IS THE YORUBA ESHU SAME AS THE CHRISTIAN DEVIL?

Samuel Ajayi Crowther was captured by Muslim Fulani during the Fulani/Oyo wars and he was sold with his mother and toddler brother to Portuguese slave buyers. However, the ship was intercepted by British Royal Navy and the slaves were released by taking them to Sierra Leone. This was where the Anglican Church Missionary Society took over the educating of young Ajayi.

One of his foremost achievements, apart from taking Christianity to the Niger Delta parts of modern Nigeria, Ajayi Crowther translated the English Bible into Yoruba. This can thus be said to be the first medium through which the Christian Satan/Devil/Lucifer was thus interpreted as the Yoruba Eshu.

Ajayi Crowther was also the one who compiled in 1843 the English-Yoruba Dictionary upon which so many others have been patterned till today. The word ‘Bara’ in the dictionary reads out the meaning thus: “god of mischief, the devil, Ifa.” Here it is plain that the devil and Ifa are the same to Ajayi.

Bara is a word use in qualifying Eshu in some of Eshu’s oriki poems: “Bara ti o logun ika/ To so ile ana re di ahoro (Bara who does not have evil medicine but turns his in-laws home into desolation). Bara l’abelekun sunkun ki eru o ba elekun/ Bi elekun ba n sokun, Laaroye a ma sun eje (Bara is the one who weeps with those weeping and they will be frightened by the time they see Eshu/Laaroye/Bara weeping blood). Bara ni abonimi su mi ki eru ba onimi/ Bonimi ba n su imi/ Laaroye a ma su ifun (The one defecating will be full of fright by the time he sees Eshu defecating his intestines). That is Eshu for you, a god that overdoes things in a frightening way… a prankster.

On the other side though, Eshu is the link between man and heaven – to the Yoruba. He is a strong god and one who has to be pacified so that he takes his tricks elsewhere, and moreover he does not allow trouble or evil to be done to us. If the Bible version is the same as this Eshu whom Yoruba add his name to the prefix of their children at birth e.g. Eshu-Biyi, Eshu-Tunde, Eshu-gbayi, and they even have a shrine of upside-down earthenware bowl with a hole in the bottom, to venerate this god, then does this mean the Yoruba worship the same Lucifer/Devil that rebelled against God?

It is clear that even the translated Yoruba-English dictionary in which Bara is also attached to Ifa shows that the translators have little or no knowledge about the Yoruba deities. Ifa and Eshu are not the same. While Ifa is the mainstream religion of the Yoruba brought to earth (like Jesus or Paul brought Christianity) by Orunmila who lived in Oke Igeti in today’s Osun State, Eshu had never lived like a man with children or wives… he is a god with functions in heaven. That is why another oriki says of him as “O san sokoto penpe/ Onibode Olorun.” (One who wears short pants and guards the way between man and the Heavens)

Let us objectively look into the function of Eshu who is a fierce god, like Thor or Sango but not evil like Hades. Eshu has to be constantly sacrificed to in Yoruba belief because he is the one between us and the other gods. Eshu has the power to decree any god not to harm a mortal and can also look away if the offending mortal refuses to perform sacrifice to ward of evil. Eshu does not cast evil, he is merely performing his duties to ensure that no man is unjustly attacked by evil.

There are eight forms of evil in Ifa philosophy, these are Death, Pestilence, Loss, Paralysis, Trouble, Curse, Bondage and Iniquity. All these eight are under the supervision of Eshu according to God (Olodumare) who placed Eshu in that role to monitor their activities. These eight are always trying to hinder the progress of man and this is why any sacrifice or rites performed on earth to ward evil must have Eshu’s Fifth share since he alone has authority to tell the Eight evil to desist from harming a particular person.

