Yoruba Religion and The Belief in One’s Destiny

Finding Destiny:

The Yoruba religion is one guided by different beliefs and customs, not in many ways similar to Palo Mayombe. They hold this belief that a person’s entire life has been drawn out even before they were born and ushered into the world. That would include the location of their birth, the family into which they would bear, the choice of occupation, the individual they may fall in love with and probably raise a family with, when and where they would eventually die. When an individual is finally granted passage into the earth, his memory of his entire life is wiped out. Therefore, the entire life on earth is an attempt to find his path as previously ordained for him. This path is known as destiny or fate and called Ayanmo.

Belief In Total Growth:

It is believed in the Yoruba religion that every individual is expected to experience growth in all aspects of their lives. They uphold the thought that a person’s life on earth should be aimed towards total development, especially spiritually and morally. And as a person grows and attains heights mentally, socially, intellectually, spiritually and otherwise, he is merged in spirit with the Olodumare, the Creator god and the Giver of all life.

The teachings state that a person who fails to achieve this growth would end up in an invisible potsherd. For the followers of Yoruba religion, life and death are like two ends of a cycle. Hence the belief in Re-incarnation also called Atunwa. A person can continue his existence, even after death in a different body. This cycle continues as this person keeps achieving different heights of growth with each lifetime until his spirit reaches the peak and is merged with Olodumare.

It is believed that human life with every thought and action interacts with nature and causes a corresponding effect.


In the Yoruba religion, there is a belief that ancestors can come back to life in a newborn. Hence the names Babatunde/Yetunde, meaning Father/ Mother has come back to life. The ancestor reincarnating supplies the newborn with a part of his essence. He then becomes the Guardian spirit for the individual through his life. The individual is also believed to operate with the energy, gifting, and wisdom of the ancestor. Upon the individual’s death, the reincarnated spirit returns to merge with its spiritual self. The ancestor would reincarnate in a child born within direct family bloodlines.

Individuals who leave the earth through suicide, rebellious people, wicked and evil people are not given the privilege of reincarnation. Gender is also not static during reincarnation. Hence, a male ancestor can return to a female body.

In the Palo Mayombe religion, the concept of reincarnation as seen here in the Yoruba religion is non-existent. Rather, the spirit of the dead is seen to be powerful and able to guide, teach and protect. The next step the Palero would have to take to ensure that is to house them in a sacred nganga and attend to them.