Meet Babalawo in Nigeria (Somolu Bariga, Lagos State), Chief Ajananku Ifakolade.

Meet Babalawo in Nigeria (Somolu Bariga, Lagos State), Chief Ajananku Ifakolade.

Can we meet you?

My name is Chief Ajananku Ifakolade, Ajisa Awore, I am the present Araba of Somolu Bariga (Lagos State).

Who is an Araba?

The word Araba, the group of Ifa Priests, in the Traditional Isese Religion, it involves Ifa, this is where Araba is being enthroned. Araba is the head of all the Babalawo of a particular town, which must be certified by the king of the town. The king of a town installs Araba, he is the head of all the priests of the town. That's that on Araba.

We see that you are equally a movie star, could you please tell us about this?

You are right, you could recall that I told you that I am Ajananku Ifakolade. The day my predestination was done, when a new born baby was given birth to, on the third day, the traditionalists usually carry out the predestination reading of the baby, Ifa was cast, the Ifa says:

(CHANTING IFA - click here to listen to the chants).

This is why my name is Ifakolade. This is why I was told right from my childhood that I'd become a Babalawo. Since my Primary School days, I started learning Ifa from my Ifa Priest until I finished from Secondary School. When I returned to my father in Lagos, meanwhile, my father wasn't the one that taught me Ifa, when I got to my father, I further studied Ifa for an additional 8 years. He even told me that I might not further my education in order for me to concentrate on my Ifa studies. Right from the onset when I started learning Ifa, I decided to be promoting Isese Traditional Religion. I therefore saw someone promoting Isese on air, which is our father, Chief, Araba of Osogbo, Ifayemi Elebuidon. May Olodumare grant him long life and good health. He used to anchor a program on air at that time, I therefore told my father that I'd like to be doing like him - the promotion of traditional religion. So my dad told me to look for who would teach me acting, then I found him. His name is Oloye Oluwasegun, the child of Akinyuade, Gbadegesin Theater Group at that time, He taught me acting. Since then, I have been acting. Meanwhile, God positioned me on the role I like most, which is acting as a Babalawo. Though I can play other roles, but acting as a Babalawo is what people love most in me, as they equally know that I usually perform well.

Could you please tell us more about your ifa journey?

I have no much to say other than to say when I wanted to begin, I was living with my Baba Awo, then schooling simultaneously while living with him. You see whoever wants to learn Ifa, such a person must be ready for it, because Ifa studies is meant for intelligent people, it's not fully easy, but we can't discourage people about it, whoever is interested in it and ready for it would definitely understand it. Ifa says if you want to learn Ifa, get a good person to teach you.

(CHANTING IFA STANZAS - click here to listen to the chants).

That's it.

What is Ifa?

Ifa, Ifa is the word of Olodumare, Ifa was the one Olodumare sent to shine bright light between Olodumare and this earth, and the relationship between the people of this earth and Olodumare in order to relate with Him. If you have noticed, when Orunmila is being praised, we say "The witness of fate," the one who knows the way with wisdom, the one who remake bad destinies. An Ifa says:

(CHANTING IFA STANZAS - click here to listen to the chants).

Who can we live this earth in peace? Olodumare created some people, who came to punish the lawless people. These people, how are you not going to go against them? That your attitude won't go against their guidelines, that you will live this earth successfully, That you will be able to fulfil your destiny. Ifa is the guidance of everyone, this is why our elders say, when things are going wrong, ask the ground, you shouldn't wait until things get out of hand before looking for solution. Take for instance, someone is about to get married, such a person would be asked to consult Ifa, in order to know the future of the marriage. Meanwhile, no marriage is free from challenges, whatever future challenges ahead would be revealed by Ifa, then all the necessary sacrifice would be carried out. So, whatever challenges one or a town may be going through, Ifa is needed to tackle them. This is why Ifa says:

(CHANTING IFA STANZAS - click here to listen to the chants).

Whatever you want to lay your hands on, Ifa is the guidance. when a new born baby is given birth to, let the predestination Ifa reading be carried out. When Ifa is consulted, he would guide us. Ifa is the voice of Olodumare on how to be successful in life and thereafter, Ifa says:

(CHANTING IFA STANZAS - click here to listen to the chants).

Ifa says whatever we do on earth would be accounted for in heaven, Everything the foreign religions are saying are inspired by Ifa. Stealing: Ifa talks about it. Fornication: Ifa talks about it. Misbehavior: Ifa talks about it. Ifa says:

(CHANTING IFA STANZAS - click here to listen to the chants).

This is saying that when you commit fornication, it may lead to death, Ifa says (talking about stealing):

(CHANTING IFA STANZAS - click here to listen to the chants).

Whoever steals and was caught and killed, such a person is the sinner. So Ifa had said all of these to us from the beginning, that we should not commit, and whoever digresses would face the consequences. Ifa explains so many things to us and shows the ways for whoever is ready to follow them.

