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Fri, 10.05.1928

Oba Adefunmi, Spiritual Leader born

Oba Adefunmi

*Oba Efuntola Oseijeman Adelabu Adefunmi was born on this date in 1928.  was a Black priest (spiritual leader), historian, and activist.  

Born Walter Eugene King, he was from Detroit, Michigan. King had been baptized at the age of 12. He left the Baptist faith at age 16, became interested in African culture, and began African studies.  At age 20, King traveled to Haiti in 1954 to study Haitian culture and Haitian Vodou and, in 1955, to Europe and North Africa, often as a part of the Katherine Dunham Dance Company.

In 1959, just before the Cuban revolution, he traveled to the Matanzas region of Cuba. He became the first documented African American to be initiated into the Yoruba priesthood of Obatala, where he was named "Efuntola Oseijeman. Adefunmi". Efuntola means "the whiteness (of Obatala) is as good as wealth (or honor)." Adefunmi means "the crown has given me this (child)."  Upon his return to the United States, he founded the Order of the Damballah Hwedo in Harlem New York, then the Shango Temple, and later incorporated the African Theological Archministry. That organization would come to be called the Yoruba Temple.

In 1970, along with several other devotees, Oba Adefunmi created the Oyotunji village in Beaufort County, South Carolina.  Oba Adefunmi's Black nationalist stance drew large criticism from within the ranks of the Cuban Santería priests because of his strident opposition to certain aspects of their religion, which he felt did not keep with the traditional form of the Yoruba religion.  This eventually led to his break from the Cuban form of Ifa. Adefunmi journeyed to Yorubaland in Africa to replace his former teachers, where he was welcomed and initiated as a Babalawo in Ile-Ife.  Oba Efuntola Adefunmi died on February 11, 2005. 

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