Monday, January 28, 2013

Videos Of Obatala Songs, Chants, And Dances

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post showcases eight videos of Obatala songs, chants, and dances. Obatala is a Yoruba Orisa (Orisha, Orixa). As background to these videos, this post also includes information about the Yoruba religion, with special focus on information about Obatala.

This post is presented for religious, historical, folkloric, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.
Maferefun Obatala!
[Maferefún means “praises to the spiritual energy of” in the Yoruba language.]

"The Yorùbá religion comprises the traditional religious and spiritual concepts and practices of the Yoruba people. Its homeland is in Southwestern Nigeria and the adjoining parts of Benin and Togo, a region that has come to be known as Yorubaland. Yorùbá religion is formed of diverse traditions and has no single founder. It has influenced or given birth to thriving ways of life such as Lucumí, Umbanda and Candomblé.[1] Yoruba religious beliefs are part of itan, the total complex of songs, histories, stories and other cultural concepts which make up the Yorùbá society.[1][2][3]...

An Orisha (Orisa or Orixa) is an entity that possesses the capability of reflecting some of the manifestations of Olódùmarè. Yòrùbá Orishas (translated "owners of heads") are often described as intermediaries between man and the supernatural. The term is often translated as "deities" or "divinities".[8]...
"The orishas are the emissaries of Olodumare or God almighty. They rule over the forces of nature and the endeavors of humanity. They recognise themselves and are recognised through their different numbers and colors which are their marks, and each has their own favorite foods and other things which they like to receive as offerings and gifts. In this way we make our offerings in the manner they are accustomed to, in the way they have always received them, so that they will recognise our offerings and come to our aid...

Obatalá is the kindly father of all the orishas and all humanity. He is also the owner of all heads and the mind. Though it was Olorun who created the universe, it is Obatalá who is the creator of the world and humanity. Obatalá is the source of all that is pure, wise peaceful and compassionate. He has a warrior side though through which he enforces justice in the world. His color is white which is often accented with red, purple and other colors to represent his/her different paths. White is most appropriate for Obatalá as it contains all the colors of the rainbow yet is above them. Obatalá is also the only orisha that has both male and female paths."

(The location of these performances are given when indicated.]

Example #1: Tribute to Obatala - God of Creativity [Nigeria]

BrainfolkAfrican, Published on Mar 9, 2012

This is a collection of praise and worship songs to pay homage to Obatala, the God of creativity. The songs on this 2 DVD set were written and sung by Oyelola Ajibola Elebuibon, wife of Chief Ifayemi Elebuibon (Araba Awo of Osogbo Land, Nigeria). When you play the DVD or CD you will feel the energy flowing around you. Oyelola is a widely known and widely requested performer of Orisa Praise songs due to her not just singing, but feeling the words she puts into the song.
The English translations of these songs are provided as subtitles in this video. Here's my transcription of the English part of the composer's introductory statement:
"Among 401 Orisas in Yorubaland, Obatala is the oldest. This album is an attempt to preserve and conserve the raw heritage.
It is my pleasure to enrich you with Obatala devotional songs and chants. At the same time, finding its relevance in these modern years - old wine in a new bottle".
Additions and corrections are welcome.

Example #2: Nigeria- Obatala Shrine [Nigeria]

wavawoman, Uploaded on Jun 16, 2009

[©2006 Wavawoman Films, LLC] Devotees inside the Obatala Shrine in Ile-Ife, Nigeria playing bells and dancing for Obatala.
Here are several comments from this video's viewer comment thread:
noah295463 , 2012
"Just a question ? what kind of bells are those ? the name ? Thank You.
wavawoman, 2012
I was told they were called "igbin" bells. Igbin is the Yoruba word for "snail". I don't know if I heard correctly. They are flat pieces of iron beat with a thin iron rod. They make a lovely sound.
Omo Oba, 2013
Igbin (Do Do) is Obatala special drum not Igbin (do Mi) Snail.
Editor: Notice how some of the dancers are being dashed with [sprayed with] money. This is the origin of African Americans receiving dollars bills & pinning them on their shirts or the top of their dresses on their birthdays.

Example #3: Ilu Aye - Obatala video

Dennis Flores, Uploaded on Mar 26, 2006

ILU AYE (Literally, "The Drum of the World" in Yoruba)was founded in 2004, to celebrate the connections between the peoples and cultures of the African Diaspora. Bringing together the next generation of Afro-Puerto Rican, -Dominican, and -Cuban percussionists and singers, ILU AYE is dedicated to preserving and promulagting the rich cultural legacy of Africa in the Americas and the Caribbean, through performance, educational workshops, and community-centered gatherings where the rhythms of the African Caribbean reign. Trained by master musicians from all three islands, and versed in sacred and popular rhythms such as bata, guiro, rumba (Cuba); bomba and plena (Puerto Rico); and palos, salves, and kongos (Dominican Republic), ILU AYE interprets traditional songs and reinvigorates the genres with original compositions by renowned akpwon, Osvaldo "Bembe" Lora. Join for future events or visit their site @

Example #4: Obatalá Dance -- Marta Ruiz [Cuban dancer in Russia]

afrocubaru, Uploaded on Nov 14, 2009

Example #5: "Niños y Orishas" - Obbatala [Cuba]

