Awonifa

Study the Teaching of Ifa and the Orisha's

Oya is the Goddess of the Niger River. She is seen in aspects of warrior-goddess of wind, lightning, fertility, fire and magic. She creates hurricanes and tornadoes and guards the underworld.

Her full name is Oya-Yansan, which means “mother of nine.” In Brazil, in candomble she is generally saluted with the phrase “Èpa heyi!. while in Cuban-derived Yórùbá traditions, the faithful often salute her by saying “Hekua hey Yansa.”

She is closely associated with many Orishas, but most especially Shango/Changó, Oggun, Oba (Obba), Yewá/Euá and Ochún/Oxum. Oyá is also called “the one who puts on pants to go to war” and “the one who grows a beard to go to war”. As the Spirit of the Wind, Oya manifests in Creation in the forms as sudden and drastic change, strong storms, and the flash of the marketplace. Oya’s representation of wind, creation, and death is not as arbitrary as it may seem. Oya has a sister named Ayao that is received by her initiates.

Oya has been syncretized in Santeria with the Catholic images of Our Lady Of Candelaria (Our Lady of the Presentation) and St. Theresa. Her feast day is February 2.

In Brazilian Umbanda she is represented by Saint Barbara.

Yoruba Fokelore

Yoruba Traditional Religion

To examine the Yoruba religion, one must look at the entire area of Yoruba cultural existence. Yorubas are located basically in the southwestern part of Nigeria and in some parts of Benin and Togo. The history of the Yoruba religion seems to be somewhat of a controversial subject in most sources that deal with this topic. There was really no mention of when the religion started or much about the origin of the people because the beginning of their existence was always noted as being in Ife, the center where the Yoruba people descended from heaven. Ife is said to have been founded around a thousand years ago and there was some mention that the Yorubas might have descended from some Middle Eastern heritage.

As far as dealing with the actual origin of the religion itself, it is only referred to as a surviving religion of a “higher” religion. That religion is said to be from the Ancient Egyptian–Religion otherwise known as Khamet or Kemet. Being that the language of the Yorubas is so strongly tied to the culture there are many comparisons analyzed as to why there is a belief that Yoruba religion has been derived from Ancient Egyptian religion. For example, in Lucas’ “The Religion of the Yorubas” word comparisons are made. Such a comparison is made with the Ancient Egyptian God Amon: “The God Amon is one of the Gods formerly known to the Yorubas”. The Yoruba words mon, mimon, “holy or sacred,” are probably derived from the name of the God” (p.21).

Many of the sources which I encountered did not attempt to even approach the topic of the origin of the Yorubas Orisa (Orisha). The Orisa is one of the key spiritual elements of traditional Yoruba religion. It is an example of the many deep rooted meanings of the religion of the Yorubas. The Orisa, according to Baba Ifa Karade’s “The Handbook of Yoruba Religious Concepts,” are a series of Gods or divinities under the Yoruba’s main–God, Olorun or Oludumare. Karade also argues that there are many striking similarities between the ancient Egyptians and the Yorubas. The Orisha are “… an expression of the principles and functions of divine power manifesting on nature”(p.23).

The actual word “Orisha” has a deep meaning itself. For example, the word ori is the “reflective spark of human consciousness embedded on human essense, and sha which is the ultimate potentiality of that consciousness.” This gives a strong example of how strong language is tied to religion. This Ori is the aspect of the human that is in a sense in control of their spiritual actions. The ori is divided into two which can be known as the ori apari and the ori apere. The ori apari represents the internal spiritual head and the ori apere represents the sign of an individuals personal protector. The common Orisa which seem to come up time after time are these major ones: Obatala, Elegba, Ogun, Yemoja, Oshun (Osun), Shango (Sango), and Oya.

