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
Deji Ayegboyin & Charles Jegede
The root of the word divinity is the Latin divus , which is closely related to the Greek word dues; it means “godlike.” The less common but acceptable usage of the word refers to the operation of transcendental powers in the world. In African cosmology, the belief in divinities—referred to as orisa (among the Yoruba), abosom (among the Akans) , and vudu (among Ewe-Fon)—presupposes belief in the existence of supernatural beings or forces that control the affairs of the world. In the theocratic government of the universe, the divinities are held to be lower than the Supreme Being, but higher than ancestral spirits. This entry provides a basic description, discusses the relationship between the divinities and the Supreme Being, and offers a categorization. The origin of the divinities is not definite because of the differing beliefs regarding their coming into being. Oral traditions from a number of African societies assert ...