By: Bola Olalekan
Who Actually Is Orunmila??
Ask me this question some few years ago, I mean before the advent of Proudly Yorùbá I would probably say a filthy, ugly, cannibalistic old man who dined with Esu (Esu here would have meant Satan).
Seriously, who is Orunmila?? I did my findings and this is what I found… Orunmila bara Agboniregun is the God of wisdom in the Yoruba Ifa religion. God of divination, he is perhaps the most revered as far as Ifa is concerned. Orunmila is called upon more often than any other Orisa in the Ifa Yoruba religion. Olodumare bestows Orunmila with infinite wisdom to foretell, predict and read human minds and thoughts. A sound Babalawo would call on Orunmila during divination to reveal a mystery or to uncover some hidden predicaments. According to the Odu Ifa, Orunmila was said to have lived in the spiritual realm for more than 400years without food and water before descending to earth to help mankind. He set foot first on Oke-Igbeti where he lived for the betterment of mankind. Orunmila’s perfect foretelling and prediction together with his ability to read human thoughts made people call him “Ari inu ri ode olu moran okan” meaning; he capable of reading human minds and thoughts.
When Orunmila was at Oke Igbeti, he would call on strangers walking passed him, he would endeavour to tell them about what danger lies ahead and how to avert it. A woman once walked passed Orunmila where he pulled her back, saying woman! Go back home to your husband, your adultery is ruining him! The woman panicked and ran home. Orunmila knocked on a door one day, he told the father of the house to move his livestock into his house and that they should live together in there for seven days, the man hissed and quickly dismissed Orunmila’s advice sooner than later after the third day, a pack of hyenas ate each and every one of them overnight.
After much more, Orunmila left Oke-Igbeti for Ejio upon his arrival, Orunmila stormed a joint where young men were drinking palmwine, Orunmila told each of them to change their jobs, he asked them to exchange jobs among themselves. I.e. the one who was a hunter to change job with the one who was a farmer. Only four men agreed and heeded Orunmila’s advice. Orunmila blessed them and left, those who swapped jobs among themselves prospered within weeks like they won jackpot. Those who refused, remained impoverished, now too late to act as Orunmila had left Ejio for Oke-Ileri.
When he arrived, he asked them to cut and keep the tree of Baliba especially its bark but no one listened to him. Orunmila alone cut as much bark and leaves of tree Baliba as possible, it was not so long that an epidemic befell Oke-Ileri with which the bark and leaves of Baliba tree were the sole cure. It was in the raining season therefore the Baliba tree was not potent enough unlike when Orunmila asked them to get some for future care. Orunmila gave the ones he had but was not enough, this made him sad coupled with how many had treated him with disdain, he therefore resorted to returning to heaven where he belonged. After he left, the sufferings of mankind persisted, Orunmila was even more displeased with this, knowing if he was around, he would always try to help so the kind-hearted Orunmila returned to earth to continue his good deeds.
Orunmila was the youngest of the Orisa sent by Olodumare to discharge various acts to support the universe and mankind. According to Odu Ifa where life of Orunmila is enshrined, he was the wisest human to have lived on earth. He came to earth with Ifa and its embodiment. During a divination, Babalawos would often begin with “Orunmila mo pe o” they would remind him how he listened to Alara and Ajero when they called on him for divination. He often does not let them down. Some have referred to him as ‘Orun ni o mo eniti o la’ others call him Okunrin kukuru Oke Igbeti.
So, next time you hear Orunmila, he was not cruel or nasty. He was a kind prophet of Olodumare sent to help mankind.