Each of these gods has a specific purpose when dealing with the human spirit. Each of the orisas has a specific color and natural environment associated with them. Obatala represents the embodiment of true purity of one’s soul. Obatala is also said to represent ethical purity. Such purity is represented by pure whiteness. There is great measure taken to carry out the importance of this pure whiteness because the temples which worship the divinity Obatala have the color of white in all the instruments of worship. For example, the clothing of those involved with the worship in the temples are white. In addition, all the emblems are kept in white containers and the ornaments are white as are the beads for the priests and priestesses. Obatala is said to be the father of the Orisha and the divinity in charge of the carving of humans out of clay into the form they are today. He is worshiped or appeased by his followers when they want children, revenge for wrong doings, cures for sickness and so on.

Yemoja is the divinity that governs over all the waters or oceans. Yemoja is said to be the mother of all the Orisha. She is the water or ambiotic fluid in the mother’s womb and the breasts which nurture a new born child. She is the Matriarchal head of the entire universe. Her natural environment are the salt water–oceans and the lakes and the colors associated with her are blue and crystal. There is much confusion concerning the subject matter as to who is the chief female divinity because the different sources represent different view points on this subject matter and this was really unclear.

Sango or Shango to non Yoruba speakers is said to be a human that was made into a deity. He was said to be the ruler of old Oyo that was hung (legend has it that he committed suicide by hanging himself to a tree after his failure to amass all the political powr to himself) because of his greed for power. Sango is the god of lightning in addition to being the Orisha of drum and dance. He is also known to change things into pure and valuabe objects. His followers come to him for legal problems, making bad situations better, and protection from enemies. His natural environment happens to be any place that has been struck by lightning, and the base of trees. It is said that no god is more feared for malevolent action than sango.

Ogun is said to be the god of iron and basically everything that becomes iron. He is known for building or clearing paths for the building of civilizations and is the divinity of mechanization. Ogun is considered to be the holder of divine justice and truth. He is also said to be the executioner of the world. Natural environment are in the woods, railroads, and forges.

Oya is the divinity that is associated with the death or the rebirth into a new life. She is considered to be the wife of Sango. Oya is also known as the god of storms and hurricanes and has power over the winds. She is also the deity that is in charge of guarding the cemetary. Osun (Oshun) is the deity of diplomacy and all giving or unconditional love. She is a river deity because she symbolizes clarity. She is the divinity of fertility and feminine essence. Oshun is said to represent the strenght of feminine love and the power of motherhood. It is she who is appeased when it comes time for a mother to give birth.

Elegba is the messenger of the deities and his major role is to negotiate between the other orishas and the humans and is very close to all the forces of the deities. He is in charge of giving from the humans to the divinities. Elegba is the one who tests the human souls. Even when worhsipping other divinities, he is also worshipped because of his important role in the Yoruba religion. Elegba can both punish and reward and is known for having great wisdom. He is also the divinity who takes the body upon death and the divinity that saves. Although he does not match the role exactly, he is what the western world would call the devil. Elegba is not evil.

It is particularly important to discuss the dieties because they represent such an important aspect of Yoruba traditional religion. The Yorubas have a deep and symbolic meaning attached to each of the divinities which is exhibited through prayer and worhsip. These divinities give the reader some idea of the powerful belief system of the Yorubas. Many scholars or anyone not familiar with the Yoruba system of worship which is based in the belief in more than one god, may see this religion as “superstitious” or “pagan”.

The Yorubas have many festivals to give honor and praise to the many divinities within the Orisa system of belief. The Yoruba festivals are extremely elaborate and have much deep rooted meaning in practice related to them. Certain Yoruba towns have certain orisas which are honored. This is extremely important because it shows the diversity of Yoruba culture and futhermore the facets of traditional Yoruba religion. It would be tedious and quite boring to examine and give an account of every single festival and the villages in which they take place because the Yoruba religion covers so many (actually all) towns in Yorubaland. The discussion could go on forever. However, I will give one account of this widely practiced aspect of Yoruba religion.