These items of sacrifice are mostly edible stuff that sometimes have to be shared to the person’s neighbours so that in their merriment they pray for him as well, it is also a form of tithes receipt for the babalawo and lastly some of the items are used on the person sacrificing; There is an example in a verse of Ifa where an albino called Ondese was asked to sacrifice on a particular day against death. He was asked to use Buje (a plant which has a juice used for tattooing) for sacrifice. The priests then used the Buje to rub him all over. On the appointed day Death came to seek him, Death could not recognize that the man who has been rubbed all over with Buje is the albino he sought; so Death left and Ondese lived longer.

The Christian Satan is a rebel; the Yoruba Eshu would never think of derailing from his functions. It is only the witches and sorcerers that Eshu has no power over and this is where Ifa too says that it is only one’s Ori (head/soul) that can protect one against Dark/Evil Magic cast by witches. Eshu has nothing to do with cursing man or turning man against God. He serves as mediator between us and the heavens. There is no record in Ifa that Eshu rebels against Olodumare, besides, is it not demeaning the power of God that the omniscient created something It had not foreseen would rebel and cause trouble for mankind in such huge scale?

Ajayi Crowther could have translated the Bible Satan as satani. He was a boy of 12 when he was stolen from Osogun, his village in Iseyin, Oyo, and had very little knowledge, if any, of Eshu and his complicated functions. If Eshu were the Devil, Ifa would totally have been upturned into evil and Yoruba would not be one of the most enlightened race in Africa today. We would have been submerged in the Devil’s evil.

Eshu is not evil. But today, millions of Yoruba have seen Eshu as the Christian devil with the influence of the translation and the Yoruba Bible. The Yoruba dictionary clearly shows that elitism crept into the translating pen of the translators as a result of their little knowledge of Yoruba spiritual beliefs, which Christianity taught them is the Devil’s belief. Let us remove prejudice and be objective… Eshu shields man from evil and can also expose man to evil, but he is not evil. Neither is he contesting power with God.

It is the Christian God that is a white man with white beard and a golden crown… The Yoruba God (Olodumare or Olorun) has no form. It has never been described… Olodumare is an existence in the transcendence. Something no deity can contest power with. Evil is also formless, that is why the Eight Evil were placed under the authority of Eshu to protect man, but Witches can use their craft to tap into the evil energy but unfortunately they are not subjected to Eshu and difficult to pacify them. God allowed evil but restrained evil, and only the karma of man brings them upon him. Even if witches cast evil on a man, his Ori is his last bunker to defend him and this Ori also depends largely on the past karma he has accrued.

It is ridiculous to say God’s creation is rivalling him to take earth when there are thousands of planets within and outside our Solar System. When the Bible was written with this view of throwing devil into earth, there was little idea of the galaxy. If the bible were written today, the Genesis and Revelation would have been written differently. Lastly, Eshu cannot take or give man soul, like the Christian Devil can. Eshu does not need a soul or reside in any Hell. He is an important minister of God. Those who perform devil worship and the Satanists perform a lot of human sacrifice and mortification… but Yoruba do not sacrifice humans to Eshu or require to mortify their bodies.

ON THIS MEDIUM, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO BUNMI OZOYA, MAY ESHU PROTECT YOU, MYSELF AND OTHERS FROM EVIL.

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36 Responses to IS THE YORUBA ESHU SAME AS THE CHRISTIAN DEVIL?

  1. oriade tiwalade says:

    I agree with everythin written in this note. In fact, i used to think just my family n very few people on earth know of this truth. Or better still, very few ppl av come to accept it as the truth. More grease to ur elbow.

    Like

    • takeupanarm says:

      There are three kinds of people we should not be: the fool, the bigot and the4 slave. For he that cannot reason is a fool; he that will not is a bigot, and he that dares not is a slave. Only very few ppl, are not of these three stock. U do not belong to one to be able to understand the blog. Merci.

