In all the previous works which have reference to the religion of the Yoruba, the Deity has been assigned a place which makes Him very remote, of little account in the scheme of things. Very few people who really know the Yoruba can escape the uneasy feeling that there is something inadequate, to say the least, about such a notion; and it is that "uneasy feeling" that led to my investigation of what the Yoruba actually know and believe about the Deity.
This book thus presents a new study of the belief of the Yoruba with the specific aim of emphasising their concept of the Deity.
In order to do this objectively, I have endeavoured throughout, as much as possible, to let the Yoruba themselves tell us what they know and believe, as they are so well able to do through their myths, in the recitations of their philosophy, with their songs and sayings, and by their liturgies.
To translate Yoruba verses and sayings into English and yet preserve their exact meaning is not an easy task. I have, however, tried to meet the difficulty by being rather literal and keeping very close to the original in my translations.
Throughout this work, I have reserved the title "Deity" for the Supreme Being alone, where I am not calling Him by His Yoruba name; and for the "gods many and lords many" I have used either the generic designation of "divinity" (or "divinities" as the case may be), or call them by their Yoruba generic name, orìs + ̩à, when I am not using their individual names.
One secondary aim which I seek to fulfil through this book is to supply one of our deeply felt needs in the matter of good standard textbooks on Yoruba beliefs and thoughts. It is thus my hope that the book will be of value to teachers and students.
At this point I like to borrow the words of my Tutor, Dr. A. C. Bouquet of Cambridge: "But if anyone should ask: 'How can a padre be expected to produce an impartial treatise on a subject