Among the people of Osogbo, the Orisa Osun is the center of the town’s attention even though it is worshipped by the people in all areas of Yorubaland. The reason for this vast diversity may be due to the fact that there are major differences in the landscape of each of the villages where the Yorubas settled. Each orisa has a natural environment and a different emphasis may be put on a different orisa. For example, the reason why the people of Osogbo worship osun may be because their town was founded near a river and osun’s natural environment is in fresh rivers and lakes. The historical legend or belief behind the worship of osun is that the people of Osogbo found it hard to find any fresh drinking water for the village. It was the divinity osun who gave the people of Osogbo fresh water. Osun has also been credited to give infertile women children.

In Yoruba traditional religion, life is circular. What is meant by this that in the Yoruba religion, there is no such thing as death. Death is seen as a transition from the physical plain to the spiriitual plain. The life cycle of the Yorubas is very complex. Before an individual is born into the world, they choose a destiny with God (Olodumare) in heaven. The goal is to fulfil the destiny. There is one exception, once a child is born he or she forgets the destiny he or she has chosen. The purpose of this is for the individual to learn and gain wisdom for life in the spiritual plain. The Yoruba traditional religion believes in predestination. It is also important to point out that there is no hell in traditional Yoruba religion. The Yoruba believe that all of one’s wrong doings will be paid for and all good deads will be rewarded. Under the orisa system, the early cycle of life is called “morning”. Morning of one’s life spans from the time of birth to the age of fifty. It is in this time period that the individual learns and experiences life’s most difficult lessons. This also is the time when the Yorubas raise their families. The Yorubas believe that no one is a master in any area of life until they reach age fifty. The time period from the age of fifty until the transition into the spirit realm is called the evening. It is in this time period that individuals enjoy life the most. By this time most Yoruba men and women would have raised their children and have much free time to enjoy the fruits of their labor. The evening is a time period when the Yorubas prepare for their transition. Long life and family are the two most important blessings in Yoruba religion.

The Yoruba believe that there are three types of people: achievers, people who assist achievers, and bystanders. Whichever role one chooses dictates the type of life that the person will live. The babalawo is the most important figure in Yoruba religion on the physical plain. His role is one of great respect and experience. The Babalawo’s training is long and indepth. It is said in some temples of Yoruba divination that Babalawos are said to stay in their temples for seven years before being released into the world to pracitce Orisha. The babalawo, by his knowledge and training, is the link between the divinities and man.

Creation

In the beginning was only the sky above, water and marshland below. The chief god Olorun ruled the sky, and the goddess Olokun ruled what was below. Obatala, another god, reflected upon this situation, then went to Olorun for permission to create dry land for all kinds of living creatures to inhabit. He was given permission, so he sought advice from Orunmila, oldest son of Olorun and the god of prophecy. He was told he would need a gold chain long enough to reach below, a snail’s shell filled with sand, a white hen, a black cat, and a palm nut, all of which he was to carry in a bag. All the gods contributed what gold they had, and Orunmila supplied the articles for the bag. When all was ready, Obatala hung the chain from a corner of the sky, placed the bag over his shoulder, and started the downward climb. When he reached the end of the chain he saw he still had some distance to go. From above he heard Orunmila instruct him to pour the sand from the snail’s shell, and to immediately release the white hen. He did as he was told, whereupon the hen landing on the sand began scratching and scattering it about. Wherever the sand landed it formed dry land, the bigger piles becoming hills and the smaller piles valleys. Obatala jumped to a hill and named the place Ife. The dry land now extended as far as he could see. He dug a hole, planted the palm nut, and saw it grow to maturity in a flash. The mature palm tree dropped more palm nuts on the ground, each of which grew immediately to maturity and repeated the process. Obatala settled down with the cat for company. Many months passed, and he grew bored with his routine. He decided to create beings like himself to keep him company. He dug into the sand and soon found clay with which to mold figures like himself and started on his task, but he soon grew tired and decided to take a break. He made wine from a nearby palm tree, and drank bowl after bowl. Not realizing he was drunk, Obatala returned to his task of fashioning the new beings; because of his condition he fashioned many imperfect figures. Without realizing this, he called out to Olorun to breathe life into his creatures. The next day he realized what he had done and swore never to drink again, and to take care of those who were deformed, thus becoming Protector of the Deformed. The new people built huts as Obatala had done and soon Ife prospered and became a city. All the other gods were happy with what Obatala had done, and visited the land often, except for Olokun, the ruler of all below the sky.