      Like

  2. Ant Writes says:

    The “god” with white hair and a white beard is a European invention from the middle ages. The true òdodo Jehovah God or Elohim also has no form. But Jesus Christ was middle eastern! Most likely with curly hair and dark skin.
    But Olórun has no form. Elédùmarè has no form, because he is spirit..èmí
    Just my èji kobo (2 ¢) 🙂

    Like

  3. Esubiyi says:

    E pele o,

    I think that was an excellent write up on the nature of Esu. This information needs to be broadcast to many indigenous Yoruba at home and abroad. Thank you for sharing your knowledge of Crowther and what went in to him transforming this beautiful diety. Esu is Olopa Olorun and the devil of Christianity does not hold this posistion with God.

    The only thing I question my brother is the said influence of Esu in the affairs of the mothers (witches). Esu in my understanding can thwart their deeds. There is a prayer which says “You (refering to the mothers) ask Esu to find your where with all”. This would indicate that Esu can guide the mothers to thier victims.

    Again I appreciate what you have graciously shared.

    Ire o,
    omo Awo Esubiyi

    Like

    • takeupanarm says:

      Nice observation: It’s just that the Mothers are not under the supervision of any deity, not even Eshu supervises them as he supervises other affairs. But true Esu can guide depending on the mortal’s lack of sacrifice. But the Mothers can chose not to accept sacrifice though and this is where Ifa says it is only our Ori that may now help us in case this happens. I found that in this Ifa verse below:
      A dia fun okookanlenu irunmole
      Won ti orun bo waye (deities coming to earth)
      A dia fun Eleye
      Eleye n torun bo waye (the Mothers coming to earth)
      A dia fun Orunmila
      Orunmila n tikole orun bo wa si aye (Orunmila also coming to earth)
      Ero Ipo, Ero Ofa
      Ori mi no o gba mi lowo Eleye (My Ori I implore thee to protect me from the Mothers coming to earth)

      Nice meeting u, and hope u will also share some valuable info

      Like

  4. I sincerely thank my brother Esubiyi to have drawn my attention to this wonderful piece. As at the time I had no firm faith in African religion. I was raised in the Olufon’s Palace environment as a child with my paternal grandma who was a priestess to many divinities, such as Osun, Erinle, Ogun, and Orisanla. I got lost amidst complex religious ideologies, christian mother, muslim father, islamic and christian dominated friends… I got lost and unidentifiable. As I grew, I saw things myself, I read, and I discover that no race is superior to the other. I read history and I know about slavery and the European economic interests…. I was thinking and I had to sing like this:

    THE ACCURSED (ESU ODARA’S MESSAGE)

    Accursed is my son that
    Lied against me
    For as a preacher gave my name
    To ridicule
    And planted the seed of my eternal mockery

    Accursed is he
    For though he wined and dined
    With aliens and exchanged my name
    With their Devil
    Bearing crusade against me

    Accursed since he misled
    His brethren of generations
    Rewriting our cosmos in foreign version
    Blotting the primordial revelation
    To extinguish the names of angelic divinities

    Accursed child left my wisdom
    His wisdom left my tongue
    His tongue left my ways
    His ways but aliens’ ways
    Foreigners’ footsteps

    Accursed, perpetually a scavenger
    Accursed, perpetually a follower
    Accursed, knows no way of his
    Shame

    Copyright Prince Ademola Oyedokun
    25th January 2005

    In transating Bible to Yoruba Language, Bishop Ajayi Crowther erroneously translated the name Lucifer/Satan to mean “Esu” which is an important divinity in Yoruba traditional religious belief thereby making Esu the most castigated African Holy Prophet/Deity in Nigeria. The persona herein is Esu Odara himself lamenting the present day values of Africans at home and in Diaspora. Search through Google for more info about “Esu”.

    OH! PAPA AFRICA (AJAYI REPLIES)

    The towering God
    Watches the two lands below
    When in more ancient of ages
    My race conquered and ruled
    Never thought of this rear
    Who is to blame?

