Sunday 6 February 2022

Traditional Religion

I will like to tackle four things:

First, I believe we should try to make traditional religion/practice attractive for people to come in.

Let's be clean in all what we are doing during our practice, before and after. Let's always appear neat, including our office/temple and this includes the way we dress.

We can all see the way that pastors and imams present themselves despite this, some babalawo charge large amounts for their services yet they still dress rough and dirty.

There should be a way to present ourselves as traditionalists because it matters a lot and this includes our way of practice. I believe it shouldn't scare people away. Let's remove stories, histories and myths that can cause people to mock us. Let’s consider the non-initiated first in everything we do. We must reflect on how we through our daily actives can affect them in a positive way.

Let's also extend our information to the movie industries.

I can still remember some movies produced during the time of the late Alfa Ajileye, he always cast this character known as Abija (pardon me for not knowing the actors name) who was always a good babalawo that would never support the witches in terms of their evil act. He always defected the witches. I could remember every body watching the movie and irrespective of their religion they loved Abija because of his good ways. We don’t see such good portrayals of babalawo any more in the Yoruba movies industry. In most cases nowadays the babalawos are presented in ridiculous way.

Let's stop working for the pastors and imams who seek our help and then after they benefit from us they present us so badly to their people.

Although not all who are representing us as bad people to their followers may not be our direct clients, but if we refuse service to the ones we know who come to see us, then they will correct themselves and others. Let the Christians and Muslims practice their religion without interfering into ours. We do not hinder anyone from practicing their cherished chosen faith.

In my opinion everything started when those Christians and Muslims who are close to Babalawos later developed other options, then they used the experience gained with the babalawos to attack or preach against us. Not that they are saints but many of them are practitioners of betrayal and hypocrisy because after receiving the help and benefits of Ifá, then then they go to exploit their followers all in the name of religion, condemning babalawos because they see it as opportunity to fool their members by saying they once engaged in traditional religion before their God called them to become a pastor/imam.

Showing or allowing our client to record blood sacrifice should stop. This should be done in secret and regarded as secret (sacred). Unwanted odour, bad smell from where we practice or put our Orisas should be corrected. Let’s encourage good smell, using perfume, air freshener etc. make customers to feel more comfortable in our office/temple.

Let's package ourselves in a decent way. It is no crime if we put air-conditioners in our office/temple. It is no crime if we have fresh water system in our office/temple and mantienes it cleaned. It is no crime no if we put rug, carpet, or tiles in our office. It is no crime if we make ourselves and the clients more comfortable in our office/temple.

Second, the way some babalawos present Ifá and/or Ifá practice is very wrong. I will suggest that we find a solution by forming a body or council that will regulate and ensure they what babalawos or traditionalist write or post on social media is accurate. There must be a means to expose and correct foolish, untrue and embarrassing posts and comments.

I don't know if you have seen or come across this kind of post on social media from an alleged babalawo or traditionalist which says that if you are a thief and you need protection contact me and they give their details! They also say, if you looking for money ritual contact me and they give their contact number! I always laugh any time I see or read this kind of post. If this this social media babalawos can do money ritual, as they claim, then why haven’t it they done it for for themselves so that they can become rich? That is the question to ask. Our forefathers have said in an adage that if a person promises to make you a designer cloth, first look at what he/she is wearing before you believe him/her. See if he/she is a wearing designer cloth or if he/she is just wearing rags! Isn’t that adage funny, my brothers and sisters, lovers of our religion. It is funny but true.

Please don't fall victim to scams. If money ritual exist or are easy to do as they claimed, then why can't this social media babalawo do it first and let others see it and admire them for the rapid change in their standard of living, social and economic life? By the way, social media babalawos, I'm directing this question to you, if money rituals are real, I think you wouldnt need to post it on social media.

