From Priscilla Ediare, Ado-Ekiti

The president of the International Council for Ifa Religion (ICIR), Oluwo (Dr) Solagbade Popoola, has unveiled a new platform for devotees of Ifa and Orisa globally.

The new platform, International Congress for Ifa and Orisa Spirituality (ICIOS), was unveiled less than five weeks before the annual World Ifa/Orisa Pilgrimage and Festival to be hosted in Ekiti State.

During the unveiling of the new logo to newsmen in a brief ceremony in Lagos, Dr Popoola, who confirmed himself to be one of the Founding Fathers of the newly unveiled organization, revealed that the organization was not just a new initiative borne out of mere frivolity; rather, an organization whose birth was necessitated by several compelling reasons.

According to the president, one such reason was the need to lay more emphasis on spirituality than religion. Religion, he explained, “is the story of all the prophets of old”. Spirituality, he said, “is what each individual or group derives from the lifestyles of these leaders”.

He described ‘Religion’ as a specific set of organized beliefs and practices, usually shared by a community or group, while ‘Spirituality’, on the other hand, is more of an individual practice and has to do with having a sense of peace and purpose. It also relates to the process of developing beliefs around the meaning of life and connection with others.

The second reason which necessitated the birth of ICIOS was to avoid conflict, distractions and confrontations with any other group.

Dr Popoola said, “Judging by the fact that the International Council for Ifa Religion is an organization that embodies people with diverse thoughts, aspirations and opinions on what should be the organizational focus and target, the imminence of conflict could not be ruled out. It therefore became necessary to have another global platform that will accommodate people with shared spiritual aspirations and focus.”

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He revealed that the third reason was to “avoid distractions and enhance focus towards meeting and achieving set targets and goals.”

He disclosed that the fourth reason was “to lay the foundation for a true Ifa/Orisa Pilgrimage where people from all walks of life will converge in designated sacred places in Yoruba land to venerate the Supreme Being”. He added, “Ifa does not approve of deceit, hence it became necessary that truth and openness must be pursued, observed and sustained diligently.”

The fifth reason was that “through spirituality, it was possible to preach the similarities in faith and understanding and downplay differences with all other spiritual bodies all over the world. This lessens undue rivalry and promotes mutual co-existence and love.”

He said, “With the above, it would be possible to build a global family where everyone is happy, hopeful and compassionate with the other. This goal, he explained, was the sixth reason that justifies the existence of the global platform being currently unveiled.”

The President noted that the World Ifa/Orisa Pilgrimage and Festival would henceforth be organized under the banner of the new platform, International Congress for Ifa and Orisa Spirituality(ICIOS).

The ICIOS is not a new platform. It was registered in October 2017 with the Ekiti State Bureau of Tourism, Arts and Culture.

However, the Founding Fathers agreed to hibernate it while pre-empting the possibility of its full activation as an intervention against any future conflict that might arise as a result of divergence of thoughts and ideology.