Friday 14 January 2022

History of Ifá

There are several myths associated with the history of Ifá, some are back up with ifa verses why some have no trace or link with ifa verses.

We can't talk about the history of ifa without including Dahomey now Benin republic, and the old Oyo empire.

Dahomey now Benin republic was under the territory of the old Oyo empire while the old Oyo empire shared boundary with Ashanti a popular tribe in Gold Coast now Ghana.

Before countries and states emerged in Africa, Most popular countries today in Africa were just combination of kingdoms.

Dahomey was just a location under Oyo empire and nothing like Ile Ife empire meaning Ile Ife was under the command of Alafin of Oyo. And it was the Alafin that was giving the command.

Let us focus on the main topic which is the history of Ifa. Ifa has been in existence for long on the soil of old Oyo empire but the people of Oyo didn't accept it. And so, they neglected it.

The people of Dahomey adopted it, they accepted the worship and this is proven with the highest number of Ifa palm trees that are located in Benin republic which such number can never be found in any other location till present.

The people of Dahomey are familiar with Elegbara and they have less interest in Orunmila. No wonder till today, it is the Legbara which Yoruba consider to be Esu that takes the image or form of Orunmila while Orunmila takes the form of Legbara in Benin republic.

Ok, let us talk about how it was introduced to Oyo but the story will lack merit if we fail to include Owu and the Aruba (the Virgin that carries the ritual materials).

This powerful Aruba retired from her duty and married Alafin Oyo, then she gave birth to her only child which was Olugbogi. Some regarded or considered Olugbogi's mother to be a witch and her witch power helped her to install her only child as the king of Oyo.

Many tribal wars, and some other wars including the calamity that broke up in Oyo made Alafin Olugbogi's mother to invite a babalawo from Dahomey.

The people of Oyo got relieved from their sickness and refused to worship or give honor to Ifa, claiming they can bow to the babalawo but will never worship or bow to ordinary palm kernel but later on they adopted the system of worship Ifa.

Let us examine the history of ifa according to Ile ife myth.

Origi is a prove or symbol of places where Orunmila first set foot on. Where are Origi in Moore, Oke Iketi and Oke Itase known as Oke agbonmiregun. Some claim that there are five Origi in Ile ife and all these Origi are located in "Ogbon Awo kokan kokan" meaning located in all the five society of Ifa in Ile ife.

Let us me give full details on that. This myth talks about how Orunmila descended from heaven and landed his feet in Moore, and due to not being taking good care of, he left Moore to Oke Igeti and the same thing happened in Oke Iketi too. Whereas a message had been given to the people of Agiri compound in Oke Itase that they would receive an important visitor soon. In that case they should host a feast for arrival of this visitor. Orunmila got to Oke Itase and discovered that they were hosting the feast in his honour, he was so happy and fell in love with the people of oke Itase. That was how Orunmila made Oke Itase his home.

Another myth talks about Orunmila appeared as a newly born baby beside the road in the bush, waiting for help and who will carry him to his house. It was Oguro (river palm tree that doesn't produce kernel) that first carried Orunmila. Orunmila was crying, defecated and peed on him which made Oguro to get annoyed and throw Orunmila down at the river bank. Orunmila commanded him to stay by the river bank and grow there. Then after, coconut tree came to carry Orunmila away.

Orunmila repeated what he did to Oguro, then the coconut got annoyed too and dropped Orunmila in the town. Orunmila commanded the coconut tree to live in the town and grow. Orunmila started crying again seeking for help, then palm tree came to rescue Orunmila. The igi ope (palm tree) carried him to his house, Orunmila repeated what he did for Oguro and Coconut but the palm tree had pity on Orunmila and decided to carry him to Oke Itase. Then Orunmila blessed the palm tree to become a tree of wealth.

If you go to the world Ifa Temple at Oke Itase, then you will see the palm trees that all the Babalawos worship during every World Ifa festival.

By Olu-Awo Ifanla-Ogbeate Temple

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