Thank you Baba. I'd like to ask you a question, concerning how Babalawos cast Ifa in the movies. Can Ifa Reading be done just for fun to act a movie? Please help us explain this, what happens when Ifa Reading is done in a movie?

Thank you. Nothing has happened nowadays which has never happened in past. Are you with me? Whatever story being narrated nowadays has happened before. When Ifa Reading is done in a movie, it is not the Ifa verse we praise that we cast, we only open up the symbol to give messages. Are you with me? But the Odu Ifa verse that we praise must correlate with the story of the movie. I'm talking about a Babalawo who can praise Ifa very well. So when the Odu Ifa is praised, it must correlate with what is happening in the movie. Everything we do in the movies are to teach people some lessons.

Thank you Baba. Our people that are coming to back to Isese, they want to know if only Babalawos can practice Ifa Religion.

Thank you, that's a very good question. As at now, as civilization is being introduced, likewise corruption is being introduced, some people, after they might have entered Igbodu - Ifa Initiation. They automatically feel that they are Babalawos, Ah! It can be viewed that way but, but that person is not a Babalawo who can attend to people.

(CHANTING IFA STANZAS - click here to listen to the chants).

This Ifa says that the beauty of Ifa is to study Ifa widely, Ifa needs to be studied. If you were born into Ifa doesn't mean you are automatically a Babalawo. Such a person must study Ifa from A-Z. It is after the person has learned all of these before he can be called a Babalawo. At least, such a person must understand at least 4 to 6 verses of each Odu Ifa. So if you are initiated but do not understand Odu Ifa symbols, it means such a person is wasting his time. So whoever is a trained Ifa studies graduate is called a Babalawo.

Thank you Baba. Please tell us the procedures to follow in order to be initiated into Ifa.

Thank you. When the word Isefa is used, some people mix the word Isefa with Itefa. Isefa or Arinfa are the preliminary activities before the final Ifa initiation is done in Igbodu. Isefa is like the beginning, maybe the person is still to enter Igbodu or doesn't have enough money for the final rite, while entering of Igbodu is the final rite, Igbodu is where the Odu Ifa would be revealed, it is from there the person's dos and don'ts would be revealed. Ifa would equally guide the person on how to live a successful life.

Thank you Baba. Please as a celebrity, help us explain this to your lovers, some people are saying Ifa or Traditional Religion is what God doesn't support, how true is this?

Hmm, you see, whatever people dislike, as I told you earlier. The Ifa says: They don't like their own traditions, rather, they embrace other people's own. This cast Ifa for Iwodere who is a friend to the Fish. When they threw away our own tradition, as they embrace other people's tradition, this is why they make ill speech against it, that Ifa Religion, Traditional Religion and Isese Religion do not have the supports of Olodumare. Now let us take a look at a certain Ifa Stanza:

(CHANTING IFA STANZAS - click here to listen to the chants).

Ifa describes that Orunmila praises his own Olodumare. As we all conclude that God is the Olodumare, they should know that they don't know how to worship Olodumare than us. Ifa says:

(CHANTING IFA STANZAS - click here to listen to the chants).

Olodumare is the authority, Yoruba would say "whatever the people of this earth says on earth is stamped in heaven." We are the people of this earth, God is the authority in heaven, this is why I earlier said that whatever people dislike, they condemn them. They are condemning it because of the truthfulness in Isese.

(CHANTING IFA STANZAS - click here to listen to the chants).

The truth in Isese is why they are scared of it. Let me tell you a story. When I was learning Ifa from my boss, on that faithful day, hmm, we took someone to Igbodu, a woman brought for initiation, I witnessed this very story, the boy was brought to us for Ifa initiation. In those days, whatever money made through Ifa Initiation used to kept in the hand of one of us, the money used to be properly accounted for, unlike nowadays that there is no accountability. Our ancestors valued truthfulness then. Though it wasn't a lot of money at that time, so some of the money got missing, everybody denied it. The Baba that was in the custody of the money began to cry as old as he was, so my boss told him not to cry, we were asked to go out, We went out for him to perform a spiritual rite using Odu Ifa Eji Ogbe Symbol.

(CHANTING IFA STANZAS - click here to listen to the chants).

So the spiritual rite was performed inside water for us to drink, it was after the spiritual rite our boss taught us this very Ifa Stanzas I just praised, so everybody drank the water to swear, so the ifa initiation rites were done, we all departed. It was after the 7th day Ifa started striking, behold, the boy that came for the initiation was the thief who stole the money, he had an accident somewhere in Abule Egba, he confessed at the point of death. His mother rushed down to our boss to seek for help, stealing was even part of the warning that was revealed to him, possibly that was his own destiny. The incidence however created so much fear in the minds of all the Ifa apprentices. That curbed us from lying. This is the fear and truthfulness in Isese that many people are running away from.

