June 30, 2005

The Yoruba People of Southwest Nigeria

It is often written that the Yoruba people of Southwest Nigeria are one of the most interesting and important peoples of Africa and that no African group has had greater influence on New World culture.

Yoruba People

This influence persists dramatically as Yoruba religious tradition, remains the world's most prevalent religion of African origin, increasingly practiced in slightly varying forms throughout South America, the Caribbean, the United States of America and Europe.

While many experts say that the Yoruba migrated to what is now Nigeria (where they founded the holy city of Ile-Ife) in approximately seven hundred AD, other authorities trace their origins as far back as one thousand BC in the Sudan. But on the other hand, traditional Yoruba religious mythology holds that in primordial times a deity known as Obatala descended from Heaven to a water laden earth, spread a handful of soil that would form the continents, and settled onto a spot that would later be called Ile-Ife. Obeying his mandate from God himself, Obatala molded from clay the very first human beings at that very place. Following his return to heaven, Obatala's immediate descendants began to maintain a shrine for the very structure in which they themselves were created from-clay, and where God, first gave men and women his greatest gift, the breath of life. Thereafter, members of the family were (and still are) installed as priests, responsible for remembering the intricate and poetic commemorative ceremonies of their ancestor, Obatala, Father of Mankind, the god of creation, perfection, purity, piety, and peace. Some say that the Yoruba people, indeed human existence itself, started in this building in a lowly quarter of Ile-Ife, the spiritual center of the Yoruba World.

Today, the tradition of this largely unknown caste of priests, said to be the direct descendants of Obatala, continues. Overlooked and even forgotten by their neighbors who desperately search for relevance in the "modern world", the devotees of Obatala dutifully carry out highly poetic rituals that, in their words, maintain the sacrament of creation, on earth. The Obatala Shrine in Ile-Ife can easily be seen as one of the most significant monuments to African civilization and thought, comparable to Jerusalem or Mt Olympus in the world's cultural history.


The present keepers of the shrine are elderly members of an old, considers it their inherited duty to maintain the rituals of the Father of Mankind. They are dedicated. Their philosophical understanding is as thorough and as sophisticated as any other of the world's classical sources of wisdom. They are largely unaware of their potential significance to the rest of the world. They are like monks in the most literal sense. They quietly and humbly labor in the name of God.

It is for this reason that The Society for the Preservation of Traditional African Culture seeks to source the necessary funds to restore this ancient landmark as a monument to African spiritual and philosophical thought. Our goal is to raise a total of $400,000 to provide for the complete restoration of the shrine and to institute facilities and activities that will bring sufficient income to assure the continuing maintenance of the Obatala Palace Shrine.

The Yoruba People

The Yoruba are one of the largest ethnic groups in Sub-Saharan Africa and one of the most important owing to the impact their art, culture and religion has had not only on Africa, but on the world.

They are an ancient people with roots that date as far back as one thousand BC and were the rulers of the great Oyo kingdom, a West African empire that stretched from Southwest Nigeria to Zaire and Sudan. From the city of Ile-Ife a great cultural and philosophical tradition began which has fascinated historians, archaeologists, anthropologists, artists, and other students of Africa till this very day. In modern times they provided the political leadership that stroked the fires of Nigerian nationalism during the era of European colonization.

The Yoruba traditions of bronze casting and wood sculpture, theatre, and other art forms date back over a thousand years and prove the sophistication of the African in arts and crafts. Traditional Yoruba religion is based on the worship of a supreme deity called Olodumare and various deities known as the Orisa. Traditional Yoruba religion is the root religion of Candomble in Brazil, Santeria in Cuba, and Yoruba religious practices in the African-American community in the United States of America.

The Society for the Preservation of Traditional African Culture

The Society for the Preservation of Traditional African Culture (SPTYC) was formed out of a need to ensure that the rich cultural heritage of Africa, of which Yoruba traditions are a prime example, are not lost to the world. Currently cultural festivals, lectures, and exchanges between various Yoruba cultural centers throughout the world are just some of the ways that the society joins with others in helping to promote and preserve Yoruba culture and history.

Posted by admin at 09:19 PM


At the meeting between Chief Lloyd Weaver and Chief Kola Abiola it was agreed that all Organisation development plans below must be pursued and put in place in the process of restoring the Obatala Temple in Ile-Ife. This minutes agreed on our Must Dos and this report is to inform or notify all Olorisa and individuals who will be interested in active participation on any of the following work streams.

The Must Do's

  1. Create a strategic Plan

  2. Create a Management structure around consultation process and the work-stream

  3. How do we create a volunteer's Bank in the US and Nigeria?

  4. How do we seek the initial funding for a Development Worker?

  5. Identify Interest Groups such as major Orisa Houses and Associations and target individuals - How do you make the project resourceful and attractive to all Olorisa?

  6. Identify Trusts, Corporates, Foundations who are potential Funders

  7. Obtain the Funders Guidelines and their areas of Priorities, so our funding applications can address their guidelines and priorities through the proposals

The Management structure and the Work streams

  1. The Think Tank Work stream

  2. The Consultation Work stream

  3. The Fundraising Work stream

  4. The Finance Work stream

  5. The Action Work stream

  6. The Management Board

  7. The Executives

Think Tank Work stream: They will plan and develop effective policy addressing emerging issues and needs of the work streams in the process of reconstructing the Temple. Members of this work-stream must link with all the work streams through the development worker. They will initiate policy through regular consultation with all the work-streams. All members of the work-stream will know them selves initially through the mail until the first meeting that may be held near where they reside. Think Tank Work stream members are the convener of most meetings and they shall be accountable to all Olorisa and the work-streams. All work-stream leaders will represent their work-stream on the Think Tank. There will be local and international work-stream membership. We expect all members to be computer literate and accessible.

