Reincarnation (part 2)

Reincarnation (Part 2): Elucidation of Yoruba people's belief in reincarnation...

The Yoruba people firmly believe in reincarnation; there are no heated arguments that succeed in convincing them that reincarnation is not real because they have enough empirical evidence to support their claim. This belief is not just an oral tradition or myth passed from one generation to another by word of mouth. However, each generation living and still has experienced various kinds of reincarnation.

To see the heights of this belief, unlike some Christians that do not believe in reincarnation, Yoruba Christians believe that there's reincarnation, but the devil or evil spirit causes it. It can only be rebuked by the power of God the Father, Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit. Also, Yoruba Muslims believe in reincarnation, but Al-quran and the interventions of Alfas can only conquer it. You may want to ask why it is needed to be conquered? It is believed and experienced that some of the reincarnated people do bring trouble and lasting fear to the family; I will unfold the problems attached to it as we proceed. There are three (3) categories of reincarnation according to Yoruba, namely: Akudaaya (living-wraith), Ipadawaye (rebirth), and Abiku (born to die and be born again). We'll cover each of those in turn below.

A. AKUDAAYA (LIVING-WRAITH): Akudaaya is a person that lives in another place after dying and being completely destroyed in one place. It is believed that these people sometimes show themselves to some of their family members who are unaware of their death; they stop meeting them once they know. They are usually gone or dead before they are known to be Akudaaya. It is affirmed that Akudaaya is always rich wherever they relocate to; some of them get married and born children, and they always say they are orphans and claim not to know any of their extended family so that people around them will give up tracing their roots. I have heard about many reincarnation experiences from people, and I want to offer them as evidence to attest to reincarnation's truth.

I used to know a pregnant woman from the town next to us. One fateful noon, I was washing clothes at the river; I saw this woman coming from afar; she was heavily pregnant. She told me she was coming from somewhere and got tired on the way; she wanted to drink water and rest before she'd continue her journey. After I left the river, I learned that this woman was involved in a ghastly accident that had just happened in my town. I caught a cold immediately and began to tremble; I was taken home and could barely recover for days. (Aremu Salamotu, 2019).

Many years ago, on Ileya (Sallah) day, rumors spread that Alade, the deceased, sent home his wife and children. The deceased died 11 years ago after he fell horribly ill. I rushed down to witness it myself. The wife said they had been married for ten years with three children; she kept disturbing the husband to take her to his family, but he kept postponing it until this day. He drove them down to the town; he alighted at the entrance of the town and gave the wife an address to drive to; he said he needed to see a friend before entering the town. That's how he left the wife and children. The wife was eventually taken to his grave. (Saadu Rebecca, 2017).

An unknown person gave my younger sister yards of clothes on market day, she said her name to be Aunty Bili, Grandma said she didn't know anybody bearing the name, she looked for the person for days, but to no avail, she then remembered that her deceased daughter which is our mom is Biliki, usually called Bili, she asked my younger sister to describe the person fully, we then showed her the picture of our mom, of which she affirmed was the one. My younger sister was two years when we lost our mom. (Modupeoluwa, 2019).

Also, many pieces of evidence are not written here but did happen. 

B. IPADAWAYE (REBIRTH): The Yoruba people have a definite belief that the ancestors do not usually want to leave the family members because of the love and affection they have for them, so they are reborn into the family as grandchildren after their death. This is evident in the fact that when a very old person dies and shortly after, a new baby is born into the family; having the same gender as the deceased, and most especially, striking resemblance, it is believed that the deceased is born again into the family.

They wontly name this kind of child Iyabo (mother has come), Babatide (father has come), Yetunde (mother has come again), Babatunde (father has come again), Babajide (father comes early). Also, suppose a new baby is born into a family and resembles someone that died long ago, either grand or great-grandmother/father. In that case, they normally give the name of the deceased to the child, especially their Oriki.

