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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The death of elders as promotion in Yoruba belief
Author:Ajuwon, Bade
Periodical:African Notes: Bulletin of the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan
Geographic term:Nigeria
Subjects:ancestor worship
Abstract:Acquisition of authority is attainable in Yoruba society (Nigeria) by such factors as age, appointment, and death. It is believed that after death an elder is transformed from the status of a lesser to a higher authority, from the profane to the sacred world, and from a mortal state to a state of immortality. Since the death of an elder means progression by acquisition of higher authority, death, in such a case, does not wear a sombre hue. The death of young people, however, is a great calamity to the Yoruba. Instead of getting promotion, those who die young are transformed from humanity into fairies and aimless wanderers who lack respect from both the living and the dead ancestors. The significance of the death of elders being promotion in Yoruba belief is best seen in the people's custom of ancestor worship. Yoruba ancestors exercise a very high authority over the living. The graves of the ancestors become a point to be regularly visited by descendants to seek ancestral sanction to undertake a business, choose a girl or a man for marriage, settle any major disputes that may arise within the family circle, or take oaths. The belief in death as promotion for elders enables the Yoruba to cope effectively with the complexity of society, as well as to do that which is good for the individual, and in the long run for the welfare of mankind. Notes, ref.