The Consultation Work-stream: This group will speak to all Olorisa in Nigeria, the UK. and the United States and they will decide their plans of action. They will identify key people among Olorisa who will serve as active members and volunteers on the various Work-stream. They will regularly facilitate and coordinate meetings and events.

The Fundraising Work stream: The fundraising work-stream will develop their effective strategies for fund-raising. They will be responsible for accessing funds, making funding application on behalf of the project.

The Finance Work stream: They will monitor effective use of funds and the progress report. They will assess the project and strategies regularly.

The Action Work stream: They will commission services and recruit volunteers on behalf of the project.

The Management Board: They will be the key people who will develop from the planning and the execution of the project. They will continue to manage and sustain the Obatala Shrine and activities with support from the chiefs and the community of Olorisa around the world.

The Executives: They are the Employees, the staff they will manage the everyday affairs of the center and maintain the contact between the center and all Olorisa around the World. They will organize activities and training in Priesthood at the Centre. They will recruit local artists and craftsmen/women to work in the workshop. They will link with other local and international group and make use of volunteers. They will manage the clinic and the patients in collaboration with the local Health Department Office. They will link with International Health Organizations and projects. They will maintain the building and manage the guesthouse and the services at the Shrine.

We are currently recruiting volunteers into all the work-stream. Fill the form attached to this document and send it to your local coordinator. Ebo a fin o etutu a gba.

Posted by admin at 09:16 PM

Restoring The Shrine

The essential job will be a total rehabilitation of the Shrine to its original state, primarily matching the traditional design and architecture. In the partially paved courtyard area immediately outside of the shrine proper, traditional priest/artists will replicate traditional architectural ornamentation, primarily posts and friezes.


    Allow a provisional sum for generally renovating and creating a path from the street to the Shrine front.
    Landscaping and the new buildings.


  4. Installation of high voltage Generator.

  5. Two large borehole for regular water supply.

Posted by admin at 09:07 PM

The Need for Restoration

Training in Priesthood and the ancient herbals for health improvement and spiritual fulfillment will enhance community health and global learning. The Health clinic facility at this shrine will compliment health and social care services in the Ife community and the world at large. It will serve as facility for Olorisa around the world to gain more learning about ewe, Orisa and spiritual practice.

There is a great amount of benefit in holistic healings, most ancient African method of healing are holistic. Between 1998 and 1999 over three billion dollars was spent on reconstruction and restoration projects worldwide. Tragically, less than 3% of this amount was spent in Africa, in spite of the fact that 35% of ancient history originated in the African region

The Society for the Preservation of Traditional African Culture has undertaken the creation of an appeal fund to restore The Obatala Palace Shrine’s physical structure to its former grandeur. It is our further intention to establish this landmark as a point of economic development by creating a viable asset that will attract tourism. While shoring up the cultural vitality of the community, we will also establish a guest- house and a conference center to serve the needs of those who visit Ile-Ife for cultural and educational enrichment. The centre, will support efforts to increase literacy and impart basic skills that would enhance economic development.


The project's goal is to rehabilitate the Obatala Shrine. This includes landscaping and a face-lift for the building. An administrative building and residence for the Oloja and his deputy. A Community clinic and a Guest-house. Conference facilities and a library. Art/crafts workshop a gift shop and a meeting room. The guesthouse which will accommodate 25 individuals, and the conference room/library are all expected to be income yielding, making the shrine self sustaining and able to support community development programs.

Importantly, the restoration and recreation of the classical art elements for which Ile-Ife is known will be an important part of the project. As the project is developed, there will be a determination to keep the essential design of the shrine while adding design elements and facilities that reflect the original purpose of the structure and meet the approval of the Obatala priests. Among the plans discussed is the re-creation of carved pillars and relief friezes in all of the outer areas of the shrine building. The decorative sculpture would be accomplished by devotees of Yoruba religion from Brazil, Cuba, The United States, Europe, and of course, Nigeria. The work will follow the design style of ancient Ile-Ife art and would be a statement about the sacredness of humanity. The work would be accomplished under the supervision of the priests of the shrine as well as master Ife artists.

Presently the shrine building sits at the end of a barely rising path about 100 yards long that extends from the street to the shrine itself. The path is about 12 yards in width. About ten one-story houses line the path. The building which houses the shrine begins with a wide, covered porch like portico that sits above ten wide steps. The portico leads to an inner courtyard. The shrine itself is a one story rectangular building, which sits to the left as one enters the courtyard. To the right of the courtyard is a large area overrun by bush where the proposed guesthouse will be built.

On passing through the low entrance in the shrine wall one finds oneself inside another courtyard that is paved and features four long, covered porches, one on each side. This is the shrine proper. The porch to the left has an entrance on its back wall that leads to the room in which the shrine objects are kept. The tin covered roof that covers the porches are held up by eight large cone shaped mounds of clay. Everything is "painted" with a kind of whitewash made of "efun" that is sacred to Obatala. Other than the ritual whiteness, there are occasional trimmings in green. There is a kind of wing at the far-left end that is accessed by another low door. This area outside this door is used for side meetings and for cooking and eating as well as for ceremonies that should not be performed directly in front of Obatala.

Posted by admin at 09:03 PM