This article is a response to a question posed by writers who have various viewpoints and perceptions about AMERICAN IFA-FA-AFA
TAKING THE BIAS, LIES AND THE ILLUSIONS OUT OF THE ODUS OF IFA WITHOUT CHANGING OR LOSING THE FOUNDATION OF THE ODUS OF IFA
By Iyalemole Oloye IyaNifa Dr. Queenchiku Ngozi and Oloye Erelu Abiye Unsi Tassinon Iyanifa (Melba Farrell)
AMERICAN IFA-FA-AFA is based on unification within our diversity and still be rooted to the foundation of IFA-FA-AFA.
AMERICAN IFA-FA-AFA stands on the two legs of Odu Otura Meji which states as Ifa says, “a road leads from here, a road leads from there, when two roads merge, they taper down cast Ifa for Erinmodo tree who was made king over the trees in the forest“.
When a plant or animal is bred with a plant or animal from different stock, the process is known as hybridization. There are numerous reasons to create hybrids, including increasing genetic diversity and breeding for specific traits. It is frequently practiced in agriculture, to make stronger, healthier plants with desirable characteristics.
Hybridization in essence, describes the genetic diversity of the people living in the diaspora who are devoted to or practicing African Spirituality under the name of AMERICAN IFA-FA-AFA. The devotees and/or practitioners are like the plants that undergo hybridization for the purpose of making them STRONGER, HEALTHIER and more DESIRABLE.
AMERICAN IFA-FA-AFA does not see to change or rewrite the context of the Odus of Ifa as some may imply but instead, we seek to celebrate the diversity of those Odus that are expressed by diverse groups people who live in various places around the world.
O’Fae O’Fae posted in the Facebook group, Ifa-Orisa-Egun Talks, an African Babalawo’s perception on the Odu(s) of Ifa. Keep in mind that this is a comment made by a Yoruba born Traditional Babalawo. I think it fits this discussion as it brings to mind the stories written about the Odus and his reasons why change is being implied. The author’s name is at the end:
“Many stories we hear today about most of our Orisa are mere fabrications. The fabrications started from non-practitioners. Most of them intentionally fabricated stories to gain popularity or to denigrate our faith, while some of them (especially the historians and anthropologists) gathered the fallacious stories from people who either were not conversant with our religion or who had aversion for this faith. When we critically examine the story at times, it is difficult to filter out the intentional or unintentional fabrications added to distort the story/history and “downgrade” our Orisa to mere mortals like Ogun was born in Saki, Orunmila was a blind man from Nupe, Sango was the fourth king of Oyo who hanged himself (Oba to pokun so), Obatala was an albino from Ifan, Osun was a woman from Ekiti, Yemoja was the wife of a king of Saki, Oduduwa escaped death from Mecca, Ela was born by Moremi and so on. It needs divine reasoning to decipher the truth from the fallacy.
The attempt to deride Esu started in 1844 when Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowder started using Yoruba language to preach Christianity. It was then they started equating Esu with Satan/Devil. The blasphemous war against Sango started in 1921, when a man called Hethersett, who was then a head of a school in Lagos, Nigeria wrote the history of Sango. The man, who was a Christian wrote a story that Sango hanged himself and made people believe that that is why Sango is called Obakoso (the king did not hang) to protect his reputation. We are not sure whether the writer fabricated the story by himself or he gathered it from some sources. We know that a king once reigned in Oyo, whose Orisa was Sango. He reigned as the fourth king of Oyo. It might be that Hethersett was confused and was unable to decipher the king who was a devotee from the Orisa that the King followed. However, it is clear that Hethersett did that to destroy traditional religion in order to propagate Christianity especially when we think over the fact that Hethersett did not consult the previous works by people like Ellis (1894) and Denneth (1910) before he wrote the story. This is what Professor Akinwumi Isola noticed in the year 2000.
The irony of it which saddens one most is the fact that even, many of the followers of Ifa/Orisa faith believe in those stories. Many of the devotees talk bad about Esu and some are even shy of bearing names like Esuyemi, Esugbemi and so on because, they believe that Esu is the devil. Likewise, many devotees of Sango today believe in that story written first by Hethersett. They erroneously believe Sango to be the fourth Alaafin of Oyo who hanged himself. Alas! The fallacious stories have gained ground throughout the world.
It is high time we wiped out the fallacies that have overthrown the real history of the Oduduwa tribe. Let us do away with stories that are not firmly rooted in Ifa, the scripture of our religion. Let us not depend on the history of Oduduwa land or that of any Orisa which was/is written by christian fanatics or muslim jihadists who call themselves historians or anthropologists.
