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Who, or what, is a Babalawo?

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Some personal observations in the IFA community


Araba to USA September 2005

    The Araba came to Miami a couple of weekends ago. He traveled with Oloye Adedoja Aluko the Babalodu and Akala from Ile Ife who resides in Miami Florida.
    The Araba of Ile Ife, is the Chief over all the Babalawos in the WORLD. In a way He is the personification/ reincarnation of Orunmila.
    The Araba was made very welcome at the home of Oloye Adedoja Aluko, who was most hospitable to this important visitor and other people who came to visit the Araba, myself included.

    For the argument sake, let us compare the Araba of Ile Ife with the Pope in Christianity. If the catholic Pope were to come over from Italy to for example, anywhere in the United States, everyone and their grandmother would be there; it would be broadcasted by "Live" news media. The Pope usually travels with a large entourage and not everyone will be able to have an audience with the Pope.
    My question here is: If the Araba is higher than the Pope, what happened to all the "Dignitaries" especially the Yorubas who live right now in the United States? Why didn't they come down and pay their respect to the Araba of Ile Ife? Don't get me wrong and please, no disrespect is intended here, but where were all these so called "Dignitaries"and all the other people that have been initiated in the Arabas' compound, whom now happen to live here in the United States? The Araba stayed with Oloye Aluko for a solid two (2) weeks.
    Therefore, if the "Dignitaries" want to counter that it was on such a short notice, or lack of notice, I have this to ask and say: Where or what is the protocol in this whole affair? I live in North Carolina and the word did get out and I did make the fourteen hour drive. Yes, there is sacrifice involved. From New York it would have been a twenty two hour drive or about a three and a half hour flight, from Chicago the same and from Atlanta even less. The point being that this turn of events is uncalled for. We are making ourselves and IFA look bad, because we can't seem to get over our differences and come together as a body of IFA. Is that what IFA truly wants?

African Americans and Africans: why the differences?

    As an African American one who has been initiated in Nigeria and before that in the USA, into IFA, I am beginning to understand why it is so difficult for a coming together of the African Americans and the African continents/ people. First and foremost the cultures are very different. Also, a lot of our ancestors were sold off as "prisoners of war" (slaves) in the "Mother land" to the "New World" and it is because of a total different culture, in which people are out for power, and position (Not that this doesn't happen over here in the western world).

    One Awo (African American) who likes to remain anonymous describes the sentiment we usually as African Americans have for Afrika as a "love affair we have with someone we don't even know", and when this person finally did get initiated in the Motherland he wanted to leave immediately after his initiation and he said that he left all his IFA paraphernalia except for his IFA back there. In his words," The people wanted to give me a title, Igba Odu and a whole lot of other stuff, but I didn't want to deal with them anymore, they do not come together and they are out to get at each other. There is no law and order, like in the New world".

    This is exactly what I observe; the NOT coming together of people to meet and greet the Araba, the NOT giving their respect to the Araba. There are a lot of these "Dignitaries" (not all, mind you) who reside here in the United States who are "Only coming to Amerika" to cheat the unsuspected.

    Case and point:
Where one is from Nigeria and happens to speak Yoruba language fluently and therefore naturally has the upper hand because "In the land of the blind, one eye is King".
Where all of a sudden 1 naira is equated as 1 dollar US (1 dollar is about 130 Naira).
Where fraud runs rampant in our tradition (this is called 419).
Where tricks are being used to defraud people and where women come out of the shrine (mind you) with their panties wet.
Where certain so called"Babalawos" do take money from people and then not perform the prescribed ebo, and the client does not get rescued from their problem(s). By the way, when these people find out that they have been "taken for a ride" they come to other respectable awos who have to clean up the mess.
Where certain Big name "Babalawos" their god child is murdered, another one his own child is killed. IF one is a true Babalawo, how is that possible?
Where a certain "Famous" Babalawo has a godchild who is an awo, and this awo uses drugs. How can this be possible? Now that you have been initiated, you need to take a critical look at yourself. Iwori Meji.
Where certain "Dignitaries," Bad-mouth the Araba of Ile Ife behind his back.
Where certain "Babalawos" divine for a lot of clients individually and each ebo is the same with the same price tag ($500.00).
Where "titles are being bestowed upon people and the proper protocol is not followed and therefore the person who was bestowed the title wants to go back to Nigeria and relinquish his title.
Where certain "Babalawos" are now initiating adodi.
Where books are being written and the true author is not represented on the book.
Where we find out that Igba Iwa is not the same as Igba Odu.
Where a woman states that she has received Igba ODU from the Araba and even takes out a full news paper cover in Nigeria. Isn't it ODU herself that put the prohibition on women not to see Her?
Where there are Orisa /IFA initiations taking place by "The laying on of hands" and the price tag for that initiation is $5000.00.
Where one "certain "Babalawo" opens a bag of corn meal and pours it on the opon IFA and starts divining and when he makes a mistake by imprinting the odu wrong, he says "Oops" and continues on.
Where one Babalawo thinks he received Origi, and it turns out to be fake.
Where there is "only" one woman in Igboodu performing Te'Fa to men. (Because IFA is a "lucrative Religion" so she says")
Where one promises a client the sun and the moon and in one swoop takes $64,000.00 to initiate him into Sango, only for the client to find out there is NO Sango there.
Where a certain person that has been initiated into IFA in Nigeria, and now proclaims that he is the Araba of the United states.

