Ifa: Why African Americans are returning to African religions
African Americans are reconnecting to their African heritage by adopting African religions.
I recently stumbled on an article titled 'I Left Christianity for an Ancient African Faith.'
Written by Nakia Brown, it tells the story of a young woman disenchanted by the Christian religion who would later embrace Yoruba culture and Ifa religion.
This article picked my interest because I have noticed that this is a new wave of sorts. Some African-Americans are dumping Christianity and adopting African religions especially the Yoruba religion.
One of such African-Americans is rapper 21 Savage. Born Shayaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, the 24-year-old trapper is an Ifa worshiper. "I always said that (I’m here for a reason), even when I was in the hospital, I used to say that… I’m spiritual, I’m Ifá, my religion is Ifá… It’s a Nigerian religion" he told the crew of The Breakfast Club on August 2016. He further emphasized on his worship of Ifa in a July 2017 interview with Genius.
21 Savage is just one of many Americans who are into Ifa. There is a strong community of Ifa worshipers not only in Atlanta where there are a lot of Nigerians but in Baltimore, Maryland- another state with a vibrant American community.
Why are Americans retreating to African spirituality? It's a matter of reconnecting with their past. The trans-Atlantic slave trade uprooted a lot of Africans and disrupted their mode of worship. In a native and strange land, Bibles were forced on these slaves and they had to adopt Christianity or suffer the consequences.
African-Americans have always felt disconnected to mainstream America due to racism mostly. In the 19th century, the Back to Africa movement started. It encouraged African-Americans to go back to motherland Africa. The movement created by Marcus Garvey inspired the Rastafari and Nation of Islam spiritual movements.
I would like to think that the motherland movement also inspired this new wave of African Americans embracing African spirituality. It's a way for them to reconnect to their African roots.
The fact that Christianity in America was notoriously silent during the slave trade era hasn't helped it. Nakia Brown who wrote the article that I mentioned above, dumped Christianity because she felt it promoted racism and oppression during these days. For some African-Americans, they cannot connect with a blue-eyed Jesus Christ.
African religions and traditions serves as a key that opens the door for many African-Americans to reconnect with their heritage.