Yoruba Mythology

The Gods of Yorubaland (Nigeria, Benin and Togo)

ODUDUWA

Yoruba Hero God

Also known as ODÙDUWÀ, ODUWA, ODUDU, ELEDUWA

Picture of the Yoruba Hero God Oduduwa from our Yoruba mythology image library. Illustration by Chas Saunders.

Last-minute Creator of the Earth after his brother failed to show up.

His mighty brother Obatala, the elite of the Orishas, was given the task of building the Earth. To get him started, their father Olorun, the God of the Sky, gave him a handful of mud, a chain, a five-toed chicken — and detailed instructions.

But like so many builders throughout history, Obatala failed to turn up at the appointed hour. Instead, he had gone to a party.

Seeing his chance for fame and glory, cheeky little brother Oduduwa purloined the holy building materials and attempted to create the Earth himself. It was only DIY home improvement on a slightly larger scale, he thought.

Advised by a friendly chameleon, he lowered the chain over the edge of heaven, climbed down, and tossed the lump of mud into the primeval sea. The five-toed chicken hopped onto the mud and began scratching it in all directions.

Pretty soon there was a decent size landscape and thus was the Earth born. For an amateur builder it wasn’t bad. Okay, it was a bit rough around the edges and some of the mountains weren’t straight, but at least the job was done on schedule.

Olorun was so pleased with his son that he promoted him to God of the Earth, while sodden older brother Obatala sunk into disgrace and was forced to create humanity as punishment.

Oduduwa later went down to Earth to rule over the Yoruba people, becoming their first king, ancestral folk hero and legendary home improvement expert.

Godnote: ODUDUWA is frequently confused with the female goddess Odudua but, so far as we can tell, they are utterly different deities.

Oduduwa Facts and Figures

Name: Oduduwa
Pronunciation: Coming soon
Alternative names: ODÙDUWÀ, ODUWA, ODUDU, ELEDUWA

Gender: Male
Type: God
Area or people: Yoruba people of Nigeria and Benin
Celebration or Feast Day: Unknown at present

In charge of: Heroics
Area of expertise: Hero

Good/Evil Rating: OKAY, not bad
Popularity index: 458

Cite this article

Here's the info you need to cite this page. Just copy the text in the box below.

Article last revised on May 19, 2019 by Rowan Allen.
Editors: Peter J. Allen, Chas Saunders

References: Coming soon.

Permissions page