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KINGSHIP: A Yoruba Deity-in-the-Making Will Visit Manhattan in June

Most Kings are revered as if they were gods. They are honored and worshipped by their followers. But in Yorubaland, the kings actually are gods

Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi © Olusegun Aderinto

Most Kings are revered as if they were gods. They are honored and worshipped by their followers. But in Yorubaland, the kings actually are gods…at least according to the tradition. When Beyonce featured Yoruba tradition heavily in her recently released Lemonade, she introduced many in the Diaspora to the deity Osun. However there are 400 others in the Yoruba pantheon, with the surest path to veneration being Kingship. The newest and most symbolically significant king of the Yoruba people, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II, a deity-in-the-making will be visiting Columbia University in just a couple of weeks.


His Imperial Majesty, who succeeded the late Oba Okunade Sijuade just over five months ago is known as a social entrepreneur–he invests in diversified renewable resources in Nigeria–whose promise for his reign was to “unite all Yoruba people.”  Apparently, that means those in the Diaspora as well, especially the descendants of our enslaved ancestors.


The Black Diaspora has long embraced  Yoruba culture and traditions. The culture that has manifested in the West in Candomblé, dashikis, hair threading, Afro-beat music, Santeria, and now Lemonade–is inherently elusive, but always visible. We are teeming with Yoruba energies and aesthetics, everywhere we are found.


All who wander in the streets of the Yoruba tradition are called upon to embrace a dialogue with our newest King and with each other, by joining Applause Africa for our African Exchange Series on June 10th in Manhattan. The day begins with a visit to the United Nations, where the King will meet with United Nations Population Fund in furthering of his Youth Empowerment Initiative.  From the UN, the King will visit the African Burial Ground, where he will honor the thousands of African souls whose voyage through the Middle Passage ended there–in what is now a major artery of the US financial industry. 


Finally, His Imperial Majesty will provide audience to just 100 invited guests at Columbia University where he will discuss his mantra of unity and peace across the Diaspora, and provide tangible access to opportunities for repatriation. Speakers at this dialogue will include Professor Wande Abimbola, Dr. Rowland Abiodun, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Laolu Senbanjo, Busayo Olupona and Desiree Gordon.


This is a time to embrace our history and our kinship with more depth than fashion and music videos can provide. We can do this only in a dialogue that challenges and prepares us to build physical bridges back to our lands and identities of origin.


Limited tickets are available for this once in a lifetime event. Buy here before 5/31 for access to all events.

Gallery of Selected Yoruba Kings, Past and Present

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Kingship is sponsored by Applause Africa, Arik Air and Transfast.

Featured Image courtesy of Olusegun Aderinto. Image gallery courtesy of Beier, Ulli.
Lolade Siyonbola
Lolade is an author, techie and serial entrepreneur. She is an MA candidate at Yale University where she is pursuing research on immigration, cultural identity and social health.
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