Yoruba Religion

Doctrines Yoruba believe in a supreme being, in primordial divinities, and spirits that have been deified. God is known as Olodumare (the one who has the fullness of everything) and Olorun (the owner of heaven, the Lord whose abode is in the heaven above). Other names are also used that reflect the Yoruba belief that God has all the possible attributes of a person.
As the Supreme Being created heaven and earth, he also brought into existence hundreds of divinities, and the spirits (Orisa, or Imole, and Ebora). Other historical figures, such as kings, culture heroes, founders of cities, etc. were deified, and are invoked along with personifications of natural forces such as earth, wind, trees, river, lagoon, sea, rock, hills and mountains. As in other African societies, Yoruba also believe in the active existence of the deceased ancestors.

History Traditionally, Yorubaland was constituted by semi-independent states governed by kings. Under those twenty or more kings, a greater number of subordinate rulers, at least 1000, were responsible for single towns and villages. Therefore there was never a political unity as such. The principal source of ethnic identity was language, which distinguished the Yoruba from the neighbouring traditions such as the Hausa speaking peoples.
All the principal Yoruba kingdoms claim a common origin from the city of Ile Ife. The royal dynasties are supposedly descended from a single ancestor, the first king of Ile Ife, who is usually named Oduduwa. During Oduduwa's lifetime, or soon after his death, his sons and grandsons are said to have dispersed from Ile Ife to found their own kingdoms. In several oral traditions, the founders of the principal kingdoms are presented as the children of Oduduwa specifically by his principal wife, Omonide or Iyamode.
While the history of Yoruba religion has been of a variety of traditional forms throughout the kingdoms, traders came into contact with Islam as early as the 17th Century, and Islam was established in Ketu before the 18th Century, so that between 1755 and 1780 (the reign of Oba Adele I) there were already Muslims in Lagos. While Christian missionaries arrived in Yorubaland by the middle of the 19th Century, Christianity spread rapidly, and independent churches such as Aladura sprang up throughout Yorubaland by the earlier part of the 20th Century.

Symbols Yams are considered important symbols of thanksgiving by the Yoruba, whose main occupation is farming. As a result, even fishing communities offer new yams to the divinities before they themselves consume them. For example, the Eje festival is an annual event in Itebuu-Manuwa during which the Yoruba leader gives yams to Malokum (god of the sea), to the ancestors, and to other local spirits and divinities believed to be responsible for making the crops do well on the land.
In the case of divination (ifa), objects such as cowry-shells and palm nuts are used to allow the reading by a priest (babalawo) of possible influences by supernatural forces on a particular person. Therefore those objects symbolize the wishes of the supernatural world, specifically of Ifa himself, the wisest of all deities, and the chief counsellor of the supreme deity Olorun. Also the akoko tree (newboldia laevis) is regarded as a sacred tree, and a symbolic marker for sacred spots.

Adherents No official figures available.

Main Centre
 South Western Nigeria, Oyo, Ondo, Ogun, Lagos and Kwara States, and a section of the Bendel State. Some Yoruba groups are also found in Togo and Benin.