Before the internet one could be forgiven for believing anything they were told about West African Orisa tradition, even some people living in Yorubaland carry all kinds of misconceptions. However, with technology and generally more awareness, there is no longer any excuse, and if anyone wishes to give an opinion on a subject that bears on our history , traditions , and ancient spirituality, that person must make sure that it is an informed one.
It’s not OK for folk to sit in their sitting room in Lagos (or some American city) and be saying this ancient Yoruba practice/language or that Yoruba drum exists in diaspora that no longer exists in West Africa. Without visiting all the localities of Yorubaland, or communing with families who have kept so many of our traditions alive in the face of Abrahamic and colonial influences, such blanket statements do us all a disservice.
The breadth of Yorubaland is such that if a practice is not found in Lagos or Kwara, it could be alive and thriving in Ketou, Republic of Benin. In the meantime, there’s a lot of work to be done erasing all of these notions , some of which appear to be intent on beguiling naive newcomers into believing one tradition is better than the other.
Babalawo Nathan Lugo has been at the forefront of dispelling the myths and rumours about West African Orisa and Ifa tradition . No one is more passionate on social media about preserving the integrity of the West African Orisa tradition while at the same time respecting the other strains developing/developed in the diaspora.
Titled Olowe Aikulola Oluwin-Oosa, he is the Ifa Crusader on a mythbusting quest which he does with cold bare facts that cannot be disputed. He has lived in and visited Yorubaland for decades completely immersing in Orisa and Ifa tradition and has set about on a mission to correct the many wrong impressions existing in the diaspora about West African Yoruba Spirituality.
He has his work cut out going by some of these ludicrous and funny myths!
List of urban myths and other fanciful tales heard from many in the americas about Orisa Tradition in Yoruba land of West Africa, Yoruba language, Nigeria, etc:
-Orisa no longer exist in Africa.
-Chief priests of Ifa or other orisa traveled to countries if the diaspora to learn ancient rituals, practices, and shrines that had been lost in Yorubaland.
-The language used in ritual in the Diaspora represents ancient Yoruba language that went extinct in Yorubaland.
-The worship and priesthoods of Osoosi and Erinle have disappeared or all but disappeared in Nigeria and Benin Republic.
-The Alaafin of Oyo (kabiyesi!, iku baba yeye!) sent bata drummers to Cuba to relearn how to play bata because the drummers in Nigeria had forgotten.
-Iya Adunni Suzanne Wenger was made the Iya Osun of Osogbo (chief priestess of Osun in Osogbo) because there were no more Osun priests in Osogbo and all of Osogbo’s population had because muslim or christian.
-The food called amala in Nigeria is a newer version of the ancient amala prepared in Cuba and Brazil. (Yes, I have literally heard this nonsense!)
-The Ooni of Ife performed idobale (layed prone flat on the ground) to the Orisa singer Lazaro Ros when the Ooni visited the island nation of Cuba years ago. (Shockingly and quite embarrassing for cubans and cuban orisa people, this madness was uttered at Miami-Dad College in front of an entire audience by the cuban ethnographer Natalia Bolívar just a few years ago!)
-Yoruba people of Nigeria and Benin Republic don’t understand the orisa songs of Santeria and Candomble because the language used is a dialect of ancient Yoruba language that was completely removed from West Africa and only preserved in the Diaspora.
-Orisa people in Nigeria are now using soperas from the cubans. (…Meanwhile the use of chinese rice bowls and other chinaware has been in uses for several generations in Yoruba land in addition to the more indigenous containers used for Orisa since ancient times. But I guess the myth-makers of the West overlooked their presence in West Africa for at least as long as Orisa has existed in the Diaspora.)
-Chief Fayemi Elebuibon, the current Araba of Osogbo, went to Orlando and Tampa area to stay with cuban santeros that live there to learn to consecrate some Orisa that had been lost in Nigeria but preserved in cuban Santeria.
-The cult of Oya is almost dead.
That iyanifas are only a recent “invention” and have no true place in Ifa.
-another urban ‘myth’ (lie): Cuban bata drumming is more complex than Yoruba bata drumming because fewer drums are used in the Cuban ensemble
-only those initiated in ‘the room’ are allowed in Lucumi but in Africa they allow anyone – even the non-initated into Igbodu.
-Nigerians are so poor because they no longer have Orisa – they are savages and had abandoned their traditions.
-During slavery they swallowed all the otans an erindinlogun an brought them over from yorubaland across the waters.
-That there is no functioning oosa/orisa community and everything is “Ifa”.
-When you do tefa you betray the Orisa you were crowned.
-You are not a full “Iyalocha or babalocha” unless you have cuchillo ceromony or the ceromony of irete kutan to be licensed as a Obba Oriate.
-That idosu is incorrect because it doesn’t (always) take the full 7 days that Ocha does
-You can’t perform/do Orisa ceremonies as an Ifa initiate.
-“You can’t initiate Olocun, Omolu, or Aganyu directly on the head”
-that every person who is a traditionalist, started out in lucumi.
-Here’s another one: Gill Sampaio Ominirò said that the system of Eerindinlogun divination performed in Yorubaland was created in Brazil and introduced to orisa priests in Nigeria and Benin Republic. According to him, the system of 16 cowrie divination was created by a babalawo / babalorisa of brazil and brought to Nigeria because before then only Ifa divination existed in Africa!
See the actual facebook post and comments here