Passionate and Green

One immediate touchpoint I found very useful to think about is the reconsideration of Esu as a “trickster.” I thought it was quite instructive to attempt to rethink that. The breakdown of “Elegbara” to mean “one with countless wonders” was also very insightful. 

I think it is generally accepted that the Abrahamic faiths deliberately misconstrued Esu and his representations. I was wondering however about the ontological conundrums generations of Yoruba people now have to contend with because of this disruption in Yoruba cosmology and thought. I wish the paper had touched a bit on how the system of ethics and even modes of being of African peoples would have been altered by misrepresentations like this, so that we can perhaps move towards a reimagination of the sense of self and worldview of, for example, the Yoruba person. For instance, Abrahamic faiths rely on a clear delineation between good and evil to make their points. This has clearly affected the western modes of being and even modern industries so that in literature and in pop cinema there has to be a clear hero and a clear villain. But this is not necessarily so when we think of Esu. Like most other phenomena in the Yoruba imagination good and evil are intertwined in the same character, so that both always arrive together. How do we define ethics within such a formulation?

One other question I had was, what are the philosophical implications of Esu and his representations? In many quarters sculptures of Esu have two faces––one looking forward and the other looking backward. Also, he is sometimes represented as black and red at the same time. These oppositional representations seem to point towards the possibility of localized dialectics, and (I am blanking on which papers/sources now) but some have said Esu was the first dialectic. I like this kind of thinking because it not only allows for a decentralization of philosophy, it also allows for a consideration of African imagination––in this case Yoruba imagination––as a resource for thought, speculation, critical fabulations rather than just for academic, historical, religious, or spiritual endeavors.