Olódùmarè and Man's Final Destiny
We concluded the last chapter on the fact that the Yoruba regard the end of life here on earth as of serious importance. That end, of course, involves the question of what becomes of man after the present life. Every religion has to face this eschatological question and, here again, the answer depends upon man's conception of the Deity.
The matter of man's final destiny is divided up naturally under the two headings of Death and After-Life, the latter of which involves a look at the idea of Judgment. We shall examine the whole eschatology of the Yoruba under these headings, therefore.
The fact of death is a baffling and disturbing question-mark written conspicuously on the face of things. Man has been forced, therefore, since he became acquainted with it, to apply his mind to the question of its origin and purpose. In this, the Yoruba as corporate members of the human race are no exception; for, from the evidence at our disposal, we find that it is a subject to which they have given careful thought. Their name for it is Ikú, which besides being their designation for "dying" stands also, and more importantly, as the name for the personified power, the agent which the Yoruba believe to be responsible, under commission from Olódùmarè, for killing and removing people from this earth. The question of the beginning of his operation in the lives of men is one to which they have attached little importance, although they have naturally showed some curiosity about it. There is a conception of its beginning which says that Ikú began to kill only when he was grossly offended; that is, when his mother was killed at Ejìgbò-Me + M̩kùn market. This is contained in the Odù, Ò + ̩yè + ̩kǔ-méjì:
Nwo + ̩n pa ìyǎ ikú
S' ó + ̩jà EjÎgbò-Me + ̩kùn:
Ikú gbó + ̩ n' lé,
Ikú han bi àgo + ̩n Il'ó + ̩yé + ̩,