Like a constant increase of bubbles in the air, Olakunle Olawole not only became an Ifa priest – Oluwo. His journey towards deep knowledge of African spirituality began as a reply to the pending question of self-discovery.
The trigger was not to challenge what was born as a belief in the Holy Trinity of God of Christianity, but to look beyond, and probably create a unique path for himself.
This discovery first began as a spark of fire, then an ember, then a hell of spiritual connection and established reality.
Fast forward to 2022, Olakunle has put his experience in the Ministry of Deep Christian Life behind him and is now putting people, especially young people like him, on the map of their spiritual discovery through Ifa.
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In this interview with LEGIT.ng, Oluwo Olakun gives you answers that can correct negative stereotypes about African spirituality.
It seems that you have tasted wine from two different glasses. Who is Oluwo Olakunle in full?
Oluwo Olakunle Olawole is my name. I am a young Ifa priest, technology enthusiast and global change maker using the knowledge of Ifa and the Orisa (gods) to positively impact youth in society.
I’m the host of Africa’s first Afrofuturist podcast, #IheifaPriestPodcast, an insightful podcast aimed at correcting negative stereotypes about African spirituality. In addition, I am a member of the CGPIT Center for the Global Polytheistic and Indigenous Tradition in India; and former national youth leader of the KOWA party in Nigeria.
Affectionately called MKO, I was a member of the student representative council at Yaba College of Technology ’14. In my soon to be published book “IFA, AFRO-FUTURISM AND TECH”, I argued that intergenerational dialogue is necessary to sustain indigenous science to advance society.
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You are one of the young priests who proudly projects the divinity of Ifá; Why should someone study and believe in Ifa?
Ifa is a knowledge-based portal, an advanced consultation system applicable to all aspects of society. Having survived the test of time and many stereotypes, the power of knowledge is unmatched. Contrary to public belief, not all of us need to become a Babalawo “master of mysteries” in the study of Ifa as the knowledge is readily available and useful in all fields of society, regardless of our various ideas and understandings.
There are so many obstacles that prevent the presence of young and vibrant people from being publicly associated with a religious system like the cult of Ifa. Although it’s not that I would say that youth are not in the space, youth, and indeed Africans in general, would not simply associate with the system because of the negative stereotypes associated with the system.
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What differentiates Ifa priests from other worshippers, and what unique peculiarity does Ifa share with other traditional religions?
Ifa explains allegorically in one of the verses of the sacred odus;
Awọn alagbara ni n ja ogun fun Ọba
Awọn eniyan barabara ni nṣe iṣẹ agbẹ
Ẹni to ba ni iye de inu ni n ṣiṣẹ Babalawo
Ẹni ọrọ dun ladunju ni nṣe awo Ajẹ
“Ẹni to ba ni iye de inu ni n ṣiṣẹ Babalawo” translates to the quality of one’s logic and critical reasoning, which invariably explains precisely who qualifies to be called an Ifa priest in the contemporary world. A priest is a paradox of knowledge whose views on different aspects of nature are mostly divergent, but determined in his determination to provide solutions to the problems he faces.
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Unlike other religions, Ifa explains historically, through the interpretation of our sacred literary corpus, the relationship between the numerous energies of nature. As a religion, the principle of nature based on the principle of love and truth is a generality in all religions.
What is Ifa’s understanding of Ori, destiny?
The Yoruba adage “Ori ni Ọba ara” is a testament to how important the Ori is in the scheme of our lives.
Ori, being man’s access point to the cosmic or spiritual realm, is an important aspect of African spirituality that must be understood on our journey towards self-discovery.
However, Ifa explains the link between one’s Ori as a spiritual guardian and nature. On my podcast, “The Ifa Priest Podcast”, there is an episode titled; “Ori and man’s encounter with spirituality” which deeply explains Ori as our unique spiritual identity and the database through which every event in life unfolds.
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Does worshiping Ifa make someone a Babalawo or Onisegun? What is the difference between the two?
Worshiping Ifa makes you a believer, and eventually becoming a Babalawo is the result of a much more advanced level of study. Many practitioners are not certified to be called a Babalawo or Onisegun by virtue of training.
An Ifa priest (Baba gbogbo Alawo) is supposed to be the father of mysteries, a philosopher, a change maker, a researcher, a natural scientist, a programmer, a talent manager, a counselor and many other things. A Babalawo is the interpreter who decodes the programming languages of nature while linking the energies that flow through nature with man.
An Onisegun is an advanced Adahunse, in the sense that he or she, having developed an interest in general knowledge of herbs, seeks to know more about herbs in a more professional manner. He or she is proficient in the knowledge of herbs and roots.
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Rising threat yahoo yahoo has popularized the term “Ose, Oshole”, does bath ‘soap’ really bring in money? Are there money rituals in the Ifá divinity?
As I used to tell people that Oògùn works on the principle of energy conversion which states that “energy can neither be created nor destroyed, but it can be transferred from one medium to another”. When the soap is made to accumulate the positive energy of attraction, however, it could also be directed only to attract financial opportunities. That explains how this soap works. However, you must work for a living or earn money; therefore, the Oògùn or ọṣẹ oṣolẹ does not bring money to your door; helps attract positive opportunities in line with your line of work.
The money ritual does not exist in Ifa.
As an Ifá priest, how do you think the bond of religious harmony can be strengthened in a religiously pluralized society like ours?
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First, you should know that religious harmony has been the core value of our society and even as Ifa practitioners and the enablers or “Iwa Pẹlẹ”.
Ifa says in Otura Ọwọnrin:
“Konile gbe ina woju alejo,
Ki alejo gbe ina woju onile,
Adifa fun Alaketu wọn ni ko rubọ aiku fun Anwa ọmọ rẹ”.
Ifa has pointed out that for harmony to exist, we must first understand each other. Harmony rides on the template of understanding; as such, we must study ourselves beyond the news we hear about different religions in order to be accepted.
Tell us more about the school of Ifa and Orisa studies.
SIOS is a leading non-profit cultural center of change agents, committed to promoting African culture with a focus on in-depth research, providing critical analysis on key issues of concern to African culture and spirituality, crafting practical solutions through training and programs that would empower all genders with the knowledge of our indigenous faith.
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We are currently receiving requests to learn, connect and grow in the knowledge of African spirituality through Ifa and the Orisas in a simplified way. We are organizing the topic “Ifa, and Orisa Masterclass 2022:”Understanding Ifa and Orisa in the new era.” It is a one-day training program designed by THE IFA PRIEST SCHOOL OF IFA AND ORISA STUDIES (SIOS) at the Institute of African and Diaspora Studies; = at the University of Lagos. The masterclass, whose date is Tuesday, November 22, 2022, is scheduled to host the following events.
The training would be done by verified and astute professionals in their respective fields.
Do you think traditionalists enjoy the same protection as Muslims and Christians?
No, we don’t.