Vodun God


A bochio or ritual statuette, by Fon artist (n.d).

A bochio or ritual statuette, by Fon artist (n.d).

Afrika Museum Berg en DalCC BY-SA 4.0


In the Fon religion of West Africa, Sogbo (also known as Hevioso) is the chief deity of the thunder pantheon. In some traditions, he is also regarded as the head of the sea pantheon. He is the second-born son of the creator god, Mawu-Lisa.

Sogbo is first and foremost the vodun (god) of lightning, thunder, rain, and fire, giving birth to the other gods of the thunder pantheon.[1] However, he is also considered the god of justice, punishing criminals and evildoers by striking them down.[2] In some accounts, he is portrayed as androgynous, with both male and female aspects.


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Sogbo Withholds the Rain

A Representation of Hevioso (Sogbo) photographed by Rachad Sanoussi, (2019).

A Representation of Hevioso (Sogbo) in the Musée Honmè photographed by Rachad Sanoussi, (2019).

Wikimedia CommonsCC BY-SA 4.0

After the creation of the universe, Mawu-Lisa, the androgynous creator god, gave birth to the other gods of the Fon pantheon. The first-born son was Sakpata, closely followed by Sogbo and five other vodun. Mawu-Lisa then divided the realms of the world among their seven children.

As the eldest child, Sakpata tried to claim the greatest domain: the earth. Sogbo, however, was unhappy with this claim. Undeterred, Sakpata moved to the earth to occupy it as his new kingdom, but he forgot to take the rain with him. As an act of vengeance, Sogbo claimed the rain before his brother could.

In his anger, Sogbo withheld the rain from his brother’s domain, causing a terrible drought and immense fires.[3] Though Sakpata pleaded for mercy, Sogbo ignored his brother’s requests for assistance.

Sakpata finally prayed to Mawu-Lisa for aid. Seeing that the conflagration on earth was threatening the sky—the home of the gods—Mawu-Lisa intervened: they ordered Sogbo to release the rain so that the earth (and sky) would not be destroyed.[4] The brothers eventually made peace, and Sogbo now releases the rain whenever the earth requires it.[5]



  1. Patricia Ann Lynch and Jeremy Roberts, African Mythology, A to Z (New York: Infobase Publishing, 2010), 101.

  2. Molefi Kete Asante and Ama Mazama, Encyclopedia of African Religion (Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 2009), 412.

  3. Harold Scheub, A Dictionary of African Mythology: The Mythmaker as Storyteller (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), s.v. “S.” According to an alternative account, the deceiver god Legba had told Mawu-Lisa that there was not enough water in the sky, so Mawu-Lisa actually ordered Sogbo to withhold the rain.

  4. Lynch and Roberts, African Mythology, A to Z, 97.

  5. Scheub, A Dictionary of African Mythology, s.v. “S.”

Secondary Sources

  • Asante, Molefi Kete, and Ama Mazama. Encyclopedia of African Religion. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 2009.

  • Lynch, Patricia Ann, and Jeremy Roberts. African Mythology, A to Z. New York: Infobase Publishing, 2010.

  • Scheub, Harold. A Dictionary of African Mythology: The Mythmaker as Storyteller. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

  • Siedlak, Monique Joiner. Vodun: West Africa’s Spiritual Life. St. Augustine, FL: Oshun Publications, 2021.


Mackay, Danielle. “Sogbo.” Mythopedia, September 25, 2023. https://mythopedia.com/topics/sogbo.

Mackay, Danielle. “Sogbo.” Mythopedia, 25 Sep. 2023. https://mythopedia.com/topics/sogbo. Accessed on 13 Dec. 2023.

Mackay, D. (2023, September 25). Sogbo. Mythopedia. https://mythopedia.com/topics/sogbo


  • Danielle Mackay

    Danielle Mackay is a writer and scholar who received her MA in Classical Studies from Rhodes University in South Africa

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