Tortoise and the Elephant

TORTOISE was always fond of making mischief between harmless people. One day as he walked along the river-bank he came upon the Elephant and said to him:

The Hippo is boasting that you are only a weakling, and that you have not strength to pull a log out of the river.

That is false! cried the Elephant, and to prove his strength he allowed Tortoise to tie a strong rope to his trunk and attach the other end to a log in the river.

Tortoise went clown to the water holding the rope, and said to Hippo:

The Elephant is boasting of his strength, and he declares that you are a weakling and could not pull down a tree.

That is false! cried the Hippo. I can pull down any tree.

Tortoise then said that he had attached his rope to a tree, and would fasten the other end to Hippos horn. This he did, and the two animals began to pull, one on each end of the rope. Elephant pulled and pulled, and the Hippo pulled and pulled, and neither gave way.

After some time Hippo rested, and Elephant came down to the water to quench his thirst, and then they saw the trick that had been played on them.

Snorting with anger, they began to look for the mischievous Tortoise, but by this time he was, you may be sure, very far away.

Ifa Related

La Historia De La Letra del Ano

Historia de la Ceremonia de la Letra del Año


La Ceremonia de la Letra del Año es el evento religioso más importante que se lleva a cabo por los Babalawos, tanto en Cuba como en Nigeria, aunque en fechas diferentes, por lo que debe ser del conocimiento de todas las personas que se preocupan por la cultura Yoruba.

No cuestionamos, ni cuestionaremos jamás lo que hacen los hermanos de las diferentes ramas religiosas dentro de su Ilé Osha, tanto en Cuba como en el mundo; pues merecen todo respeto y consideración hacia la identidad y diferenciación que puedan tener según sus códigos culturales.

Cuba es el territorio donde mejor se conservan las tradiciones culturales de esta religión que nos fuera legada por nuestros ancestros esclavos traídos desde África a finales del siglo XVIII. Esto se debe en gran medida a los esclavos pertenecientes a la etnia Yoruba, en específico los de las religiones de los Orishas e Ifá. En nuestro país esta religión es considerada como Religión Cubana de Origen Africano teniendo en cuenta, a través de la historia, los elementos tradicionales rescatados por nuestra población religiosa; elementos que han sido conservados y revitalizados y que por su apego popular han llegado a formar parte de nuestra cultura y de nuestra identidad nacional.

Esta religión, como la vida ha demostrado, se ha trasladado desde Cuba a cualquier región o país del mundo, de una forma natural y espontánea sin perjudicar la religión en general. Por el contrario, ha tenido un intercambio que le da riqueza a la religión y a la cultura, pues exportar una tradición como esta que se caracteriza por no hacer proselitismo "la convertirá en la religión del Siglo XXI", como expresara el Prof. Wande Abimbola (AWISE ABAGE, Inspector general de la religión Yoruba en el mundo), expresión con la que estamos completamente de acuerdo.

Nuestra Institución ha estado luchando desde hace muchos años por la unidad de todos los practicantes de la Regla Osha e Ifá del mundo en los aspectos más importantes y generales donde la Letra del Año tiene un papel fundamental.

