A priest’s bizarre solution to Nigeria’s woes
By OLAJIIRE ISHOLA
This might sound like blasphemy. But the point is made! Omo-Oba Ayekonilogbon Olorunwa, a priest of Ifa deity, says corruption in the country will be bygone if Nigerians will agree to toe the path of Ifa. Ifa is a religion widely worshiped mostly by the Yorubas in the South Western part of the country. Olorunwa, 45, from Ode-Erinje in Okutipupa, Ondo State, believes that neither Christianity nor Islam – Nigeria’s two most professed religions is superior to Ifa.
He wants Ifa to be embraced as a national religion, maintaining that with the deity staring Nigerians in the face, corruption and allied vices in Nigerians will disappear. And no one will have to worry about them anymore. He admits, however, that getting Nigerians to reason with him will not be as easy as breaking biscuit. And that is where he is prepared to work and defend the cause of Ifa, even at the risk of his life.
He says all along, many people have been fighting and castigating Ifa unnecessarily. He says the country will be better off if the name of the deity is invoked while politicians are taking oath of office. “Beginning from time, Ifa has been the deity that directs people on what to do and what not to do. If somebody steals and Esu is commissioned to pass judgment, it will do just that. But when the culprit realises his sin and confesses, he can consult Ifa to help him ask what Esu will take to show compassion.
In the olden days, if someone found an article on the road, he would take it to the King or Baale’s palace from where they would find the owner. Not anymore! Rather, what we are seeing is stealing and corruption in high and low places. “Since the white people came here and stole our culture, negative things had entered Africa. Very bad things have been happening here. “Since Christianity and Islam came, evil things have been taking place. In Ifa religion if you do evil or steal, the judgment is instant; but in the two other religions, people enjoy grace. Judgment is always delayed. That is why both religions are not superior to Ifa
. “We met Ifa in this world. In the olden days, if a woman gave birth to a baby, our people would consult Ifa to know the mission of the baby on earth. We call it Akosejaye (a ritual to tell the future). It is through this that one would know the dos and don’ts of the baby. These would serve as guiding principles for the said baby. “Now, if a pregnant woman is approaching the ninth month, our mothers who specialise in midwifery will stop the baby and call in an Ifa priest to know the mission of the baby – that is what will make the baby succeed. “During this period, the spirit of the baby will be analysed; what he or she wants to become in life will be known. They will ask him things that may hinder his success.
These are the things Ifa priest will give as warning to the baby’s parents. All these things will be observed to the letter when the baby eventually arrives. “If you look around you, you will discover that we are recording high rate of divorce nowadays. In those days, before a couple would divorce, it took a long time. In fact, they rarely did.” Broken marriages these days, he says, have become fashionable, whereas they were abomination before the advent of Christianity and Islam. He explains that in those days Akosejaiye would reveal the type of wife or husband a baby coming into the world would marry.
“Some people,” he maintains, “are destined to marry dark-skinned men or women; but they end up marrying light-skinned persons. At the end of the day, the marriage would crumble. Many are destined to become carpenters, but they ended up becoming bricklayers. At the end of the day, they would not fully realise their destiny. “Many people today did not know that such things are still in existence. Whatever would happen in the physical life would first take place in the spiritual realm. We are having problems in the country today because we’ve derailed from the right path. We didn’t have large number of ‘area boys’ in the olden days as we have today. That’s why I say that Ifa worship is the true way of life.”
Olorunwa also explains the relationship between Ifa divinity and Ogboni fraternity, saying Ogboni is a society whereas Ifa divinity is a religion. He added that he was into Ifa divinity alone and does not belong to the Ogboni or any other society. “I am not against them; they are good in their own ways. I concentrate on Ifa because I don’t want to be distracted.” In Yoruba land, according to him, Ogun (god of iron), Sango (god of thunder), Oya (Sango’s wife), Esu (Satan) and other deities are lieutenants of Ifa. “If we are in a gathering, and wife to a member stands up from a chair, no male dares to sit on that seat.
Any member who woos or befriends another member’s wife faces dire consequences. Betrayal is highly detested in our religion up till today.” On why the Ifa divinity is not widespread like Christianity and Islam, he says: “In Christianity and Islam, grace allows everybody to misbehave and walk away free. Before the repercussion comes, it takes time. But in Ifa, if one commits evil, he is punished instantly. “If our politicians want to take the oath of office, they use the Bible and Quran and still renege on their promises to the people. They dare not try it with Ifa, Sango, Ogun and others.
The judgment of Ifa will be instant.” He reveals that Ifa adherents worship everyday but like Christians and some Islamic denominations, they also hold congregational worship on Sundays. According to him, Ifa worshippers in Lagos State, converge on Ijo Orunmila Ato, in Oyingbo. The worshippers have bought plots of land in Agbara too to open another worship centre in the Badagry area of the state, he informs. “Christianity and Islam believe nothing good can come out of Esu, but in Ifa we believe Esu can do both good and bad, depending on the mission it is sent to achieve. Others work with Orunmila to achieve common goals. They are deities on their own, but Ifa is superior to them all. You can get to God through Orunmila. Jesus is the intermediary between Christians and God, Mohammed is the intermediary between God and Muslims while Orunmila is the intermediary between God and us.
“The popular believe that God sent Esu to the world to torment us is grossly unfounded. How can God do something and destroy it by Himself? No. Esu is a deity that performs both good and evil. If there is allegation of stealing and nobody confesses to the crime, what we normally do is to consult Esu to fish out the perpetrator. “Also, if someone is suffering from an ailment and Ifa is consulted, his case might require sacrifice to Esu and the problem will go afterwards.
In Ifa and Yoruba land generally, Esu is the police of the land.” Olorunwa lauds the world spokesperson of Ifa (Awise Awo Agbaye) and former Vice Chancellor of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Professor Wande Abimbola as well as prominent traditionalist, Chief Yemi Elebuibon, for propagating Ifa around the world.