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Digital Afro Media
Putting Afrikan Culture Into African-American Lives 1
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Category: Black News

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How Do We Learn Our Culture and Observances If No One Knows What It Is? The Afrikan Village will assist in providing information for you to decide for yourself.

This video was originally posted by Oyotunji on December 22, 2006

Visit: http://www.oyotunjiafricanvillage.org/?id=1 for more information

His Royal Highness, Oba Efuntola Oseijeman Adelabu Adefunmi (born Walter King) (5 October 1928 – 11 February 2005) was the first African-American to ever be initiated into the priesthood and initiation cult of any traditional African Religion/spiritual system. His initiation paved the way for other African-Americans to recover and begin to practice traditional African beliefs that had been lost as a result of the transplantation of Africans during the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade.

Having grown up with a natural interest in African culture, young Walter Eugene King seemed destined to find a way to express his African roots fully. He left the Baptist faith he was born into, and traveled the world, going to Haiti in 1954 to study voodoo and 1955 to Europe and North Africa, often as a part of the Katherine Dunham Dance Company. Then in 1959, just before the Revolution, he travelled to the Matanzas region of Cuba to be initiated into the Yoruba – Orisa’Ifá priesthood of Obatala and returned to the United States reborn as Efuntola Oseijeman Adefunmi. Efuntola means “the whiteness (of Obala’s whiteness rituals) is as good a swealth (or honor).” Adefunmi means “the crown has given me this (child).”

Upon his return to the U.S. he founded Order of the Damballah Hwedo, then the Shango Temple, and later incorporated the African Theological Archmininstry. That organization would come to be called the Yoruba Temple. His spiritual message was accented by a Black Nationalist message. Though his words rang true in the hearts of many progressive African-Americans, his stance drew large criticism within the ranks of Cuban Santeria priests. A new lineage of Orisa worship that placed Nigeria at its core, but that was tailored for African-Americans was forme: Orisa-Voodoo.

In 1970, Oyotunji Village was created in Beaufort County, South Carolina. In 1972, His Royal Highness, Oba Adefunmi was initiated into the Ifá Priesthood in Nigeria, receiving the rank of Babalawo and later that year was proclaimed Oba (King) of Oyotunji Village by its inhabitants. He reformed the priesthood along Nigerian lines, traveling to Nigeria in 1972 to be inducted into the Ifá priesthood. It is noteworthy that in 1981 his status as King was recognized when the Ooni of Ile-Ife Nigeria arranged for formal coronation rites to be performed for HRH Oba Efuntola Oseijeman Adelabu Adefunmi, cementing the Oba’s goal of reclaiming his African heritage and showing other African-Americans how to do so as well. Priestly initiation and Kingship were some of several firsts credited to Adefunmi and the Oyotunji Lineage. They were also the first Orisa worshippers in the West to reinstitute Egungun Masquerade and Secret Society.

Over the years the number of residents at the Village has fluctuated, probably hoovering around 5-9 families for the last ten years. Despite this small contingent of residents, the lineage itself is felt throughout the Western world and Africa via a growing number of devotees, chiefs and priests. Oyotunji forever changed the face of Orisa worship in the West.

His Royal Highness, Oba Adefunmi joined the ancestors on Feb. 11, 2005. In Yoruba culture, the king is not announced as dead, but as having “gone up the ceiling” (Oba wo aja).

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