Syncretism in Yorubaland: A Religious or a Sociological Phenomenon?

by J K Parratt, A R I Doi
Practical Anthropology ()


The focus is on the phenomenon of religious syncretism in West Africa, esp among the inhabitants of Ile-Ife in the Western Region of Nigeria. The Ile-Ife can be regarded as the bastion of Yoruba culture & the center of Yoruba religion. It has not been subjected to Western influence to the same degree as the larger towns in Yorubaland. Traditional Yoruba religon has rapidly declined during the last generation, but cults of ancestor worship which have persisted are described. The festival of Ifa, the veneration of Ogun, & the many festivals in honor of mythical or historical figures of importance in the historical traditions of the town, all support the theory that sociol'al rather than religious signif is uppermost in the persistence of these practices. The function of the observance of these cults is clearly to call to mind the heritage of the past. They may also have some econ functions, but on the whole such cults represent the desire of the individual to be assimilated into the wider soc group & its past heritage, & the need for group loyalty. M. Maxfield (Copyright 1974, Sociological Abstracts, Inc., all rights reserved.)

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