Antonio Bucanero, Uploaded on Sep 2, 2009

Example #6: Obbatala II - Abbilona

Alejandro Ayaguna, Uploaded on May 16, 2011

Example #7: Song and Dance For Orisha Obatala from 17th annual African Street Festival [United States]

ronzta, Uploaded on Jul 20, 2007
Here are some comments from this video's viewer comment thread:
Veetuu, 2010
"Baba ofururu" we can translate like "pure/white/no bad thoughts' father" or "father with the breath from atmosphere". 'Father' here means 'lord', 'god'. Elegigbo is the young and warrior Oshala's kingdom (here in Brazil we call him Oshaguian, in yoruba 'Òsògínyón', Orisha who eats yam)"
pikedagger1868, 2010
"There are many Avatars and even types of Obatala Dances...for instance Obatala Oba Moro dances and drops to his one knee...There are even older avatars like Obatala Ocha Griñan who needs to have all music played VERY softly and people must be quiet...he is a VERY old Obatala...or Obatala Orishanla who is a trembling old woman who wants to be covered with a
white sheet. I am a child of Obatala...Maferefun Baba/Iya mi modupe Obatala!"
Veetuu, 2010
"Yes, there is. There's a difference in how to play and to sing, but the lyrics are practically the same. Search for the video "Oxalufã Candomblé (Ketu)" and you can see the difference. Here's closer from the african's rhythm from Ketu."
Here's a link to the sound file that is mentioned in the above quote:
"Candomblé Ketu' (or Queto in Portuguese spelling) is the largest and most influential nation (sect) of Candomblé, a religion widely practiced in Brazil. Its beliefs and rituals are similar to those of other Candomblé nations in general terms, but different in almost every detail.

Ketu deities are basically those of Yoruba mythology. Olorun, also known as Eledumare, Olodumare, Eledaa and Olofin-Orun, is the supreme God, who created the deities or Orishas (also spelled Orisas or Orixás). The variety of orishas still venerated in Africa were reduced to about 16, of which around twelve are invoked in ceremonies:

[orishas names given, including]
..."Oxalá, the most respected Orixá, father of most other Orixás."
Oxalá = Obatala

Example #8: Chief Aikulola, Odun Obatala (Festival of Obatala)

asaforitifa, Uploaded on Sep 28, 2007

sacerdotizas de obatala y osun en la casa del Agbongbon de osogbo alto rango de Ifa en el pueblo Osogbo con motivo de la celebracion del festival de Obatala del Gbawoniyi de este mismo pueblo chief Aikulola Fawehinmi. Estas sacerdotizas estan realizando Oosa pipe que es la poesia llamatoria de Obatala.

Priestesses of Obatala and Osun at the home of the Agbongbon Awo of Osogbo during the annual Obatala festival of Chief Aikulola Fawehinmi, a babalawo and priest (adosu) of Obatala and Egungun. The women and some of the men are reciting Oosa pipe, the praise poetry (oriki) used to call Obatala.

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Video tomado por Awo Fasotito Oduola

Thanks to all who are quoted in this post. Thanks also to the publishers of these videos.
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Visitor comments are welcome.

1 comment:

  1. As an aside, I wonder if the title & refrain "Ob la di Ob la da" of the 1968 Beatles record and which is also mentioned in another Beatle song "Savoy Truffle" were influenced by the name for the Yoruba (Nigeria) Orisha Obatala.

    Beatles member Paul McCarthy acknowledged that "The tag line "ob-la-di, ob-la-da, life goes on, bra" was an expression used by Nigerian conga player Jimmy Scott-Emuakpor, an acquaintance of McCartney.",_Ob-La-Da.
    "Bra" is tne same as "bro", an African American English clip of the word "brother".

    According to information in that Wikipedia article which is attributed to Steve Turner's 2005 book "A Hard Day's Write: The Stories Behind Every Beatles Song" (3rd ed.). New York: Harper Paperbacks, "Scott (McCartney's Nigerian acquaintance) later tried to claim a writer's credit for the use of his catch phrase in the song; McCartney claimed that the phrase was "just an expression". Scott argued it was not a general expression, but merely an expression that was exclusively used in the Scott-Emuakpor family."

    However, in response to a question about the origin of the saying "Ob la di Ob la da" in the blog that same Steve Turner book was cited as indicating a more widespread use of that saying:
    "The following info was found in the book, "A Hard Day's Write", by Steve Turner. It should answer your question. "Paul first heard the words 'Ob La Di Ob La Da' uttered by Nigerian conga player Jimmy Scott, whom he met at the Bag o' Nails club in Soho, London. Scott was renowned for his catchy phrases. He was from the Yoruba tribe and if you find someone from the Yoruba, they will tell you that 'Ob La Di Ob La Da' means "life goes on".
    I don't speak or read Yoruba, and am only familiar with that culture as a result of my interest in African names, religion, and other aspects of African culture. That said, I doubt that "Ob la di Ob la da" literally means "life goes on" in the Yoruba language. I wonder if there's a Yoruba proverb that says something like "No matter what happens, with Obatala, life goes on." Jimmy Scott-Emuakpor might have coined that "ob las di ob la da" phrase and come up with a meaning for it based on such a proverb. It would be interesting if research were conducted among the Yoruba people in Nigeria and/or among other African Diaspora cultures such as Lukumi and Candomble in which Obatala is a key Orisha to find out if there are any proverbs that mention Obatala which are similar to that "ob la di ob la da - life goes on" saying.