Recently, Chief Solagbade Popoola became president of the Ifa Council. His first public statement was to announce a Code of Ethics for all orisa followers and priests. A few months earlier, Chief Dayo Ologundudu was announced as the Araba of the United States of America. As you might imagine, people have responded in a variety of different ways. For the record, I am not interested in trying to validate or invalidate the announcements or the responses. But one thing is abundantly clear, there is a direct link between protocols, progress and protection.
Protocols promote consistency. They help groups of people to know, with a certain level of reliability, that the members are going to do things in a specific kind of way. Within any organization, you need protocol to build trust between people. The more trust there is, the easier it is for people to empower one another, to rely upon one another and to be generous with one another. Without protocols, people become more selfish. "Every man for himself" becomes the only rule in such an environment. And so, collective progress becomes impossible.
Protocols support progress. When our relationships are governed by a set of rules, based on civility and mutual respect, every member of the team or group can focus on the duties associated with her role. Stated differently, when you know that your partner is going to do his part you are now totally free from doubt and you can to do your part more creatively, more peacefully and more deliberately. So, the more members of your team adhere to protocol, the easier it will be for everyone to perform at a higher level. If you've ever been on a high performance team, you know that there is very little time wasted debating the basic rules and regulations because certain things are universally understood by all.
Protocols protect collective and personal interests alike. Sometimes, the individual must sacrifice for the group. Other times, the group must sacrifice for the individual. Protocols ensure that both sacrifices are made in turn. Traditionally, every individual would grow up with several layers of clearly defined protocols. Firstly, at the time of birth, the child receives an Odu Ifa during the Esentaiye ceremony. This Odu will detail his personal taboos, observances and ritual obligations. Next, the family compound will also adhere to certain protocols, based upon the Ancestral Promise of the founding ancestor. Certain lineages cannot engage in particular vocations or eat certain foods. Finally, there are community protocols. In the kingdom of Iwoye-Ketu, for example, the umbrella is a taboo. Nobody is allowed to open one within the limits of the kingdom. In either case, when you grow up with respect for protocols at every level, you learn to respect the collective as much as you respect yourself. Protocols help individuals to honor and protect the common wealth.