As if these social media babalawos weren’t already wasting much of our time with their tricks and scams, let me bring to your attention some more of their foolish posts, such as if you seeking for love charm, if you are looking for thunderbolt (Magun), if you are searching for lotto numbers. Is that not funny also, if getting a lotto number is as easy as they claimed, by now, lotto games will have vanished, babalawos would have put the lotto owners into debt, in fact babalawos would have been the richest people in the world.

Please be wise followers of tradition. Depend on your work and sweat. Stop looking for lotto numbers or money rituals so that you can avoid to falling victim to a scam. Other foolish posts from social media so-called babalawo and/or so-called traditionalist are :

If you are searching for how to kill someone spiritually without using gun, cutlass or assassination.

If you want to cast spell on someone etc.

The question to ask about all their posts is that does it have any genuine benefit, does it present the tradition in a good way, yes or no?

Can a pastor or imam post such things on social media? Don't get me wrong, these foolish babalawos also utilize and have good posts such as:

If you are searching for a job and you need help.

If you are barren and you want your problem to be solved.

If you are looking for how to feed your ori or solve your egbe orun's problem.

If you have problems and are experiencing failure in everything you do. You try and promise and yet fail etc.

The truth is that wise people don’t and won’t fall for these social-media so-called babalawo because after reading all of the foolish things they wrote how can they gain the trust of the people by trying to add positive things after writing so many foolish and deceptive things. These social media fake so-called babalawo have already posted that they are working for thieves, kidnappers, money ritualiss so how can then the good clients who are not thieves, robbers, kidnappers or money ritualist believe in this scammers and risk their safety and wellbeing by visiting such so-called babalawo. They will never come to that so-called babalawo for help, because their major concern will be how will they get to that babalawos office/temple without encountering more problem than the ones they are going through already. Such foolish so-called babalawo will never draw intelligent and good people because they have created a lot of doubt and fear in the minds of the people. The wise people will consider the clients of these fraudulent so-called babalawo to be thieves, robbers, kidnappers, money ritualist etc. In fact they will fear be arrested by police alongside with the criminals that they have as clients. Another fear that the people will have due to these foolish posts is how will they reach these so-called babalawo for help without falling into the trap of thieves following them home or ritualist attack who want to use them for money ritual, or kidnappers who attack them, capture them and demand a ransom for their release. Who wants to see or visit a babalawo that gives support to thieves, liars and criminals? Who can trust a person like that?

I asked one of these social media so-called babalawo that posted that kind of garbage on my group page "Ifanla Ogbeate Temple", he replied by saying nobody is a saint and the pastors and imams work for criminals too. Then I responded, yes, but not like the way you are presenting it. A pastor will never write or post all of this that you have been posting, rather the pastors will say and/or post repent, although some pastors and imams may work for them in secret, but they will never write, claim or prove that they are working for thieves, robbers, kidnappers or money ritualist. That was my reply to him, if you think I'm wrong please give your comments.

Third, I think I mustn't fail to correct the Nigeria Movie Industry, most especially the Yoruba movies. I don't know where they got the recent information they are using nowadays because this information is misleading. I'm glad I corrected them concerning misconceptions about the witches, presenting the witches in a bad way, and I gave an explanation that presenting the witches in a wrong way may shorten their lives.I'm happy they took to the corrections, so I believe they will provide further corrections to this also.

During the lifetime of the late Baba Hebert Ogunde and late Alfa Ajileye, the way that these two heroes presented babalawos are unique, nice and special. Their presentation of babalawos enabled the viewers to have belief, interest and trust in babalawos. In their movies whenever people were being attacked either spiritually or physically, or going through spiritual or physical problems like spiritual attacks, health problems, adverse environment factors, health conditions, court cases etc. When seeing/watching their drama/movies when we got to the scene of babalawo, viewers always felt calm and their worries disappeared and negstigr emotions became positive because of the way in which the babalawo was represented in the scene. The persons problem have already would solved by the babalawo in that drama/movie. To give an example is the role of the late Baba Ogunde in Aiye, Jekayesinmi, and also the role of Abija in Koto Aiye, Koto Orun just to mention a few from Late Alfa Ajileye's work. Abija will never bow down to the witches, he always courageously fought and defeated the bad witches, for in truth, that is the real duty of a babalawo. The role of a babalawo is to solve his clients problem irrespective of the stress or difficulties. 

