chapter  8
18 Pages

Things full of meaning

A stroll through any Yoruba town will reveal the highly public presence of religions. As noted in Chapter 2, many of the shops in Abeokuta in southwestern Nigeria display their owners’ aliations in names like a “Holy Family” bookshop or “God is Great” photographic shop. Several shrines – especially that of the orisa Igun, maintained by a group of priestesses – are located in caves or overhangs under Abeokuta’s Olumo Rock (comparable to Stonehenge and the Vatican as a fusion of heritage, sacred and tourist site). Christian and Islamic groups are represented within this religious built environment not only by churches and mosques but also by schools, clubs and the oces of charitable institutions that declare their aliations. en, as Afe Adogame points out:

It is not uncommon for a casual observer walking on the streets of a traditional Yoruba town or village to confront certain objects such as cooked or raw food, a decapitated bird or animal, eggs, cowry shells, coins, candles, etc., in a clay bowl or pot, conspicuously displayed at a road junction, road intersection, or at the foot of a gigantic Iroko tree. (Adogame 2009: 75)

He identies these as oerings or sacrices, ritually oered to avert calamity, request help, full vows, and/or ensure cosmic balance and social cohesion.