BOLAJI FAKEYE | LAGOS
Across Yoruba land, provinces pick a two-week date to celebrate the egungun festival. One could say after Ifa, egungun seemed to be the next most populous socio-cultural Yoruba spirituality; it all began when the third Alaafin of Oyo, King Sango – also deity of thunder – brought the worship of the ancestors to honor the spirit of his father.
Sango’s father, Oranmiyan grandson of Oodua, had died and was buried in Ife after he founded and left his two sons in Old Oyo to rule, while he went back to Ife. Sango’s mother was a princess from Tapa (Nupe, middle belt Nigeria) where ancestor worship thrived. An entertainers’ guild called Oje was later given charge, sworn to secrecy; the egungun went on to become state worship in Oyo, spreading wherever the Yoruba spread, Africa or overseas.