As you even know that Ogun, Sango etc are used to threaten people to swear with, this is because these Orishas are straightforward, they give true justice. Let me tell another incident that I witnessed as well. There was a time myself and my mother were heading to the farm, suddenly it was about to rain, because of that, we turned back home. Due to the sound of thunderstorm, my mother rushed home while I followed other people running to a scene, where Shango killed someone whose name was Adeolu in my hometown. This story happened in my presence. How did it happen? The brother used Sango to swear. This brother stole the gold jewelries of a mother that used to sell food for us in our primary school days, the woman went to him to ask if he was the one that stole the jewelries, he denied and swear pointing at his mother's Orisha Sango. After a few days, the heavy rain started, Sango eventually stroke him to death. Whoever has witnessed this won't ever swear with Shango. It is because of the truthfulness in it, this is the reason why they are condemning it because they don't want to die.

Being a Babalawo is a matter of having fear, avoiding taboos, etc. If you have fear in your mind and avoid what is forbidden, you will definitely be closed to Olodumare. But the fear of not doing things right which may result in a bad consequences. These foreign religion followers have their own ways, I wouldn't want to mention names, they encourage themselves to commit sins with the guarantee that the sins would be forgiven. But as for Isese Religion, death is the reward for sins, then on the day of resurrections, you will account for your deeds. That's it.

Thank you Baba.

With reference to your past experience on how an Orisha can fight offenders, do you think Orishas still fight offenders as some people do not believe in that?

I want to respond to what you just said, Orishas don't fight people.

Singing: Priests don't curse anyone except whoever curses himself/herself with his/her own actions.

Remember I started my speech with that earlier. Our Orishas don't kill. Don't get me wrong, but whoever digresses from their laid down rules and regulations would see the consequences. It is because the earth is now full of bad people.

(CHANTING IFA STANZAS - click here to listen to the chants).

It is because the people of this world do not follow the laid down rules and regulations anymore. They prefer to follow the religions that condole their immoralities as they don't want to die mysteriously. Are you getting what I'm saying? It is not that the Orishas are killing them, but whoever digresses, for instance, in the olden days, Ogun used to be used to swear due to his justice attribute, but nowadays, people would rather use Aje to swear, because they are all chasing money. Meanwhile, the people that follow these Abrahamic Religions don't practice them with their body and soul. They are mere after their means of livelihood - most of them. They are not practicing their religions to promote them, that is it.

Could you please tell us who Olodumare is?

Thank you. Olodumare is a name of Olodumare who has no other name other than Olodumare. Olodumare is a creator who created humans on earth. Are you listening to me? Olodumare is the one we all bow to. The word Olodumare doesn't have a specific subtitle (meaning). If we say "God," the word is from their land, if we say "Allah," the word is from their land. But as for us, Olodumare, the owner of the 16 Odu Ifa. When we say Are, it means we don't know where He is. We are only seeing his works on all of us. We know that Olodumare is the creator of heaven and earth, He created everything, And He gave us guidelines even though people don't want to follow them.

Who is Esu as some people say he is Olodumare antagonist?

Hmm, Esu Laalu. Some people wrongly say "Ogiri Oko," Esu Laalu Okiri Oko. You could recall that some of our elders came up with this phrase: "Esu is Not Satan" which went viral sometimes ago. It is true. Because the Satan they are talking about is from their Bible, it's not our own Esu, our Esu is an Irunmole, Esu followed the Irunmoles from heaven, he is at the front and at the back, on the right and left side, Esu does deliverance, Esu gives wealth, our Esu is not the one that goes against Olodumare, our Esu is the one that listens to Olodumare, and the one who loves Olodumare as far as we're concerned in Yorubaland. You could recall that I said that whenever people don't want to accept something, they look for mistakes in it. If one has 10 children, all of them can't be calm, one or some of them may be stubborn, his parent won't because of that disown him. Among the children, one would definitely be bold to fight and defend others, but the one that loves to fight and defend may turn out to become the dangerous one to the people. People forget that there is always a last man standing. This is Esu, Esu is a brave being. That is his attribute from Olodumare, Esu is not Olodumare's antagonist.

Who are Orishas?

When we say Orisha, let us look at it from the name, Orisha, the one whose head created specially, significant people, a special one, the one Olodumare created specially, who God created with special attributes that are different from his/her fellow humans, For instance, Orunmila, he was created with wisdom and knowledge. Ogun was created as a warrior, and so on and so forth, Orisha Osun was created specially. That is what Orisha means. Even there are Orishas in our midst as humans, when they were created, but they had special attributes is the reason why we honor them as a special creation by God, many of these Orishas didn't die. Orunmila climbed an Ikin Palm Tree, when he climbed up then refused to come down, his followers were worried, they asked him how they would be reaching him as he had climbed up, he therefore threw 16 Ikin to them to pack, he said whenever they want to hear from him, he said they should be Reading Ifa with the Ikin to reveal an Odu Ifa. We hear the voice of Olodumare from the Odu Ifa through Ifa, in order to know the solution to whatever ifa reading is done for. That is how all of them did when they were leaving. Osun gave them "Ota," Shango gave them "Oshe," to be calling them with - Edun Ara, Thunder stone. That is what we call Orisha.

Thank you Baba.

 

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