Nana Buruku – “Evil Grandmother” of All Orishas

In Yoruba, Nana Buruku is believed to be the grandmother of all orishas. She is the goddess of creation, a powerful and wise matriarch. She is a central figure in Yoruba mythology, who originally originated from the ewe people in Togo. Belonging to a pantheon of deities that has shaped the beliefs and practices of the Yoruba people for centuries. People know her as powerful and vicious.

Explore the fascinating world of Nana Buruku, look into her incredible powers, discover the myths surrounding her and even how her influence extends across borders.

Etymology of Nana Buruku 

I will try to break this down as simply as I can, shall we?

Na-Na Bu-Ru-Ku

  • Na: pronounced like the “Na” in “Nag”
  • Na: pronounced like the “Na” in “Nag” (second syllable)
  •  Bu: pronounced like “Boo”
  • Ru: pronounced like “Roo”
  •  Ku: pronounced like “Koo”

So, there you go 


Meaning of Nana Buruku 

Nana means mother/grandmother. Buruku means bad/evil. Combining the two we get “The evil grandmother.” 

Other names 

  • Nana Buruku.
  • Nana Bukuu.
  • Nanu.
  • Olisabuluwa.
  • Nanan Buclou.

Myths of Nana Buruku 

Conflict with Ogun(god of iron)

Statue of Ogun shrine at the Sacred Grove Of Oshun
Statue of Ogun shrine at the Sacred Grove Of Oshun
Yeniajayiii, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

One day, Nana Buruku was deep in the forest, watching all the animals enjoying their day. Suddenly, she heard a loud noise. It was the orisha Ogun, the god of iron, and he entered the forest with his machete. He was hunting the animals and scaring the birds away. All the animals fled in fear, and Ogun chased after them with his machete.

Nana Buruku, the grandmother of all orishas, saw this and Ogun’s actions didn’t please her,he then transforms into a large snake and appears in front of him. Just as Ogun was about to kill a deer, Nana Buruku appeared before him in her new form.

Ogun was shocked and frightened by the sight of the large snake. He immediately dropped his machete and ran away as fast as he could. The deer was saved, and Nana Buruku was glad she could save the deer.

From that day on, it became a taboo to use any metal while dealing with Nana Buruku. Only bamboo or wooden knives should be used when making sacrifices to her. This was a reminder to all of the power of Nana Buruku and the importance of respecting her and the natural world.

Mother to Mawu(moon) and Lisa(sun)

Nana Buruku, the powerful goddess of fertility and creation, was responsible for bringing life and light to the world. She worked tirelessly to create the moon and the sun, and after her hard work, she finally gave birth to twin children, Mawu and Lisa. Mawu was the moon, and Lisa was the sun.

Nana Buruku was so proud of her twin children and knew that they would bring balance and harmony to the world. She decided to retire and leave the world in their hands, knowing that they would take good care of it.

Mawu and Lisa were equally proud to be the children of Nana Buruku, and they worked hard to make sure that the world was a beautiful and peaceful place. They took turns ruling the sky, with Mawu shining brightly at night and Lisa bringing warmth and light during the day.

People all over the world looked up to Mawu and Lisa and respected them for their hard work and dedication. They were especially fond of twins, and people give birth to a boy and a girl together, they considered it a special blessing from Nana Buruku.

Till this day, people continue to respect and admire twins in Yoruba land and they remember the story of Nana Buruku and her twin children, Mawu and Lisa, who brought light and life to the world.

Characteristics of Nana Buruku 

Nanã as pictured in Candomblé.

  • Nana Buruku is potent. She has great power and strength, and is able to achieve her goals with ease.
  •  Nana Buruku is vicious. She is fierce and aggressive, and will not hesitate to attack those who cross her path.
  •  Nana Buruku is aggressive. She is always on the lookout for threats, and will not back down from a fight.

Benefits of Nana Buruku to her devotees 

Fertility: Firstly, Nana Buruku is the goddess of fertility, and her devotees believe that she can help them conceive children.

Goddess of creation:Secondly, as the goddess of creation,  she has the power to bring new life into the world.

Healing: Thirdly, Nana Buruku brings about healing powers, and her devotees often seek her help when they are sick or injured.

Herbalism: Finally, Nana Buruku is also associated with herbalism, and her devotees believe that she can help them find the right herbs to cure illnesses or improve their health.

Symbols and Colors related to Nana Buruku


  • Snake.
  • Mud.
  • Baobab tree.
  • Angelfish.
  • The moon.
  • Leaves.
  • Swamps.
  • Water.


