How Omisore apologized for debasing traditional worshippers – Ifa priest


Chief Olayiwola Adigun is the Principal Priest of Osun-Osogbo, a sacred sanctuary of the traditional religion along the banks of Osun River. Adigun, an Ifa cleric, who is popularly known as Baba Olosun of Osogboland, in this interview with TIMOTHY AGBOR, explains why Nigerian politics and government are dominated by Christians and Muslims. He reveals the difference between herbalists and Babalawos among other issues. Excerpts:

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Before now, we know the African traditional religion, but it appears the government pays more attention and recognises Christianity and Islam. How does this make you feel?

Why we are behind as worshipers of traditional religion is simply because of numbers. The Muslims and Christians are many and more than us. Though, some of them are part of us but those who are professing publicly are more than us. And if we agree that democracy is a matter of numbers, then the Christians and Muslims will have more say in Nigerian politics and governance than us. This is why they put their people in power and offices. But, things are changing because we are now educating our children more than before because we know that once traditionalists find themselves in government and politics, Nigerians will be happy.

The problem is that the two religions (Christianity and Muslim) you mentioned put their children in schools, they put their children in universities; they will come out and have confidence in themselves, project what they stand for. So, we are also trying to educate our children. All my children that are of university age are graduates, same thing with Baba Ifayemi Elebuibon and Atanda, Asaju Awo. So, it’s just a matter of time, we will also have our bearings in the way Nigeria is being run. The truth is that currently, we, as worshipers of traditional religion, are not there now. We can’t deceive ourselves. That’s mainly the reason I went to study Law so that with all these points you mentioned, one would be able to put them forward to the judiciary and for judicial decisions so that the government will recognise us because we have rights to be.

We are in the constitution and religion is very important especially in Africa. Government is not shying away from it also and neither is it degrading us, we just need to project ourselves forward and we need numbers to do that and gradually, we will get it. For example, there was an issue of a guy that went to Osun forest and was doing sex film. It became a big issue and we were able to mobilize ourselves to go against it and the government also reasoned with us. We went to court, we did everything and we won.

Do you encourage your worshipers to go into politics or why don’t we have your members vying for top offices?

You are right. We do hear Muslim/Christian tickets and, recently, Muslim/Muslim tickets. Nobody is talking about traditional religion tickets and that’s because we don’t have people to put forward for now. Like the people we have, Prof Wande Abimbola, he is already busy with his own things and he is already old. Elebuibon didn’t go to school at all. As of now, we don’t have people to put forward and that’s the problem we are having. I believe in ten years to come, there will be changes.

We are already raising the awareness in our congregations for us to be identified with politically. In Okinni, we have Atefun temple, every Saturday we congregate. In Osogbo, we have Idi Ileke temple and we congregate every Saturday. In the Ataoja palace, we have Osun worship’s day every five days. We have congregations and many organisations. We have a Yoruba Tradition Committee and we meet every year to work towards the issues you are raising now.

“When the sacrilege is being committed, no one will know but when the consequences of the taboo will come, everyone will know. It’s a taboo for traditional rulers to debase their religion and project foreign religions. Not only a taboo for the traditional rulers, it’s also a taboo for all Yorubas and Nigerians who are projecting foreign religions. They will pay for it”

There is a crisis in the traditional institution and stakeholders say it’s because oracles no longer choose Obas, rather, once a contender is rich and influential, he would have his way. Is this true?

Ifa is still relevant in choosing Obas. There was a king around Ikirun, he was removed by the court because Ifa wasn’t consulted before he was picked. The family will first present candidates and the kingmakers will then consult Ifa, they will pick one out of the two. It’s the person that they will present to the local government and then he will be approved. There are Ifa diviners in the palaces.

In Oyo and Ogbomosho, part of what is delaying the choosing of Obas is related to Ifa because you cannot bend tradition. It’s just a clash between modernity and tradition but tradition will prevail. I blame the Obas because they have been rough in their approaches. The towns where kings are stupid, people won’t be happy and outsiders won’t see them as thoughtful people.

We have traditional rulers who are pastors and Imams, they attend Churches and Mosques. Isn’t the traditional religion dwindling with this development?

I believe that kings who proclaim themselves in public as pastors or Imams or Christians and Muslims are core traditionalists because they can’t separate themselves from the deities. It will boomerang if they try to disconnect themselves from the oracles. It will bounce back on their children because their father didn’t follow the tradition. All these things about Christian and Muslim burials for kings are just hypocritical; they still do ritual burials for them. They dine and wine with the gods at midnight.

Are the oracles against Obas practicing other religions?

Not really, so far they are not sidelining the tradition. Culture can change but tradition can never change. Because of these two foreign religions, people are projecting one image and following another inside of themselves. They are doing this because of what they stand to benefit. For instance, Oluwo has been castigating Orisa because he is earning a lot from it, but inside of him, he is a traditionalist.

Are the oracles not angry with this double practice?

When the sacrilege is being committed, no one will know but when the consequences of the taboo will come, everyone will know. It’s a taboo for traditional rulers to debase their religion and project foreign religions. Not only a taboo for the traditional rulers, it’s also a taboo for all Yorubas and Nigerians who are projecting foreign religions. They will pay for it. All Africans who are projecting Christianity and Muslim religions will pay for it. Many of these kings are already paying for it. Check their lives, nothing is working for them. Even as a country, we are paying for it.

Since we got independence, we have been struggling to make Nigeria work but it’s not working. It means something is wrong somewhere. When you are not doing things correctly, you will pay for it. The Japanese are embracing their religion, see the way they are today. The Indians are also doing theirs, check their growth. They didn’t jettison their tradition. They only embraced foreign things, not foreign culture, not foreign religions.


