By Lone Jensen
The desert has little mercy. But plenty of sun unlike a winter day in Chicago when the grayness is so pervasive it seems to invade even our souls. It was on such a day I found her in the quiet library at the University of Chicago, a perfect expression for all the changes taking place in my own life at the time: the whirlwind Oya.
And with her I discovered the rest of the Yoruba Pantheon. It turned into a voyage of wonder and discovery much like the young American missionary who one bright morning in the middle of the 19th century ascended a lofty granite boulder and looked down upon the Yoruba city of Abeokuta. He wrote:
What I saw disabused my mind of many errorsIt is not strange he was surprised, no one had told him, just as I was never told, that Africa was more than Egypt and Ethiopia, that it held rich treasures of many cultures and religions.
in regard to Africa. The city extends along the bank of the Ogun for
nearly six miles and has a population of approximately 200.000 -
instead of being the naked, lazy savages I had been led to expect I saw a
lively industrious city. The men are builders, blacksmiths, basket
makers, hat makers, traders, barbers, tailors, farmers and workers in
leather and morocco, they make razors, swords, knives, hoes, billhooks,
axes, arrowheads and make soap, dyes, palm oil, nut oil and all native
earthen ware and many other things used in the country. It was a city
much as those I had left.