I can go on and on about these sad, sad stories, and it does leave a bitter taste in the minds and hearts of the ones that come to IFA with an open heart.

On this IFA says in Ose Meji:
Inu u won ni o daa
Iwa a won ni o sunwon
IFA a won ni o sunwon
Ni o je ki won o pe won lo ile ree jeru wa
Dia fun Yerepe
Tii somo Onikaa merindinlogun
Yerepe o o seni
Yerepe o o seniyan
Igbati won fi o ledu oye
Lo so gbogbo ile dahoro

Their minds are full of evil
Their characters are devilish
Their divination is malevolent
These were the reasons why they do not enjoy patronage
These are the messages of IFA to Yerepe
The one who was the offspring of the 16th king of Ika
Yerepe, you are a bad person
Yerepe, you are a wicked person
It was when you were installed
That you decimated the whole household

    As a Babalawo, one needs to clean and empty his mind of any negative and destructive thoughts and intentions in order to avoid the calamity that might be the outcome of such an action. In Eji Ogbe Ifa advises the Babalawo to have a righteous behavior and to eschew the harboring of impure and destructive thoughts and to desist from doing wickedness. IFA also states that a babalawo who engages in doing wickedness will die miserably and will not be in Olodumare's good Graces.

Bi Olorun mi se da mi ni mo nse
Mi o sebi, mi o gbimoran ika sikun
Ki nma baa bosi ku
Nitori owo ta a ba se lowuro
Timotimo nii mo ni lowo dojo ale

I behave according to how Olodumare created me
I do no evil; neither do I harbor evil intentions
Lest I die wretched
Because whatever we perfect in our youth will persist till old age

    So my plea to all Awo IFA throughout the world is this; Let us be real Awo IFA priests who mend and or rescue a bad situation and offer solutions to the problems. As a result, we can become highly revered and respected in the community.

In Otura Irete IFA says:
E je ki won maa baa je niso
Kawa o maa tun se bo lehin
Dia fun abere
A bu fun obe
Won njija agba rele Olodumare
Ebo ni won ni ki won wa se
Abere nikan lo nbe leyin to rubo
Nje Abere o de o, egbon
B'omo kekere ba ko'fa
Aderu fagba

Let them keep on with their destructive character
And let us keep on mending the situation
This was the declaration of IFA to Abere (the needle)
Also declared same for Obe (knife)
When both were struggling for supremacy
Up to the house of Olodumare
They were asked to do Ebo
It was only Abere that complied
Here comes Abere, the needle, the superior of Obe,
When a youngster had become learned in IFA
He then becomes dreaded and respected even by the elderly ones

In Ogbe Osa IFA says:
Ogbe sa rele
Osa sa rook
Difa fun eni aye kan
A bu fun seere
Eni aye kan
E saye re

Ogbe runs home
While Osa runs to the farm
They cast IFA for Eni aye kan (the current leader/head)
Who is enjoined to do it well
Alas, leaders be righteous
If you are at the front of affairs today
Please be righteous

    What ever position you occupy, always strive to do good at all times to people.

I will close with the Odu Iwori Meji that came out in Ile Ife for this year 2005-2006:

Obamubamu pirapira
Opokipoki nirin efon
Dia fun Orunmila
Baba nlo ree r'ata bo gbogbo ile aye
Ebo ni won ni ko waa se
O gbebo, o rubo
Orunmila gba mi o
Iwo lo to ni igba, tii gba'ni
Owo bewe olajangbalu u mi o
Kerekere, n'IFA o maa gba'lu lowo o won

The clumsy trekking of the Elephant
And the powerful gait of the Buffalo
(Aliases of two prominent Babalawo)
They were the ones who cast IFA for Orunmila
When going to spread his protective umbrella over the whole world
He was advised to offer Ebo
And he complied
Please Orunmila, come to our rescue
You are the only one who has the capacity to rescue and
Who shall surely rescue us
We now have Olajagbalu leaves in our possession
Gradually, IFA shall take over the whole world from them

          Yours in IFA always,
          "kekere" awo Ifayemi

       Ela mo yin boru, Ela mo yin boye, Ela mo yin bosise

Connect to the power of Wisdom, connect to the power of IFA!
Consult IFA before the problems starts!