A Professor of Philosophy of Religion, Danoye Oguntola-Laguda, has said that Christians and Muslims were the major problems of Yoruba tradition because they create a negative mindsets in individuals.
Mr. Oguntola-Laguda of the Department of Religions and Peace Studies, Faculty of Arts, Lagos State University, LASU, made the assertion at the institution’s 57th Inaugural Lecture Series on Wednesday in Lagos.
The lecture is entitled: “Esu, The Individual and The Society’’.
He said that Christians and Muslims should not misunderstand the personality of the “Esu’’ (devil) deity to the detriment of Yoruba traditional religious belief.
“Christians and Muslims are the major problems of the Yoruba tradition because they create negative mindsets in individuals that Esu is evil,” the don said.
According to him, the influx of imported religious ideologies such as Christianity and Islam into the Yoruba religious space has affected the traditional conception of the devil.
Oguntola-Laguda said the pristine traditional conception of Esu deity as noted in Yoruba traditional religion had been abandoned for the positions of Christianity and Islam on the deity to become popular.
He said: “Esu is evil, leads men astray, encourages them to do evil, works against the salvation plan of God for mankind and therefore must be avoided at all cost.”
The philosopher said that the ideology of the two religious beliefs is an attempt to locate a scapegoat for their moral weaknesses and absolve their God from evil activities.
“In Yoruba traditional thought, all things, including evil are possible only with the approval of God and evil is caused by God for good purposes.
“Just as the labour pain experienced by women is evil only momentarily, after the delivery of the child, joy and happiness always ensued,” he said.
Mr. Oguntola-Laguda explained that Esu is the name of a deity or divinity among pantheon of gods in Yoruba theology, which includes Orunmila (the wisdom divinity), Ogun (iron and war divinity).
Also, Obatala (creative divinity), while Olodumare (God) is the source of all beings, including the divinities which Esu is one of them.
“Yoruba religion believes that Olodumare created Esu as one of his lieutenants and gave him the primordial duties of inspecting rituals, sacrifices and worship.
“This (is) because Esu has the will-power to approve or disapprove of all worships and rituals directed to Olodumare or any other divinities, his primordial function earned him unfortunate appellations and misconceptions,’’ he said.
The professor said God seeks to bring man closer to himself by prescribing sacrifices and the devil makes sure such rituals were done according to prescription.
According to him, those who refuse to offer the prescribed sacrifice(s) are punished by the devil on behalf of God who gave him the role and this punishment are regarded as evil by humans.
“If these punishments are considered evil, then the prime cause of things — Olodumare should be liable for the actions of the Esu deity.
“This is because God allows evil to exist in order to derive greater good from it,’’ he said.
Mr. Oguntola-Laguda said that to blame Esu for the evil deeds of man was to create a paradox that might be difficult to explain.
“This is because man as created by God is a determined moral agent who has come to the world to act according to the script as designed and sealed by God.
“Therefore, man cannot do otherwise since there are no alternative courses of action laid out for him,” he said.
The philosopher said that men, unfortunately, desecrate and bring evil to themselves and the society because they do not want to do what is right.
He, however, urged all to believe in destiny, respect one another’s religion, do what is right, according to the culture of the society to enjoy sustainable peace and harmony.