    When in those days for
    Mere mirrors and just gin
    You and uncles
    Traded my freedom to aliens
    Who is to blame?

    It is when the bunch of your broom scattered
    That you are broken
    As you sing Kiriji and Kurumi songs*
    And without a voice left
    Ovoramwens and Opobo in the lurch**
    Who is to blame?

    When you prided yourself
    In fratricidal blood and conquest…
    Let in the diseases of peacemakers by gun pens
    Who is to blame?

    Did I grow to know:
    that you have a path
    that you have a wisdom
    that you have a tongue
    who is to blame?

    Now that you have a breathing space
    And you are yet to stop war songs
    May our land be cleansed
    So that we rule the scene again
    To entertain God
    Who watches from above
    Who owns the shame?
    Who is accursed?

    Copyright Prince Ademola Oyedokun
    19th August 2005
    This is a response from new generation Africans to (Ancestor) Esu’s message. What were the ancestors looking to allow slave trade? They fought war among themselves! It is still raging. Hope Africa will lead the world again in strength and peace as it was long-long time ago. Ase (Amen).

    Like

    • takeupanarm says:

      Prince Ademola. Thank you for your contributions. I particularly love your poems. They said it all. Our history is littered with so much wisdom that are being left to rot as we join the rat race to acquire wealth. It is good a blue blood like you is interested in the renaissance of the African mindset. I will be visiting your site and pls don’t stop sharing. I am working on a book at the moment.

      Like

    • takeupanarm says:

      Without reeducation Africans will be lost in the chaos of neocolonialism. Your poems are great. It’s really a pleasure meeting you through Esubiyi. I shall visit your website.

      Like

  5. This is a beautiful criticism, well detained & explanatory. It has been able 2 convince me that Eshu is not the source of evil. Keep it up!!

    Like

  6. “During the reading is this thesame ELEDUMARE of yorubas has thesame authority over the rest planet or not”iwant my reply on my facebook tag.Thank’s.

    Like

  7. Ayo Diamond says:

    Brilliant!

    Like

  8. Baruch Michael-Osabuase says:

    Eshu is a demon. Period!

    Like

  9. Yinka Morantiola says:

    Absolutely love this piece, I know a lot of white British male who got converted to the Yoruba Orisha’s through Cuba and Brazil, who talk to me because am Yoruba and specialised in African studies, and have written many stories some about the Orisha’s to teach children in schools here in Manchester, this guys use to ask me the same topic here, ‘is the Yoruba Eshu the same as the bible’s devil or does the Yoruba agree it’s the same?, and i use to have to give them details of each Orishas so they could know the difference. I understand that many Yoruba’s are now often Christians and Muslim, but please let us not forget our history or who we are or were, so that others who have no idea what we are tell us who we’re meant to be ..

    Like

  10. Ola says:

    This is a good piece. But where does the popular Yoruba saying “Ojo buruku Eshu gbomi mu” come from? because it implies that Eshu is a Doer, and not a Warder of evil

    Like

    • takeupanarm says:

      Esu is a deity of contradictions. As in nature, so is Esu. Do we say water is evil because Tsunami destroys? Do we say fire is evil because it is destructive? or do we say mountains are symbols of evil because it shoots out destructive ash? Esu is the deity on the crossroad, the crossraod is the link between the polarities of the world…matter and mind. joy and sadness. high and low. feminine and masculine. soft and hard. The Yoruba has been able to define “nature” in this god, this is why it is the link between man and god and, depending on your understanding of ‘cosmic force’ inherent in nature.

      Like

  11. femi says:

    Brilliant but we need to be more enlightened on the differences between the eshu of the yoruba race and the christains devil.

    Like

  12. kolawole says:

    hi everyone, am a graduate of dramatic arts obafemi Awolowo uni. i believe there is a lasting way we can bring all this summation of all the ideas and comments, historical facts on this page to we the younger generation. ise ati asa ilewa ti di oun igbagbe i must confess we are still dragging ourselves to self enslavement even after abolition with what is aired on television. if u speak yoruba this day u a Razz, please we need help.

