The stranger does not know the history of the land
If the stranger had known the history of the land
He would not have disparaged the land
This was Ifa’s teaching to Ikubolaje, daughter of Ojo City
She was going to marry in the city of Oro
She had a baby in Oro named Aaka
She divorced her husband in the city of Oro
She went to marry in the city of Ofa
She had Oore Gidigba for them at the city of Ofa
She left the city of Ofa
Then she proceeded to Ife Abure
The people of Araba Owo Lumo
She had Liili for them in Ife Abure
Then there was outbreak of war
The war caught Aaka in the city of Oro
The war also held Oore Gbedigba in the city of Ofa
But Aaka and Oore had never met Liili physically
The war held the two of them captive
and took them both to Ife Abure…
- Holy Odu IkaOwonrin
Liili, the youngest of Ikubolaje’s sons, had inadvertently captured his elders in his rise to power. As was customary, the war chief had captured his brothers Oore and Aaka and tied them to different yard posts to await execution. In the middle of the night, their mother, Ikubolaje was going to the bathroom when she overheard Oore lamenting his situation and recalling that his mother had even been married in the town of his captivity. When she heard this, she went back to her son, Liili. “Come listen to what this man is saying!” When he arrived and heard Oore’s cries, he too realized that the captives were actually his brothers. He ordered the guards to untie them. Ifa says that we are caught in a web of intrigue and confusion. What is the cause and nature of confusion?
Before internet and mobile phones, most practitioners of orisa lifestyle were separated by 500 years of slavery, colonization and imperialism. As such, every branch of the family tree has developed its own, unique responses to their local environments and – until recently – one had not been influenced by the other. Today, with the advent of Facebook, Youtube and other social media, there are far fewer barriers of separation. As a result of the dissolution of the barriers, our various mythologies, beliefs and practices have started mix, mingle and sometimes collide with one another. It is like the sudden collision of high and low pressure air systems, which causes stormy weather; intense winds, rain, and the like… And so, orisa lifestyle is presently experiencing a perilous age of thunder, lightning, and hurricanes.
In the face of all the tumult, I sometimes ask myself, “What would Orunmila do?” And as I consider all the possibilities – based upon verses of the Holy Odu, proverbial wisdom and my experience with elder babalawos – I am certain that panic is NOT an optimal response. In fact, for the priests and mature practitioners, panic is a very improper and immature response to what is happening in our community. Why? Because life has taught us that it is inevitable, and altogether natural that when different energies collide there should be friction and turbulence. There is nobody to condemn here. There is only a need to explore the environment and understand what elements are active in our lives today. We are all invested – physically, emotionally and intellectually – in orisa lifestyle, “as we know it.” Our identities, our connections to the ancestral wisdom, as well as our relationship to the natural environment are all directly tied to the verses, the rituals and the ceremonies that have been passed down, from one generation to the next. And so, it is absolutely acceptable that we should have strong emotional responses to the cultural collision we’re experiencing today. What is occurring is completely natural, as are its pains, confusions, and mistakes.
What is NOT acceptable is our refusal to organize. My mother of blessed memory used to tell me that “Whenever you encounter a new scenario in your organization, you study it. You study the people involved. You delve deeply into what enabled certain things to happen and what motivated people to behave as they did. And then you write policy! You will forget what happened. The details will fade. But if you have those policies on hand, you will remember exactly why things must be done in a certain way and not the other.” Thus far, we have utterly failed to craft what my mother would consider a respectable response to the clash of civilizations. Not a single plan has emerged. Not enough words of leadership, vision and direction have been spoken. This cannot continue. History will judge us harshly should we allow another generation to be blind-sided by these same conditions and not be armed with some kind of mature, constructive response. May our Mother, who gave birth to us all, guide all practitioners of orisa lifestyle towards recognition of one another as brothers and total reconciliation of our differences, in the name of our Ancestral Promise. Ase!