Mapping Yoruba Networks: Power and Agency in the Formation of Transnational Communities: A Review

Pamela J. Olúbùnmi Smith, University of Nebraska at Omaha

This article was reused with permission.


Kamari Maxine Clarke's Mapping Yorùbá Networks: Power and Agency in the Making of Transnational Communities is a theoretical ethnographic study of Òyótúnjí Village, an intentional religious community in Beaufort, South Carolina. Founded in 1970 by Walter Eugene King, who later was crowned Oba Ofúntólá Oseijeman Adélabú Adéfúnmi I, after his initiation into the cult of lfá in Abéòkúta, in western Nigeria. As the political outgrowth of a separatist community during the Civil Rights-Black Power movement and basically the product of King's own racial consciousness and interpretation of his Orisha­ vodu-centered black nationalism, Òyótúnjí Village emerged as an invented alternative New World "African" culture, committed to the invocation and reclamation of African ancestry, specifically Yoruba traditions. Its name, meaning literally "Òy6 awakens/rises again," is derived from the ancient and powerful Old Òyó Empire of the Yorùbá in the present-day western Nigeria. Despite its claimed conceptual frame of reference as primarily Yorùbá, Òyótúnjí is an eclectic melange of African borrowings from Dahomean, Egyptian, Ashanti, and other cultures; and its origins and existence clearly an expression of 20th- and 21st-century black cultural nationalism.