Yorùbá Culture


A philosophical introduction to the foundations of Òrìṣà/Yorùbá religious thought and practices.



Yorùbá Culture: A Philosophical Account

by Kọ́lá Abímbọ́lá (Author)

This is a book about Yorùbá thought and practices. It expounds a view about the nature, roles and functions of Yorùbá beliefs in contemporary societies. The position is that philosophical ideas implicit in the Òrìṣà religion form the basis of Yorùbá culture in West Africa, the Americas, and other parts of the world. The book is, therefore, not a catalogue of various cultural practices of Yorùbá peoples around the world. It is not an exposition of tastes in art, dance, etiquette, and other mores that are adopted by this particular social group. It is simply a theoretical account of the philosophical ideas that underlie the world-view of traditional Yorùbá societies.


Foreword by Professor John Pemberton III


1       Introduction             

Where is Africa?     20

The Study of Yorùbá Culture     22

2       The Yorùbá           

Locations, Population and Languages     32

From Africa to the New World     35

3       The Yorùbá Cosmos

Ifá and Yorùbá Culture     44

Gods and Anti-Gods     46

Olódùmarè and Yorùbá Theology     49

4       Yorùbá Medicine

The Yorùbá Conception of Àrùn (Illness)     76

The Role of Sọ̀npọ̀nná (Ọbalúayé)     80

The Implications of Yorùbá Medicine     83

5       The Value of Practical Beliefs

Culture as Communal Practices     93

Culture as Individual Beliefs      95

Practical Beliefs (or the Culture Within)     96


  1. Yorùbá Text of Translated Ifá Poems     101
  2. A Yorùbá Prayer     107
  3. Glossary of Major Yorùbá Divinities     113 

Suggested Further Reading     130

Index     132