Zora Neale Hurston’s Mules and Men reveals that African Americans were able to revise, restructure, and reformulate African orature to fit their social, political, and spiritual needs. This study examines the transformation of Yoruba ẹsẹ Ifá (Ifá divination verses) into folktales and analyzes the similarities and divergences in the content and characters of the orature. This essay highlights the subtle ways that African Americans politicized and revolutionized the ẹsẹ Ifá to protect the verses’ wisdom and facilitate their proliferation. The revised ẹsẹ Ifá, disguised as innocuous folktales, were central to the formation of the African American worldview because they reminded dislocated Africans that divinity was not restricted to an invisible entity or controlled by a select few but was both an inheritance and an imperative essential for liberation and self-actualization.


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pp. 263-285
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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