Study the Teaching of Ifa and the Orisha's
Shan-kpanna is old and lame, and is depicted as limping along with the aid of a stick. According to a myth he has a withered leg. One day, when the gods were all assembled at the palace of Obatala, and were dancing and making merry, Shankpanna endeavoured to join in the dance, but, owing to his deformity, stumbled and fell. All the gods and goddesses thereupon burst out laughing, and Shankpanna, in revenge, strove to infect them with small-pox, but Obatala came to the rescue, and, seizing his spear, drove Shankpanna away. From that day Shankpanna was forbidden to associate with the other gods, and he became an outcast who has since lived in desolate and uninhabited tracts of country.
Temples dedicated to Shankpanna are always built in the bush, at some little distance from a town or village, with a view to keeping him away from habitations. He is much dreaded, and when there is an epidemic of small-pox the priests who serve him are able to impose almost any terms they please upon the terrified people, as the price of their mediation, To whistle by night near one of Shankpanna’s haunts is believed to be a certain way of attracting his notice and contracting the disease. As is the case with Sapatan, the small-pox god of the Ewe tribes, who have perhaps adopted the notion from the Yorubas, flies and mosquitos are the messengers of Sbankpanna, and his emblem is a stick covered with red and white blotches, symbolic, it seems, of the marks he makes on the bodies of his victims.
This is a curious article that appeared in a Nigerian Newspaper:
Have you taken a long, hard look at the typical masquerade? And an equally long hard look at the typical American astronaut or Russian cosmonaut?
Have you noticed the curious semblance between the two? The face piece, especially?
Can there possibly be a connection between, say, Yuri Gagarin, the 'first man in space' and a common Yoruba Tombolo (type of masque) cartwheeling to the cheers of a market crowd?
Curiously, the Yoruba call the masquerade ara orun (visitor from heaven. But, is the astronaut not an ara orun too? After all, he travels in deep space (the heavens ñ even farther than conventional planes).
Could it be that the cult of Egungun (masquerade) really is in remembrance of beings who in the ancient past travelled form the 'heavens' to the earth? Yoruba tradition interprets ara orun (masquerades) as spirits of long-dead fathers returned to visit their offsprings on earth.
But why call such spirits ara orun rather than oku orun (spirit of the dead). Oku orun is more descriptive of someone who is in heaven in consequence of having died here on earth.
Ara orun suspiciously sounds like a "living being" naturally resident in 'heaven' but who elects to visit the earth.
The 'Ara' part of the name, in Yoruba means a 'resident of' or a 'visitor from'.
Interestingly, from Yoruba folklore comes a song that sounds very relevant to this discourse. It evidently recounts an encounter between an earthman and an Ara Orun. The song goes:
Lead: Ara Orun, Ara Orun Chorus:Inomba ntere tere nte inomba Lead: Kilo wa se ni nile yi oo? Chorus: Inomba ntere tere nte inomba Lead: Emu ni mo wa da Chorus: Inomba ntere tere nte inomba Lead: Elelo lemuu re o Chorus: Inomba ntere tere nte inomba Lead: Okokan Egbewa Chorus: Inomba ntere tere nte inomba Lead: Gbemu sile ki o maa loo Chorus: Inomba ntere tere nte inomba.
Lead: Visitor from (the) heaven(s), visitor from (the) heaven(s) Chorus: Inomba ntere tere nte inomba Lead: What do you seek in this land? Chorus: Inomba ntere tere nte inomba. Lead: I've come to tap palmwine. Chorus: Inomba ntere tere nte inomba. Lead: How much do you sell your palmwine? Chorus: Inomba ntere tere nte inomba. Lead: Ten thousand cowries per keg. Chorus: Inomba ntere tere nte inomba. Lead: Put the palmwine down and go.
It is clear from the mood of this encounter that the ara orun or visitor from (the) heaven(s) being addressed is not a ghost. The Yoruba have a more appropriate name for ghost.
It is Oku.
Again, the average Yoruba man does not care to hold dialogue with an oku. He (or she) is more likely to flee in terror. However, our earthman here is clearly under the influence of plain curiosity ñ as opposed to dark terror: "What was the mission of the ara orun? He wanted to know.
Again, why did the earthman call the entity Ara Orun? Did he see the entity descend from the skies (Heaven)?
