The Yoruba people of South Western Nigeria has been practicing the tradition of Ifa/orisha for over ten thousand years. Ile Ife, Nigeria is where the great Orunmila, owner of the sacred Ifa Oracle first descended. Ile Ife is our Garden of Eden (I abhor making this reference, but I do for easier understanding). The tradition got to the new world through the African Holocaust, the Trans Atlantic Slave trade, otherwise known as Slavery. The slaves (some were Babalawo’s and initiates) who arrived in Cuba put together whatever they could remember of the orishas and practiced the tradition secretly and hid the Orishas in catholic saints, because they being captured and turned into Slaves had to practice the religion of their oppressors, which was Christianity, as most people were forced into Christianity. Sango became Santa Barbara, and Ogun Saint Peter and so on, Osun, La Caridad de Cobre and so on. All Orishas are African, and remember civilization began on that great continent, so truth be told, we are all Africans.
Recently I made a comment on a popular blog of which I am familiar with. The topic was on Orisha, and of course most of the people who commented came with information they found on the internet and also information they received from people practicing similar tradition to ours in Africa, but it certainly is not the same here in the diaspora. I mused over the comments, not really there to participate in the discussion, the administrator and I are friendly, often times we speak. I saw a particular blogger made several comments on the topic, and I should also say that on many spiritual topics she would run in with her own brand of self taught knowledge, most of which were foolishness. If Satan was really as wicked the Christians created him to be, she would not have tongue to speak so Ill of him or even fingers to type his name. But he is always the fall guy for wicked peoples deed. I itched to correct her, but she was a new blogger to the site so I held back. It had nothing to do with being a know it all, but I am a teacher, a spiritual teacher, among many other things, and yes when it comes to spirituality and or the Tradition of Ifa/Orisha which is not a religion but a way of life for me,then I have all right to correct a wrong that I see. The use of the name Yemaya as she and others constantly referred to Yemoja the feminine deity of the river in Yoruba land (the Yemoja river) and venerated at the Ocean here in the diaspora (which is acceptable) was wrong. The woman also commented on Yeye (pronounced Yay Yay means mother) Osun, and described her as flirtatious, flirting with men and women, likening her to a prostitute, which made me annoyed as I read it, (I am an initiate of Osun)because it is not so. Osun is for family, she gives women husbands and husbands their wives. She gives children, put families together, gives love, s loving,she is a happy Orisha. She is loved, honored and respected in our traditional practice in Nigeria, Oore Yeye Osun! No one dares refer to Yeye Osun as a prostitute, it is simply not so.
I could no longer bare it when the woman wrote that Osun and Yemoja are sisters and are rivals, And that they hated each other. That was it, I had to correct those false comments, and truth be told all comments by her and others were false, not true at all. But it was entertaining to see the interest, and I thought it was a good thing the administrator did by opening up the topic. Yet seeing this foolery, I had to make a comment, it did not sit well with me to see someone who had no sense or knowledge of our tradition talk suh much foolishness. I made a comment to correct the false statement about the rivalry between these two powerful deity, Yemoja and Osun, They are both from water world therefore how could they fight each other? It is not possible. Also I correct the corruption of Yemoja’s name. In All of Africa, Africans (following tradition) name their children names that have meanings. The meanings of the names point to their destiny, their lineage, the Orisha (in the case of Nigeria) or whatever deity or spirit the family lineage serve and more. The name of the person tells who they are or who they will become, or who their bloodline serve in way in deity or tradition. So to corrupt Yemoja’s name, calling her Yemaya which has no meaning is a no no, at least to my ear, I am one to respect the orishas. Yeye (mother) Omo (child) Eja (fish), mother whose children are fishes, this is Yemoja. The name Osun (Oshun) means source. She is the sweet water that feeds us, the one who feeds us and what we need to survive on this planet, therefore Osun is the source of life. The Yoruba says “water has no enemies”, and this is true, because we all need water. I pointed this out in the most respectful way, because that is who I am and how I operate, although I never addressed the woman directly. However this did not sit well with the google student, (probably she felt as if she had the floor and I upstaged her with the truth, who the hell knows how mad people think) who came at me like a lioness charging a water buffalo for its nights meal. I had made reference to Yemaya being a Lucumi corruption of the name of this Orisha and that their practice, though similar to ours (the use of our Yoruba words, and the names of the orishas and more) was not ours. She wrote a lengthy speech, cussing my enemy ( I use my enemy here because it could certainly not be me) calling my enemy a bully, and that she was indignant (she did not use this word, but the meaning was clear) of the fact that my enemy used the words us, pertaining to us Africans and them pertaining to Lucumi. She said she had a problem with the separation and this is why Africa is the way it is, lol. A bloggers sometime ago came at me with this same argument and I found it very sad, because it showed me lack of understanding on their part and that they are still in great slumber. I have no time for slouchy people, I must forge on ahead.