    Like

  13. Yomi says:

    Brilliant and self explanatory..u really help wit my test

    Like

  14. seun1947 says:

    Have nothing to do with esu. Jesus all the way people. He is the King of kings who died for us and rose again from the dead. Accept Him today as your Lord and Saviour. He is coming back again folks. God bless you all

    Like

    • takeupanarm says:

      Of course, there will always be those whose mentality will never be able to fathom that enlightenment, limited in their own limitations. Ifa has never been known to hate or be prejudicial, or even judge other faiths, but other faiths cannot be of such mature tolerance despite proclaiming the Peace and Love of Jesus Christ. Prior to Islam and Christianity, it should be noted that Africans did not know religious war; all wars were political. But now, those who think they know what they do not know, are the champions of intolerance. Boko Haram is the other side of fundamentalist Christianity who, though not violent, but cannot fathom the true understanding of life.

      Like

      • seun1947 says:

        Jesus loves you bro. He died for your sins and rose again. He was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death and is now crowned with glory and honour that He by the grace of God might taste death for you as punishment for your sins. Our forgiveness and justification before God has been paid for. Accept Him today as your Lord and Saviour and bang, you’re opened up to a whole new life. No arguments bro, just telling you about the love of God for you.

        God bless.

        Like

      • takeupanarm says:

        The problem with these imported religions is they think theirs is better and others is wrong. How will anyone then say Shekau too does not believe what he is doing he is doing for Allah, seeing himself as better religiously than the rest of Nigerians. I do not remember an Ifa believer insulting a non-believer’s intelligence by telling him his belief is not worthy of God, but you see Christians and Muslims do so and yet the level of corruption stink to the high heavens. The West who even brought Christianity is not as religiously gullible as we are now in Africa, while our mentality remains warped and our thinking shallow as we see in the doldrums Africa, especially Nigeria, is compared to the West who do not rape another person’s sensibility in arrogant sanctimonious prejudice of “I am right” while “you are wrong.”

        Like

  15. Ayo says:

    Wow..this whole thing is fascinating to me as a Yoruba Muslim. In truth I think that were it not for trade and colonialism, Islam and Christianity may not have reached us, and all of us Muslims and Christians would have been worshipping in the traditional line and no one would say this is Shirk or this is anti-christ. The worst part of this is that we Muslims and Christians condemn to Hell anyone that doesn’t believe in what we believe. I respect the traditional religion and I hope others begin to respect it too. All the movies portray traditionalists as evil people who would eventually be conquered by an Alfa or a Pastor reading the bible or Koran. That is all nonsense. Some may accuse me of being a bad Muslim, bit the obvious must not be denied. Great article!

    Like

    • takeupanarm says:

      Until Africans appreciate their legacies and culture, right from the smallest act of bearing our own names to encouraging education and technology to produce African-tagged items, we will continue to be second citizen to others. Globalize the local and localize the global.

      Like

  16. Babatunde says:

    Wonderful article, I now understand better.

    Like

  17. Pingback: A RE-INTRODUCTION TO SATAN THE MALEVOLENT- AN HIM CREW | Embracing Spirituality

  18. RA says:

    Very enlightening piece. sets me free from wondering why on earth a friend of mine has as family name “Esuruoso”!

    Like

    • takeupanarm says:

      Then he should go on to write of Orunmila as the messiah sent to redeem the world. People want to link Esu to Satan, but not want to link Orunmila to Messiah. A lot of people out there are completely misinformed. There is no mention of hellfire in ancient religions like IFA or Judaism that gave birth to Christianity and Islam, yet we tout them about today as strongly as if it had been revealed to man since life began that Hell exists. Please read on the blog on Hell and African blief

      Like

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