Oluwa is not God

February 25, 2018 in African renaissance, Afrique, Culture & lifestyle, Politique & Société

This publication draws from a post on Facebook this morning wherein I shared the following: Oluwa is my boss (Shatta Wale).
In a side note I nuanced though that Oluwa should not be seen as God.
Here comes my explanation.

The Gbè cultural and linguistic realm
In West-Africa there is a cultural and linguistic realm called Gbè. Gbè cultural and linguistic encompasses communities whose language has the speech sound “gb” like in Gbagbo, Drogba(Ivorian names), Oju elegba(yoruba expression), Megbe (Ewe of “I refuse”).
//Check works of Kofi Folikpo on “aire culturelle et linguistique Gbè”//
Beyond the continuity between languages within that particular virtual area, one can notice a continuity in cultures as well. Meaning, the sound Gb comes with a certain way of relating to anything divine.
Ewe’s, Gbè Ivorians, the Gbè Ghanaians or Gâ and Gbè Naja among which the Yoruba and Ifè, have the same way of practicing their cult to what we call in english God. These communities have a pantheonic subdivisions of godS in their initial(precolonial) culture in common.
Monotheism was not their exclusive way to address the matter god.
The Gâ came from Nigerian coast before establishing themselves in Accra. They arrived by sea
Weren’t the Ewe also said to originate from Oyo before scattering westwards in direction of actual Benin, Ghana and Togo?
All this to say, the Gbè speaking people come from the same cultural stock.

(Now, I will need readers’ extra attention… please. Things will be getting serious from here, as we will address the issue around the vocable God)

Semantic confusion?
Now that we understand the common stock of various Gbè era components also reflects common religious traits, we need to find out what the term God vibrates to.
According to christian literatures the term God refers to a person rather than a concept or an idea. God from the bible speaks, gets jealous, has desires…
If the same can be verified in precolonial African perceptions, there is no clear personification of Oluwa though. As matter of fact, I’m sure what I see when I close my eyes, thinking of Oluwa.
Well, I find closing one’s-eyes-while-thinking-of-the-divine relevant in the sense that it helps define the linguistic premisses of a term as  identifier(here “God”).
How are we sure we are not confusing God a term an identifier from a particular cultural realm with another community’s ways to represent the idea of the Almighty?
God is the result of an exclusive monotheistic perception; while Oluwa remains an idea of One god among/above various gods. How can Oluwa be equal to God then?
Every culture expresses its deities based upon a particular perception. Until two distinct cultures have merged together, we have nothing at hand to sustain the claim that God = Oluwa.
Let’s shed light on another phenomenon: a christian African would easily make Oluwa God. But a christian from Europe won’t make God equal to Oluwa. The average european is simply not contaminated with Yoruba perception. How to understand that the modern Yoruba colonized by the english is the only one to replace Oluwa with God in his mind?
Who asked to do that, if not ourselves?
I can’t imagine a muslim from Qatar adhering to the idea that Allah is the same as Oluwa. Perhaps in shallow conversations Oluwa may refer to Allah but  when coming in factual practices, would that make sense? There lies the confusion then. A confusion, consequence of colonization.
It seems communities that have been colonized are the ones open to linguistic creativities(creolizations, pidginizations and all kind of linguistic variations) hence a confusion in representing their idea of an universal supreme entity.
Colonization can no longer serve as foundation in our representation of what the europeans call God.

Arbitrary syncretism
With that being said, one can blame colonization of forcing terminological syncretisms of all kinds: the colonized is obliged to perceive the world through the eye of the colonizer. He comes off with terms which serve no other purpose than his own confusion. Further, the same colonized African believes a syncretism of various deities into one, to be a matter of personal decision. History teaches us, religious syncretisms often have political, if not geopolitical grounds.
The few times cultures merge to create a new deity is when the fusion happens willingly from both religious groups. That was the case with the new Theban deity called Khonsu. As Thebes became important in power Amun will merge with Mut from another city, to give a son, Khonsu. Together, AmunRe, Mut and Khonsu formed the Theban triad(probably, another inspiration where the christian idea of trinity was borrowed?) check p.p3-4
Isn’t there no solemn act to sceal our semantic confusions regarding the matter “God”?
Of course there is one: We have been colonized, we embrace those syncretisms from our deranged neo African perceptions.

God in Ewe/Yoruba/Ifè/Aja/Gâ

I can’t find the exact translation of God in Gbe cultural and linguistic era.
The idea that Allah = God = Ataa Naa Nyoamo = Oluwa = Buluku… is both linguistically and culturally wrong to me, although conceptually valid.
Religions propagate themselves through concrete political actions. Since those concrete actions alter involved cultures into something new, we can’t remain Yoruba/Gâ/Ewe if we keep on using the impact of foreign perspectives when expressing our idea of “god”. It’s sure, cultures are subject to evolution somehow. However, don’t we deserve an once of awareness of the evolution we are undergoing?
We can’t make a God raised from the destruction of the gnostics in Europe the same as Oluwa, a term used by Yoruba gnostics.
Those two identfications don’t refer to the same thing simply as Oluwa has a clear and distinct evolution within a precolonial Yoruba imaginary.
That Yoruba nowadays have become muslims or christians doesn’t make the vocable God from their colonial language the equivalence of Oluwa.
Oluwa is Oluwa for the Yoruba
God is God to the Europeans
Allah is Allah for Muslims
We the Africans are still colonized in our mind.
Find the gospel song of Shatta Wale here: Teko

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