Beyoncé surprised the world with the release of Lemonade last year, a visual album replete with references to black identity across the diaspora. Among these were references to the Yoruba practice – particularly the goddess Oshun, who represents fresh water, fertility and love – seen most prominently in Bey’s “Hold Up” video.
The Yoruba tradition originated in Nigeria and made its way to Latin America through the trans-Atlantic slave trade, where it is still particularly active in regions like Brazil (through the religion of Candomblé) and in Cuba (through Santería). Last year, we spoke with many Yoruba followers about the impact of the album, how it felt to see Oshun referenced in one of the biggest pop culture moments of 2016, and the Afro-Diasporic art renaissance we’re currently experiencing.
Now, nearly a year later, Beyoncé has surprised the world again – this time with the announcement that she is expecting twins. In typical Bey fashion, her announcement was accompanied by a gorgeous series of maternity photos, in which the Yoruba connection is once more made clear.
The photos are accompanied by a piece called “I have three hearts” by Warsan Shire, a poet whose work was also adapted for Lemonade. In it, Shire explicitly writes of the presence of Orishas Osun (also called Oshun) and Yemoja (also called Yemayá).
The references are only fitting, considering that Beyoncé is expecting twins. In the Yoruba tradition, twins hold special meaning and are believed to be magical. There is even an Orisha called Ibeji (or Ibeyí) that represents a pair of twins. (This, incidentally, is the inspiration behind the name of French-Cuban twin duo Ibeyi – who also appeared in Lemonade).