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The History and Efficacy of World Ifa Temple In Ile- Ife

By Sodiq Lawal

Locating World Ifa Temple in Ile -Ife, Osun State is not a difficult task, is located at Oke Itase in the ancient City or getting a motor bike will quickly direct interested visitor from Enuwa, the street where the Ooni of Ife’s palace is located.

The World Ifa Temple in Ile- Ife is the seat of Araba Awo of the universe; it is about 50 metres to other houses in the shrine.

The temple itself stands like a gigantic orthodox church, silent, yet loud with rolls of steps spread from the hill to the bottom for easy accessibility.

It looks as the hunter that watches over Ife. The exterior of the temple which sits atop a knoll, is painted white, and the floors of the stairs red.

The temple has two floors On entrance to the temple also known as “Ile Agbonmiregun,” one notices the floors of white and red tiles, well arranged, leading to the altar which only the Araba Agbaye, Chief Adisa Aworeni sits and presides over the rituals as chief priest.

At the altar, the Araba-agbaye’s photo was hanged conspicuously on the wall. Although he had no clothing on, the intricate designs made by white chalks only depicts one thing, a leopard.

Ife City News gathered that the make-up vividly portrayed the picture of the Orunmila when he got angry and turned into a leopard when he and the Ooni had a rift some millennia ago.

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The leopard made its way to the Ooni’s palace to tear him apart, but the people appeased him and he later changed back into a human being.

Thus, the leopard is an important animal to the Ifa adherents.

Babalawo Akintunde, an Ifa practitioner, said the 10 pillars of the temple, five on both sides and the ten windows do not really have any spiritual significance, that they are normal structures to support the building and for ventilation.

Offering boxes made of wood were strategically placed on each side of the pew where the worshippers can drop their gifts.

The tombs at the right side of the temple by the pillars are the spots where some gods enter the ground,  though some mini platforms are constructed to commemorate the gods.

The first is that of Agiri – Baba Oketase, next to it is Sopona’s platform.

Akintunde told Ife City News that Sopona is not a friendly deity and hates being disturbed.

An instance of this was when the temple was being renovated, and the god was moved from its position, it was really a near- disaster as a plague broke out on the town before it was appeased and the plague stopped.

Baluwe Orunmila (Orunmila’s bathroom) is the third platform. This was so because the Orunmila deity loves water.

At the interior of the ‘’Ile Agbonmiregun’’ is a quadrangle, and within this is the “Ojubo ifa’’, the Ifa shrine.

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There is a spot by the altar which our guide claimed to be the place where Noah’s ark rested after the deluge, just like it was recorded in the Bible that the flood occurred.

A room built like a sacristy in an Orthodox Church building, is named the Orunmila’s room where only the Araba-Agbaye could enter to consult with the deity.

The upstairs buildings has a large space for reception. It also has 13 windows and two doors that serve as emergency exits apart from the staircase at the entrance into the temple.

Akintunde  said the temple was built in 1936 with stones and mudbricks, rather than blocks, as is the norm these days.

Some young people were seen in the room that serves as Araba-Agbaye’s Office, attending to the people who came to consult the Ifa.

These young people our guide called the “Omo-awo,’’ they are divinely chosen by the Ifa oracle itself.

Although some of them are biological children of Ifa priests, others are divinely gifted or chosen. They can recite the incantations off hand and are understudying the priests.

There is a palm tree beside the temple which must be worshipped every first Saturday of June in the morning before the commencement of the celebration, after the women must have swept the surroundings of the temple.

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This practice is as a result of the promise the Orunmila made to a particular palm tree some era ago when it helped him.

He promised, as a reciprocal gesture, that every part of it shall be a money spinner. And so it is till today, as no part of the palm tree is a waste.

As I was heading out of the Temple, Babalawo Akintunde remarked that “I shall be expecting you in every year  for our festival.

Then, you will be able to appreciate in full the essence of this temple, as you will be surprised by the number of Ifa adherents not only from Nigeria but from the diaspora, the white adherents almost outnumbered the black last year.