En cuanto a este último aspecto hemos tratado de unificar a todos los religiosos sin lograr hasta el presente un resultado final. Esto es debido a que los patrones de cada practicante en ocasiones se vuelven absolutistas y es posible que no se haya pensado en que al rechazar la unificación y no tomar una decisión positiva no se hayan tenido en cuenta las dificultades que ocasionan. Y no sólo atañen a una persona, a un grupo institucional o familiar, sino que se daña una religión que nos fue legada por nuestros antepasados y forma parte del patrimonio que debemos respetar y preservar seriamente.

Se ha tratado de hacer un trabajo de unificación para llegar a un consenso en cuanto a la Letra del Año. Nos referimos a un sistema adivinatorio de probabilidades y es por esta razón que cada ceremonia da por resultado la regencia de distintos Orishas y odun en el año. Las personas, creyentes y no creyentes, se ven confundidas, no saben en quien creer, ni por cual letra regirse. Lo que hace que pierda credibilidad, prestigio y se considere que a nuestra religión le falta seriedad, respeto y la unión por la que luchamos.

Historia
Desde sus inicios las investigaciones cuentan que la Letra del Año comenzó a sacarse a finales del siglo XIX, sin poder precisar la fecha exacta. Por datos y documentos se nos revela que Babalawos procedentes de las diferentes ramas religiosas existentes en el país comenzaron a reunirse para efectuar con todo rigor las ceremonias establecidas, que concluían el primero de enero con la apertura del la Letra del Año.


A través del Oráculo de Ifá se daban a conocer las orientaciones y recomendaciones que debían cumplirse durante ese año, con el fin de evitar o vencer los obstáculos y las dificultades. Por esta razón la primera Letra del Año que se realizó en Cuba la efectuó el Babalawo Remigio Herrera, Obara Meyi, Adeshina, de origen africano, apoyado fundamentalmente en cinco de sus ahijados, a saber:

Marcos García Ifalola Baba Ejiogbe
Oluguere   Oyeku meji
Eulogio Rodríguez Tata Gaitán Ogundafun
José Carmen Batista   Obeweñe
Salvador Montalvo   Okaran Meji
Bernardo Rojas   Ireteuntendi

Es bueno señalar que algunos de los ahijados de Adeshina tenían como Oyurbona a Oluguere que era también de origen africano.

En el año 1902, por problemas de salud de Adeshina, Tata Gaitán asume la responsabilidad de la Letra del Año apoyado por los Babalawos antes mencionados y participando además:

SecundinoCrucet Osaloforbeyo
Bernabé Menocal Baba Ejiogbe
Quintín Lecón García Oturaniko
José Asunción Villalonga Ogundamasa


Igualmente contó con la participación de casi todos los Babalawos de esos tiempos. Aunque la ceremonia siempre se realizaba con la mayor discreción posible y en privado; ya que en el gobierno imperante, todo este tipo de prácticas de creencias africanas estaban consideradas como un delito común dentro del código penal. Por esta razón en algún que otro año se trató de disminuir la participación masiva de Babalawos y se invitaban a los jefes de familia con sólo uno de sus ahijados.


El 9 de mayo de 1959 fallece Bernardo Rojas y su sucesor, el Dr. José Herrera, hereda las deidades de Adeshina y la responsabilidad de la Letra del Año. Tomando en consideración que Joaquín Salazar era el Babalawo mayor y Obá de la rama, el Dr. Herrera le cede la dirección de la apertura del año; llevándose a cabo con la misma efectividad y rigor religioso que las anteriores ceremonias correspondientes a la Letra del Año.

Las actividades en estos años fueron realizadas bajo la dirección de Joaquín Salazar y la rama Adeshina, representada por el Dr. José Herrera.

