Arts & Entertainments

Exploring the Yoruba concept of Ori

Book title: Ori: Yoruba Personality Guide

Author: Raymond Ogunade, Ph.D

Reviewer: Abdulgaffar Olawale Arikewuyo




The book Ori: Yoruba Personality Guide, takes a systematic and in-depth insight into the concept of Ori.


This review, therefore, breaks down the different chapters of the book and how the author discusses the various interesting concepts therein. The book is broken down into seven chapters.


In the first chapter which is titled God and the Universe in Yoruba Belief, the author broadens our horizon on how the universe came to be, how it was populated and how interactions existed between the people and the universe itself.


We are able to understand that when an individual acts against his/her Ori, such action may attract positivity or otherwise not only to such individual, but his/her family and even community.


Generally, the various religious believes affirm, that God is a Supernatural Being and the Creator of the universe and all that is in it.


However, there are many other references and attributions to how the creation is actualized.


The chapter concludes by affirming that the Yoruba ascribe enormous qualities and titles to Olodumare, which is a manifestation of the significant attachment and belief in His supremacy.


The second chapter focuses on The Nature of Human Beings and their Freewill. The author enumerates a number of human parts (physical and nonphysical) which are believed to formulate the human existence.


He explains the concept of Ara (the human body parts itself which is mostly physical), Ojiji (the human shadow), emi (spirit) and Okan (heart). The chapter explains that human origin had a number of positivity in different ramifications.


One of the important emphases in this chapter lays credence to the fact that the variance in the molding of human from clay, is what results in the difference in colors, sizes, shapes among others.


However, one important thing to take home is the undertone need for unity and oneness based on the fact that human beings are created by the same being Orisa-nla (the Yoruba arch-divinity and the sculptor divinity).


In the third chapter, the author expands our knowledge on The Yoruba Concept of Ori.


He discusses about Ori-Inu (the internal head or personality-soul), its functions as well as how it originates from God and how it protects the carrier. Chapter Four, focuses attention on the Dimensions of Ori.


At this point, we are able to understand how Ori is attributed to the life and activities of man/woman as well as references made to it in a person’s daily activities.


The author states that “the Yoruba have many stories, myths and Odu (verses of Ifa literary corpus), which reveals so much about Ori (inner person; personality-soul)”.


These stories and myths among others are used as means of advocacy, correction and attitudinal change. In the fifth chapter, Dr. Ogunade dissects Ori in Relation to Human Destiny.


Reading through this chapter will give one a scholarly and Literary  understanding of the concept of destiny.


The chapter provided an in-depth understanding of what Yoruba know as destiny and as well how it works as well as the connection between Ori and destiny.


He concludes the chapter, by providing an insight to what is known as conscience and how it polices Ori, thereby serving as a means of checkmating. The sixth chapter thereafter focuses on Human Acts and the Will of Olodumare.


The chapter discusses the concept of “the will of God in Yoruba Religion”. This provides an understanding on God’s choice of creation of what, why, when, where, how.


For instance, it is the will of God to create us differently in gender, race, culture and spoken languages and words generally. However, we are able to understand that God does not create evil.


This is quite interesting and brings about the need to have an extensive read of the book titled Ori:Yoruba Personality Guide by Raymond Ogunade, a Fulbright Fellow and Study of the United States Institute (SUSI).


In the concluding chapter, which is Ori: Yoruba Personality Guide is the focus, we are availed an indepth understanding of the concept of Ori, which is regarded as a captivating effort of the author.


The text is able to provide a sequential explanation of the various themes and sub-themes which I regard as a well-thought-out strategy to hold its readers. Beautifully written in straight/simple English which avails all and sundry an opportunity to read and understand.


The use of the Yoruba and the English translations where necessary, gives it an international and wide touch.


Error free and in clear typeset, Ori is a sure read. One of the most amazing parts of the book, (which is available on AMAZON online book store), is the acknowledgement by the author of his motivation.


The author acknowledges his students at the University and Yoruba Movie Ori by Muyiwa Ademola.


However, anyone who reads this book will be poised to either watch Ori the movie or watch again.


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