Divining the Self: A Study in Yoruba Myth and Human Consciousness (Signifying (on) Scriptures)


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Meditation and contemplative practices were drawn from Asian traditions particularly as ways to cope with inner strife, stress and to journey into the soul. African spiritual systems were largely invisible and ignored in both academe and circles of religious practice. Meyerowitz, The Western scientific research community seemed to lack interest in the social erosion that accompanied growing materialistic appetites and proliferating technology.

As the U. Old paradigms die hard. Although Black Studies had gained a toehold in U.

Divining the Self: A Study in Yoruba Myth and Human Consciousness

The colonization of Africa had been rationalized previously by the myth of the inferiority of the African mind. This perception was aided by the apparent divide between spiritually oriented, naturalistic, communitarian traditional Africa and the individualistic, materialistic, scientific West Smith, The muting of African voices that name the world and etch particular sensibilities on the stone of human understanding serves several purposes.

Of course, it is necessary to objectify the humanity and obliterate the history of those slated to be enslaved or killed. The essential purpose appears to be the sustenance of White male supremacy.


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To Elizabethan era Europeans blackness symbolized everything that was negative Dozier, The ubiquity of the Internet in particular has deflowered all but the most remote preserves of the planet. Intentionally or unintentionally it markets Western worldviews and products with the side effect of values consumption as well.

Images of wanton sexuality, sanitized and real violence penetrate former boundaries with abandon; the consequences of this intrusion on traditional non Western cultures remain to be seen. Given this context, the persistent invisibility in academe of non Western worldviews should give us pause.

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The array of worldviews, thought systems and philosophies should be the proper terrain of academic investigation yet when consideration is given to the great wisdom systems, African spirituality is bereft of inclusion. Copeland, cited in Holmes avers that Black religion in the U. As a large ethno-linguistic group or ethic nation in West Africa, there are substantial indigenous Yoruba communities in the Republics of Benin, Togo and Sierra Leone, numbering about 10 million, with about half that figure scattered in various other parts of the Africa continent.

In Asia, it is estimated that there are about 2. The Yoruba are a large ethnic group spanning several nations in West Africa. Many historians believe that the Yoruba migrated to their present home from Upper Egypt, between and A. City-dwellers primarily, Yoruba people have the highest twinning rate in the world.

Their ancient cities of Ife and Oyo were founded between and A. Leroy et. The Yoruba have descendants throughout the Western hemisphere.

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Within Nigeria, the Yoruba dominate the western part of the country. They are, in fact, not a single group, but a collection of diverse people bound together by a common language, history, and culture Abimbola, Ethnographic, missionary, and travel monographs by Leo Frobenius, R. Rattray, H. Junod, W. Willoughby, Edwin Smith, E. African scholars Bolajii Idowu, John Mbiti, and Gabriel Setiloane also published works on African religious life and the social history of specific communities.

Studies by Terrence Ranger, I. Kimambo, Wim M. Tradition avers that all Yoruba people descended from a hero called Oduduwa. The name is also linked to the literature of the Yoruba geomantic divination system, Ifa. The name Yoruba was actually dubbed by their Hausa neighbors. Ire is a word that means health, longevity, prosperity and being blessed with children [p. Kingship is not determined by simple primogeniture, as in most monarchic government systems.

The Obas live in palaces usually in the center of the town. These markets form an inherent part of Yoruba life. Traditionally the market traders are well organized, have various guilds, and an elected speaker. As in many African societies, the family unit is central in the life of every Yoruba.

Within the clan, the senior is always superior to the junior. The former, however, has the obligation to support the junior.

In addition they have the highest incident of twin births of any ethnic group on the planet. The sense of community and harmonious living are highly cherished values of traditional African life Fatunmbi,;Gyekye,;Idowu,;Mbiti,;Ogbonnaya,;. This statement remains true in spite of the apparent disarray in the experience of modern politics and brutal internecine wars in many parts of the Continent. For traditional Africans, the community is basically sacred, rather than secular, Ejisu, n. The interest of the community takes precedence over any individual or sub-group interests within the community.

The community, its laws, customs and taboos are the only context within which individuals may pursue personal security, happiness and success.

Horn, , p. Similar to the Egyptians or Kemetic civilization, the Yoruba have always had a divine ruler believed to be descended from Divinity. Fatunmbi described the position as a form of hereditary monarchy which required each Oba to undergo an initiation that made them a spiritual descendent of the ancestral founder Oduduwa. However, the Yoruba government and social structure are not dictatorial. Responsibilities are shared.

Although recognition and respect for rank is evident, there is also the possibility of moving up in rank through hard work.

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Located close to the Niger River, Oyo historically was the strongest political state with the largest political and military system. Rich soil in Oyo allowed residents to grow more crops than they needed which contributed to a trade advantage with neighboring groups. They also created a strong military. Oyo was in control of 6, towns and villages by the end of the 18th century.

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The Yoruba chiefdoms were united under the supreme authority of the powerful Alafin , king of Oyo. Internal wars and fighting with neighboring groups, along with the beginning of the slave trade or Maafa Ani, , eventually led to the decline of these great federations. During the four centuries of the slave trade, Yoruba territory was known as the Slave Coast. Uncounted numbers of Yoruba were forced to the Americas. Of note though is that most Yoruba people belonging to the Islamic or to the Christian faith also adhere in one way or another to the traditional religious practice.

The Yoruba people value manners much more than most African ethnicities.


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A man is to lie down on the ground before the important person, and then get up. The author was struck by the custom of greeting each person outside the household no matter how many times they made be encountered during the day. Often a little proverb or some conversation would be added. Every aspect of their socio-political lives is anchored in spirituality. The family is the single most important micro-political entity and the crucible for education and development.

Divining the Self: A Study in Yoruba Myth and Human Consciousness (Signifying (on) Scriptures) Divining the Self: A Study in Yoruba Myth and Human Consciousness (Signifying (on) Scriptures)
Divining the Self: A Study in Yoruba Myth and Human Consciousness (Signifying (on) Scriptures) Divining the Self: A Study in Yoruba Myth and Human Consciousness (Signifying (on) Scriptures)
Divining the Self: A Study in Yoruba Myth and Human Consciousness (Signifying (on) Scriptures) Divining the Self: A Study in Yoruba Myth and Human Consciousness (Signifying (on) Scriptures)
Divining the Self: A Study in Yoruba Myth and Human Consciousness (Signifying (on) Scriptures) Divining the Self: A Study in Yoruba Myth and Human Consciousness (Signifying (on) Scriptures)
Divining the Self: A Study in Yoruba Myth and Human Consciousness (Signifying (on) Scriptures) Divining the Self: A Study in Yoruba Myth and Human Consciousness (Signifying (on) Scriptures)

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