Saturday 21 January 2023


“Perhaps the most important observation Bishop Phillips made in that short preface concerns the effect he believed publishing Ifá stories in book form would have on unbelievers:

Nígbà tí àwọn tí ó ńkọ́ Ifá sórí bá mọ̀ pé wọ́n lè ka Odù Ifá nínú ìwé, mo rò pé yóò ṣí wọn lórí láti kọ́ ìwé kíkà, àti láti fi ọ̀rọ̀ inú Bíbélì wé ti Odù Ifá. Wọn yóò sì rí èyí tí ó sàn jù fún ara wọn.

I believe that when rote learners of Ifá stories discover that they can read the Odù in a book, they will seek literacy eagerly, gain the capacity to compare the Bible to Ifá stories, and discover on their own the merit of the superior text. (ibid)

By casting Ifá stories in a comparatively permanent medium, Christian workers would be creating a self-reflection apparatus for the literate nonbeliever.

It would become a tool with which to critically examine thought spheres hitherto controlled by the guild of divination priests (the babalawo).

Taking divination stories to be Ifá’s main tool of mind control, Bishop Phillips recommended print dissemination of these narratives as a means of freeing up the critical faculty of non-Christians against the shroud of secrecy (awo), with which Ifá priests have deceived Yorùbá people through the ages.

Print technology, he thought, would separate awo from its curators (babalawo).

For Bishop Phillips, the deep secret of pre-Christian Yorùbá worship lay not in sculptured icons but in the reasoning that inspires divination stories.

The theological errors of Yorùbá religion could be easily pointed out if the stories are converted to portable packages comparable to the Bible, the only book authored by the true God. 

In a palpable, scripted shape indigenous religious thought could be quoted, disputed, and its false teaching exposed.”

“Writing” and “Reference” in Ifá by Adélékè Adéẹ̀kọ́

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