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Inside Our Celebration

Home: Iya Ademidemeji's Ekunnewa/10th year


I am most blessed of the Heavens to be celebrating my tenth year as a Yoruba Priestess of Shango. We greet Sango by calling him “Kawo Kabiyesi”, which loosely translates to “Hail, His Majesty”. Kabiyesi was Alaafin or King of the town of Oyo, as well as Koso. He is incarnated in fire, thunder and ligthtening. Scholars such as Bolaji Idowu have called him “The Wrath of Olodumare”. I will note, that I, like many other Priests of Shango, am very much like my father, in that I will not act, unless provoked. I am passionate about my causes, which include any issue that affect the Afrikan family. However with Shango, there really is no hope for the evildoer, whether it is a liar, murderer, sorcerer or those who abuse others. I have known him personally to avenge wrongs and level the playing field for those who have been treated unfairly. Children of Shango are marked by their “bombastic tempers” on one hand and by their deadly calm on the other. Shango is so beloved that Christian missionaries and evangelists sought to discredit him in order to win the worshippers on the shores of Afrika way from him. Shango is well known for bestowing favors upon those he loves and who revere him.

Kabiyesi, as I fondly call him, was husband to Oba, Oshun and Oya. He was a fierce warrior who planned his moves carefully. It should be noted that Shango never went into battle without first consulting with Ifa and performing the prescribed ebo. No battle was ever fought unless Shango was first provoked, as was the case with the King of Owu, whom he later defeated. Sango, contrary to the lies made up by christian evangelists, did not hang himself. After his death, he was elevated to Orisa, divinity, and escaped the cycle of rebirth.

Shango has a special relationship with the Egungun or Ancestors. He escaped Iku or death by wearing the "agan" or "Egungun Masquerade" while still alive. He was also the first to worship his ancestors outside the family compound. When Kabiyesi was in trouble, it was his ancestors that he called upon to assist him.

Shango is considered to be so powerful, that their family members do not honor those who have perished by his hand, in fire or thunderstorms. No member of the deceased’s the family will go into any building that has burned with the wrongdoer inside to retrieve the body. That job is left to priests of Shango. To this day in Yoruba land and now in the Diaspora, when it thunders, no one will stand next to another, for it is said that Shango has come to avenge and no one wishes to become collateral damage. These victims are not buried with other family members, nor are they honored as ancestors.

Elaborate annual ceremonies are held not only in Afrika, but in the Diaspora as well. Festivals are held each July or August in Oyotunji Afrikan Village, which are similar to those held for Shango in Oyo and Ibadan. Priests of Shango gather in their ceremonial garments to pay homage and praise to our Father. A very informative booklet "ShangoFest" details the ceremony and the history of Shango from the perspective of Shango Priests in Oyotounji. This can be purchased at the Yoruba book center in New York, along with "Cult of Sango" by a wonderful elder of mine, Iya Sangode.

Red and white are the colors sacred to Shango and according to his praise poems, “ violence and calm meet in his image”. Shango is fond of orogbo or bitter kola nut. The bata drums are sacred to him. Shango priests use these each morning to divine to him to see if their behavior is in line with his will for us and if our behavior is pleasing to Olodumare. Many people outside the religion attempt to "pigeon hole" children of Shango and in my opinion "disarm" them by telling them their behavior should be calmer, or they are too arrogant. This is Shango!

Shango loves life with a passion and so do his children. We are marked with both benevolence and “bombastic tempers” and take on the causes of anyone that we “perceive” to be the underdog in a given situation. We can be both calm and enraged as a fiery inferno, depending upon the actions of others. We tend to lead to weigh both sides of an issue methodically before acting. However, there are times when our rage can burn out of control, or it can turn quiet, like white-hot coals. Like our Father, Shango, we are either loved or hated, an issue is red or white, and there is no in-between for us. We will either stand for something or fall for anything. We can be tactical and strategical in our approach to life or in battle, as Shango wants his children to be. Chess is not simply a game to the Omo Shango, it is how we approach a problem, or life. I would highly recommend that any Omo Shango learn this game, not only for the focus but as an approach to life.

Ten years ago, when doctors would not give six cowries for my cancer-ridden body, Shango stepped in and saved my life. He found me in high favor and has bestowed upon me joy beyond measure. The name given to me at my initiation by Shango himself is "Shangofunmilayo", Shango brings me joy! To this I say ASE!

Ejila Sebora says " It is a brave man who initates himself into Ifa; a wise man does not make himself a chief; knives however sharp do not carve their own handles". That is to say that once we are initiated to Shango, we should continue to strive for our highest destiny, develop gentle character and realize we do not do this alone.

I am who I am in the footsteps of all of the honorable Shango Priests who have gone before me and those honorable Priests who have enabled me to embrace the Yoruba culture openly in the Diaspora.

Odu Ifa told me that Shango is the one I should relay on. It further says among other things

Mo juba! I thank you! Ashe