Posteriormente Joaquín Salazar y otros mayores se dieron a la tarea de reorganizar nuevamente las ramas tradicionales existentes. De esta forma se volvió a ampliar la participación en la Letra del Año a todos los Babalawos. Es así como fueron llamadas, entre otras, las ramas que siguen a continuación:

Rama Nombre Signo Representación Signo Ifabi
Francisco Villalonga Ogunda Kete Ángel Villalonga Ogundaleni
Adeshina Remigio Herrera Obara Meji Fernando Molina Baba Eyiogbe
Ño Karlo Adebi Ojuani Boka Ángel Padrón Baba Eyiogbe
Pericón Pérez Ogbe Yono Alejandro Domínguez Osa Guleya



La letra que se interpreta en la ACYC hace ya algunos años, es la realizada por los Babalawos del país con mayor cantidad de años de iniciados y que desde su comienzo lo han hecho de forma ininterrumpida hasta la actualidad.

Las ramas más tradicionales del siglo XIX y del comienzo del XX estuvieron dirigidas por Babalawos africanos que después delegaron esta responsabilidad en sus sucesores cubanos.

No pretendemos centrar ni establecer tradiciones, sino defender la legitimidad de las ya existentes, transmitidas de generación en generación.

Nos satisface sobremanera que la Santería, "Regla Osha e Ifá, fructifiquen en cualquier territorio del mundo, con la misma fuerza que lo han hecho otras Religiones Cubanas de Origen Africano, que son las que hoy constituyen su fortaleza, como son por citar algunas, el vodú y el palo monte, siempre y cuando no exista en su trasfondo una base de proselitismo y el ánimo de lucro y comercialización.

Aprovechamos la oportunidad para dar a conocer nuestra inconformidad con el sacrificio público de animales, que realizan muchas personas en cualquier latitud en distintos festivales, eventos, espectáculos, videos etc., por una razón muy sencilla pero fundamental, no creemos que para llevar a cabo estos menesteres públicos de envergadura sea necesario llegar al sacrificio de animales, máxime cuando nuestra religión cuenta con tantas bellas manifestaciones y expresiones culturales posibles de exhibir..

Somos de la opinión que aquellos que se han prestado para ofrecer este tipo de actividades, no tienen bien definida su religiosidad, pues debemos tener muy presente que no todos los elementos de la cultura y la religión de un pueblo son comercializables, así como que no todos los habitantes del planeta deben tolerar la realización de un tipo de espectáculo de esta envergadura, pues su visión sobre esta cuestión es bien diferente y en ocasiones muchos son afiliados de asociaciones protectoras de animales, lo que conlleva a que su opinión sobre estos actos sea denigratoria, lo que en lugar de enriquecer nuestra cultura la lleva a su detrimento.

La Historia de la humanidad refiere, que todas las religiones en sus inicios sacrificaban seres humanos, pasando posteriormente de acuerdo a su mitología y patrones al sacrificio de animales, los que posteriormente fueron sustituidos por algún elemento que suplantara este sacrificio, no siendo el caso de las religiones de origen africano que hasta nuestros días siguen utilizando en su ceremonial secreto el sacrificio de animales.

Muchas son las personas que equivocadamente o erradas se aprovechan ahora de la popularidad que ha adquirido esta religión en Cuba y nos atrevemos a decir que en el mundo, para utilizarla como medio de lucro y de enriquecimiento, cuando anteriormente estás mismas personas la consideraban como cosas de negros, de personas atrasadas y de oscurantismo.

Sepan que le reservamos gran respeto a todas las religiones con las que cuenta la humanidad, que no nos preocupa que alguien que no se respete, hable mal de otra religión para que la suya prevalezca, al contrario nos da pena de que alguien tenga que utilizar este medio para que su religión florezca pues eso deja mucho que desear y se puede interpretar que su religión no está lo suficientemente fuerte ni tiene principios sólidos que sustentar.

El respeto es la base de la vida y cada persona es libre de escoger su credo y su línea a seguir ya que entre los seres humanos debe primar el respeto y no el intrusismo en la vida de cualquier semejante sea profesional o no, y en mayor medida si se trata de su fe religiosa.

