Ajubaba: Shakespeare and Yoruba Goddess

Lekan Balogun


Yoruba belief system has conceptualized the place and power of women, long before Feminist fervour swept through the European world and beyond. In his oeuvre, Shakespeare also inadvertently alluded to this “power” of the feminine by recognizing that the combination of womanhood, motherhood and the female principle can, and do have significant influence on the individual’s destiny. In conceptualizing this female power, descriptive phrases such as “aje”, “atunnida” “iyami osoronga”, “iyami ajubaba” are used by the Yoruba, who fear, respect and loathe these powers one and the same time. By creating unforgettable characters who are “not modified by the customs of particular places, or by the accidents of transient fashions or temporary opinions” (Johnson,1931), Shakespeare’s “women” are, through oral texts from Ifa, the Yoruba “system of divination, which also offers humans the possibility of knowing”(Fatunmbi,1994) examined, in order to show the relationship between literature and religion, how drama can effectively be utilized as a cultural material of universal appeal and how beliefs separated by time and clime interconnect, particularly in relation to the Yoruba world and Shakespeare’s Elizabethan/Jacobean society.

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International Journal of Comparative Literature and Translation Studies

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