In Yoruba culture, songs and dance have so much importance to religious worship and spirituality. All Orisas holds particular importance in dance and songs. And Worship in African Traditional Religion take the form of rites and ceremonies and include prostrating, praying, invoking, and making offerings. Sounding the bell or gong, singing, drumming, and dancing as occasion demands. Song and dance come up under liturgy. Liturgy therefore, is an important element of worship in African Traditional Religion.


Ìlú Gangan Photo credit Google Image courtesy Ifawemimo

In Orisa Worship, the presence of dance as a way of reenacting spirituality and songs as a way of reverence to the power of Olodumare and Orisas are essential to the worship of Orisas. Each Orisa is identified with drum ensemble, songs and dance styles. Also, every Orisa has unique dance movement that reflects its attributes as we have different drums for each Orisa. That is, the musical instruments used for each Orisa is different. The musical instrument for Sango and Yemoja is bata, Ifa is for Agogo and other Orisas is Dundun.

Songs enhance emotional and physical participation in the act of worship and often lead to ecstatic experiences. During worship when the singing and dancing penetrate wholly into every being of the worshipper, spirit possession may follow and the possessed devotee may give message from the divinity (as a vehicle of communication btw us and orisa) lighter songs may occur during the ritual. Also certain songs dedicated to the divinities are song in their honour as occasion demand. These songs are rendered to show the qualities and nature of the particular divinity. The characteristics of the divinity are also revealed through songs rendered during worship. The officiating priests never forget the order in which they should be song.


Bàtà drummers at Osun Grove - Photo credit Google Image courtesy Ifawemimo

Dancing on the other hand is no less prominent during worship than songs. There is therefore a place for dancing in the rituals especially during the sacred day worship and during the annual festival celebration. The dances take definite form, depending on the divinities to which the offerings are made. The dances which are ritualistic in nature is more emotional responses to the rhythm of music, they are symbolic and revealed something sacred. Most of the dance are fixed patterns and must be done correctly. Which foot goes forward first, which movement of the hand and body accompanying it, which turns are taken next, and how many times each component of the pattern is to be repeated; all these must be carefully observed.

In conclusion, When the musical instruments are played and danced to, it brings spiritual inspiration and relief to man.

Egbelade Omitonade Ifawemimo practices African Traditional Religion – Yemoja worshipperShe is a Yemoja priestess who is also versed in Ifa, Researcher, Theologian. A graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University where she studied Economics Education, Ile Ife, Osun State. Omitinade is from Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria.

She can be reached here @ifawemimo

@iyabadan on Twitter



All children need not be “born with a name” but all must be named. Names are not given at random because of their euphony or merely because a distinguished member of the family or of the community was so named, but a set of purpose from circumstance connected with the child itself, or with reference to the family fortunes at the time etc. Hence the saying –
Ile la wo kia to so mo loruko (the state of the house must first be considered before naming a child)

The names then are always significant of something either with references to the child itself or to the family. A child may have two or more christening names given it one by each parent or grandparents if living or by any elderly member of the family. 

These names are mainly categorized thus:

Names having reference to the child,

Names having reference to the family,

Names compounded of Ade, Olu, etc.,

Names compounded of names of deity worshipped,

Names compounded of Akin,

Compounds of Oje,

Compounds of Ode,

Compounds of Oso/Efun

Names having reference to the child itself:

Ayodele Joy enters the house

Morenike I have someone to pet

Moseb”olatan Joy hitherto despaired of

Ibiyemi Good birth becomes/befits me

Ibiyinka Surrounded by children

Names having reference to the family:

Ogundalenu Our home has been devastated by war

Otegbeye Warfare deprived us of our honour

Kurumi Death has improvised me

Ogunmola The   river Ogun took away our honour

Iyapo Many trails

Names compounded of Ade, Olu, Ola and Oye. These names originally belonged to one of high or princely birth, but are now used indiscriminately:

Adebiyi The crown has begotten this

Adegbite The crown demands a throne

Olaleye Honour comes fittingly/ honour is full of dignity

Oyeyemi Title becomes me/ title befits me

Oyewole Title enters the house i.e. where the parent has a title

Ade does not always signify a crown, it may be taken from the de to arrive, it may then mean – coming e.g.:

Adebisi or My coming cause an increase

Adesina My coming opens the way

Adepoju The coming has become too much

Names compounded of names of deity worshipped:

Sangobunmi Sango (the god of thunder and lightning) gave me this

Ogundipe Ogun (the god of war) consoles me with this

Omiyale The god of visits the house

Oba –bunmi The king (i.e. god of small of pox) gave me this

Fafumke Ifa gave me this to pet

Osuntoki Osun is worthy of praise or honour

Compounds  of Akin:

Akin which also means strength is compounded with names mostly for males:

Akinyele A strong one befits the house

Akinwale A strong one comes home

Akinrole The strong holds the house

Compounds of Oje:
These names are peculiar to the children of Elewi of Ado. Names peculiar to the royal family of Oyo.

Male: Afonja, Tela, Ajuan
Female: Ogboja, Siye, Akere

Compounds of Ode: name peculiar to children of Ogun or Erinle worshippers

Odewale Ode comes to the house i.e. visits the family

Odemuyiwa Ode has brought me this

Compounds of Oso/Efun: shows that the family is a worshipper of Orisa Oko i.e. god of the fields.

Osodipe Oso has granted me a consolation

Osodeke Oso has become a shield/shelter

Efunsetan Efun has done it (by granting the child)

You can visit here for Part 1 and here for Part 2

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