The Cult of Olódùmarè
We shall open this chapter with three selected quotations to illustrate the general impression which the religion of the Yoruba makes upon foreign investigators with regard to the cult of the Deity.
A. B. Ellis, writing in 1894 said of Olódùmarè, "The native says that he enjoys a life of complete idleness and repose, . . . and passes His time dozing or sleeping. Since he is too lazy or too indifferent to exercise any control over earthly affairs, man on his side does not waste time in endeavouring to propitiate him, but reserves his worship and sacrifice for more active agents."1
Leo Frobenius, writing nineteen years later, said: "He is neither worshipped nor considered in any way, but leads an entirely platonic, mythological existence."2
E. Geoffrey Parrinder, writing as recently as 1949, said: "The Yoruba call God Ȩlọ + ́run. No cult is offered to him . . ."; and he went on to describe Him as "this supreme but unworshipped God".3
Most of the salient points raised by these quotations have been amply answered in the past chapters of this book.4 The main point to notice here is their specific emphasis that the Yoruba have no cult of Olódù- marè While it is very likely that Ellis had only mistaken a vivid dream of his own for information by" the natives", that in writing these words Frobenius was only exuding a surfeit of classical education, and that Parrinder's research at this point was incomplete, there is little doubt that the general appearance of things has led to the mistaken notion that Olódùmarè is a "deus incertus" and a "deus remotus" and is therefore not worshipped at all.5 Let us therefore examine the reasons for this appearance which has been taken for reality.____________________