Oyeniyi Ifagbenga Agoroogun is an all-in-one professional who has made name for himself in all of his chosen fields. He is an actor, an Ifa priest and also a lecturer.
He has featured and produced many films and has also been a lecturer for over 14 years. Being an Ifa Priest is a hereditary profession for Ifagbenga. He spoke on Ojopagogo TV on how he was able to joggle the 3 professions together. Enjoy excerpt
My name is Oyeniyi Ifagbenga Agoroogun. I’m a trained Ifa priest. I’m also a lecturer at the College of Education and an actor.
How has it been as an actor, a priest, and a lecturer?
All praises be to Almighty. A man’s story knows no bound. Where should I start? Should I pick from my journey as an Ifa priest, an actor, or a lecturer?
Let me start from being an Ifa priest. My great grandfather was an Ife priest, likewise my grandfather, my father, and I. I was introduced to Ifa (the god of divination) from my childhood and I grew you to become a staunch believer in Ifa divination. I was indoctrinated from the womb, which can be likened to when Areregodun went to the sea, god of Iseriade for a divine direction, I will not die a poor diviner. Areregosun the great diviner. I’m an Ife priests’ son. I also trained for a while before I became an established Ifa priest.
I am grateful that since I became established, I have been able to train 10 different people. I am also a Yoruba lecturer. I attended L.A Primary School, Sabo, then moved to Commercial Secondary School, also in Sabo, before I proceeded to Obafemi Awolowo University for my first degree. I did my masters degree at Zoo here in Ibadan, after which I went to Ekiti State University, Ado Ekiti to acquire more knowledge in teaching. And I have been lecturing for about 14 years.
But for my acting career, I can say it began immediately I started receiving training on how to be an Ifa priest. We started with plays that centered around Ifa. Our fathers will team up with their counterparts from Iseyin, Oyo, Oshogbo, Ibadan to attend the Ibadan mountains festival. Osun- Oshogbo festival. It was like that at the beginning before we later launched deeper into Theatre Art.
My acting boss then was Oludare Atoro. He taught us the rudiments of acting, before we started making new friends and meeting senior colleagues that helped our growth.
Cumulatively, I have spent close to 28 years in acting.
What challenges do being a lecturer, Ifa priest, and actor pose to one another?
Wisdom counts! We handle everything with moderation. Each one has its own challenges but we thank God because whatsoever He does cannot be annulled. The three have their respective challenges that rarely clash. Although, the one with the greatest challenge is acting. Acting hates rivalry. It requires total dedication.
In what way do being a lecturer, Ifa priest, and actor aid one another?
The three aid one another. The Ifa incantations give life and quickens us to learn faster.
The process of learning Ifa incantations sharpens our retentive memory, thereby making the understanding of Western education easier.
Apart from that, Ifa teaches us how to live in any society we go to, to be respectful, live moderately, and acquire more knowledge.
Acting helps in illuminating the other two better. It’s like having Albino in the market square.
Being knowledgeable about Ifa helps us to share information more intelligently with people seeking knowledge about Ifa.
Other Ifa priests see actors who are also Ifa priests as their representatives in the film industry. They believe we should be able to lead our colleagues aright in telling our stories in accordance with what Ifa depicts, our cultural norms, and what the society demands. In summary, the three aid one another.
Religion, Culture, which one came first?
The situation is like some hard truth that sprang up in our society. Ifa (the god of divination) came first. If we look into the story people have been telling about Setiu, we will realize there is a closeness between the Islamic religion and traditional religion.
If we also examine some Yoruba stories on Mecca, Oduduwa, Lamurudu, things like Lamodu is Lamurudu’d father, Lamurudu is Oduduwa’s father, Oduduwa is Okanbi’s father..considering these stories and the belief in the existence of some deities in Mecca long ago, we will see the proximity in all these things.
At the very beginning in Yorubaland, we had Ifa, later on Islam came; after a while, Christianity came and it came with western education.
Where do you see Yoruba in the next five years?
Let me start with the beauty the Yoruba tradition or religion has created so far or the good things that are likely to result from it in the next five years. Today, the Yoruba language is being spoken across the world. People are learning about the worshipping of different deities.