Somos creyentes de una de las religiones más antiguas con las que cuenta la humanidad, ya que hoy en día se conoce que el lugar donde hubo vida humana por primera vez en la existencia de la humanidad fue en el continente africano y precisamente en la ciudad sagrada de los Yoruba (Ilé Ifé), procuraremos que esta no sea manipulada y ni sea objeto de espectáculo sólo porque a algunos les interese hacerlo.


JUNTA DIRECTIVA ASOCIACIÓN CULTURAL YORUBA DE CUBA

This article is reprinted with the permission of the Cuban Yoruba Cultura Association.
I invite you to visit their website directly at CubaYoruba

Opinions to Our Asociated Practitioners

Directive issued by Cuban Ifa/Ocha Cuncil's

Opinions to our associated practitioners of the rule of Ocha and the Cuban IFA cult.
1. Do not allow anyone to change what was achieved with so much sacrifice in any ceremony performed, Whether in Cuba or our brothers anywhere in the world.
2. Make sure the people who you share knowledge of the secrets of Ifa have actually been initiated under the Cuban religions traditions which are of African origin, or if they have been initiated in some other method which is not what was bequeathed to us by our ancestors.

3. Do not perform or participate in initiations whether IFA or Ocha that are less than 7 days of rituals.

4 When Oba (Oriate) says during an Ocha ita, acting as the intermediary of the odu, "acquitted for lack of evidence" you have to immediately dismantle the throne and the person who is being initiated should stay all 7 days normally required for ceremony.
5 Please do not enter into discussions or raise questions that will cause disagreement with people who wish to follow other methods of initiation.
6. Do not allow in our homes in the days of rituals, opinions or people who do not agree with our faith inherited from our ancestors.
7. Respect all the ceremonial which we have been doing for our higher education.
8 Only be guided by your elders and in the lack of them by those people you designate for this purpose.
9. this section and those following pertained to Cuba and are not worth translating, if you wish to read it. It appears fully in the Spainsh Version.

Signed:

(a) Council of priests of IFA of the Republic of Cuba.
(b) Council of priests Obateros (Oriate) of the Republic of Cuba.
(c) Council of priestesses Iyalochas elders of the Republic of Cuba.
(d) Council of priests Babalochas elders of the Republic of Cuba.
(e) Council of priests heads of Councils of the Republic of Cuba
(f) Council of Arara older priests of the Republic of Cuba.
 
This article is reprinted with the permission of the Cuban Yoruba Cultura Association. I invite you to visit their website directly at CubaYoruba

Adechina brings Ifa to Cuba



Adechina
Remigio Herrera (Obara Meji)


Adechina (“Crown of Fire”) is credited as being one of the most important founding fathers of Ifa in Cuba. A Yoruba born in Africa and initiated as a babalawo there, he was enslaved and taken to Cuba as a young man in the late 1820s. Legend has it that he swallowed his sacred ikin ifa used in divination in order to take them with him across the ocean. An intelligent and gifted man, He worked at a sugar mill until his freedom was paid for in 1827. He later became a powerful property owner in the Havana suburb of Regla. In addition to his large African and Creole religious family he had many influential godchildren from Havana’s Spanish, white elite and had important high society connections. He set up a famous religious institution, the Cabildo of the Virgin of Regla (the Cabildo Yemaya) in around 1860, which became a powerful center of Ifa and Orisha worship. Along with his daughter, the famous Ocha priestess Echu Bi, he organized the annual street procession on the feast day of the Virgin of Regla, every September 7th. Each year seminal Afrocuban drummers like Pablo Roche Okilakpa would sound the mighty Ilú batá in honor of Yemaya as they processed around the town. Incredibly, Adechina is also reputed to have returned to Africa, the land of his birth, in order to acquire the sacred materials needed to initiate babalawos. He returned again to Cuba with these sacred items in order to build Ifa there.

All the mojubas (prayers and recitals of lineage to honor the ancestors) of babalawos in Cuba include Adechina.

A great man who helped carry African profound spiritual knowledge to the Americas.
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