Omítonàdé Ifáwemímo, a twenty-something year old graduate from OAU, is breaking modern stereotypes by answering the call from the Òrìsà Yemoja.
Omítonàdé Ifáwemímo is a young sage and an African traditionalist who began her journey at the age of 5 when she was initiated into the Òrìsà traditions by her parents. At 15, she was already mastering the art and science of divination, chanting and rituals. By the age of 20, she was ordained as an Òrìsà priestess.
According to her, Òrìsà or Ifa is a path of spirituality. It is a personal and communal journey. It is a spiritual path that accepts every soul, no discrimination. It is important to embrace this knowledge of spirituality (from Guardian Life).
As a millennial and graduate of Economics Education from Obafemi Awolowo University, she is versed with the many technologies of today. On her accounts on Instagram and Twitter, she is very vocal about preserving the Òrìsà and Ifa spiritual practices and the teaches her audience with Ifa verses. It is important to her that the negative perception of Yoruba spirituality is erased.
Common misconceptions about Yoruba Sprituality
One of Ifáwẹ̀mímọ́'s chief concerns is the misconception that the Yoruba Esu is Satan.
In a recent interview with Guardian Life, she addressed this:
"You can’t write off Yoruba spirituality and claim to understand Yoruba culture. Everything is interlinked. There are many misconceptions about Yoruba spirituality, but I will like to address “Esu is Satan”. It was Ajayi Crowther who was enslaved and forced erroneously translated Satan to mean Esu.
There is no correlation between [them]. Esu is the intercessor deity that all Ifa or Òrìsà devotees pay homage to. We are seeking his aid. Our own Esu would never think of derailing from his functions. Esu has nothing to do with cursing man or turning man against Olodumare. There is no record in Ifa that Esu rebels against Olodumare. Esu laalu means Ola ilu, he who the community is benefiting from. There are good records where Esu helped people in Ese Ifa (Ifa stories) such as Ejiogbe, Owonrinsogbe and Ogbese. Satan has no place whatsoever in Yoruba spirituality."
From Popoola Ifagbenusola, the stories account for times when the Esu helped people who were lost. In Ejiogbe, there was a story of Olurombi and her beautiful child. She would have lost her but Esu helped her. In Owonrinsogbe, Esu saved Telairoko from death and also helped him to acquire wealth in life. In Ogbese, Esekan soso Ogbe would have fell into his enemies trap but Esu pulled him.
She also speaks on the difference between being a Priestess and a Herbalist:
"I am an Òrìsà priestess. My area of specialisation is divinity (to perform divination for people, Òrìsà initiation, feeding of one’s Orí and Òrìsà). There is a difference between Ifa/Orisa priest, priestess and a herbalist. A herbalist uses herbs, leaves and plants to improve health, promote healing and prevent and treat illness(e.g Yemkem, Oko Oloyun). I hope to learn herbalism in the future though. It is neither dangerous nor fetish. Anybody can have the knowledge."
Omítonàdé claims to have been ostracised in the University for being a priestess, as well as accused of "white-washing" because she uses social media to air her views. However, she insists that her teachings are all rooted in authority and based on Ifa verses.