C. ABIKU (BORN TO DIE AND BE BORN AGAIN): This is another kind of reincarnation where a child is born repeatedly after death by the same mother. The Yoruba believe that the same child keeps coming when a mother repeatedly suffers the death of a child. This kind of child is said to be a wicked spirit that enters a pregnant woman and sends out the soul of the fetus in her. This is the reason all pregnant women are warned not to walk at noon, especially by 1 pm and in the dead of night; it is believed that wicked spirits always roam about at noon and in the dead of night, and they are likely to enter into a pregnant woman and torment them by dying shortly after birth and be born again. Know this kind of children; they may have a mark on their body, so when they die, and their mother gives birth to another child with the same mark, they identify the child to be Abiku. Also, when such a child dies, they may cut part of his/her body like a finger, ear, or a toe before burying in order to recognize the child if rebirthed. They, by and large, give them names like Malomo (don't go again), bioku (if he does not die), Maku (don't die), Ayedun (life is sweet), Arinka (tottering walker), Kasimawo (let's keep watching this), Kokumo (Not dying again), Durojaiye (wait and enjoy life), Apara (one who comes and goes). These names are common among Yoruba people, and they are only given to Abiku. They are given to appease the child to stay and not die again, some are given to provoke them to go and not come again, while some are given with the hope of having the child forever, yet most of these children usually die.

D. OTHERS: When a special occasion is organized to commemorate a deceased, and there's a strong storm or breeze, they will say the deceased appear to visit and assure them that he's still with them. Furthermore, when one dreams of a deceased person, it is believed that the deceased is still with them, so he shows himself to reassure them. We can also see this belief in Yoruba common phrase when they are going through hardship or see someone they know suffer ill-fate, "tin nba tun aye wa, un o tun kadara yan" (if I come back to this world again, I will choose different a destiny). So, we can conclude that they strongly believe in and desire reincarnation. 


Life, death, and reincarnation are mysterious works of God; it is unsearchable and unpredictable, our ways are different from the ways of God, and the more we search for his work, the less we'll know about it. Life is unpredictable, death is inevitable, and even if reincarnation is real, it doesn't happen to everyone. The chance of living today is greater than that of tomorrow, do not live with the hope that you'll be reincarnated; what if you're not granted the opportunity? Live every of your life with the thought that "I may die in the next second." Have you ever asked yourself; What is the purpose of my existence? What impact am I making in life? What will they say about me when I'm gone? After death, what next, What is the level of my relationship with my creator? These are some worthy questions to ask oneself while trying to live a fulfilled life. What is the level of your prayer life? No matter your religion, everyone is expected to pray. Mind you, without a goal or vision; you can't be prayerful; you need to have a focus in life. If you're without prayers, you're without a vision, and without a vision, you can't take action to achieve your mission. "One day, a young boy asked an old man, Sir, when is the best day to pray? The wise old man said, my son, the best day to pray is the day before death. The boy was shocked and replied Sir, how can I know the day of my death? And the old man answered, "nobody knows the day of his death; that's why we need to pray every day."


Indisputably, Yoruba people value their beliefs and cultures and will never get convinced that they are untrue. The belief in reincarnation among the Yoruba is beyond a superstitious one; it is not just what they heard but what they also witnessed; this belief has survived over time. Reincarnation is ambiguous because its kind varies. However, we've examined its kind among Yoruba, but Yoruba does not only believe it; reincarnation beliefs flourish differently among religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity. Hinduism believes that the soul reincarnates into a new form of life according to your actions in your previous life. They also believe that you can get reincarnated not only into a human in your next life but as animals, insects, and plants. For Buddhists, it is believed that after someone dies, they get reincarnated in another body in the next life. For Christianity, your afterlife depends on whether you accept Jesus as your Lord and personal Savior; it will then determine whether you end up in heaven or hell. However, in the catholic denomination, they believe in purgatory, where people who are destined to go to heaven are purified from their sins. And lastly, for Islam, it is believed that after someone dies, the soul will be kept in the waiting room till judgment day.

African cultures also believe in reincarnation, of which Yoruba people are the main focus of this article. To this end, it is very evident that Yoruba people will never allow civilization to sweep away their cultures and beliefs; they hold on firmly to it even when the issue is continually raising different arguments, and nothing has succeeded in making this belief untrue. 

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