Written by Yejide Gbenga-Ogundare, Lagos
Monday, March 19, 2012
"The procedure is to visit the website and fill a consultation form online. It is stipulated that one need not indicate his problem as the priest will use the bio data supplied to consult, identify the trouble and proffer solutions."
Gone is the era when herbalists and soothsayers are known by their shabby dressing, ignorant approach and house hangings as Babalawos in Nigeria especially those in Lagos and environs have embraced the use of technology and online divination to make their work easier as they now offer Ifa consultation on their websites.
When Asabe Bello first heard the advertisement on radio that she could have her problem solved by a Babalawo without actually visiting one, she was surprised, as all her life, she had thought that to get Ifa intervention to any problem, one must see an Ifa priest physically before she could consult and get such problems solved.
She, however, had a change of heart when she actually got in touch with one via a website and was given an identification code after filling a consultation form and told to pay a certain amount.
She was told what to do and given vivid directions on what to do to solve her problem which was described as a spiritual attack and she did. The consultations and the solution proffered gave her an understanding that contrary to expectations, Babalawos have moved on with the times and have embraced cyber technology.
"I know many Nigerians in the course of their daily work have embraced the use of technology but I was still surprised that even Babalawos now consult on websites. My idea of an herbalist is a dirty man in an unkempt environment with various hangings and dirty clay pots, so the experience was an eye opener," she told Inside Lagos.
In Lagos and its surrounding towns, more Ifa priests are making their business technology driven by making it accessible to many more people on the web. One of such is the Ajigbotifa Temple which is in an area near the suburb of Lagos.
The temple is advertised to have a mission 'to make man to live a fulfilled life. To professionally help man with the help of Olodumare and Ifa; to help man in overcoming both physical and spiritual problems, give foresight into the future, prosperity, health, good children, peace, love and more by communicating with us through the Holy Odus in IFA and proclaim Ifa, Olodumare and Holy Odus of Ifa supremacy to all nations of the world.'
To consult at this temple, one has to visit the website, www.Ajigbotifatemple.com. According to the website, Ajigbotifa Temple Limited is an Ifa religion based organisation in Nigeria; a registered company under Corporate Affairs Commission, Abuja, Nigeria that specialises in Ifa Olokun Asorodayo, with the motives of making man kind to live a fulfilled life.
The procedure is to visit the website and fill a consultation form online. It is stipulated that one needs not indicate one's problem as the priest will use the bio data supplied to consult, identify the trouble and proffer solutions. After the form is submitted, an acknowledgment is sent from the temple with a personal ID number and code given to the potential client after which the mode of payment is indicated and then the real business begins, all without physical contact except the client desires.
Also, there is an assurance that like other professionals, confidentiality is guaranteed. "At Ajigbotifa Temple Limited, your privacy is paramount to us. We don't reveal your name, telephone, address e.t.c to any third parties. And we don't sell for profit sake. Thanks," the temple indicates on its website.
According to them, spiritual power and super-natural forces can be used to heal many spiritual attacks that affect people's lives and result in ailments like barrenness, miscarriage, mental ill health, misfortune, premature death, contention/litigation, loss, blindness as well as paralysis among others and they can help to solve these problems.
Chief Ifakayode Ifaluade, the Oluwo of Ajigbotifa temple is said to be one of the people Orunmila uses to help the human race at this modern times and it is claimed that through his website, he has divined for thousands of clients and initiated people in their hundreds and numerous clients have positive testimonies of how Orunmila has helped in turning their lives around for good.
The temple, like all other Ifa online worship centres, claims to have a complete solution to all kinds of problem including protection, ifa divination, spiritual ill health, prosperity, unfulfilled dreams, birth and naming ceremonies, training, despondency, guidance and marriage consultation, among a wide range of other spiritual aids.
The ifa divination form on the website asks for details like name, mother or father's name, date of birth, email address, telephone number and message with a warning that this is not compulsory. "Remember, you have right not to mention your reason for divination" while there is also the opportunity to "Talk directly with Oluwo (the Chief Priest). Talk to him in confidence and he will reply you personally as requested. No problem without solution." For this, there is another form online.
Another online divination solution system is offered by a London born Nigerian, Awoyinfa Ifaloju aka Ifalomo who describes himself as a self employed consultant. His profile transcends the shores of Nigeria due to his exposure and academic background. He can be found at www.egbeifaorun milaalawoye.com
He claims to have studied the science of traditional Yoruba midWifery and continues to practise this art. "I initiated the traditional appeasement for the commemoration of the bicentennial, marking 200 years since the end of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, with rites being performed on the coast of West Africa and throughout many parts of the African Diaspora. Included with these events was the realisation of the importance of appeasing Gelede (essence of female energy) alongside Egungun (male energy). I am forming the Council of Ifa Priest Ijo Erigi-Aboola, to facilitate the links on both sides of the Atlantic and beyond (www.IfaCouncil.com)."
He is said to have students (omo-awo) in several countries worldwide, at various stages of apprenticeship to become future priest-of-character and knowledge and he emphasises that the intent is not on quantity but quality practitioners, well grounded in the technology of Ifa's philosophical and practical elements.
"I created this website to serve them (my omo-awo) more consistently in the best form possible and those of you who desire to enrich their own knowledge by learning -connecting to the various ways I will disseminate information," Ifalomo claims.
More Babalawos have embraced the use of online divination system to make life easier for their clients and also enlarge their client base. For them, ifa is a professional occupation that has gone beyond the realm of etutu at road junctions.