Olodumare: God in Yoruba Belief

By E. Bolaji Idowu | Go to book overview

8
The Ministers of OlÓdÙmarè continued

ORÌ-NLÁ

Orìs + ̩à-nlá is the supreme divinity of Yorubaland. As his name implies, he is the great or arch-divinity. It is sometimes said that he is the father of all the orìs + ̩à of Yorubaland and that it was he who gave each one of them the name orìs + ̩à, thus naming them after himself.Thus,the title "father" here denotes his relationship to the other divinities as well as suggests that he was the original divinity from whom at least a number of them derived. He is automatically the senior and head of them all. He is also called Qbàtálá, the name which has been variously interpreted as Qba-ti-í-ó-nla--"The king who is great"; or Qba-ti-àlà-- "King in white clothing".

According to our oral traditions, Orìs + ̩à-nlá-nlá is very ancient. He was the very first to receive a definite characterisation,1 and that will explain why he is described by some of our elders as the image or symbol of OlódÙmarè on earth. Yoruba theology also calls him the off-spring of OlódÙmarè in the sense that he derived immediately from him and that the attributes of OlódÙmarè are revealed through him. The oral traditions give much emphasis to the teaching that he takes after OlódÙmarè in many essential attributes: he is called by some of Olódùmarè's very significant appellations. For example, he is known as A-té + ̩-re + ̩re + ̩-k'áiye--"He who spreads over the whole extent of the earth"; he is called e + ̩lé + ̩dǎ--"maker", since OlódÙmarè has committed to him the creation of the physical part of man, as also the creation of earth and the arrangement of its trappings.2 He is the sculptor-divinity who has been given the prerogative to create as he chooses, so that he makes man of shapely or deformed features. The hunchback, the cripple, the albino, are regarded to be special marks of his prerogative, either signifying his displeasure at the breach of some tabu, or to show that he

____________________
1
See Chapter 7, pp. 59 f.
2
See Chapter 3, pp. 19 ff.

-71-

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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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