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Oduduwa and Ela: Central Figures in Adimula


Yoruba cosmogonic myth mentioned Oduduwa (First king of Ile-Ife, and father of Yoruba kings) in connection with name Adimu or Adimula Oduduwa (literally, wisdom that creates character, or the principle that set up characteristic). According to the myth, Oduduwa was also known as Adimu or Adimula (literally, hold on to this person and you will prosper; or one you can hold on to and prosper).

According to Ile-Ife version of the myth. Oduduwa was not just a primordial divinity but the very finest leader of all Irumoles (primordial divinities but in human forms) who descended from heaven on spiders' web. It is Oyo version of the myth that claims that Oduduwa migrated from Egypt or Mecca, and eventually settled down in Ile-Ife. In Ile-Ife version of the myth. Oduduwa was sent to complete the work of creation of solid earth after Obatala (Orisa-nla) had become drunk with palm wine. He later became the king of the Ife Orunmila toracle divinity) initiated Oduduwa into Ita divination (this assertion is confined from Irete Ogbe. Okaran owonrin, ejioghe and oyeku meji). By implication, Oduduwa should have practiced Ifa religion for Orunmilarism) After his coronation as king. Oduduwa was called by various names including Olofin Adimala, Olofin Otete, Olofin Aye or Olofin Olufe

The name Olofin Adimula implies that Oduduwa was recognised as a person the people of Ile-Ife could support, install as their king and hold on to in order for them to prosper. Now, the name Adimula has been extended to some other divinities. In fact, we now have Obatala Adimula, Ifa Adimula. Ogun Adimula. Sango Adimula, Osun Adimola, and so forth. Equally, the worshippers of these deities strongly believed that one can hold on to these deities and prosper, or anyone who holds on to these deities shall prosper.


Due to the primordial figure of Oduduwa known also as Adimula, and coupled with the extension of the name ‘Adimula’ to other Yoruba traditional religion divinities, the name Adimula has been adopted as the name for Yoruba Traditional Religion. Referring to Yoruba religion as Adimula seems novel, but it was never called by such name in prehistoric time. It is a later invention/innovation.

It has been said severally that religions practised by Africans do not have founders or central figures. This is not true, Yoruba Traditional Religion known as Adimúlà has a central figure called Elà (Elà wȧ láti ara Oyigi eni ti ó jé wúndia ti kò ni oko kankan, ó jé obinrin ti ni iwà-rere. Olódùmarè rán Elà wá si òde ayé láti wá ran Orunmilà lów nitori wipe ogun ayé pò là pòju, ogun lati owo aye, àjé, ajogun, omo araye àti béébée lo. Olódùmarè rán Elà wá si òde ayé láti wa ra ayé pada). Ela is said to have been born by a woman called Òyígí, a virtuous woman, who was found to have conceived Èlà without knowing any man". Elà had a mission from God to come and rescue humans who were subjected difficulty. The mission of Elà was to redeem the earth and free humans from oppression, oppressive forces and affliction.

While Elà was on earth, his antagonists (evil forces) made it very difficult for people on earth to see the mission of Elà as good. People felt that he was changing and depriving them of their usual way of life, and so they ganged up against Elà and punished him so much that he had to return to his father (Olódùmarè). With the rejection of Elà, he went back to heaven/Olódùmarè from where came, and with this, the earth knew no peace. Olodumare then told Òrúnmilà that for there to be peace on earth, for people to succeed in anything they want to do on eart they must call on Elà. (Odù Eji Ogbe). This is why today before any form of religious action or divination takes place, Èlà is called upon in the following way:

Elà ro wá 3x Odúndún ro 3

Tété ro 3x

Omi tutu ro 3x

Orunmilà iwo lo ro sè 'kerin won.

Ò ni ení bá pè ò bi o re apá kunkun,

Ìlà méji òsà

Ti o bá re ibi ogún odún

Ti o bá re ibi ogbon osu

Ifa to ba nbe niko wósi, ki o ro wa

Bi o bi nbe ni idòrómù dwise, Ki o ro wó

Bi o bá nbe ni iwonràn,

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Agbede méji ayé oun orun

Ibi ti oji mó ire ti nmo wa ilé ayé, Ki o ro wá

Elà come down 3x

Odundun come down 3x

Tété come down 3x

Cold water come down 3x

Orinmilà you are the fourth person.

You said whoever invites you, even if you are in apá kunkun

The two lines of deities

Even if you are gone for twenty years

Even if you are gone for thirty months

Ifa if you are in iko àwósi, come down.

Ifa if you are in idòròmú àwisé, come down.

If you are in iwònràn,

The space between heaven and earth,

Where the good day breaks upon the earth, come down.

Priests of Adimúlà

Following in the footsteps of Elà, Adimúlà has priests who carry out the work of religious worship, teaching and helping others to come to the faith. One becomes a priest through ordination. Ordination in Adimúlà is called gbigba omi érò. This is simply a process of cleansing and empowering.

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