Sister City Project
- OYOTUNJI VILLAGE
OYOTUNJI, NORTH AMERICA’S OLDEST AUTHENTIC YORUBA, AFRICAN KINGDOM.
Oyotunji African Kingdom
56 Bryant Lane Seabrock, S.C. 29940
South Carolina, U.S.A
Oyotunji African Village (OAV), also known as North America’s Oldest Authentic Yoruba African Kingdom, is a village situated in U.S.A South Carolina near Sheldon, Beaufort County. It is in the Southeastern part of the United States of America. It was founded by Oba Efuntola Oseijeman Adelabu Adefunmi I in 1970. The name Oyoytunji, which literally means “Oyo rises again” or “Oyo returns” was named after the Oyo Empire and covers 27 acres (11ha). Oyotunji Village has a Yoruba temple that was moved from Harlem, New York in 1960 to its present location.
After the founder’s demise in 2005, his son, Oba Adejuyigbe Adefunmi II, took over the leadership and has continued to oversee the various activities as well as promote Yoruba culture therein. The village was constructed to look like Yoruba villages as seen in the city-states of the modern-day Nigeria. However, the modernization of the Village’s public works were done during Adefunmi II’s era.
During the 1970s, the village experienced the era of its greatest growth population when the number of inhabitants grew sporadically from 5 to 200 and 250people. Oyotunji village, which was originally intended to be located in Savannah Georgia, was eventually moved to its present location after incessant disputes with neighbours over drumming and tourists, and has been rumored to have a fluctuating figure of between 5 and 9 families in the last 10 years.
The Story of Oyotunji, a small Yoruba nation in America
By Seun Adeyemi
Historian. Artist. Antiquarian. Finance/Economics.
During the slave trade era, many Africans were taken as slaves abroad. While going, some left with their culture and tradition which they continued with in the strange land where they found themselves. They continued with the culture and tradition of their fathers so as to maintain their identity.
The Yorubas in slavery are among the Africans that maintained their culture in the strange land and it was handed down to their children from generation to generation. Many of their children, after the abolition of the slave trade, have married children of their former masters thus having children of mixed blood, that notwithstanding, they still carry on with their African culture in the foreign land since most of them cannot trace their root back to Africa. The Yoruba culture has been one of the prominent and most celebrated one throughout the world till date.
Oyotunji was founded by His Royal Highness Oba (King) Waja, Ofuntola Oseijeman Adelabu Adefunmi I, was born Walter Eugene King on October 5, 1928, in Detroit, Michigan, USA. A graduate from Cass Technical High School, Oba Waja’s exposure to African religion began when he became associated with the Katherine Dunham Dance Troupe at the age of 20. He later travelled to Haiti where he discovered more about the Yoruba culture. Armed with a new understanding of the African culture, he found the order of Damballah Hwedo, Ancestor Priests in Harlem NY.
On August 26, 1959, Oba Waja became the first African born in America to become fully initiated into the Orisa-Vodun African priesthood by African Cubans in Matanzas, Cuba. This marked the beginning of the spread of Yoruba religion and culture among African Americans. He later found the Sango Temple in New York and incorporated the African Theological Arch Ministry in 1960. The Sango Temple was relocated and renamed the Yoruba Temple. In 1970, Oba Waja found the Yoruba Village of Oyotunji in Beaufort County, South Carolina, and began the careful re-organisation of the Orisa-Vodu Priesthood along traditional Nigerian lines. To further his knowledge of Yoruba culture, he travelled to Abeokuta in Nigeria in 1972 where he was initiated into the Ifa priesthood by the Oluwa of Ijeun at Abeokuta, Ogun state, in August of 1972. He was later proclaimed Alase (Oba-King) of the Yoruba of North America at Oyotunji Village in 1972.
He passed away on Thursday, February 10th 2005 at Oyotunji African Village in Beaufort County, South Carolina.
And Since Adefunmi’s death in 2005, the village has been led by his son, Oba Adejuyigbe Adefunmi II..till date.
The Oba title is referred to as “Oloyotunji” of Oyotunji.
“Odo ti O’ba gba gbe orisun e, gbigbe ni a’gbe”
Translation: The river that forgets its source, will dry up.
In the aspect of Culture, we leverage on:
Native wears such as Ankara, Adire, Kamplala would be made and sent there during their festivals.
Throw Pillows will also be made
- Leather Works
Shoes, belts, wristbands, etc
Processed Local Food (like Garri, Elubõ, Yam) and spices (like Curry, …) would be packaged and sent to Oyotunji Village