April 25, 2017
By: Ini-Herit Khalfani
The oldest living African tradition on stolen soul exist in the small county of Sheldon. It is home to the Yoruba and known as the Oyotunji Village. It’s minutes off the highway, a half mile off a dirt road, and sits on about 15 acres of land. To the east of the Royal family lives and the west of the village several Priestesses and Priest live. In the center is where all the activity takes place and to the north of the land sits a rice plantation. The village still harvest its own food growing the essentials necessary to sustain life through farming. The spirit of the ancestors still dwell along an area not to far from the coasts of the Atlantic ocean where it is known in history as some of the earlier ports where our Ancestors entered onto this stolen land. Out in front of the Village before the gates sits a sign and that sign reads ” You are leaving the U.S. You are now entering the Yoruba Kingdom. In the name of his Efuntola, Peace welcome to the sacred Yoruba village built by priest of the Vodun cults as a tribute to our ancestors. These priest preserve the customs, laws, and religion of the African Race. Welcome to our land.” You immediately feel the spirit of this village upon entrance.
As the story of this village is told in a tour it’s eldest King was the 1st priest on United States soil to be named priest. He has as many as 14+wives and 22+kids and the population was as many as 250 people. The newest King of the village is a youthful 26 years of age and has 4 wives and 5 kids. I’m not advocating for polygamy or suggesting one should adopt every aspect of the village what I am advocating for is a sense of self perspective, and the ability to restore the African community paradigm by re-establishing those important cultural practices of our ancestors. In this we will find a sense of pride and accountability by giving ourselves a chance to heal within and out, but most importantly to reclaim a sense of perspective that we lost after being kidnapped and held against our will.
The entire land has been built by hand from every sense of the word. It’s painted every 2 years and continues to have multiple festivals a year pertaining to its original historic African practices. All over the Village we see the elegance of Africa embedded in the culture of the Yoruba. The women of the village hold an esteem position as Priestess which out number the amount of men priest. The village is also known for its mentor-ship with young African ladies as it is important to uplift the African woman as she is intended to be. You do not notice disrespect, misrepresentation, or commercializing a culture in this village. It’s ability to exist on foreign soil as a sovereign Nigerian nation should speak for itself. Yes the Greco-Roman European police feds or whoever are not welcome on the land and will be met with confrontation if they do not have permission from the King to enter. They have their own flags that hang high in the festival hall on the land and with honor will fight to protect its sovereignty.
One of the most mind-boggling things about this village is not too many people even know it exist. Yes it is a lot of Blacks that live in the state of South Carolina that have absolutely no idea that this village rest near the shores of the Atlantic coast. They maintain their culture by speaking the native language of the Yoruba, its names, dress, religious or spiritual practices, and maintaining it all by continuing the most important aspect uplifting the Black Woman. When people say let the Ancestors speak here is a place the Ancestors speak and they speak to the Village daily.
As Africans in America we can learn a lot from the people of Oyotunji, because they are centered in Africaness which the rest of us struggle to obtain daily. This key principle is why people like our Ancestors Doctors: Francis Cress-Wesling, Amos Wilson, John Henrik Clarke, Yosef Ben Jochannon, Chancellor Williams, J.A. Rogers, John G. Jackson, and many more fought and continue to fight to liberate the African mind and encourage one to know their story and remain centered in its perspectives. What we must do is take the knowledge and wisdom of our dear Sisters and Brothers of the village and implement them within our communities and combat the struggles we still face within. Remember it takes a village and that African concept has always been our greatest strength, and that is something that we must get back to in order to combat everything we face as a people today to change our tomorrow.