REWRITING THE STORIES OF THE ORISAS
Many stories we hear today about most of our Orisa are mere fabrications. The fabrications started from non-practitione rs. Most of them intentionally fabricated stories to gain popularity or to denigrate our faith, while some of them (especially the historians and anthropologists ) gathered the fallacious stories from people who either were not conversant with our religion or who had aversion for this faith. When we critically examine the story at times, it is difficult to filter out the intentional or unintentional fabrications added to distort the story/history and “downgrade” our Orisa to mere mortals like Ogun was born in Saki, Orunmila was a blind man from Nupe, Sango was the fourth king of Oyo who hanged himself (Oba to pokun so), Obatala was an albino from Ifan, Osun was a woman from Ekiti, Yemoja was the wife of a king of Saki, Oduduwa escaped death from Mecca, Ela was born by Moremi and so on. It needs divine reasoning to decipher the truth from the fallacy.
The attempt to deride Esu started in 1844 when Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowder started using Yoruba language to preach Christianity. It was then they started equating Esu with Satan/Devil. The blasphemous war against Sango started in 1921, when a man called Hethersett, who was then a head of a school in Lagos, Nigeria wrote the history of Sango. The man, who was a Christian wrote a story that Sango hanged himself and made people believe that that is why Sango is called Obakoso (the king did not hang) to protect his reputation. We are not sure whether the writer fabricated the story by himself or he gathered it from some sources. We know that a king once reigned in Oyo, whose Orisa was Sango. He reigned as the fourth king of Oyo. It might be that Hethersett was confused and was unable to decipher the king who was a devotee from the Orisa that the King followed. However, it is clear that Hethersett did that to destroy traditional religion in order to propagate Christianity especially when we think over the fact that Hethersett did not consult the previous works by people like Ellis (1894) and Denneth (1910) before he wrote the story. This is what Professor Akinwumi Isola noticed in the year 2000.
The irony of it which saddens one most is the fact that even, many of the followers of Ifa/Orisa faith believe in those stories. Many of the devotees talk bad about Esu and some are even shy of bearing names like Esuyemi, Esugbemi and so on because, they believe that Esu is the devil. Likewise, many devotees of Sango today believe in that story written first by Hethersett. They erroneously believe Sango to be the fourth Alaafin of Oyo who hanged himself. Alas! The fallacious stories have gained ground throughout the world.
It is high time we wiped out the fallacies that have overthrown the real history of the Oduduwa tribe. Let us do away with stories that are not firmly rooted in Ifa, the scripture of our religion. Let us not depend on the history of Oduduwa land or that of any Orisa which was/ is written by christian fanatics or muslim jihadists who call themselves historians or anthropologists.
What is sure is that the destiny of our religion is in our hands. It is high time we started rewriting the stories of our Orisa for the coming generation to have documents to lay hands on. Let us encourage ourselves to write books of our religions by ourselves. Let no muslim or Christian write the stories of our Orisa for us. Let those who have useful information about each Orisa document such information for the posterity. Ase.
Fayemi Fatunde Fakayode
Alade Near Moniya, Ibadan.