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Oba Efuntola Oseijeman Adelabu Adefunmi (born Walter Eugene King, 5 October 1928 – 11 February 2005) was an African-American initiated into the priesthood of the Yoruba religion.

King was born in Detroit, Michigan. He grew up with an interest in African culture and began African studies at the age of 16. King left the Baptist faith that he had been baptized into at the age of 12. At the age of 20, King traveled to Haiti in 1954 to study Vodou and, in 1955, to Europe and North Africa, often as a part of the Katherine Dunham Dance Company. Finally, in 1959 just before the Cuban revolution, he traveled to the Matanzas region of Cuba to be initiated into the Yoruba priesthood of Obatala, where he was named Efuntola Oseijeman Adefunmi. Efuntola means "the whiteness (of Obatala) is as good as wealth (or honor)." Adefunmi means "the crown has given me this (child)."[1]

Upon his return to the United States, he founded the Order of the Damballah Hwedo, then the Shango Temple, and later incorporated the African Theological Archministry. That organization would come to be called the Yoruba Temple. In 1970, King created the Oyotunji Village in Beaufort County, South Carolina.

Adefunmi's Black nationalist stance drew large criticism from within the ranks of the Cuban Santería priests because of his strident opposition to certain aspects of their religion.[citation needed] This eventually led to a break with Cuba.

To replace his former teachers, Adefunmi journeyed to Yorubaland in Africa, where he was welcomed and initiated as a babalawo in Ile-Ife.



  1. ^ "History". Retrieved 19 August 2016. 


  • Ancestors (Tribal origins) of the African-Americans, Yoruba Temple, (1962)
  • Tribal origins of the African-Americans, Yoruba Temple, (1962)
  • Olorisha: A guidebook into Yoruba religion, Orisha Academy (1982)
  • The African state: An outline of the philosophy and organization of the ancient Yoruba kingdom of West Africa, pre-European period, Yoruba Temple, (1962)
  • Lewis, James R. The Encyclopedia of Cults, Sects, and New Religions. Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books, 1998. ISBN 1-57392-222-6.

Additional books and articlesEdit

  • Oyotunji village: The Yoruba movement in America, Carl M Hunt
  • The Joseph E. Holloway Papers Cornell University Library
  • African gods in South Carolina Essence Magazine
  • An African kingdom in America American Visions Magazine

External linksEdit