African gods float around the air. We read them in books. We hear Beyonce reference them in her music. But how familiar are we with these gods? We take a look.
Oshun has always been popular. After Beyoncé referenced her in her Lemonade and Black is King music videos, people beyond Nigeria became aware. Oshun originates from Yoruba. She is the god of sweet and freshwaters. Oshun is said to have a mirror to admire her beauty. Oshun is, arguably, one of the most revered. Her abilities to heal the sick, foster prosperity, and bring fertility makes people be in awe of her. Oshun means sweetness, joy, beauty, and good cheer.
This list would be incomplete without Oya. Oya is known for her protectiveness. She is worshipped by people in Yoruba and parts of Brazil. Oya is wife to Shango, the god of storms. Oya is the goddess of wind, thunderbolt, and fire. She has the power to summon hurricanes and cyclones. The tale goes that she accompanies her husband during his thunderstorms. Oya is appeased as the guardian of the gates of death; her powers include helping the dead transition.
Ala means earth in Igbo Language, and is one of the oldest Igbo deities. Ala is powerful and has influence over all whose feet touch the ground. Ala is the goddess of fertility, creativity, land, and morality. She is the wife of Amadioha, the god of the sky. Ala is honored annually during New Yam Festivals—a festival that signifies the start of a new yam season in Igbo land.
Yemaya is the goddess of the Living Ocean. She is considered the mother of all that is living because all life is believed to have started in the sea. Yemaya is motherly and protective of all her kids, comforting them and cleansing away all their sorrows. It is thought she can cure infertility in women. Yemaya when angered is destructive and intense just as the sea during a storm.
Modjaji is a South African goddess of rain whose spirits live in the body of a young woman. She is considered a key figure by the Balodedu people. This is due to her influence over rain. The rain queen dwells in a woman’s body as a way of being closer to earth.
Age–Fon is a god in Benin. The deity dates as far back as the Dahomey Empire. He is the son of the creator goddess Mawu-Lisa. Age can protect and lead hunters in their hunting expeditions. The people call on him for victorious battles and wars. It is alleged that Age replenishes his energy and power from his mother. To honor Age-Fon, hunters give him fleshy, bloody animal sacrifice.