Popular Ifa Priest, Oloye Ifayemi Ayinde Elebuibon will be 70 in the next few weeks. And this is authoritative. The billboards announcing his 70th are already all over the streets of Osogbo. It will be a one well celebration made up of cultures, awards and grand reception to honour this first class Ifa priest whose reputation is global. All the celebrations will hold in Osogbo, his land of birth. He holds the very important title of Araba of Osogboland.
For those who don’t really know this high chief who is also a teacher of Ifa divinity, very well, lets tell you a bit about this well known Ambassador of Yoruba culture and tradition, who has been an Ifa devotee right from age 4 in Osogbo. Though baba never had formal education, and never saw the farewells of a primary or Sunday school other then learning Ifa at home, he has taught, trained many University students and supervised the Masters and Phd thesis of scholars both Nigerians and expatriates.
He was once appointed a visiting scholar at San Francisco University for many years, teaching students and doing a lot researches to help deepen the knowledge of Ifa. So good is Baba that his house in Osogbo is always a beehive of intellectual activity as both Nigerian researchers and expatriates come in to draw from his fountain of knowledge at his House of Culture in Osogbo, Osun State. He has a full fledge school of Culture and Tradition inside his house in Osogbo. He call it Ancient Philosophy Institute (Ogbeyonu Temple) over the years he has acquired the rich knowledge of Ifa Corps and got inspired by Ifa divination corpas.
He has been a visiting lecturer to many University both home and abroad. He is man who has a deep knowledge of metaphysical issues concerning Yorubas and Yoruba Religion and Culture.
He is not afraid to tell any one who cares to listen that he is a practicing Ifa Priest (a Babalawo).
Yet, he spent several decades conducting more researches into Ifa divination corpus starting from 1972. At some point he was an International Artiste-in-Residence in the US at the State University at Sans Francisco and University of Berkley.
Once he was born, his parent took to the prediction made before he was born that he should be made to study Ifa under an Ifa priest. This he did for the first few yeas of his life. With effect that he has a deep understanding of Ifa corpus. Despite the efforts made over the years to relegate Ifa to the background, Baba Elebuibon and others have continued to promote Ifa religion as it continues to flourish as the supreme authority on Yoruba culture, socio-ethics, Arts and Religion. It encompasses Yoruba world views, cosmology, faiths and values. For those who don’t know this, Ifa is a very deep and bread knowledge about the religious and mind are Ifa of the Yoruba, born in the past and in the present. It t also forecasts the future.
That many people troop to consult Baba Elebuibon for their various problems is a reflection of the increasing believe by many, that Ifa has solutions to all the spiritual, psychological and social problems that beset man kind Baba Elebuibon explains, as you will read in his interview below that Ifa priests helps many to confront evil forest that trouble man from time-to-time. It is to resolve these forces that he seeks super human assistance. Ifa is always on hand to sit orders into these strong of life.
How did Baba Elebuibon become an Ifa priests? Why did he choose to be one? City Peoples encounter with him last week revealed the answers to all these, as we found out that Ifa priests are born, not made. We found out that Chief Ifayemi Ayinde Elebuibon, was born into the family of Ifa practitioners in that culturally renowned community of Osogbo. He learnt the cryptic knowledge from infancy and deepened this with the education he received on it from Master Outside of his immediate family.
At 70, Baba Elebuibon has a rich wealth of Knowledge of Ifa gain from his years of practice as a diviner, Researcher and Herbalist. He says part of why Nigeria is in trouble is because we have abandoned our religion and tradition. Do you know that in the traditional Yoruba setting, a child’s future is often predicted by Ifa before he is born. Among things to be predicted include the type of vocation he would gainfully take, his marital life, his political future, Ok.
Baba Elebuibon says in actual fact, all his missions on earth are predicted. In his own case before birth, it was predicted that Baba know become an Ifa priest. Once that forecast has made to his mum, the next thing was to make proper arrangement to launch him into Ifa Priesthood. So a boy who falls into the category who is born into the Ifa family automatically steps into the shoes of his father. That was what happened Baba Elebuibon.
He has an interesting story and he told City People Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE his story at 70. Read on.
How do you feel at 70, looking back at your life?
I will like to give thanks to God. When I look back I can’t but thank Olodumare because there are a lot of people who couldn’t make it to up to 70. There are also people who have lived beyond that so one has to thank his creator that makes it possible to live up to this age. I give thanks to Olodumare.
For very many years now your name, Yemi Elebuibon, has traveled far and wide. How were you able to build it into the big brand it is today.
Well, everything has to do with destiny. Just like one stanza in the Bible says: People live their lives according to how it has been written. Before I was born, what I am doing now had been predicted to my family. I only give thanks to Olodumare, that made me fulfill it. There are many people who have the destiny to be famous, to be great but they are unable to make it. Not everybody that are destined to be great become great or make it successfully.
Tell us what they predicted about you?
My mother was the youngest wife of my father she gave birth to one made child who is our elder Morunkola. The 2nd child was a female Ajitoni. That is an Abiku name. Sometimes they call he Gbeileyi because she used to come and go. But later she stayed. I was the 3rd one. When it was time for me to come there was a problem.
There was a period when my mother was not pregnant at all.
Sometimes when my mum gets pregnant there used to be miscarriage. Sometimes when they finally have the baby, the baby will die prematurely. This made them prepare all sort of herbal medicine for my mother. But all to no avail.
One day they consulted Ifa and the Odu Ifa revealed that a male child is going to be born. Who is going to become famous, who is going to be involved in cultural revival, the Odu Ifa give warning to my mother that she needs to abstain from using any herbal medicine. My mother had to give offering to River Osun, Enemy 5 days which is the day of Osun she will have to go to the river to fetch water home and drink that water. The potent water from River Osun made my mother pregnant. I was inside the womb, when they did another consultation. The Odu Ifa revealed that my mother must not use any medicine, only water from Osun. They said to her that the child that is going to come will be a Babalawo, and his name is going to be out all over the world.
So when I was born, they had my 3 day ceremony called Akosejaiye, that was the ceremony that gave me my name Ifayemi (To ba yemi, yi o ye ifa. To ba ye ifa, yio yemi). If it fits me it fits Ifa. So that’s why they gave me the Ifayemi I did not know all these before then. My father started to teach me the Art and Practice of Ifa at the age of 4, but in 1957 my father joined his ancestors and they gave me to another Ifa priest, where I stayed for 10 years and 6 months. That was at Oke Popo, my Oluwo, my teachers name was Chief Faniyi Agbongbon, in Osogbo. His house was opposite Mbari Mbayo, where Duro Ladipo and Prof. Uli Bier used to work. They established Mbari Mbayo in 1962, as a cultural centre. People like Prof. Wole Soyinka, Segun Sofowote, Nwoko were all co-founders of Mbari Mbayo.
I was invited by Uli Bier and Duro Ladipo to come and join the cultural centre but I still stayed with my master I did not have, that independence I used to come casually anytime that they have a play to put on stage. They always ask me what Esa Ifa is relevant to the story, what kind of poetry they can sing during funeral rites of passage, chieftaincy title in Yoruba culture.
How did they do it?
Those are the kind of information that I used to give something unique happened the first time I came to Mbari Mbayo. Duro Ladipo was the first person to notice something about me and he told all the members of his cast. He said take a look at this man. His kind of Babalawo is going to be different. He is going to go overseas. People from oversea will come and look for him. He said as you look at him now, this boy is going to be a Babalawo that will ride a car.