What is sure is that the destiny of our religion is in our hands. It is high time we started rewriting the stories of our Orisa for the coming generation to have documents to lay hands on. Let us encourage ourselves to write books of our religions by ourselves. Let no muslim or Christian write the stories of our Orisa for us. Let those who have useful information about each Orisa document such information for the posterity. Ase.”
BY Fayemi Fatunde Fakayode
In 400 years, the Yoruba (African roots) spiritual ways of life have become a hybrid in America and the diaspora proper. America is the land of diversity that assimilates into one movement with individual arms. For example, People of Colour have looked to the Brazilians, Cubans, and the hill tops of the Caribbean for spiritual evolution and connection to their African roots. A good analogy of how this is being done can be taken from the example of what he Jewish did with their holy book, he TORAH. The Jews didn’t change the foundation of the Torah; they only adapted MODERN WAYS OF LIVING AND INCORPORATING THE STANDARDS OF THE TORAH. Even though there are your extremists in all forms, time does bring on a change that lessons the extremes but does not take away from the core essence of a thing.
When we say IFA-FA-AFA, we are talking about the CORE OF THE ODUS. The system that works throughout any branch of African Spirituality is DIVINATION. The Odus are revealed by Divination and is the Core System by which is revealed the DESTINY of each individual person’s life. The Odus also contains the Sacred Patakis (Stories) of IFA-FA-AFA or whatever other names used to describe this CORE SYSTEM that serves as guidance for the individual on his or her life’s journey.
Then the BODY OF THE SYSTEM becomes the people who in their expressions of life, live the embodiments of the Odus. For example, a person, in the way they live, expresses the will of the Odus in their work with the Orisa(s) or any deity that is spoken about in the pataki(s) of the Odus. The Odu is gotten by various divination methods. (Ikin, Opele,, Cowrie Shells, Sand, Obi, Coins, and so-on) according to the types of methods used in the places where who are devoted to or practice Ifa-Fa-Afa live. Keep in mind that all Orisa (orishas) speaks through ODUS as well as our DIVERSED ancestors (not only of African origins but from other places in the world) and other entities. So over time, the application of the Odus became a separation and atomic division between levels of minds due to the process of outside religious interference such as Christianity, Islam, and so-on.
Questioned asked by an African-AMERICAN initiated in Traditional African rites but living in America.
1. Are we just practicing Ifa in America, or will we be able to add the struggles and victories of our experiences to the narrative?
2. Will we write Odu reflecting the sacrifices made of our ancestors to bring the taste of freedom to our lips?
3. Is this not our chance to tell the true story of how the practice of Ifa survived the African American experience?
4. Is this a part of American IFA-FA-AFA ?
By Iyanifa Fajemirola Ifetayo Fakayode
Any time you take plants or humans from any other country and relocate them to another country, they have to adapt and incorporate to their environment to survive and grow. Removing the elements that cause stagnation and combining or fusing the structures that strengthen the foundation to continue to developing and produce. In 2015 there is a new developing spiritual bond with other spiritual sub-levels which establishes hybridization called AMERICAN IFA-FA-AFA.
For instance, a bonding and incorporating process would look like this for example:
Yoruba (2Y), Lucumi (2Ly), Candomble (2Cy) and People of Colour (2PCyz) = YLCPCyz^4 = HYBRIDIZATION.
It doesn’t take away the 400 years of struggles from the People of Colour; it is incorporated, adopted and assimilated into the pores of the Americans and other peoples of the Diasporas who live according to Odu Ifa/orisa (Orisha and) ancestral practices and rituals. The Odus are the roots and foundation of this way of life. In America, People of Colour who embrace this form of living can move easily into spiritual elevation by adapting and incorporating the availability of what were presented within the 400 years on this side of the world. Basically, we need to look at the various ways which one Odus are being interpreted. Then, analyze how the concept of hybridization fit our modern environment and socialization to the world.
1) There is no need to re-write odu or invent new ones, because the original odu are the foundation in which this way of life was created and pored from.
2) Take and remove illogical and irrational jargon while keeping it realistic and unbiased.
3) Remove the mystical assumption that it is abusive and discriminatory remarks. It is the fundamentals of Odu and directions for African Americans and or People of Colour who are adopting to this way of life under the conceptual framework of American Ifa-Fa-Afa.