Back in the Seventeenth century, Oya was the capital emplacement of a group of west African tribes that had a common language Yoruba. We cant really call Oya the capital city, because that would imply that it was the residence of just one ruler and the Yoruba speaking people had many dynastic families.
Oya became strategically important because it was a mere 250 km from the coast and some in Oya had heard rumours that there were riches to be had from the white man now arriving in boats on the coast to buy kola nuts and salt.
So it was that the tribal kings of Oya managed to agree on one thing: it was a good idea to march thousands of their healthiest young men and women 250 km on foot through the jungle and persuade the white man that they merely wanted a job in a nice sugar plantation in America. Later, the Yoruba speaking people persuaded the white man that the guilt was all his to shoulder for ever more he had enslaved their people who had chosen this route march of their own free will.
Oya collapsed as a city and was abandoned after Jihad waged by the Muslim cleric Usman dan Fodio over ran the area. Half a million displaced Yoruba residents, known as refugees in any other circumstances, magically became slaves and went to Brazil, a quarter of a million to the French colony of St Domingue and 75,000 to the British colony of Jamaica.
In 1807, the British arrived and attempted to stem the slave trade after this most of the slaves were sent to Sierra Leone. The remaining Yoruba made a living out of palm oil for a hundred years or more after that, until the British discovered petroleum. Then many began work for the colonial government, sending and receiving mysterious faxes for a product that they had never seen, and would never see.
You used the English you had learned at the mission schools, and wrote out letters telling x that he needed to transfer millions of pounds to your boss bank account and he did, and yeah! your boss rushed out and bought himself a brand new Range Rover, and his wife had so many new fridge freezers that she gave some away to her cousins all from a few words written on a piece of paper. Magic that outshone anything brujería had ever thought of.
When General Babangida stepped down, albeit reluctantly, from power in 1993, it was the end of a period of huge corruption in Nigerian society, massive riches magically going to people named in those early petroleum contract faxes, no sign of a product changing hands as it would in the local market and a seemingly never ending supply of rich white folk who would send money in return for a request that mentioned unimaginable sums and quoted various government departments.
Nigeria was full of young men with a modicum of education, and a knowledge of how to word those faxes and the world had kindly invented the Internet for them .
However, the religion and language of the Yoruba slaves served as a connection between them and their Ancestral root in Africa.
The Yoruba religion and language are interwoven. The language is spoken when Orisa rites or ceremonies are performed. The Yoruba religion was the key to the preservation of the Yoruba language and equally,the Yoruba language preserved the Yoruba religion.
The slave revolts in the Americas were motivated by the slaves’ spiritual consciousness. This is evident in the motivation of the slave revolt that took place in Haiti. The slave revolution that occurred in Haiti in 1791was one of the most successful slave revolts in the world. The success of their bellion motivated other slave revolts.
Zeferina, a Yoruba slave woman also organized a slaverevolt in 1826 against plantation masters. She was the leader of a Quilombo; arunaway slave settlement formed by Yoruba slaves outside the city of Bahia in Brazil.
The Yoruba intelligence, love for freedom, diplomacy,tolerance, civilization e.t.c. are derived from their culture and religion. The Yoruba adherence to ancestral culture and beliefs are highly celebrated and respected throughout the world. Although there are Muslims and Christians among them but religious freedom and synergy is another secret for the development of the Yoruba race. From the beginning of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, the Catholic Church had banned African religions. It is very interesting that the Yoruba slaves took their religion with them. The Yorubas worship one Supreme Being called Olodumare and a group of gods that form the Yoruba Orisa pantheon.For their religion to survive, they created a syncretism. This means merging ofreligious practices. The syncretism allow them to worship the Catholic God on the altar but see the African God and His pantheon of Orisa’s behind it.The African slaves gave double personalities to the Catholic saints. Each of the saints was given an Orisa name and the African gods and goddesses (Orisa) also took on the names of Catholic saints.
Obatala – Saint Barbra (Obatala is identified with different catholic saints).
Babaluaye – Saint Lazaro
Sango/Chango – Saint Barbara
Osun/Ochun – Virgen de la Caridad
Ogun/Oggun – Saint Peter
Yemoja/Yemaja/Yemaya/Xemaya – Virgin Mary (Virgen deRegla in Cuba)
Osho – Oshu – Saint Abert (Cuba), Saint George (Brazil)
Oya – Saint Catherine
Ibeji – Saint Cosmos and Damian
According to the Yoruba Ifa Corpus there are 401 Yoruba gods (orisa). On the American continent, Obatala is believed to be the one who act as an obligatory intermediary between mortals and spirits. He is the first deity (orisa) to be worshiped in any service. Obatala is also known as a sky deity and protector of the town gates. He is believed to form children in the womb and was therefore believed to form albinism and congenital deformities.Obatala is identified with different catholic saints.
Sango/Shango/Xango/Chango religion is practiced throughout the Americas and the Caribbean Islands. The religion is well practiced in Brazil and because of his popularity in the country, the Yoruba people (where Sango originates from) are also called by his name SANGO.
In Trinidad and Grenada, the origin of the practice of Sango and other Yoruba beliefs began in 1849, when indentured Yoruba labourers and slaves were brought into the Islands from Ijesha (Yoruba land) South West in Nigeria. Sango religion was created in honour of the Orisa Sango who was the fourth King-Alaafin of Oyo. In his time, he was the most powerful king in West Africa.
The Yoruba religion and language is the connection between the Yoruba Slaves and their African root. A people without a language and Culture is a people forgotten. Africa should respect and stop calling her languages Vernacular. If Africa neglects her Language, History and culture, then the hope of the future is in the Americas where descendants of the enslaved Africans live in great numbers. The Americas is the Africa of the new world.
Orisa: These are gods or deities worshiped among the Yorubas in Africa, Europe and the Americas.
Americas: In this note, the Americas represent continental America which includes; North America, Central America, South America and the Caribbean Islands.
– http://science.jrank.org – 2013, Net industries and its licensors.
– Awake,July 8, 2000, The lure of Santeria, page 23-25.
– OritzFernandez, Los Negros brujos, page 34
– Bastide,African Civilizations, page 117
– Courlander,the Drum P. 322