Moreover, white people have started wearing our traditional attires, eating our local foods, and interacting with us better. They’ve started gaining knowledge from us. There are white people studying Yoruba culture in many Nigerian Universities. Some of these Universities even offer scholarships to foreign students who are willing to study the Yoruba language.
They even sponsor people to teach Yoruba language culture. These give us the assurance that the Yoruba language is growing in leaps and bounds.
With more people speaking the language, we have the confidence that it cannot go into extinction.
Apart from that, here are Tv stations like the BBC Yoruba, that is really helping to promote the Yoruba Language and culture through their use of the language in broadcasting and the way they promote Yoruba artists; all these further help to propagate the language.
Aside from all these forms of using the Yoruba language, I believe in the next five years, the Yoruba language will be used for teaching in more fields like; Science and Computer studies, where it is not being used today.
Recently I met a Senior Colleague of mine who is a computer guru. He has translated all the applications on the computer to the Yoruba language with the assistance of UNESCO. Apart from that, there are other significant signs of progress in the use of the Yoruba language. But it’s possible there will be some troubles in the future. The troubles are the issue of Religion. It’s like we’ve placed too much value on religion at the detriment of our tradition. This abnormal disposition towards religion may pose some serious problems for us in the next five years. May God avert such troubles for us.
As a lecturer, what are the challenges you face with your Yoruba language students?
Thank you, we are facing challenges. The bulk of it is the disposition of the students towards their own culture.
Some of these students were not allowed to communicate with Yoruba language to all in their former schools. Some were not allowed to use traditional items as they’ve been made to believe those items were demonic.
They’ve been brainwashed so much that they don’t know the basics of the Yoruba tradition, thereby making learning very difficult for them. So, we have to go through the challenges of teaching them the elementary things they should have known before. Some behave like religious fanatics. During lectures, once teaching is beyond grammar, phonology, or morphology, their countenances will change. They become sad, especially if the teaching is tradition and belief; this is a result of their parent’s attitudes toward the Yoruba language.
Those are some of the challenges. So, it takes us more time than necessary to help hem unlearn fallacies and embrace real things.
What’s your take on how artistes and broadcasters make use of the Yoruba Language?
I said something earlier when we started this interview, we Ifa priests have a song that says; I appease the oracle. Ifa when I am here when I am alive, Ifa will not perish.
Let’s thank the Almighty that blessed us with someone like you and some other intelligent people to be shining examples to us in the entertainment industry, I said that because since I have known you, I have never seen you doing a mediocre job. You always do proper research on every project, you are participating in.
These attitudes of yours have endeared you to me like a new bride to her bridegroom or a good wife to her husband.
It’s not every Ijesha man we should call OSHOMAALO. So, also it’s not all your present colleagues or these ones coming behind you that have the attitude to research or acquire more knowledge before embarking on a project. They neither care about their brand nor about the Yoruba culture.
They don’t even care about the Yoruba historical facts. They don’t care about the evil their mediocre jobs can cause to younger generations. All they are after is to be trending celebrities. It’s quite disheartening to us, to our forefathers and other prominent Yoruba indigenes that value our culture. May God touch their hearts to do the right thing, the right way. So they can stop doing things that will portray us in bad light to the world.
Our culture should be portrayed the right way, the beauty and prestige in our culture are what should be showing the world.
Do you have a center where you train aspiring artistes?
I don’t have and the reason is that there are people that can assist us. I do not have enough time. Being a civil servant is time-consuming, so also being an Ifa priest and an actor.
When anyone comes to me concerning acting, I ask whom they will like to work with, some will says Muyiwa, others Odunlade, while some would say Sanyeri. Then I will help to find out from the proposed boss or his team members what it entails to admit a new member into their fold. Then I will take the information back to the potential students. If the person doesn’t have the wherewithal to go for the training at that moment, I will not lobby for him or her so that the person can know the worth of what he or she is going into.
Advice to the people?
May the Almighty help us find little wisdom in whomever we want to teach wisdom.
There are two things in life that have no cure; character and reward. For anything done, there is a reward for it. Either good or evil.
READ ALSO: POPULAR IBADAN SOCIETY WOMAN, RONKE INAOLAJI DIES
Send Us News, Gist, more... to email@example.com | Twitter: @CitypeopleMagz