Shango or also known as Chango is a deity of Yoruba’s religion. He is also known in the Edo’s religion of southeastern Nigeria who calls him as Esango. Shango is also known as Ebioso or Sogbo for the religion of Fon of Benin. Like all Yoruba gods like Orisha, Shango is both a natural force and a deified ancestor, both of these aspects are associated with priesthood and cult.
Ancestral Shango was basically the 4
king of Oyo, which is a small town. The oral tradition describes him as powerful with voice like thunder and with a mouth spewing fire every time he spoke. When the subordinate chief challenged his throne, a lot of townspeople were impressed with the feats of magic of the subordinate and decided to leave Shango. Since many people witnessed his defeat, Shango left the town and hang himself. However, his faithful followers claimed that he ascended to heaven on a chain and claimed that his disappearance wasn’t death but the occasion of his transformation into orisha. Then, he took on some of a preexisting deity’s attributes, Jakuta, who represented wrath of God and whose name became associated with Shango in the country of Cuba.
The followers of Shango succeeded eventually in securing a place for their cult in Oyo’s political and religious system and Shango cult became the integral part of the installation of the kings of Oyo. This spread widely when Oyo became the center of the expansive empire that dominates majority of Yoruba kingdoms including Fon and Edo, both of these incorporated the worship of Shango into their religion and continued cult even after they ceased being under the control of Oyo.
The natural forces that are associated with Shango are lightning and fire. His famous ritual symbol is oshe, which is a double-headed battle-ax. The statues that represent Shango frequently show oshe emerging directly from his head’s top part, indicating that war as well as slaying of enemies is his essential attributes. Oshe is also used by the priesthood of Shango. While dancing, the priests hold the wooden oshe close to their chests as a protection or swing this in a wide high arc chest. During the reign of Shango, he chose the bata drum as a particular type of drum to be played for him. Other than that, Shango is said to have played the bata drums to summon storms and continue to be used by the devotees for that purpose.
During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, lots of Bini, Yoruba, and Fon people were transported and enslaved to the United States. In several locations in South America and Caribbean, African slaves as well as their descendants were able to re-establish the worship of Shango. In early 21
century, Shango was worshipped in the religion of Vodou of Haiti, the tradition of Santeria of Cuba, and also in Brazil’s Candomble cult. There are two new religious movements that bear his name and these include Xango, Afro-Brazilian cult, known in Recife city, and Trinidad Shango.
More often than not, Shango altars contain carved figure of the woman holding her bosom as a gift to the god with single double-blade axe that sticks up from her head. An axe symbolizes that this devotee is basically possessed by Shango. The expression of the woman is cool and calm, which expresses the qualities she gained through her faith.