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Must See! the Community in America Where the Yoruba Culture is Practiced



“Ase Ebi” (uniform solidarity dress), is on sale in the US, for the Coronation Anniversary of His Royal Highness Oba (King) Ofuntola Oseijeman Adelabu Adefunmi I. However, he is not a Nigerian, as many of you would believe, but an American who has come to cherish our Yoruba culture.

Oyotunji Village, like it is fondly called, is located in 56 Bryant Lane, Sheldon, SC 29941, South Carolina, USA. The community celebrates 14 annual traditional African Festivals; These festivals and ceremonies are open to the public from January till December, year round. It plays host to visitors of all ethnic and racial backgrounds. Daily tours are available from Monday-Sunday from 11am-Dusk. Daily tours are education based, introducing the visitor to the basic elements and aspects of the Yoruba culture of West Africa and the Orisa-Vodun spiritual system. Tours at Village are $10 for Adults, $5 for Children 8-11 years of age and free for all children under 7 years of age.

All festival dates are subject to change due to weather conditions.

But how did it come to be, you ask? Read on:

His Royal Highness Oba (King) Ofuntola Oseijeman Adelabu Adefunmi I, born Walter Eugene King on October 5, 1928 in Detroit, Michigan, USA. He graduated from Cass Technical High School. Oba Waja’s exposure to African religion began when he became associated with the Katherine Dunham Dance Troupe at the age of 20. In that same year, Oba Waja traveled to Haiti. With his new found African understanding he found the order of Damballah Hwedo, Ancestor Priests in Harlem NY the following year.

On August 26, 1959, Oba Waja became the first African born in America to become fully initiated into the Orisa-Vodun African priesthood by African Cubans in Matanzas, Cuba. This marked the beginning of the spread of Yoruba religion and culture among African Americans. With a few followers, and after dissolution of the Order of Damballah Hwedo, Oba Waja found the Sango Temple in New York and incorporated the African Theological Arch
Ministry in 1960. The Sango Temple was relocated and renamed the Yoruba Temple the same year.

In the fall of 1970, Oba Waja found the Yoruba Village of Oyotunji in Beaufort County South Carolina, and began the careful reorganization of the Orisa-Vodu Priesthood along traditional Nigerian lines. He was initiated to the Ifa priesthood by the Oluwa of Ijeun at Abeokuta, Nigeria, in August of 1972. Baba Adefunmi was proclaimed Alase (Oba-King) of the Yoruba of N. America at Oyotunji Village in 1972.

In 1981, the Caribbean Visual Arts and Research Center in New York sponsored Oba Adefunmi to be a presenter at the first World Congress of Orisa tradition and culture at the University of Ile-Ife, Nigeria. After his presentation, his Divine Royal Majesty King, Okunade Sijuwade Olubuse II, the “Ooni” of the ancient Yoruba city of Ile Ife,Nigeria, summoned Adefunmi and ordered the Ife Chiefs to perform coronation rites on him; Thereafter becoming Oba Ofuntola Oseijeman Adelabu Adefunmi I. Oba Adefunmi I became the first in a line of new world Yoruba Kings consecrated at the palace of the Ooni of Ife. He was presented with a special ceremonial sword of state, incised with the name of his Liege Lord the Ooni of Ife.

In the summer of 1993, Oba Adefunmi supervised the establishment of Ijo Orunmila Igbo Mimo, the first African American Ifa society. During the fall of 1993, he became the only official representative of traditional religion, to address the Parliament of World Religions in the one hundred year history of that organization.

Oba Adefunmi I married several times during his lifetime and fathered six princes and sixteen princesses. He has designed and contributed the major finance for most of the public buildings and temples at Oyotunji and worked on many of its numerous monuments and decorative carvings. Oba Adefunmi fostered the establishment of Yoruba Temples and Shrines in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Indiana, Georgia, North Carolina, Connecticut, Ohio, Florida, Maryland, DC, VI, Panama and England.

He and his initiates have initiated thousands of priests into the ministries of Orisa-Vodun. In so doing, Oba Adefunmi restored to the African American the ancient sacred priesthoods of the deities, Esu, Orunmila, Obatala, Osun, Yemoja, Ogun, Oya, Sango and Olokun; restoring the African descendants the rites of Gelede, Egungun and Ancestor worship. He later died and his son, Adefunmi Adejuyigbe took over as king.

This is something we must all come to appreciate, that a Nigerian culture is not just being promoted abroad, it is whole heartedly practiced in the US State of South Carolina. It is a clear case of us to trying to be like them, while they are fighting tooth and nail to be like us. A reason, why we as Africans must cherish our culture.

See more fascinating pictures below: