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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Ifa in the diaspora, why the rejection?

I have heard the cries to reject Ifa asking, what need do we have for Ifa?

I have seen priest and practitioner turn their backs to Ifa claiming Babalawos are trying to usurp or their power or replace them.

I have felt the contempt from those who are ignorant of Ifa's role.

I have tasted the fear that comes from those in power, afraid of losing that power.

I have smelled the stench of distrust sowing it's weeds amongst the children of Orisha.

I have a role to play.

To pass Ifa to the new generations and to not let it fall to the wayside.

I do not claim that Ifa is better or more powerful then other Orisha, but I ask those in the diaspora, where did the currently system of Dillogun divination come from? It is Ifa. In africa, cowrie shell divination of the Orisha was and is still done with one throw. The double throw was a creation of the trans-atlantic passage, perhaps to maintain Ifa until there were more trained Babalawos present to work it. Perhaps it was a political change created to change the power balance. Either way, without Ifa, the current system would not exist.

In Ogunda Ose, Ifa tells us:

E baa lo loo lo bi olo
E baa re ree re bi ere
Ibi ti e ti lo naa
Le o pada si
Dia fun Ojola
Omo Ere L'apa
E ma ma paa o
Eran ab'ohun ni o
e ye e ma p'Ojola
Omo Ere L'apa
Ifa ni Isheshe lo amm leke
Isheshe lo maa gbeniyan

No matter how far you wander like the grindstone
No matter how far you wind like the boa constrictor
It is your starting point
to which you shall all return
These were the declarations of Ifa to the royal python
the offspring of the boa constrictor of Apa town
Pray, do not slay it
Do not slay the royal python
The offspring of the boa constrictor of Apa town
Ifa says Isheshe (our ancestors that represent traditionalism) will prevail
Isheshe will allow mankind to prevail.

So how then, could we even suggest that Ifa is trying to take over something that it created to begin with? If nothing else, it seems to me that quite the opposite is happening, that in the Diaspora an adaption of the system of Ifa occured (though most practitioners don't realize this), and now Orisha priests claim to be its owner. Is this not in fact a hegemony of practitioners in the Diaspora over Ifa and not the reverse that many claim? I've heard Oriate, Italeros, diviners (male and female) tell priests training to divine to study Ifa, and in the same breath say Babalawos are trying to take over the faith and assert power over them. Is that right?

If anything, this has upset the balance. Ifa's role is divination, Ifa's role as Eleri Ipin is to help clarify our paths. Ifa can not directly affect things like the other Orisha, but needs to work in conjunction with other Orisha to affect the future to the benefit of the Orisha devotee.

Ifa can, should, and will work with all Orisha devotees to maintain the balance. We must stop the bickering and politics and understand how to regain the balance in order to retain the harmony that will lead us all down our true path.


Ifa Speaks said...

I have just heard about you blog and read some of your post and will likely retrun another day to read the others, well done.
I agree with what you have said about the history and roles of Erindinlogun and Dafa/Didawo, I have also investigated this matter on many trips to Nigeria and amount to the same thing, it is only a matter of lack of facts why people are saying what they are, Ifa is the Divinity of Divination, who contains the main body of divination, just like every other Orisa has his/her own speciality Orunmila specializes in divination.
We all work together to make this great, not for Orisa priest to try to discredit us Awo Ifa to claim or assert themeslves.
Good work and expect other comments when I read more, also you can check my own blog at

Ona ire oo


ifastudent said...

balanced and sane