Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Chaos as Revived Aje Deity shows her stuff at Ile-Ife

Aje oguguluso, ti n fi ekun omo olomo se erin rin..(Aje Oguguluso, the deity that rejoices in the calamity of others) did not wait for long to show what stuff she’s made of, after being revived via a series of colourful traditional rituals at the ancient city of Ile-Ife.
On Monday 20th February, the paramount ruler of Ile-Ife, the Ooni of Ife, personally led the rituals at the newly built shrine of Aje Oguguluso, the deity supervising commerce and trade in Yorubaland. It was the first of such rituals in living memory, as Aje had before then been reduced to no more than a myth and a by-word in Yorubaland. Part of the rituals demanded a daylight curfew imposed on city residents. Aje supposedly brings in economic prosperity to her devotees – at the expense of other innocent victims.  This is not of course peculiar to Aje.  Virtually all the deities who promise some largesse for their devotees, demand not only worship in return, but also some sacrifices to be sourced from strangers!  This could be contrasted with the situation in Christianity where the LORD Jesus offers His own flesh and blood to provide benefits for His followers.
In any case, sixteen days after the revival of Aje, on Wednesday 8th March, hell was virtually let loose at Ile-Ife in an inter-community clash that brewed and ignited literally overnight.
The fuel was a combination of economic and sexuality issues, trademarks of Aje. Clearly the events were taken out of the hands of the two communities involved, and none of them in their wildest dream could have imagined the outcomes that followed. While this major conflagration that attracted national attention was still being strenuously doused, another meaningless mini-conflagration flared up at the new Akinola market in the outskirt of Ile-Ife. The spark this time around, was some altercation at a sporting events involving two local secondary schools. Speaking with the press, one of the traditional chiefs in the feuding communities lamented how “a mere school riot” had been allowed to degenerate into a community clash that burnt down a whole market. (https://www.naij.com/1097029-breaking-fresh-violence-erupts-ile-ife-10-injured.html?rs=r1)
In an article 13 years ago, in Vol 7 No 1,  we pointed out the glaring price Nigeria had to pay for the overt involvement of the Sango cult (god of thunderstorm) in the 8th All African Games, (COJA 2003) held at Abuja. Under the direction of Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, a fire-spitting Sango devotee synchronised his art with the lighting of the Games Torch.  Unheard of, in a game of such calibre, the Torch went out and remained unfixable for two days, during which Nigeria could not win a single medal. At the close of the games, Sango was similarly invited with a fire-swallowing performance synchronised with the extinguishing of the Festival Torch.  The price for Sango’s involvement was a catastrophic thunderstorm that pulled down the entire velodrome.  Incredulous Julius Berger engineers could only express their complete shock at a development they said they had never before encountered in decades of operations all over the globe.
In conclusion, we re-affirm that the key reason CA! harps against idols and idolatory is the unnecessary price society pays for servicing these protection racketeers. We appreciate the local culture and sympathise with those who feel compelled to service the deities with their never-ending demands for blood and calamities.  While some with vested interest, such as the Harvard-based “renowned expert” on Yoruba traditional religion,  Professor Jacob Oluponna openly request of the rest of us to brace up and adjust to the realities of human sacrifices and that sort (see pages 64-67 of  the book, Ile-Ife: City of 201 gods), not just the average citizen in the land, but even those cajoled/coerced to performing those sacrifices know that the cost is simply not worth the benefits.  Why for instance, as Prof Oluponna (who incidentally was the son of a long-serving revered Christian minister in Ile-Ife) documented in the same book, on at least 2 different occasions spanning decades, would the devotees be seen to be visibly scared and reluctant to carry out their seemingly trivial chores mid-stream of the Olojo rituals?   Clearly, they have an idea of the price associated with their actions, and they knew it simply was not worth it.
At the present time, more and more deities are being revived, and shockingly, there is an organized move by the traditionalists demanding existing structures on those lands considered ancient shrines to relocate.  Not only are they making such demands on private houses, they were audacious enough to ask one of the biggest and oldest Churches in Ile-Ife to relocate from what is considered a shrine for a prime deity in Ile-Ife, long abandoned!

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