What does God look like? OLODUMARE, is that a she or he? Is it some energy? Some phenomenal? Something, just something we can’t explain. Does h/she exist? What is the image of God?
Many religious texts have failed to give the description of the creator, perhaps the most popularly accepted proclamations are that of the Christian Bible that claimed that “God made man in his image”. There is however a problem with this when we consider the diversity of the world today and the claims made by some that they are the chosen ones. So, which of the many forms and shapes and colors of mankind is the image of God? Does God look black or white, or tan or gold or yellow or brown? Perhaps the maker has no color at all, it’s just that, the supreme benign that you cannot imagine.
The Yoruba mythology separated OLODUMARE from the Orisa. While the Irunmole were the founders of these earth and initial progenitors, they would eventually become Orisa. Each of these supernatural beings was responsible for the procreation of mankind, so mankind essentially is the image of the Orisa and the Eniyan that OLODUMARE created. Perhaps the image of God is something like us as the Christian Bible says or perhaps it’s nothing like us mere mortals.
The idea of understanding the image of God is essential to the Yoruba mind where deification of the Yoruba Orisa has now become taboo, but the images of a cross, Buddha and other foreign inspired imagery have become the symbols of hope and faith and prosperity. One has to imagine, if Yoruba Orisa were Godlike and they were the progenitors and they have passed down their photographs via us through procreation then our God should look like our image, and it would make sense that our God would eat what we eat and drink what we drink. And we would be able to talk to our God in the language of our ancestors. But the more I look around in Yorubaland today, all I see are the images of others, the statues of people in long robes who looks nothing like the progenitors. I even see the image of Budha and temples built to serve the powers of other ancestors, from India, to Spain, to Japan, to the English Gods and the Hebrews expressions of God are on public displays in the land of Kaaro Oojire but the Yoruba God’s image is locked away in the museums and the darkest places in the secret and relegated places in the corners of our land.
Our God’s image has really become a stigma to us that we ran so far away from it and embrace those images that look nothing like us. We rationalized these images that we have fused into our subconsciousness and have failed to realize how we have failed to accept ourselves as the Image of God h/herself. Just like our language was considered not heavenly because we could understand it, so is our image insufficient to be that of the divine.
It’s time for us to look in the mirror again or the water and see ourselves as the image of God and as the descendants of those Irunmole, the Orisa that procreated us. When we do this, we shall tap into the energy of our ancestors and fix our modern-day challenges.
Rise up Omo Oodua
Dr. Bukola Adeniji
Copyright Think Yoruba First