual style. In essence, Yoruba mythology is popping everywhere because people are connecting with the past to make sense of the future.
This concept is known as Afrofuturism. First coined in 1993 by a cultural critic named Mark Dery, Afrofuturism is creating an alternative reality for blacks in the present which will manifest to a concrete reality in the future.

As an African-American, what better way for you to claim that you are a king, queen, god or goddess than by going into the past and channeling old Yoruba deities?
You could say blacks in the diaspora are lost and by connecting to Yoruba history and folklores helps them gain a sense of direction and destiny.


Posted by: Kola Fabiyi <>
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