- Devotees testify to its healing powers
From WOLE BALOGUN, Ado-Ekiti
THE episode in the Holy Bible where God instructed Moses to smite the rock in Horeb, with his rod to provide fresh water for the thirsty Isrealities, was probably relived on mount Olota, in the outskirts of Ado-Ekiti, capital of Ekiti State.
Ifa devotees and priests native to Ado-Ekiti, claim that in the far distant past, Orunmila, the first Ifa priest, landed on mount Olota (Oke-Olota), from the heavens. His host on earth at that time was Olota, a powerful hunter deified like Sango, Ogun and Osun as Orisa (gods) in the Yoruba cosmology.
According to the priests, it was from Ado- Ekit that Orunmila went to Ile-Ife where after he had completed his earthly assignment of handing out Ifa divinity to humans and trained several Babalawo (Ifa priests), as assigned him by Olodumare (Supreme God), he ascended unto the heavens, his permanent abode.
Both Chief Folorunso Idowu, Agbongbon of Ado-Ekit and Chief Olu Arowosemole, Apase Awo of Ado-Ekiti, lay claims to the clarification about Ifa. They used a verse in Ifa panegyrics, which says: “Ado nile Ifa, Iworoko nile Osanyin.” Meaning, Ado (Ado- Ekiti) is the home of Ifa, Iworoko (another town in Ekiti) is home for Osanyin (another deity in Yoruba cosmology), to substantiate their claims.
This “truth” according to the priests was revealed recently by elders and white reaseachers who followed the verse from Ifa to re- discover the “authentic home of Ifa”, hence, they began to celebrate Ifa’s coming into the world on Oke-Olota from last year.
Another interesting thing about mountain Olota is the story of how Orunmila, like the Biblical Moses smote a lower part of the rocky mountain to produce clean, cold and fresh water, which becomes a miracle water for those who believe in the healing powers of Ifa and Osun deities.
“In those days, water was the most significant requirement that determines where a wandering people decide to settle. On landing on this rocky mountain, Orunmila was hosted by Olota, he trekked from the top of the mountain to the lowest part of the rocky terrain and there smote the rock to produce water. That place is till today called Osunlota menaing Osun (water) in Olota rocky mountain,” Agbogbon said.
Arowosemole said: “Mount Olota where we are now, is located in the heart of Ado- Ekiti in Idolofin community. The Ado-Ekiti aborigines met the Olota here on this mountain. Olota was a great and powerful hunter
who possessed some extra-ordinary powers. He was in the class of Sango, Ogun and Oya or Osun deities who were deified because they possessed super-human powers.
“We are here today to celebrate Ifa divinity because we learnt from our ancestors that Orunmila, the first Ifa priest first landed here on this mount when he visited the earth. It was Olota, who is equally a deity that received him here.
“When Orunmila came here, Olota’s wives took care of him. His first wife was Ayo and the second was Ayooba who has her place in another mountain in Ado-Ekiti. That mountain is called Ayooba. We had gone to consult Ifa there early this morning, although, a major part of the mountain has been taken over by the government which built the new Government House on it.
“Our paramount monarch in Ado-Ekiti, Oba Rufus Aladesanmi Adejugbe, has ordered that we gather here periodically to celebrate Orunmila because of this history. It was shortly after Orunmila left this place that he then went to Ile-Ife from where he eventually went up to the heavens.
“We can confidently say that this mount Olota is the real place of Ifa. Whenever there is confusion in the town and there is need to find solution to such challenge, the elders come here to appease Esuolota meaning: the Esu on Olota mount, and after that is done, there would be peace.
“For instance, if there has not been rain for a long time and everywhere becomes very dry and this creates panic for the people. If the Ewi of Ado orders Chief Idolofin who is in charge of this community to consult Olota through the Ifa priest. If they follow the priest’s prescriptions, there would be instant heavy rain after such appeasement.
“The elders of Yoruba land and some white men who had deep thought about this verse from Ifa recitations, researched deeply on it and eventually found this place to be the authentic place of Ifa. This is why for two years now we have been celebrating Ifa divinity on this mount Olota.
“Meanwhile, Ile-Ife has always been the place usually referred to as the home of all Yoruba deities including Ifa. Ifa devotees now come here from all over the world to celebrate this day and visit historic spots on this monutain.
“There is the Osunlota, a rocky spot where Orunmila was believed to have commanded water to gush out when he couldn’t find water around here during his visit. Till today, that small rocky spot still brings out water and the good news is that the water possesses great healing powers.
“That is why you see so many people go there to get the water, although, the spot is very far inside the forest and the path leading there is crooked, hilly and thorny. The priests and priestesses of Ifa, Sango, Osun and Ogun among others find their way here to fetch the water because they have faith in its healing powers. Such people have given countless testimonies about the healing powers of the water.
“There is also a certain spot here where there is a huge hole. It is believed that if you enter into this hole you would find yourself in another town different from Ado-Ekiti. I don’t want to give you the name of this spot because the elders have sealed up that hole to prevent a possible desecration by today’s youth who are too stubborn and inquisitive.
We also have a sacred shrine of Esu, the Yoruba god of mischief.
“There is a huge economic advantage the mount offers, beyond the spiritual and traditional aspect. If the government is willing, they can build an Ifa training centre here. They can set up an hospital business here, and do some other things to make the place a tourist attraction. Such venture would be successful because of the fact that this mountain is located right at the centre of Ado-Ekiti.
“We are currently training our younger ones in Ifa divinity. We also instruct them that Ifa is God’s word as we have God’s word in other borrowed religions such as Christianity and Islam. We also warn them against being mischievous with Ifa as everything Ifa says is only but the truth.”
Chief Saremo Adimula, a priest of Ifa from Iworoko- Ekiti, said as the Adimula of Ifa, he uses powers in Ifa to see to the well-being of women and children and also heal people with such ailments as hypertension, barrenness among others: “Some people have this prejudice against the Babalawo (Ifa priest). Their erroneous belief is that we are bad people who use mischief to extort people. This is not true because a true Babalawo does not tell lies because Ifa only speaks the truth.
“We have come to celebrate Ifa. We will worship him at his shrine on this mount. We will offer prayers with kolanut, local gin and cold water. These are items that we will use in the full glare of all. There is no secrecy about it.
“What we have all come here to do can be likened to a pilgrimage which is equally what Christians go to Jerusalem to do, and Muslims go to Mecca to do. The fact is that in those days when we had only traditional religion in our land, you hardly see all sorts of bad practices of stealing, killings and robbery, which have become too rampant nowadays. Our forefathers were leaving their farm produce on their farms or by the roadside and no one would steal them because there was enormous respect for fellow humans and the gods.”
Mrs. Ossas Arasamwan came from the Ifa Traditional Temple in Benin, Edo State. She told Daily Sun that she was there to get the healing water from Babalawo Awotoba Ifasesan, a son of the Yeye Osun (Osun prietess), Oke-Ila, Ado-Ekiti:
“My Ifa initiation name is Ikundaisi, meaning: death has spared this one. Everyone who is an initiate of Ifa has his or her name at intiation. I am a servant from Ifa Traditional Temple in Edo State. I came to take water which we believe come from Orunmila. We use the water to heal people with all manners of ailments.”
Ifasesan who fetches the water for the people said: “My Ifa name is Idigbe, Ifa gives birth to you in another way. We Ifa initiates believe that once you have been initiated into Ifa you have become born again. And at such birth we are given a name, which explains to us how we should live our lives.
What we should eat and not eat and things we should do and not do among others. The water we are giving out is for healing, many who have come here are from all over the world.”