It is widely believed, “Yoruba’s have no philosophers”, but the world was already very old before philosophers began.However, remember Yoruba people have a long history and very deep roots.
Understanding Yoruba Philosophy
The compound ‘Yoruba philosophy’ stands for the comprehensive philosophical doctrine of Yoruba people, on issues of logic, ethics, epistemology, or metaphysics.
Yoruba people have moral philosophy, religion based, that embraces` principle of higher unity.
To the Yoruba people, “Ori” literally means “head” in English, occupies the centre of sacredness and holds the body’s destiny, all other parts of the body answerable to it.
Yoruba philosophy regards the universe as consisting of two eternal realities: Ori and Emi-
To the Yoruba, Ori means head, idea, reason, intellect, courage, will, reason, mind, spirit or temper.
–Emi means breath, life, ghost, soul, or conscious self.
Yoruba people settled in Ile-Ife thousands of years ago led by Oduduwa, organized and network themselves in related compounds. Due to their tendency to form into large groups, compounds turned into Empires.
The ancient Yoruba’s, the ones that first tried to understand the world were not mere “Lover of Wisdoms”, They gave us the categories of philosophy, Ethics: philosophy of understanding right or wrong- “Iwa”- (character). they observed the universe from the early days. They believe one should respect the rights of others and introduce in all sphere of life.
They studied Spirituality in the universe, and the purpose of the physical world. They focused their attention on the quality of nature, creating historical background of Yoruba people’s cultural practice; built on the discoveries of knowledge of civilisation.
An example of a moral philosopher is Oranyan-Oranmiyan, a direct descendant of Oduduwa who introduced Ifa System to the Yoruba culture unifying philosophy. Ifa is a system where ideas, knowledge and wisdom were recorded. Oranmiyan ruled three different Empires during his life.
There are records of great activities in production of arts that reach their peak of artisticexpression by the 4th century BC. The practice of fine arts in Ancient Yoruba Kingdoms was not limited to the professional artist, but also as a means of defining themselves.
Ifa is regarded to be the oldest and long-established Yoruba philosophical system, inhabit with a world of poetry, very rich in proverbs. Ifa is the compendium of Ancient Yoruba culture.
Yoruba Philosophy – Ifa
Ifa divination system answered philosophical questions about the universe, which is considered the traditional Yoruba Spiritual Knowledge, promoting unity awareness and mutual interrelation of all things. writing was a tool in the Ifa system and takes approximately ten years to fully study Ifa.
When we come to Ifa, it seems we are in another world. There are stories of god’s that are repulsive, that’s because they belong to folklore and are real
The Yoruba’s first derived science from Ifa. Ifa is useful for purposes of observational astronomy.