Obatala Festival celebrated by Orisa devotees in Republic Trinidad & Tobago

Orisa devotees in Republic Trinidad & Tobago

As World International agencies and World bodies attempt to pay greater respect to peoples of African people worldwide and our contributions to world civilization and culture , the government of Republic Trinidad & Tobago seem to believe that orisa devotees in this country are not a significant sector of our national community.

The upcoming Census to be conducted to count heads and to garnish other information does not have a category of spirituality called Traditional African Religion, Shango, Orisa devotee or any such nomenclature that designates a person whose spiritual belif, practice or knowledge is outside of the recognised categories of HINDU, CHRISTIAN and MOSLEM or MUSLIM.

Is it that despite the platitudes of equal rights before the law and equality and justice for all, ALL of the ” MAJOR RELIGIONS’  here still categorize African Traditional Religion as some ” demonistic cult ” and therefore not worthy of consideration to be computed in a national count that advertises itself as wanting to know who we are so that they can better serve / or help ?

We hope that this is not the case and this has been an oversight.

Recent experience has shown that orisa devotees wishing to marry under the Orisa Marriage Act cannot sometimes acquire the appropriate forms  to make the applications to post bands  as is required by law.

We know that hundreds of years of looking down on African Traditional Spirituality/ Religion can often make it difficult for persons accustomed to such discriminatory practices to turn aroun and treat such Spirituality with immediate respect. However all effort at all levels of civil and legal society must be made to ensure that Africans who have been the victims of such discrimination be allowed to enjoy the comfort of the reversal of such inhumane practices as we have been subjected to for several centuries.

So we write this article with the firm conviction that the legislators and writers of legal documents will take into consideration the need to immediately redress these imbalances and injustices in our legal and legislative frameworks and ensure that the African population here are given the respect that they deserve.

May results make themselves manifest during the term of office of the current government.


  1. It is unacceptable that a state claiming a democratic and multicultural character would refuse to acknowledge the traditional religion of African people in Trinidad. Why don’t you come on tv to expose this blatant discrimination against the Orisha faith?

    • yorubasacredsciencecentre

      E kabo! Thank you Felipe for taking the time to visit our site and to comment on this issue of concern to us. Yes I will take up the offer and will contact you soon.
      Oloye Orawale Oranfe

  2. Efundeji A. Olaosebikan

    My latest info from the CSO is that due to the unavailability of data on the number of Orisa practitioners in T&T, they are unable to present it as an option on this form. However, the form has an option which states “OTHER/SPECIFY”. I am recommending that Orisa devotees utilize this and specify “ORISA”. Not IFA, not IFA/ORISA, not ORISHA. Specify ORISA, anything else will be categorized individually, as something else, another religion and thereby “split the vote”.
    While I recognize that name is important, let us not get caught up in the semantics of the “NAME”. It’s my opinion, that the important thing here is to get the numbers recognized from a national perspective.
    Let the powers that be, political/administrative/governmental, see that we are representative of a, hopefully substantial, segment of the national community, and thus must be treated in like manner.

  3. Peace Family,

    I’m new to Yoruba community (since Oct.2010) but it’s amazing how much I feel right at home. I’ve been learning about our great Afrikan culture from our greatest scholars on the subject (Dr. John Henrik Clarke, Dr. Ben, Ray Hagins, Ashra Kwesi, and many others) so now experiencing the spiritual/living side of it ties it all together…it’s holistic and the most beautiful thing I’ve ever encountered. Even my 10 yr old Godson whose mother is raising him christian feels right at home in the Afrikan spiritual community. I first took him to Akom in the Akan community. The drumming, dancing, singing and spiritual energy in the room was hypnotic…people soon began entering trances, our eyes were glued to what was happening as it was very different for us, I asked my Godson if he was ok, how he felt, without moving his eyes he just shook his head signaling he was ok. After the drumming I asked him what he thought, he said he loved it. I asked him why he loved it, he simply said, it’s home!!! That brought a tear to my eye, he connected with his culture/ancestral way his very first time going. I couldn’t ask for anything better!!!

    We have got to reclaim our culture wherever we are on this globe because other people are claiming it as their own and know us better than we know ourselves. In our culture lies the greatest power that exists that can change this world for the better. I have decided to commit myself to learning more, networking with our people more and doing what needs to be done to secure ourselves, particularly for our youth so that know who they are and will be equipped to carry our ancestor’s great cultural torch forward!!!

    • yorubasacredsciencecentre

      Alaafia! E kabo oooo! Greetings J.J. for visiting at this site and for sharing the beautiful and inspiring experience that you and your family had as you were embrace into the bosom of our traditional way of life. I truly appreciate your forthrightness and openness in sharing of those sacred moments and experiences with your family and our tradition. Thanks for coming. May you continue to come and experience satisfaction, comfort and encouragement on this site. Our love and blessings to you and our family. Oloye Orawale Oranfe

  4. Aburo aboye aboshishe! This is indeed an interesting and almost amusing dilemma and one for which I cannot at the moment fathom a response: not because I don’t have one, but because so much of it is typical, cliched.

