The 2015 Ọdun Ifa Agbaye to mark the end of the 10,056th year of our traditional calendar and usher in the new year took place on Oke Ọlọta (Ọlọta hill) in Ado-Ekiti of southwest Nigeria during the first weekend of June 2015. It was organized by the International Council for Ifa Religion (ICIR) whose President is Oloye Ṣọlagbade Popoọla, and it was a most memorable event because
- It took place in Ekiti where Ọrunmila’s home and offspring are and where he must have been marking it perhaps over a thousand years ago.
- It was preceded by pilgrimages to the sacred homes of Eṣu in Ijelu-Ekiti, Ogun in Ire-Ekiti and Ọṣun in Igede-Ekiti.
A number of us Ifa and oriṣa priests, priestesses and devotees began arriving Ekiti on the 4th of June and went to Oke Igẹti in Ado-Ekiti which is one of the three hills in Ekiti that are sacred to Ọrunmila, the others being Oke Ado and Oke Ọlọta. The hill was the originally intended site of the festival but had been acquired by the Ekiti State government during the administration of the previous governor, Kayọde Fayẹmi who had the ancient artifacts there demolished – he was later booted out of office. Even though it had been fenced, we gathered at a spot by a section of the fence and prayed to the divinities for their blessings.
The following day we embarked on pilgrimages to the sacred homes of Eṣu, Ogun and Ọṣun, all in Ekiti. For many of us it was the first time, and we were excited to visit the places we used to read about in the Ifa literary corpus. Little did we know that the divinities had more in store for us.
On the 6th of June 2015 we returned to Oke Igẹti to pray, and then departed for Oke Ọlọta, the site of the Ọdun Ifa Agbaye. Upon getting there we began ascending the steep hill, almost all of us on foot, although some managed to drive all the way up. Thankfully, the organizers had mowed down some of the bushes to create a designated path. There were many interesting finds at the summit which many of us youths began exploring immediately
I noticed that there were lots of rocks the size of barrels and elephants that had been neatly split into twos and more, apparently by lightning bolts. This got me jittery because I knew from my previous stay in Ekiti about eight to nine years ago that the summits of the many hills there were usually hidden from sight in the early morning by clouds, that thunderstorms were quite intense there, and that the biblical Moses who is actually Ọrunmila can effortlessly stay in the terrific presence of Olodumare (Exodus 19:16 – 20:21).
Some of us were admiring the scenery when others announced their discovery of footprints on the hard rock that seems to be made of granite. The heels, arcs and toes of the footprints could be clearly seen, and we were excited.
The first one to be discovered was huge (long and wide) and had what appeared to be a small toe sticking out.
There is also a pool there that belongs to Ọṣun who was present and gave out messages to her devotees and told us to ask her for what she would take from us as propitiation to receive the blessing of Aje (wealth) this year. She was once a consort of Ọrunmila so finding her pool there was not surprising. Also, Ọrunmila made use of the pool for itẹfa. I also noticed a stool-like rock surrounded by some grass in the midst on the rocky hill surface which appeared suitable for a teacher to sit and/or stand on while surrounded by students.
When the event started, we were asked to descend the hill and then ascend again while propitiating various divinities along the way. As I made my way downhill, some of my colleagues called out to me from an even higher peak so I went to meet them. The climb was tough and steep, but I made it. The view and cool breeze underneath a Neem tree was awesome. There were more split rocks that were even larger than the ones I had noticed earlier. I also remembered that the temperature at night, especially from 3am, used to drop significantly in this region, and wondered what it would be like later in the night as the festival was to continue till the next day. There was an even higher peak on which was a goat. Getting there looked tempting, but I decided not to try it since I did not know whether or not there were dangerous crevices and wild creatures in the bushes there.
By the time I returned to the venue proper of the festival by 5 pm or earlier, the Odu Ifa for the 10,057th year had been cast. It had been scheduled for 10 pm but for an approaching rainstorm. The odu is Ogunda Ọsa with ire aiku. You can read the full details here.
I got jittery once more as rains meant lightning activity and cold, but watching the storm approach was awesome. Some decided to drive their vehicles to the valley and perhaps some others departed. Then the storm reached us and the rain was hard and the climate cold. When it was over there was singing and dancing as different temple choirs took to the stage one after the other to perform and showcase their skills. Certificates of pilgrimage were also on offer. As this continued the place became colder, and colder, and colder. Even those used to winter felt it, and people began to leave. However, the path had become very slippery so many tumbled on their way to the valley. To overcome this, some got twigs and used them as support, but some still tumbled with it. Some also tried driving down but it was too risky. I tried descending but returned as it was just too slippery for me, and I lost a lens of my glasses while looking for twigs. The singing and dancing continued, and the cold increased.
By 1 am or thereabout some of us decided that we had better descend before it become too cold to for us to move, so we left immediately. Somehow we didn’t tumble but safely arrived at a primary school in the valley where our bus was parked and which was the parking lot for participants. Many others were already there napping. It was still cold there but we could still hear the singing from the summit which continued till about 4 am. We began departing about an hour later but I resolved to return next year better prepared.
Let us return to those footprints. Whose are they? When were they made? Well, my opinion is that they are proof of the Ifa literary corpus being true and accurate rather than a collection of myths as the pro-Amorites have been deceptively preaching to the world. For instance, the owners of those footprints can be traced to Ifa where the names of those of those who lived and went to Oke Ọlọta are recorded. Thus, two sets of those footprints belong to the irunmọlẹs Ọrunmila and Ọṣun, not angels. Moreover, I doubt they belong to Bigfoot a.k.a. Sasquatch who then emigrated therefrom to other parts of the world.
- Click here to see more pictures from Oke Ọlọta.
- Click here to see more pictures from Ekiti, the land of hills.
I hope that some day, whenever participants conclude the Ọdun Ifa Agbaye in Ekiti we immediately proceed to Ile-Ifẹ as pilgrims to pay homage to the Ọọni and all the divinities there and celebrate the new year, and that throughout the year pilgrimages will be organized to other sacred sites in the land of the Ọmọ Oduduwa that stretches from Ghana to Nigeria.