In fact, the use of ile yi (this land) while asking the being his mission shows that the Ara Orun was a total alien. That's how the Yoruba use the word.
Fortunately again, the Ara Orun discloses his mission: To tap palmwine. Hardly anything one will call spiritual. That dispels any notion that the alien was probably a spirit being or an 'angel'.
So, our alien was flesh enough to be capable of relishing the taste of palm wine or was from a land (or world) where palmwine is so appreciated.
Back to the question, how did the earthman recognise the alien as being from 'Heaven'. Did he see him float down from the 'skies'? It should be noted that the Yoruba have the same word ñ Orun ñ for both sky and heaven (supposed abode of good people and Olodumare). Some times though, they take extra pains to use oju orun to distinguish the skies; so did the Earthman see this being descend?
Again, a portion of his song suggests just "descent." We must, however, admit that at this stage, we are at the level of conjectureñ but reasoned conjecture.
This portion of the song is the part of the chorus: Ntere tere nte. What does tere nte connote in the Yoruba language.
For answer, we refer to yet another folklore. this one comes from the Ifa literary corpus.
According to the story, reports reached Orunmila, the Yoruba divinity of wisdom that one of his wives was having an affair with a male mammy water (Pappy Water?)
A naturally enraged Orunmila then trailed the unfaithful woman to the couple's rendezvous at a sea shore or river bank. He caught them in the act ñ and opened fire on (or macheted) the half-fish-half-man.
Wounded the casanova fell back into the deeps and moments later, the water surface hen blood went blood-red.
Now in great sorrow, the apparently unrepentant woman burst into a dirge for for her lover.
Lead: Oko omi, oko omi o. Chorus: Tere na. Lead: Oko mi Oko mi o. Chorus: Tere na. Lead: Ogbe mi lo terere. Chorus: Tere na. Lead: Ogbemi lo tarara. Chorus: Tere na. lead: O tarara Oju omi Chorus: Tere na. Lead: Oju omi a feroro. Chorus: Tere na. Lead: Eja nla hurungbon. Chorus: Tere na. Lead: Oju eye perere. Chorus: Tere na. Lead: My love, my dear love. Chorus: Tere na. Lead: He bore me far, far away (into the sea) Chorus: Tere na. Lead: He bore me far, far (back from the sea). Chorus: tere na Lead: Along the highways of the waters. Chorus: Tere na. Lead: The expansive, limitless waters. Chorus: Tere na. Lead: The mighty bearded fishman Chorus: Tere na.
Tere re in this song clearly indicates "great distance", the great distance the lovers covered as they traversed the waters during their illicit affair.
The other part of our original words: is easily clearer. In Yoruba, Nte connotes "floatation", "high" or "air-borne".Thus we have Lori Oke tente (on the very top of the hill), Ate (a hat worn on the very top of the head. And ole tente (it floats pretty).
Thus, a combination of tere and nte suggests something "floating down, air-borne form great distance, from far away."
Thus what the Tere nte chorus is probably telling us is that this visitors from the heavens, this aliens, floated down from a great distance.
We can now wonder. Did the Yoruba, indeed , Africans, make contact with space being or extra-terrestrials in the ancient past? And did they preserve these encounters in their folklore and folksongs?
I was still "brain-storming" over all these, digging into litreatures on Egungun and allied matters when a most fortunate clue literally fell on my laps.
There is this weekly Ifa programme on the Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State (BCOS). Anchored by Wale Rufai, it features stories from the Ifa corpus by an Ifa priest, Gbolagade Ogunleke Ifatokun.
Being one of my favourite programmes, I was listening on Wednesday November 20, last year when a brief digression in the discussion brought up the issue of the mutual respect between the Ifa priesthood and the Egungun cult. Ifatokun, declared flatly that an Egungun must never whip an Ifa priest. (Egungun o gbodo na Babalawo), especially by reason of an ancient alliance between Orunmila (founder of the Babalawo school) and the Egungun at a time in the ancient past when the Earth was threatened by a deluge of Ifatokun's story held me spellbound.
According to him, the real meaning of egungun is Mayegun that is, "keep the world in order" or "those who keep the world running smoothly."
In the distant past, Ifatokun related, there occurred a deluge, which threatened all life on earth.
Seeing the earth so imperilled, Orunmila, and other (Irunmales the divinities) who were resident on Earth then, sent an S.O.S. to Orun, (Heaven).