Real babalawo must appease the witches if the situation warrants or demands it. The witches must allow the babalawo to have his way because this is the oath between the witches and Òrúnmìlà. The witches mustn't destroy Òrúnmìlà’s work. Babalawos accomplish Òrúnmìlà’s work. It is the babalawo that provides food for the witches and in return the witches must honor the babalawo. In the movies of today the situation has changed in the Yoruba movie industry. The role of the traditionalist in the Yoruba movies industry is being misrepresented because of the increase of the Nigerian christian and muslim movie industry. It is so funny what they do. The new actors and actress misrepresented the tradition and they payed back wrongly our heroes that started the industry back of making positive traditional movie like the ones that were made by Duro Ladipo, Hebert Ogunde and Alfa Ajileye etc. The modern movie industry condemned condemned their efforts of these good movie makers and started presenting babalawo in ridiculous ways such as a person the witches could easily kill, a person that thieves can easily kill, a person that the prophets/prophetess can use their Bible verses to attack, a person the imam can chant Quranic verses to defeat. It is so foolish, absurd and childish when you think about it.

I always laugh any time I see these kind of movies and the public now believe what they are seeing is a portayal of reality. They want to make the babalawo to look powerless, foolish, ignorant and weak. Babalawos are weak if that is what you want to believe. but I told a christian friend that he will never know the truth until his pastor/prophet has an encounter with a real babalawo, then he will know how powerful a true babalawo is.

In-fact, Odu Ifá Owonrinsogbe says that the non-initiate should revere, respect and give the babalawo money (kolanut) to prevent Esu from attacking him because the babalawo understands Esu and knows how to propitiate and be in harmony with Esu. To back it up one of our forefathers adages says that whosoever disrespect a babalawo will wear his/her clothes inside out and backward i.e the person will run mad. Some movies produced having Odunlade Adekola as the actor such as Alani Pamoleku, Ferebieku, and Senior Rambo using Ibrahim Chatta as the actor, have cast babalawo in a ridiculous ways by proving/claiming that babalawo are weak in these two movies. The storyline goes like this, a babalawo empowered these two actors in these movies and these two actors killed the same babalawo that empowered them. This is very wrong. In fact I will call it a wrong movie. Babalawos are not fools or weak, nowhere in the world would a true babalawo be so foolish as to empower someone to become more powerful than himself or reveal his secret to any client.

Please, to whom it may concern in the Yoruba movie industry, I want these aspects to be corrected also. Nowadays people loose interest or believe/trust in babalawos because of the way you are presenting babalawos or casting your actors to play the role of babalawo. You are lying against babalawos with all your wrong casting. Please don't wait for babalawo to turn against you before you make the necessary corrections.

Drama started by traditionalist in the industry and most of the drama produced was used to correct the society not to condemn traditionalist or babalawo like you are doing now. Most drama in the olden days are villages stories, the actors were stage actors then, and they always took drama from one village to another for the viewers to benefit and gain. Irrespective of the viewers religion they would sit together, putting to the side, their tribe and religion to watch and enjoy the drama. Before the coming of home video, our heroes engaged in cultural movies such as epic drama, historical drama etc. None of them ever wrote a drama or movie to condemn christianity or islam taking into account that at that time their weren't any christian or islamic dramas or movies then. Before the the reign of the Mount Zion film titled Agbaranla, and since the Mount Zion film, the movie industry has been condemning traditionalist. The question is have they converted everybody to be a Christian, the answer is No. The reason why Hebert Ogunde didn't condemn other religions in his movies was simply because he believed that everyone is free to choose and practice his/her religion freely without chaos, force or intimidation according to Human Right Law and according to conscience.

