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Oba Efuntola Oseijeman Adelabu Adefunmi (born Walter Eugene King, 5 October 1928 – 11 February 2005) was the first African-American to ever be initiated into the priesthood of the initiation cult of any African traditional religion. His initiation paved the way for other African-Americans to recover and begin to practice traditional African customs that had been lost as a result of the transplantation of Africans during the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade.

Having grown up with a natural interest in African culture, the young Walter King seemed destined to find a way to express his African heritage fully. He left the Baptist faith that he had been born into and travelled the world, going to Haiti in 1954 to study Voodoo and, in 1955, to Europe and North Africa, often as a part of the Katherine Dunham Dance Company. Finally, in 1959 just before the Cuban revolution, he travelled to the Matanzas region of Cuba to be initiated into the Yoruba Ifá priesthood of Obatala, returning to the United States as Efuntola Oseijeman Adefunmi. Efuntola means "the whiteness (of Obatala's whiteness rituals) is as good as wealth (or honor)." Adefunmi means "the crown has given me this (child)."

Upon his return to the U.S. he founded the Order of the Damballah Hwedo, then the Shango Temple, and later incorporated the African Theological Archministry. That organization would come to be called the Yoruba Temple. His spiritual message was accented by a Black Nationalist message, and although his words rang true in the hearts of many progressive African-Americans, his stance drew large criticism from within the ranks of the Cuban Santería priests because of his strident opposition to certain aspects of their religious system. A new lineage of Orisa worship that placed Nigeria at its core, but that was tailored for African-Americans, was formed: Orisa-Voodoo.

Oyotunji Village[edit]

In 1970, the Oyotunji Village was created in Beaufort County, South Carolina. In 1972, HRH the Oba was initiated into the Ifá Priesthood in Nigeria, receiving the rank of Babalawo and later that year being proclaimed Oba of Oyotunji by its inhabitants.[citation needed] He reformed the priesthood along Nigerian lines, travelling to Nigeria in 1972 to be created a traditional chieftain. In 1981 his status as a king was recognized when HRH the Ooni of Ile-Ife, Nigeria, arranged for formal coronation rites to be performed for Oba Efuntola Oseijeman Adelabu Adefunmi.[citation needed] Priestly initiation and kingship were some of the several firsts credited to Adefunmi and the Oyotunji Lineage. They were also the first Orisa worshippers in the West to reinstitute the Egungun Masquerade and Secret Society.

Over the years the number of residents at the Village has fluctuated, with it probably hovering around 5-9 families for the last ten years.


His Royal Highness the Oba Adefunmi joined his ancestors on February the 11th, 2005. In Yoruba culture, the king is not announced as having died, but as having "gone up the ceiling" or Oba wo aja.



  • Ancestors (Tribal origins) of the African-Americans, Yoruba Temple, (1962)
  • Tribal origins of the African-Americans, Yoruba Temple, (1962)
  • Olorisha: A guidebook into Yoruba religion, Orisha Academy (1982)
  • The African state: An outline of the philosophy and organization of the ancient Yoruba kingdom of West Africa, pre-European period, Yoruba Temple, (1962)
  • Lewis, James R. The Encyclopedia of Cults, Sects, and New Religions. Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books, 1998. ISBN 1-57392-222-6.

Additional Books and Articles[edit]

  • Oyotunji village: The Yoruba movement in America, Carl M Hunt
  • The Joseph E. Holloway Papers Cornell University Library
  • African gods in South Carolina Essence Magazine
  • An African kingdom in America American Visions Magazine

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adefunmi — Please support Wikipedia.
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75 news items

Nigerian Tribune

Nigerian Tribune
Tue, 07 Oct 2014 16:00:16 -0700

While accepting the offer, Oba Adejuyigbe Egundjobi Oyewole Allaxdahuoux Adefunmi II said “We are elated at the prospects of a world class resort being built in the great city of Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria. The board of directors are visionary in their ...
The Times-Picayune (blog)
Wed, 28 May 2014 04:34:49 -0700

Other graduates were Kuforiji Adefunmi, George Aidoo Jr., Terrell Allen, Tyson Alvarez, Hal Amos Jr., Marseth Andry, Donovan Aubert, Aarin Barnes, David. Bartholomew IV. Ervin Batiste III, Anthony Bennett, Jabari Bonner, Erin Bringier, Blaise Brown ...
Selma Times-Journal
Sun, 09 Mar 2014 17:18:09 -0700

The group's leader Oba Adefunmi II said he enjoyed the trip to Selma — his first ever — but was more concerned with sharing new ideas. “It's not about beating the same old drum,” Adefunmi said. “Many times we think about money and politics, but it's ...
The Ledger
Tue, 08 Apr 2014 22:46:51 -0700

Adefunmi Olorisa Chantell · Miami, Florida. May he RIP:0 (. Reply · Like. · April 12 at 9:07am. Add a Reply... Reply using... Facebook; Yahoo; AOL; Hotmail. Reply using... Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Windows Live. La Cynthia · New Port Richey, Florida. r.i.p ...

Nigerian Tribune

Nigerian Tribune
Sat, 29 Mar 2014 16:00:19 -0700

Embassies and media firms that recently endorsed the festival are Sahawari Republic Embassy in South Africa, United States-based Premium World Brand Management, His Royal Majesty (HRM), Oba Adejuyigbe E.A.O. Adefunmi II, Paramount Ruler of ...

Khabar South Asia

Khabar South Asia
Thu, 06 Mar 2014 14:23:09 -0800

oriade adefunmiApril 21, 2014 @ 01:04:52PM. youths re d future of a better nation. Reply. Mominul haque mamunApril 21, 2014 @ 12:04:51PM. my vote for the right. Reply. vinay jainApril 20, 2014 @ 01:04:02PM. my Vote Ab ki baar Modi sarkaar. Reply.

The Chattanoogan

The Chattanoogan
Sat, 08 Feb 2014 09:03:45 -0800

During his visit to Chattanooga culminating in his appearance in Chattanooga's Black History Month Parade on Saturday, His Royal Majesty Oba Adefunmi also visited schools on Friday including Washington Alternative School and The Howard School, ...
Charleston City Paper
Mon, 01 Jul 2013 06:59:33 -0700

The Oyotunji African Village, a small community off of Highway 17 near Beaufort, will host its second annual Pan-African Grassroots Assembly July 4-7. Speakers at the event will include Oyotunji's King Oba Adefunmi II, Gullah/Geechee Head of State ...

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