Original Research

Samuel Johnson’s view about Oduduwa in connection with the origins of the Yoruba

Agai M. Jock
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 76, No 4 | a6013 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v76i4.6013 | © 2020 Agai M. Jock | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 28 March 2020 | Published: 06 August 2020

About the author(s)

Agai M. Jock, School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics, Faculty of Humanities, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa


The most favourable explanation pertaining to the Yoruba origin is that of the Oduduwa tradition according to which he is the original ancestor of the Yoruba people. Although the Yorubas have reached a settlement on Oduduwa as their ancestor, they disagree on the origin of Oduduwa. Whilst some associated his origin with Mecca or Arabia, others say Egypt or Israel. Samuel Johnson, the most prominent writer of the Yoruba history, discussed various theories that pertained to the origin of Oduduwa. He argued that Oduduwa or the original ancestors of the Yoruba people were Coptic Christians. Writers of Yoruba history from the 20th and 21st centuries had continued to build upon Johnson’s view of the Yoruba origin in connection with Oduduwa. This research is a study of the Yoruba and Johnson’s perspectives of Oduduwa in connection with the Yoruba origins. The research elucidates the circumstances of Johnson’s Christianisation of the Egyptian origin of the Yoruba.

Contribution: This article shall contribute to a distinct understanding of the origin of the Yoruba in connection with the identity and the personality of Oduduwa. Students of history and cultural studies will find this research of utmost benefit because it explains the origin of the Yoruba from the perspective of Samuel Johnson, the first Yoruba man to document extensively on the Yoruba history, language, its culture and its people in a single document or collection.


Africa; ancestor; Ancient Near East; Ile-Ife; migrant legend; myth; Oduduwa; oral tradition; Yorubaland


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