    I am (strangely) reminded here of a discussion a group of us had with a Haitian scholar recently. She said that Haiti is 98% Roman Catholic, 2% Protestant/Other, and 100% Voodoo. If one were to hold her argument true for T&T as well, can we not assume that the African/Orisha Worldview is so ingrained in our culture that it may not necessarily need consideration in a census as a religion?

    I mean, we almost instinctively understand the need for bush tea when we’re unwell, or a good sea bath to remedy the same. When we dream fish, it’s children/pregnancy, and we almost instinctively understand the value of bedaubing the body with mud at Jouvay; and then there is pan!

    These examples and my seeming facetiousness notwithstanding, there is clearly a need to have Orisha included among the list of religions in the next census. (I use “Orisha” because it works phonetically; that “s” which furnishes us with the “sh” sound does not exist in English. For me though the rationale for inclusion is not the history of discrimination, but the fact that we are! The history is there to help the researchers understand better their own deficiencies. I too know the trial of the Orisha Marriage Liscence; and if what we’re told through this column obtains at the moment, I think a logical research explanation for the exclusion is also forthcoming.

    The question that remains though is what action should/can be taken? A letter and/or petition to the Prime Minister and copied to the Ministers of the People, of Justice, and the Attorney General seems to be the thing to do. But, as I said, it’s so cliched. Efundeji’s proposal is useful too, and requires uniformity. I humbly submit “Orisha”, in spite of my dislike for the “Other” label. More than likely, I may not complete the census. So I stop. Whatever we resolve through and beyond this blog, know that there is work to be done. The dialogue though is a good start.


    Marvin George

    • yorubasacredsciencecentre

      Alaafia! E kabo! As you enter we stop and greet Esu, divine linguist and provider of opportunities particularly through communication.
      I thank you for visiting this site and for taking quality time in this busy period of yours to have read, and or perused information here and analysed and benefited us by your comment. I quite agree with you that positive and real proaction in one or more of the ways that you have suggested will be an option of action. I do intend to positively accept those workable ideas you have suggested.May orisa ,ancestors beneficient and benevolent beings continue to afford you to opportunity to come agin and share with us. Thanks! Oloye Orawale Oranfe

  5. Concerned Devotee

    As a devotee and worker with the CSO for the ongoing 2011 census I will like to humbly dispel the rumour about the categories under religion. This country has taken tremendous strides in attempting to promote culture and gender issues and HAS IN FACT CLASSIFIED ORISHA IN THIS CENSUS. What needs to be be change though is the symbol used to classify all religious buildings from the cross.

    010 … Anglican
    025 … Baptist – Spiritual Shouter
    … Baptist – Other (SPECIFY)
    … Hinduism (SPECIFY)
    … Islam (SPECIFY)
    040 … Jehovah Witness
    050 … Methodist
    038 … Moravian
    470 … Orisha
    … Pentecostal/Evangelical/Full Gospel (SPECIFY)
    800 … Presbyterian
    960 … Rastafarian
    090 … Roman Catholic
    100 … Seventh Day Adventist
    098 … None
    999 … Not Stated (NS)
    (as stated verbatim from the census questionnaire)

    However our presence is not others to sought out but for us to go out and make it known. This does not stem from the government it starts from each individual. The Orisha community is suffering because the heads themselves lack that humility to follow instead of fighting for leadership. It is not about whose “secrets” are superior or whose organisation are not recognised by whom, it is about Iwa Pele. When the Orisha community of Trinidad & Tobago come together as a proper functioning body in numbers and not on paper then and only then can we move forward and make that righteous mark that needs to be made in this beautiful country.

    • yorubasacredsciencecentre

      Alaafia! E kabo! Thanks for taking the time to visit our site. You are welcomed here and your honest opinions are welcomed and appreciated. To the current moment we have received what appears as prima facie evidence to the extent that we are include in the Census. However we have broached certain matters with legal minds and we still feel that the social position is one of ” second class ” status. I am pursuing the position in full, and at this site we know that we are entitled to challenge positions if we feel that it is inimical to our community. I also agree with you that leaders and followers alike need to pursue gentle and noble character and create opportunities of right and correct living with each other.
      Once again thanks for your comments. As soon .and if we are sure that the issues we are concerned about are clear we shall retract our statements. Until then we cherish our RIGHT TO BE WRONG! Oloye Orawale Oranfe

  6. Alaafia J Jay Bailey, I am also trying to introduce the young ones, mainly my grandson ,to this tradition, before his mind is corrupted with all the negativity that is spoken about Orisa worship.

  7. Shittabey obafemi adeolu

    Its good u people are takin the course of orisa worshipers up with the gov.of the nations of orisa people…kudos!

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    • yorubasacredsciencecentre

      Thank you Yocom 28066 for your visit to this site and for taking time to comment. May your sojourn here be profitable and may our planet advance as a consequence of our efforts to make here a more happy , tranquil , free and just planet. Oloye Orawale Oranfe

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