By Iyalemole Dr. Queenchiku Ngozi-Fabuluje
March 5th, 2020
US, Florida: Prejudice and discriminatory activities take on many forms (Klocker & deRaaf, 2013). “Prejudice means an unjustified or incorrect attitude towards an individual or group” (McLeod, 2008). Discrimination is when someone acts unjustifiably against an individual due to their gender, age, and group (Odu Ogunda Iwori). In Orisa and Ifa practice within the diaspora, discrimination and prejudiced behavior (Odu Ose Iwori) against women never ceases. It is “hostile ill-treatment, especially, because of …patriarchy religious beliefs [about women]” (Google, n.d.). I believe egalitarian values would decrease the negative behaviors and treatment directed against women.
Gradually over time, women have been treated as slaves and servants during Orisa and Ifa practices in the diaspora. Women have been spending lots of money travelling for initiations only be placed in the kitchen or degraded as pointless individuals. On social media, there are several pages created by men in the Orisa and Ifa religion in the diaspora both degrading and fraudulently accusing women over various things including being worthless Iyanifas or orisa priestesses. It is even worst when women attack other women like the misogynistic males. At the end of the day, spirituality has no gender division or authoritarian approach. Inequality is the lack of egalitarian values which creates a gap – and should be avoided – so, what should be done (Zack, 2018)? The “approach needed is strikingly egalitarian spirituality” (Leigh, 2018).
First, egalitarianism derived from the French word égal that means equal or equality (Leigh, 2018). Egalitarian is “believing in the principle that all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities” (Google Directory, n.d.). The opposites of egalitarianism are elitism and complementarianism. Originally, Orunmila did not see women as imbalanced or chaos. Orunmila stresses that balance is the act of a spiritual equality between genders because the universe is one and this spiritual concept is empowering when one knows they are one with the universe. In other words, every human being is one with the universe and both rise and return to it. This is an egalitarian metaphor of spiritualism and connection to the Orisa (forces of nature) and Ifa. Johnson, Carroll, and Gottschall (2008) indicated that “no one is more special or elite than anyone else – we are all part of the same universe.” In addition, egalitarianism is like a relationship, working together equally, and sharing the duties and responsibilities like the opele chain. Egalitarian spirituality is the real way forward for the future stability of worshipping and practicing Orisa and Ifa in the diaspora.
Traditional religions have become more and more misogynistic. Genders warring against genders and then calling the war one side created wrong. Women should be seen equal to men in Ifa and Orisa rituals and practices by seeking balance and or reclaiming balance. Imbalance is not empowering anyone regardless of their gender. Without a doubt, “women [should] be able to exercise the same spiritual authority [rites]” (Johnson et al., 2008) as male Awos in ceremonies and rituals do.
A spiritual egalitarianism approach is to have equilibrium between the men and the women in the Orisa and Ifa practices. For instance, the female sits and divines while the male serves coffee and water switching off equally and sharing responsibility. Nevertheless, there are many different equilibrium approaches to spiritual egalitarianism. One way is respecting and re-empowering the women (Connolly, Aldrich, O’Brien, Speight, & Poole, 2016). It is more beneficial for the Iyanifas to work closely and equally to the male Awos. The inequality gap is a learned behavior defect between men and women brought to us by ancient Greek and Christian philosophy. Both men and women can reach and maintain an egalitarian equilibrium with dual responsibilities and pay. Women have become more educated both institutionally and spiritually so there is no reason it cannot be so. In addition, egalitarianism would grant mental motivation for people, especially men, to regulate themselves when expressing negative and discriminatory behavior and encourage tolerance and equality for all. This may be why Ifa has left your building.
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Leigh, A. (2018). Sir Tony Atkinson – Egalitarian. The Economic and Labour Relations Review, 29(1), 52-54. doi:10.1177/1035304618757109
Williams, Y. (n.d.). Egalitarian relationship: Definition & example. Study.com. Retrieved from https://study.com/academy/
Zack, N. (2018). Egalitarian spiritual and legal traditions. Chapter 2, in Philosophy of Race. Palgrave Philosophy Today, pp. 25-46. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-78729-9_2