Cultures & Traditions


Shango—the Yoruba god of thunder, giver of children, and "patron saint" of twins—once lived among men as a brilliant but capricious military general who became the fourth king (alafin) of the ancient Oyo Yoruba empire. He had a volatile temper, and when he ranted, fire issued from his mouth. Fascinated by magic, Shango created lightning and practically burned down the capital, inadvertently killing numerous subjects, his own children, and most of his wives. Shango subsequently committed suicide. Shortly after his death, Oyo experienced horrific thunderstorms that were believed to be a sign of Shango's wrath and vengeance. Consequently, Shango was deified as an orisha, and a priesthood was established to worship him.

Excerpt from

Roslyn A. Walker, The Arts of Africa at the Dallas Museum of Art (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2009), 110-111.