In December 1973 a group of African Americans established an independent Yoruba kingdom at Sheldon, fourteen miles from Beaufort. The Kingdom of Oyotunji African Village is headed by Oba (King) Efuntola Oseijeman Adelabu Adefunmi I. Oyotunji means “Oyo again awakes” or “Oyo rises again.” Oyo was an ancient city state kingdom in Yorubaland located in present day Nigeria, Togo, Benin, and Ghana. Leaving the Baptist church as an adolescent, Oba Adefunmi I (born Walter Eugene King in Detroit) embarked on a quest to recover his African spirituality. After visiting Haiti and Cuba in the 1950s, he incorporated the African Theological Archministry: the Yoruba Temple in Harlem, New York, in 1960.
By 1970 King Adefunmi I had moved with his family and a handful of followers to rural Beaufort County where they established the Kingdom of Oyotunji African Village. The village is patterned after the ancient Yoruba kingdoms of Nigeria in governance and religious practices. King Adefunmi I traveled to Nigeria in 1972 and was initiated into the Ifa priesthood. Ifa is the Yoruba god of fate, and his priests serve as diviners or oracles, consulted on all matters spiritual and mundane. The directors of the village were granted a state charter in 1980 as African Theological Archministry, Inc. The archministry’s mission is to remove negative stereotypes of African and African American culture by providing a living laboratory of African traditions and by disseminating historical and cultural information. As of 1995 the Oyotunji village reported fifty one residents.
Hunt, Carl M. Oyotunji Village: The Yoruba Movement in America. Washington, D.C.: University Press of America, 1979.