  • Pink.
  • White.
  • Black.
  • Purple/ Lilac
  • Light blue.

Worship and offerings

  •  Decorate Nana Buruku’s altar with a pink or purple handkerchief.
  •  Arrange the complete set of Nana Buruku tools on the handkerchief.
  • Her spirit resides in a clay vase, and those worshiping her should decorate the vase with pink, purple, and black paints
  •  Place some tobacco, coconut, coffee beans, and tomatoes on a clay plate.
  •  Nana Buruku’s sacred number is seven, so try to incorporate that number into your gift to her.
  •  Her advice should never be sought out lightly, and her counsel should be respected and followed closely.


Serve her offerings with clay pots and use bamboo or wooden knives.

  • Coconuts.
  • Ogede (small bananas)
  • Eggs.
  • Guavas.
  • Wine.

Prayers to Nana Buruku 

Divine Nana Buluku, Mother of All,
With reverence and gratitude,
we turn to you in prayer,
You who embody the sacred duality of masculine and feminine energy,
As the creator of all mankind, your wisdom is boundless.

We seek your guidance, O Great Mother,
Grant us the wisdom of motherhood,
So we may nurture and protect all life as you do,
Teach us to cherish the delicate balance of creation.

Nana Buluku, we beseech you for your healing and wisdom,
Let your gentle touch mend our wounded hearts,
Restore harmony to our bodies, minds, and spirits,
As we honor your presence in the world.

Across the lands of Africa, your name is spoken with reverence,
From the Akan people of Ghana to the Fon of Benin,
Countless souls recognize your divine essence,
As the primordial force that sustains us all.

We offer our prayers and praises to you, Nana Buluku,
Guide us in the paths of compassion and love,
Teach us to honor the interconnectedness of all beings,
And may your wisdom illuminate our journey.
In your name, we humbly pray.

Nana Buruku across Borders


 Nana Bukuulu, as she is popularly called in Togo originated from the ewe people of Togo. She is a popular deity in Togo, particularly in the northern regions where traditional animist beliefs are still practiced. She is a powerful spirit who can bring fertility, prosperity, and protection to those who honor her in Togo.


is a religion that originated in Brazil and combines elements of Yoruba religion with indigenous Brazilian and European practices. Nana Buruku is an important deity in Candomblé and is the people there alongside other Yoruba deities such as Osun, Áje and Oya. Candomblé is practiced primarily in Brazil, but has also spread to other countries in South America and the Caribbean.


 Nana Buruku’s worship has also spread to France, particularly in the cities with large African diaspora populations. Her worship is influenced by indigenous French traditions and beliefs, as well as Catholicism and other Christian denominations. Her devotees in France often incorporate elements of French culture and spirituality into their worship, such as using French prayers and hymns alongside traditional Yoruba songs and prayers.

In all of these places,  her devotees characterize her worship by the use of sacred symbols, offerings, and rituals that honors and connects with her. 

Final Thoughts

In Conclusion, Nana Buruku, the grandmother of all orishas, is a powerful and wise matriarch in Yoruba mythology. Her name means “evil grandmother,” and people often portray her as powerful and vicious; however, she truly associates with fertility, creation, and healing and she has the power to bring new life into the world. What’s vicious about that? Lol.

Nana Buruku has devotees across borders, particularly in Togo, candomble, and France. In Togo, they know her as Nana Bukuulu and she is a popular deity, particularly in the northern regions where they still practice traditional beliefs.  In Brazil, they know her as Nanã Buruku and they also worship her in the Candomblé tradition, which combines elements of Yoruba religion with indigenous Brazilian and European practices. Her worship has been influenced by indigenous French traditions and beliefs, as well as Catholicism and other Christian denominations, in France.

Featured Image Credit: Printed by Davi Nascimento, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

Photo of author

Oluwaseun Ayodele

My name is Oluwaseun and I'm a freelance writer and nutritionist with a passion for exploring the rich cultural heritage of Yorubaland. I've always been fascinated by the beliefs and practices of traditional religions, and I'm thrilled to have had the opportunity to delve deeper into the world of Yoruba mythology and its many deities. As a writer, I enjoy crafting engaging and informative content that educates and entertains readers, and I believe that my background in nutrition helps me to approach health and wellness topics with a unique perspective. When I'm not writing or practicing yoga, you can find me exploring the great outdoors or indulging in my favorite foods.