African Mythology: Obatala

African Mythology: Obatala

Obatala is the Yoruba Orisha( a spirit that manifests on behalf of the supreme God, Olodumare) of the sky and the creator of human bodies. Obatala is known as the father of all Orishas and his main wife is known as Yemu. He is the second son of Olodumare and said to be his representative on earth. He is also said to be the founder of Ile Ife (the cradle of the Yoruba civilisation).

Obatala is said to have been the first ruler of Ile Ife and was deposed by this brother Oduduwa, this caused rivalry between the brothers. In candomble (an Afro American religion practiced in Brazil), Obatala is seen as the deity of light & consciousness. He is often associated with purity that is why he is always clothed in white garments.

During slavery, the slaves had to disguise their deities as catholic saints, so they could worship without getting into trouble with the slave masters. The slaves were encouraged through their spirituality. In Latin America and the Caribbean, Obatala is still celebrated in September festivals.

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