6 popular African deities that were worshipped long before the introduction of Christianity

Ala- Igbo, Nigeria(African Dieties)


Ala is a female deity and one of the most popular revered of all the African deities. In Igbo, ‘Ala’ literally translates to earth in English, depicting her power over the earth.
Regarded as the wife of Amadioha, the sky god,

Ala is the deity of the earth, morality, fertility and creativity. Also pronounced as Ale, Ani or Ana in the various dialects of the Igbo language, she is one of the oldest deities and is worshipped, especially by women, as part of the traditional Odinani religion.

She is the protector of women and children and sacrifices are offered to her if someone breaks a taboo or is seeking fertility of the womb or soil for a great harvest.

During the annual yam festival, she is honoured and remembered.It is believed that if she is angry, she not only convinces her husband to deprive the people of rain but also causes natural disasters.

Agé-Fon, Benin(African Deities)

Agé, a Fon deity, dates as far back as the Dahomey Empire. As the son of the creator goddess Mawu-Lisa,

Agé was given the power and responsibility to protect and guide hunters during days and nights in the wilderness.

He often refilled his energy and power from his mother and is believed to take the form of a young man in a hunters apparel guiding hunters.During the days of wars and battles,

Agé was called upon to protect and give strength to the warriors, leading them on which paths to take. Agé is honoured by sacrificing fleshy parts of the game caught  by hunters.

Modjaji-South Africa (African Deities)

In South Africa, Modjaji is the rain goddess whose spirit resides in the body of a young woman who must be queen.

For the Balobedu people, the Rain Queen is a very important figure. There are several stories that account for how the rain goddess began to take up physical form. The Rain goddess has existed for as long as can be remembered.

However, in the 16th century, it is believed that her spirit decided to dwell in a woman: Dzugundini, the princess of the Balebedu Kingdom who was impregnated by her own father, the King.

Modjaji has the power to start or stop the rain.


Kibuka – Uganda (African Deities)


For the Buganda Empire that has existed as early as the 9th century until the 14th century, Kibuku is a deity that has been with the people long before the Europeans arrived on the continent.


Kibuka is the Ugandan diety or lesser god of war.According to oral history, the Bugandan army had suffered several defeats and the king, in a state of worry met with the almighty God, Mukasa.

At their meeting, the king requested that Mukasa gave them assistance for war.

Mukasa offered to help by offering his younger brother Kibuka as the diety. Before any war, the warriors always sang, danced and offered sacrifices in honour of Kibuka before going off to battle.

It is believed that Kibuka went ahead of warriors clearing their paths and directing them.

Nana Buluku – West Africa/Caribbean(African Deities)


As a deity, Nana Buluku comes in other forms among various West African traditional societies including the Fon in Benin.

She can also be found within the Ewe communities in Togo and parts of Ghana as well as among the Akans. She is also strongly present and revered in Nigeria, among the Yoruba and Igbo traditional communities.


Among the Fon and Ewe in Ghana, she is known as Nana Bukuulu and Nana Bukuu; and Nana Kuruku among the Yoruba of Nigeria.

The Igbos of Nigeria refer to her as the Olisabuluwa. The Akans of Ghana call her Nana Buruku.Among these societies, she is still actively worshipped as the mother goddess.

She is an ancient goddess appearing in the image of an old woman and is believed to be the creator of the world.She is not only the most revered deity but also the genesis of any form of worship and religion in West Africa.

Also known to be the wisest deity, Nana Buluku is said to have travelled with her people on their ships during the slave trade. It is believed that her twins took turns in protecting the slaves.

Adroa – Central Africa


Adroa is the god of death with two characters: good and evil. Because of his duality, his body is split into two. One half is short and black which represents evil while the other half is tall and white and depicts goodness.

Adroa appears to people in whatever form best fits a situation. Usually half-bodied with one eye, one arm and leg, he often appears to people before they die.

Among the Lugbara people of Uganda and Congo, Adroa is also the creator of heaven and earth and sees everything that the living do.

Oshun,

an orisha (deity) of the Yoruba people of southwestern Nigeria. Oshun is commonly called the river orisha, or goddess, in the Yoruba religion and is typically associated with water, purity, fertility, love, and sensuality. She is considered one of the most powerful of all orishas, and, like other gods, she possesses human attributes such as vanity, jealousy, and spite.

Several myths exist concerning Oshun and her significance as a Yoruba deity. In most Yoruba stories, Oshun is generally depicted as the protector, saviour, or nurturer of humanity. Oshun has also been described as the maintainer of spiritual balance or mother of sweet things.

One myth highlights Oshun as the central figure in the creation of human beings. The Yoruba people believe that the orishas were sent by Olodumare, who is considered the Supreme God, to populate the Earth. Oshun, being one of the original 17 sent to Earth, was the only female deity. The other gods, all male, failed at their attempts to revive and populate the Earth.

When they realized they were unable to complete the task given to them by Olodumare, they tried to persuade Oshun to help them. Oshun agreed and brought forth her sweet and powerful waters, bringing life back to Earth and humanity and other species into existence. As that Yoruba myth suggests, humanity would not exist if Oshun, the goddess of life and fertility, had not acted.

Other myths hold that Oshun is one of the wives of Shango, the god of thunder. She is commonly described as the favourite of all orishas by Olodumare, because of her beauty and sensuality. In yet another Yoruba story,

Oshun is depicted as the goddess who not only gives life but also takes it. When angered, Oshun may flood Earth or destroy crops by withholding her waters, thereby causing massive droughts. In one myth,

Oshun is incensed by her devotees and sends down rain, nearly flooding the world. Yet once she has been appeased, Oshun saves Earth from destruction by calling back the waters.

Tradition holds that the first interaction between Oshun and human beings took place in Osogbo (Oshogbo), Nigeria. That city is considered sacred, and it is believed to be fiercely protected by the water goddess.

Oshun is said to have given the people who went to her river permission to build the city and promised to provide for them, protect them, and grant their prayers if they worshipped her dutifully, making the obligatory offerings, prayers, and other rituals. Out of that first encounter between the people of Osogbo and Oshun evolved the Oshun festival, which is still practiced today by the Yoruba people.

Every year Oshun devotees and other people of the Yoruba religious tradition go to the Oshun River to pay homage, make sacrifice, and ask for a variety of things such as wealth, children, and better health.

Although other orishas are honoured during the festival, the climax of the festival is centred on Oshun. Osogbo is also home to the Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove, a forest that contains several shrines and artwork in honour of Oshun; it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2005.


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