Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: January 26, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412964623 | Print ISBN: 9781412936361 | Online ISBN: 9781412964623 | Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Molefi Kete Asante
The Egungun represents the collective spirits of the ancestors among the Yoruba in Nigeria. Like other African people, the Yoruba believe that when a person dies, he or she passes into the world of the ancestors. These ancestral spirits are within the Sasa stage of existence (i.e., the arena of the living, the unborn, and the ancestors) and can assist the community in carrying out its daily activities. Thus, according to the Yoruba, it is quite effective for the community to have the use and assistance of the ancestors in their ordinary lives. Because the living-dead, as they are sometimes called, watch over the society so long as they are remembered ritually, the Egungun must make an appearance on Earth to demonstrate this reality. For the ancestors to be ritually remembered, they have to appear in the memory of the people. Once they are no longer in the memory, they ...