But, we Africans, we embraced foreign culture, we embraced foreign religion, and this is where we are. Which country in Africa is good today? Sudan is currently at war, Ethiopia is at war. That means no peace and it means we are paying the price which shouldn’t be so. The Indians followed their religion and tradition. When a Hindus was appointed Prime Minister in Britain, he did rituals publicly before moving into his office notwithstanding that he is no more in India. But, if Governor Adeleke should call Ogun or Ifa before entering office, people will castigate him that he has become a cultist. We don’t know what we are doing. We don’t have education, we only have certificates. That’s the problem we are having in this country.

When former Governor Aregbesola gave us Isese Day as a public holiday then, the Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria in Osun State, Ogundiya said Aregbesola was supporting “devilish people.”

Senator Iyiola Omisore also said the same thing. That was why I asked the people not to vote for Omisore when he was contesting the governorship position because he said we are devilish people.

Omisore quickly sent somebody to me, but I said he should talk to me himself. He called me two hours after and denied saying such, he begged me then and promised to prioritize the welfare of traditional worshippers. These people are hypocrites. The point is that tradition can’t be killed. It’s better we embrace it for our growth.

Those who are promoting traditional religions are Christians and Muslims. When they want to make Osun Osogbo UNESCO heritage site, it’s Christians and Muslims that made it happen. They could have stopped it but they didn’t. Yorubas are the only group in the world whose colonialism didn’t destroy their tradition. So many things have been documented in this country since we had independence. It was an agreement between the British and Nigeria. Awolowo, Ariyo, Bode Thomas went to Britain to sign some documents and these have been our guide. Northerners had said they don’t want independence but they gave some conditions before they could agree. That’s why governance has been favouring the North. Since we want to have another census, maybe things will change.

Do you see Bola Tinubu, the President-elect turning things around in this country?

The act of ruling in Nigeria is a mystery. If not for Tinubu, it wasn’t easy to take over power from the Fulanis. He had supported Buhari before and he said it was his time to be President. Tinubu knows how to understand people, even when you are playing pranks. Buhari didn’t want to support him initially but his wife told Buhari to support him because she was there when they went to Tinubu in Lagos. It was Buhari’s wife that intervened and made Buhari support Tinubu.

Tinubu will play the Hausas and Fulanis well. He knows everything we say about the North. But, Tinubu should not shout like the others so that we won’t play into their hands and be killing us (Yoruba). The Igbos shouted too much and that’s why they turned themselves into baits for the lions of the North to be eating them. Sunday Igboho also did the same thing by wanting to protect the Yorubas but you can see how he was treated, if not for the eventual protection he enjoys from the likes of Obasanjo and Wole Soyinka.

So, I believe Tinubu will turn things around in Nigeria. He only wants the power to work with, because if you don’t have the power, you won’t do anything tangible.

People demonise herbalists because of their alleged roles in fast growing money rituals. Are herbalists members of the traditional religion and is ritual money permitted in your religion?

I read one article and the person was saying we should show him someone that got money from a ritual and he is a billionaire. There is no one single billionaire who made his money from ritual. So, It’s true there is a money ritual, it’s just that you can only have money to eat, to buy a car and build a house but you can never be a billionaire with it. You can only be a billionaire with inventions, with businesses, with industries. We have different types of means of making money in a traditional way. We have Awure, Awure means good luck. We have Oshole. Oshole is also good luck but in a hard way whereby human parts are used. Any man who asks people to bring human flesh or parts as ingredients for a money ritual is an herbalist, Babalawo will not do that.

“Buhari didn’t want to support him initially but his wife told Buhari to support him because she was there when they went to Tinubu in Lagos. It was Buhari’s wife that intervened and made Buhari support Tinubu”

Is herbalism different from Babalawo?

Yes, they are. Herbalists specialise in herbs. They know how to mix herbs to achieve aims and objectives. Babalawos are spiritual people and they use spiritual ways to help the people. Like me, I am a Babalawo and when they will teach us spiritual powers, they will tell us the side effects and consequences. Herbalists are not teaching themselves the side effects and they don’t tell those who visit them for money ritual the evil consequences of the act. They are only teaching you how to do it. They will not tell you that your children will pay for it, which you yourself might pay for before you die. They won’t tell you the dangers because they see it as a job from which they must make money. But, we Babalawos are thinking of heaven. We are also thinking of how our children will be after we might have gone from this world. We think like this but herbalists won’t think like that. Herbalists are those who are looking at herbs as professions only. Herbalists are those who work for ‘Yahoo Boys’. Yahoo Boys come to me and I turn them back. I tell them I can’t work for them. I am satisfied with what God has blessed me with. I am not aiming to buy a private jet nor acquire a limousine. I am only after what I could afford. So, once I can live comfortably and pay my children’s school fees, I am fine. I don’t want to do evil.

Do herbalists use the same power that Babalawos use?

Yes, the only difference is that herbalists are not taught the side effects of the rituals they do. But, we (Babalawos) are taught that. We are also taught consequences but herbalists are not taught. That’s why they could do fraud and evil things. They don’t worry about what will come after. They are not traditionalists like us, they are not spiritualists like us. They dupe people and they get huge money from it. They only want to be rich, enjoy and have beautiful women around them. People are now realizing that those who use human beings as sacrifice are not traditionalists like us. Some of them are Muslims and Christians, Pastors and Alfas. These clerics come to those who sell spiritual items to buy things for rituals and spiritual powers. They only project foreign religions to the world but they do traditions in private. They know it.