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
Esu or Elegba, short for Elegbara, is the divine messenger, trickster god of chance, principle of indeterminacy, and essence of fate among the Yorubas in West Africa and all those who possess him, by extension, all of humankind. He is arguably the most important and influential deity in the Yoruba pantheon because everybody, including the other gods, must acknowledge him. Believed to be designated to apportion individual fate to humans by the Supreme Deity, Olodumare, myth stories abound about Esu or Elegba's contradictory persona and characteristics and about how he gained his power over the other gods. In some versions of the Yoruba creation myth, he has been linked to the chameleon through the elusive, unpredictable, and fateful/ fatal power both seem to have. As his name, Elegbara, suggests, he is a problematic encounter difficult to fathom because no one knows for certain the outcome of his or her fate, ...