Olodumare: God in Yoruba Belief

By E. Bolaji Idowu | Go to book overview

4
Olódùmarè--The Name

As we focus our attention closer upon the Yoruba's concept of the Deity in order to know what they think and believe about His eternal Godhead and attributes, it will be well for us once again to emphasise the fact that God has never left Himself without witness anywhere in His world. This emphasis is necessary because of the misconceptions which in the past and up to the present have attended certain studies on this fundamental issue.

Dr. Edwin W. Smith relates an encounter which he had with the eminent biographer, Emil Ludwig.1 Ludwig was curious about what was the business of the missionaries in Africa. Whereupon Edwin Smith informed him about Christian work and how the Africans were given the saving knowledge of the "living, present, loving God". Ludwig was plainly puzzled and expressed his perplexity with the question, "How can the untutored African conceive God?" . . . "How can this be? Deity is a philosophical concept which savages (italics mine) are incapable of framing."

Ludwig and people who think like him in this matter may be entitled to their opinion that only a trained philosopher can know God. But one is compelled to ask the question, "What is Ludwig's definition of 'Deity'?" If he means by "Deity" an abstract, intellectual concept, a thing to be attained by ratiocination, then it might indeed be that Ludwig's savages could not frame it. But since the Deity of religion and human experience is not an abstraction but a Reality, a Being, Ludwig's premise is patently wrong, and his conclusion inevitably doomed to come to grief.

In any case, it would seem that, under the coverage of this high- sounding phraseology, there lies the bare notion that there are peoples somewhere in the world to whom "the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity" would not stoop so low as to reveal Himself, peoples who could

____________________
1
African Ideas of God, edited by E. W. Smith ( London, Edinburgh House 1950), p. 1.

-30-

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Olodumare: God in Yoruba Belief
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents v
  • Contents vi
  • Preface vii
  • I - "In All Things . . . Religious" 1
  • 2 - Our Ancestral Home 11
  • 3 - In the Beginning 18
  • 4 - Olódùmarè--The Name 30
  • 5 - Olódùmarè--His Attributes 38
  • 6 - Olódùmarè--His Status 48
  • 7 - The Ministers of Olódúmarè 57
  • 8 - The Ministers of Olódùmarè Continued 71
  • 9 - The Cult of the Divinities 107
  • 10 - The Cult of the Divinities Continued 129
  • 11 - The Cult of Olódùmarè 140
  • 12 - Olódùmarè and Moral Values 144
  • 13 - Olódùmarè and Man's Destiny 169
  • 14 - Olódùmarè and Man's Final Destiny 186
  • 15 - Change or Decay? 202
  • Index of Subjects 216
  • Index of Proper Names 221
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