Òrìṣà (original spelling in the
Yoruba language), known as orichá or orixá in
Latin America, are the human form of the spirits (Irunmọlẹ) sent by
Olofi in Yoruba traditional identity. The Irunmọlẹ are meant to guide creation and particularly humanity on how to live and succeed on Earth (Ayé). Most Òrìṣà are said to be deities previously existing in the spirit world (Òrun) as Irunmọlẹ, while others are said to be humans who are recognized as deities upon their deaths due to extraordinary feats.
Many Òrìṣà have found their way to most of the
New World as a result of the
Atlantic slave trade and are now expressed in practices as varied as
Oyotunji, among others. The concept of orisha is similar to those of deities in the traditional religions of the
Bini people of
Edo State in southern Nigeria, the
Ewe people of
Togo, and the
Fon people of Benin.
Vodun altar with several fetishes in
Babacar Sedikh Diouf (
Serer: Babakar Sidiix Juuf) is a
Senegalese historian, author, researcher, campaigner against "
Pan-Africanist, and former teacher. He has written extensively about the
culture of Senegal,
Africa, and that of the
Serer ethnic group to which he belong. He usually writes by the
pen name Babacar Sedikh Diouf.
Diouf was one of the first (if not the first) to explain the
Serer religious significance of the
Senegambian stone circles. His work published on July 7, 1980 on the Senegalese newspaper
Le Soleil became headline news and was picked up by the
Cyr Descamps and his colleague Professor
Iba Der Thiam. Professor Descamps was one of the archaelogisgts who excavated the monuments back in the 1970s. On July 28, 1980, Professor Descamps issued a response to Diouf—thanking him for explaining the significance of the Senegambian megaliths which until then were unknown or undocumented. Some of that included the arrangement of the stones and their religious symbolism based on Serer numerlogy. In his joint paper with Iba Der Thiam – titled: La préhistoire au Sénégal: recueil de documents, published in 1982, Descamps and Thiam republished Diouf's work and reiterated their thanks to him for his work two years earlier.
African religion, seen through the
Sereer religion, has most of the traits of a religious trend: it has a theory, latent, but coherent, oriented toward sacred transcendence as source of life, communication and participation. An ethics proposed by the old tradition, with a sense of right and wrong. A popular cult. Places of worship. A corpus of prayers. A mystical life, reserved for initiates. A well-prepared staff, from
Pangool [ancestors’ spirits] priests, seers, healers and leaders of religious worship, the
Saltigi, not to mention a multitude of celebrants dedicated to family and local cults. A whole life based on the religious experience. It is a true religious path, whose central theme could be formulated as follows: "the divine in man.
Diouf, Babacar Sédikh
, Le Sérère, Paganism Polythéiste ou Religion Monothéiste
[in] Camara, Fatou Kiné (PhD) & Seck, Abdourahmane (PhD), "Secularity and Freedom of Religion in Senegal: Between a Constitutional Rock and a Hard Reality", p 860-61 (PDF - p. 2-3)
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