In response, the Ara orun, came to the Earth in special costumes.
These costumes, said Ifatokun, had the unique property of drying up any portion of the inundated earth over which they were swung.
The "Egungun" cult sprang from this incident of the invitation of these heavenly beings.
The special and elderly egungun who wear imitations of these today are called Babalago, Ifatokun said.
So, the Egungun (Mayegun) cam from orun (heaven, Space) to rescue aye (Earth) form the deluge.
The modern interpretation of the Ifatokun story is glaring:
When the deluge hit the Earth, extraterrestrial beings resident on Earth, among whom was Orunmila, himself, sent an S.O.S to their home planet. And in response, extraterrestial hydrologists landed on Earth in spacesuits (and, by inference, space craft) to rid the Earth of the excess water!.
Of course, the matter does not end here. Some sailent questions have been raised, especially by this last account.
For instance, was Orunmila truly an extraterrestial? Were the Irunmales or Orisas, extraterrestials? The answer is Yes.
However, that is another story...
Story originally published by The Guardian - Nigeria By Yemi Ogunsola
Document of the International Council of Ifa in Nigeria
For: The Ifa World Order
This counsel has been up to date with the growing worries generated by the
current controversy that surrounds the report that is found circulating and that
alleges that a Mrs. D' Haifia who is also Yeye Araba, affirms to be in
possession of Orisa Odu (Igba Iwa) which was given to her OLo-Irese, The Araba
of Ife, and Chief Makonranwale Adisa Aworeni.
This fact has generated an anxiety and unprecedented uneasiness inside and out
of the community of Ifa World. The counsel, with a view to clarify the facts, by
this manner gives the following explanations;
1- It prohibits that any woman of any religion or spiritual extraction be in the
possession of, management or vision of Orisa Odu. This is not by any means
discriminatory against the woman, but is in pure and strict harmony with the
dogmas of Ifa according to itself expressly train in Ofun Meji 16:4, in Irete
Bear 221:8, in Irete Ofun 226:18 and in Otrupon Irete.
2- Any woman that affirms to be in possession of or manipulate or see Orisa Odu
has consequently broken a fundamental dogma of Ifa and she will be responsible
for physical as spiritual consequences of her actions.
3- The council likewise reports that neither Mrs. D' Haifa nor her associates
are registered or recognized as members of the International Counsel of the
Religion of Ifa, the governing body and uniting power of all the followers of
The Council makes the following statements.
1- It warns all women in interest of their spiritual and physical welfare to
never acquire, touch or to see Odu (igba iwa). This will do them no well, since
to not possess it does not deprive them of its spiritual essence in any form.
2- If some woman affirms to possess Odu (Igba Iwa), said woman does it against
the commandments of the dogmas of Ifa. In this manner those women in possession
of Odu (Igaba Iwa) in any manner or aspect should consider it as something that
is lacking of spiritual value, since those people which affirm to have received
it, are aware of the inexorable fact that is an abomination for a woman to
possess or to see Odu (Igba Iwa)..
3- For having stained the name of Ifa and of the women and by dragging in the
mud the venerated name of Ifa, and by generating a controversy that could have
been avoided, the International council of the Religion of Ifa, (of which the
Arabaof Ife is President, board of directors) in this manner withdraws the title
of Yeye Araba from Mrs. DÂ¡Haifia effective immediately.
4- The Counsel in this manner warns all charlatans, impostors, false and
practioners of Ifa to desist since we will no doubt be invoking all the
measures on anyone regardless of their position in the community of Ifa.
5- To all the temples and associations dedicated to the worship of Ifa all over
the world, in this manner it is advised to be registered officially and as quick
as be possible with the Council and so avoid having rights and privileges of
said membership are denied to them.
Nigeria, March 25 of the 2003 Signed by:
Profesor Idowu B. Odeyemi Balogun Awo Agbaye & Presidente.
Chief Solagbade Popoola, secretario General
Chief Fasina Falade Olobikin Of Ile â€"Ifa
Member (board of directors, depository:
Chief Prof.. Wande Abimbola
Chief Oyewole Obenmalcinda
Chief Prof. Odutola Odeyeni
Chief Iquyikwa Odutola
Chief Adeboye Oyesanya
Chief Awodirian Agboola.