Decolonising Myth; From Traditional To Euro-Christian Perceptions of Esu Elegbara

Decolonising Myth; From Traditional To Euro-Christian Perceptions of Esu Elegbara

Author by Dr. Olusegun Olu-osayomi

Journal/Publisher: Pan-african University Press

Volume/Edition: 1

Language: English

Pages: 137 - 148



One of the stigmas of Colonialism is the mechanistic transposition of Christian concepts into African traditional religion. By virtue of this umbrage, Esu Elegbara of the Yoruba pantheon became demused, his spiritual essence derogated. As a result of this, there seems to be misconceived ideas, wrong analysis, misapplications and misconceptions in much of what has been written about this Yoruba deity, Esu Elegbara, in terms of his nature, attributes and changing status(es). It is on this premise that this paper investigates the English-to-Yoruba language mistranslation, in the Holy Bible, of the Euro-Hebraic Devil/Satan/Lucifer as the Yoruba Esu, and attributing the qualities and evils of the devil to Esu of the Yoruba mytho-spirituality. It specifically examines, in detail, the age-old perception of man’s attitude towards the issues of Esu, while conceptual affinities and dissimilarities of significant literary interest between the Yoruba Esu and Jewish Satan are also identified and discussed. The paper also explores some of the potentials of Satan (such as his synedochical representation of militant evil in opposition to light and life) demonstrated in the Holy Bible and that of Esu (an essentially benevolent deity with immense power for both good and evil) of the Yoruba metaphysics. The paper adopts archetypal or mythological theory complemented with spiritual or metaphysical theories. Consequently, the paper discovers that Esu is certainly not the Yoruba correlate of Satan and that it is misleading to confuse Esu with Satan, the Devil, despite the perceived incidental similarities between the two. It further reveals that the mistaken and confused identity of Esu and Satan arises from the error of translation. The paper concludes that Esu transcends the parochial prism of misconception and that the narrow evil view of Esu’s image expresses a syndrome of lack of understanding of the complexity of the god and the failure of a people-both foreigners and natives-to see beyond the surface. In its contribution to knowledge, the paper establishes that despite the connectedness between the actions of both Esu and Satan, Esu of the Yoruba mytho-spirituality stands out significantly and ubiquitously throughout the Yoruba metaphysics. It is expected that the paper will help in illuminating important aspects of the dynamics and significance of the Yoruba deity, Esu within the context of religio-spiritual vision in the post-Colonial Nigeria, in modern Africa and the globalized world.

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