Fourth, I think I don't need to hide the truth here, I will must blame babalawos for hiding the the following truth: Why are we hiding the fact and identities of the influential people and public figures that come to seek our help? Are we ashamed of our work or religion? I don't understand. Let me ask this question: Are these public figures ashamed of having contact with us? Are they a ashamed of our religion? Or could it be they are a shame of consulting a babalawo? If yes, then why did we continued to do work for them?

To say the truth I think we are supporting and encouraging them. Aren’t we are showing favor to people who are not in support of our religion but want to seek our help? Only a fool will say that Traditional Religion is well recognized in Nigeria, no need to talk and say that Ifá is ruling the world, when we do not have our own officially recognized traditional holiday! To start with do we traditionalist have a public holiday like the other religions? The answer is no. The indigenous religion is not officially recognized on its own land! Till today no day has been set aside as an official public holiday to celebrate african traditional religion just like christian and muslim have their officially recognized holidays on on our calendar, but yet we keep working for politicians and people in positions of authority, the same public figures that are spoiling and denigrating our religion, and we are supporting them because of the money they promise to give us, or they gave us.

When these influential people come to seek our help, we hide them from the public, we don’t want the public to know they came to us. We let them control us like if we were the one le seeking their help, whereas they seek our help. Some babalawos will tell them to come in the dark [at night], while some even know the best time to consult a babalawo without people being aware. They use the night time cloak of darkness to cover up and hide their visits. Some pastors have babalawos as their spiritual father, yet they go around condemning our religion, swearing they have no contact with us and the babalawo will never reveal their secret. And this same pastor will go to the pulpit to preach against babalawos and all traditionalist when his own spiritual father, encouraged and counselor is a babalawo!

When influential people and public figures come to visit the mosque or church they don't go visit in the dark of night and nobody hides them. In fact the news will carry it, it will be on social media that such and such is visiting that mosque or that church, but when influential people and public figures comes to consult Ifá, to visit an Ifá temple and to seek a babalawos help, nobody knows about it. Who is to blame? Is it the babalawo or these people?

I remember a recent occurrence, it is still fresh in my mind, when last year, precisely when the late Oba Adagba of Iyanfoworogi Bolufatunmise consulted the church Ori Oke Asegun "The Overcomer" located at Ajibamdele/Modomi Ile Ife, for help, and made a confessional statement of leaving traditional religion, converted to christian and became an evangelist, the churches quickly gave exposure to him by posting it on social media, but if it was Pastor Adeboye of the Redeem Church that consulted a babalawo for help, nobody will know or hear about it!

If President Buhari goes to church or mosque, it will immediately be posted on social media but if he comes to visit a babalawo it is always hidden, nobody will know, or hear about it. Then how can anyone provide answer to this question: Are we hiding ourselves or are they the ones who are hiding behind us. Let them know that if they can't be proud of us and our religion, then we must stop helping them or working for them.

How can we be hiding people who don't love or like us? They are selfish and hypocritical. They seek our help in secret and to then speak bad of us in public so as to cover themselves so that the public will think that they have no contact with us. I think self-centeredness and greediness is causing this. We have stopped caring about our tradition and we are losing our sense of dignity, prestige and honor over money. We babalawos are after the money that they give us, and we are more interested in, and give more importance to the money they offer us, than in protecting and wholeheartedly practicing our religion. People get their problems solved by Ifá and babalawos and then they go to church or to the mosque for thanksgiving, and the give our glory to their pastor or imam who doesn't know how their problem really get solved simply because they do not want to be associated with visiting and receiving the services of a babalawo due to the way that society views babalawo today. I don't blame them, because not all of them wish to act that way, but some decided to act that way simply because we (the babalawos) are silent, so these people believe and think that it is okay for them to do as they like and behave as they have been doing. There is much more that I want to say but I will stop here. These are the four main points that I wanted to share. Please offer your comments and please share this message with sincere and interested ones.

Thank you for reading. 

By Olu-Awo Ifanla Ogbeate

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