She wrote that Africa is the way it is because of people like me with the us and them mentality. Firstly, Africa is the way it is? What exactly does she mean? People who have never been to Africa have all kind of negative things to say about the motherland and this all comes from them sitting in front of their television and seeing starving children and shanty towns, when the same can be shown here in America and around the world, but media refuse to show it. People in Africa, those who are poor and those who are filthy rich, (and you find this everywhere in the world not just Africa, where you have rich people and poor people) even if you see the difference in their living or living conditions, they still enjoy their lives however they can. The poor strives to better themselves for them and theirs, while the rich enjoy what they have, isn’t this the mindset everywhere in the world? How are Africans different? Are we an Alien race, separate and apart from “normal people”? The answer here may be yes, and I am glad to say so, because in Africa there is a great sense of morality. Children are children and behave as such. They have manners, they listen to their parents, teachers and community. And their is community in all things, which makes camaraderie which is necessary for stability. Our standard of life in respect to honoring the laws of nature and respect for our elders and ourselves have not been corrupted by modernization or an immoral sense of value, in this I am glad. We have values, savages as we are painted to look throughout the world……. Africa is the way it is in the eyes of whoever is saying these negatives because of European invasion and destruction. The raping, robbing and pillaging of our home. Some blacks like the one who made the comments have an internal dislike for African/Africans, likening themselves and character to Europeans, self hate is a great internal war. Yet we (Africans) are never the worse for the ware because Africa still stand mighty despite all she has gone through. Africa is filling up with people who do not look like us, yet the ones who do, hate us and refuse to step foot on the land, these pale face people know the worth and beauty of our great land, and use media to scare you away and have you slander your mother, Africa/ How foolish you are!
Blogger CB, told me the other day when I referred to myself as Black, that I should not. She said that I should refer to myself as African instead. She is Kenyan, and I wondered why, trying not to be offended. She is a very nice and knowledgeable woman and I respect her, so I listened with what she would come with. She said that by referring to myself as black is derogatory, we did not name ourselves this it was our oppressors who did and we adopted it and now use it comfortably. They call us black and themselves white, and so they move on to make everything negative black and all that is good and clean white. I had an ah ha moment as CB (a blogger) spoke to me. I celebrated my blackness, never once wanting to even acknowledge the Sephardic Jew within my blood, resenting it actually. But I digress we shall explore CB’S argument in another post and I thank her for that enlightenment.
When it comes to Africa and Africans, there will always be a US and a THEM, it is not our fault, but THEY have violated US so many times, that we must now realize that there will never be any unity and it is no fault of ours. Within the tradition of Ifa/Orisha it is the same. While the Africans keep quiet, the world outside of Africa is claiming our traditional practice as their own, even wanting to claim and say that it originated in Cuba, just as some will want to say Egypt in not in Africa, they have tried it. You will not find a lot of information on Isese (E-shay-shay) which is what we call our traditional practice in Nigeria, (the word means, tradition is on top of everything) on the internet, because the Africans try to keep what we have as sacred as possible. We know its use and will not sell the information to non initiates, we seek to keep its sacredness. Although you will find some African Academics or some initiates of Ifa write about our practice, they are few and far inbetween. Because of this, many get through with spreading their false doctrine about in the name of Ifa. There is now even some claiming to develop something called American Ifa, and I have seen a group on social media telling initiates not to get an Oluwo ( Babalawo with this title who will guide you through your practice) but to just read books on the tradition. The group is encouraging people not to go to Africa and not to have anything to do with Africans. Even when we Africans do not see them they continue to try to destroy us. They will come to Africa to learn and when they come back they speak badly of us, while still calling us on the phone for instructions. Is it because we are quiet and do not say anything? The Babalawos in Africa tells us to leave them, because what we have they can never remove or take away, but I must defend us, even once in a while, especially when I see foolish people like the one on the blog site who made her comment, confident she was in her stupidity. Ifa/Orisha the tradition of the Yoruba people of South Western Nigeria, is great!
People be careful of the information you receive off the internet, do not let anyone mistake you for a fool, although with this person there was certainly no mistake, that she was, is and will always be!
There are no disappointments in life only lessons learned!
Ọwọ́ ọmọdé ò tó pẹpẹ, ti àgbàlagbà ò wọ akèrègbè. /
A child’s hand can’t reach the shelf as an elder’s can’t enter a gourd.
[Everyone is crucial; no one can do it all, but together we can do more]
All religions are valid as long as it teaches peace and love…Obara Meji!