African Culture

Olorun; The chief God of the Yoruba orisas.

Olorun; The chief God of the Yoruba orisas.

Olorun is one of the orisas in Yoruba, an ethnic group predominantly in West Africa, Nigeria. It’s also in Benin and Latin America.his name is a contraction of the words oní—which denotes ownership or rulership) and ọ̀run—which means the Heavens, abode of the spirits). He is also called Olorun, Olodumare, Olofin-Orun. It’s pronounced as oh-loh-RUN. He is closely associated with white, including bones, clouds, and— according to Yoruba belief—brains. He is not viewed as having a specific physical form.

Olorun; the Yoruba Supreme being.
Olorun; the Yoruba Supreme being.

There is no centralized authority; because of the way the traditions spread through the slave trade to other areas of the world, there are many different ways that Yoruban people and their descendants or orisa-based faiths can understand the idea of Olorun.

Ọlọrun, believed to be the ruler of the Heavens. He is the Supreme God or Supreme Being in the Yoruba pantheon, Olorun is also called Olodumare. The Yoruba Christians and Muslims use the word Ọlọrun to commonly denote their faith in God as The Almighty Divine, The Absolute Sovereign, the supreme God.

It’s believed that humans do not worship Olorun directly; since in the African traditional beliefs, it’s believed that the Supreme being doesn’t communicate with humans. So, there are no sacred areas of worship or ordained person of Olorun. As the supreme being, Olorun is outlying, distant, and doesn’t partake in human rituals. No shrines or sacrifices are dedicated directly to him, but followers can send prayers to his direction still.

Olorun; the Yoruba Supreme being.
Olorun; the Yoruba Supreme being.

As the supreme God he is the most powerful and wisest god. He is all-knowing; he takes an active role in the affairs of both heaven and earth. The head of the Yoruba orishas shows in his names; Olofin-Orun—Lord of Heaven, Oba-Orun—King of the Sky, and Olodumare—almighty.

Olorun is said to be one of two original creator gods; the other was the goddess Olokun. According to the Yoruba creation story, In the beginning, the universe consisted only of the sky and a formless expanse of marshy water. Olorun ruled the sky, while Olokun ruled the vast marshy waters below. There were thousands of other gods, but none had as much knowledge or power as Olorun.

Although Olokun was content with her watery kingdom, a lesser god named Obatala had ideas about improving her kingdom. He went to Olorun and suggested the creation of solid land, with fields and forests, hills and valleys, and various living things to populate it. Olorun agreed that this would be good and gave Obatala permission to create land.

Obatala went to Orunmila, the eldest son of Olorun, and asked how he should proceed. Orunmila told Obatala to gather gold to make a chain that could be lowered from the sky to the waters below. When the chain was finished, Orunmila gave Obatala a snail’s shell filled with sand, a white hen, a black cat, and a palm nut. Obatala lowered himself on the chain and poured the sand on the waters. He then released the hen, which scratched at the sand and scattered it in all directions. Every place the sand fell became dry land. Stepping onto the land—known as Ife— Obatala built a house, grew palm trees from the palm nut, and lived with the black cat as his companion.

Obatala later became lonely and built clay figures. Olorun turned these figures into humans by breathing life into them. Many gods descended from the sky to live on earth, and Olorun told them to listen to the prayers of humans and protect them.

Not pleased by these acts of creation, the water goddess Olokun tried to flood the land to regain the area she had lost. However, Orunmila used his powers to make the waters recede. Angry that the sky god’s son had defeated her, Olokun challenged Olorun to a weaving contest to see who was the more powerful. Olokun was a weaver of unequaled skill and knowledge, but every time she made a beautiful cloth, Agemo, the chameleon who carried messages for Olorun, changed the color of its skin to match her weaving. When Olokun saw that even Olorun’s messenger could duplicate her finest cloths, she accepted defeat and acknowledged Olorun as the supreme god.

Francis Chidera
the authorFrancis Chidera
Popularly known as Chokolate is a content creator. A lover of simplified words making it easy to get to a wider audience. It pains to see that Africans are forgetting and neglecting who they are, hence, I am passionate about reminding us of our culture. I work with 54history on the African culture category, to achieve this aim.

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