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Yoruba 1, (1) 68-73

Bade Ajayi

SECRET OF IFA DIVINATION and the teachings of Orunmila are embodied in the Odu, a collection of stories having a .similar theme. The Odu of Ifa are of two categories the Oju Odu (The principal Odu} which are sixteen in number and the Omo Odu (the minor Odu) which arc two hundred and forty. (See appendix for details). Both the principal Odu and the Omo Odu are arranged in a specific order of seniority and the hierarchical ordering is of great significance in the interpretation of Orunrnila s message. There are two identical arms lo the sign of every principal Odu. But to form an Omo Odu, the sign on one arm of a principal Odu combines with the sign from one arm of another principal Odu. (see chart


! "#) (Ofun on the right and Ogbe on ihc left). $s shown in the above examples, each Omo Odu is named and interpreted in terms of the two halves configuration. %owever, the sign on the right arm of each Omo Odu said to be more powerful for it determines (the real message of Orunmila. &e are aware that, $bimbola (!'(), "!'((), Bascom (l'*') and +ic,lelland (!'-.) have wor/ed on 0fa literary corpus generally, our main focus in this paper is the examination of the process by which Omo Odu are derive (from the principal Odu) The thirty. Omo Odu of Eji Oghe which $bimbola (!'()) calls $pola Ogbe are being used as a case study. 1i/e the Apo a of each of The other principal Odu, the derivation of $pola Ogbe ta/es


Yoruba 1, (1) 68-73 2or example, one arm of Eji -Ogbe sign O O O O 1 can combine with one arm of Ofun meji O O O O O O 2

Bade Ajayi to form an Omo Odu (Ogbe on the right and called Ogbefun ofun on the left).The combination can be OO O reversed to produce O O Ofunmagbe OO O O OO O O O O O OO 3 4 O O

Bi omo odu se n hu ninu ifa dida Bi a!on baba a!o "e n "eda amu u odu #abi omo odu o je $ade Aja%i ogun. $i omo odu !on %i "e hu 1o #an %ebe%ebe pe u i!adii #o jin e. & fi han pe ogbon omo odu ni a e ri fa%o a#i ori"on Apo a Ogbe. O "a a%e pe i ana fono oji #abi o"u!on i#umo 'o e 'ogo a a%e nipa ie(da omo odu ja ninu imoIfa, idi "i ni%i #i o f# #un foju a"a da"o ro !on. a de!i"a#ion d$Omo Odu du %o!&us '##%!ai!e d$(fa )*eeri +ain propo"e ). e,aminer a deri+a#ion de -Omo Odu (Odu "ubardiniu() de I*Oju Odu (I*Odu prin(ipa ). .e fai"an#, e" odu" min(ur" /ui en re"u #en#, mon#ren# /ue /ue e+iden(e de" pro(e""u" phono ogi/ue" #e " I *e i"ion des +o%e e" e# #on, of 3yf (on#ra(#ion de +o%e e". A par#ir d-une e#ude "oignee" de a "#ru(#ure d *Ap oa Ogbe (de" phra"e" nomna e") on " poin# de (on#a(# en#re a angue e# Ie "%mbo e. )e""igne" Odu ref e#en# dan" a angue.II" .s *eei i+en# e# "e i"en# du droi#e (omme de" mo#" arabe", #andi" /ue e %orouba, (omme 1 *ang ai" et Ie fran(ai""-e(ri# du gau(he a droi# )a deri+a#ion de /ue /ue" Omo Odu e"# diffi(i#e a e,p i/u(r ingui"#i/uemen#, 0ai" ou ni Ie" reg e" phono ogi/ue", ni e" proprie#e" "eman#i/ue" ne peu+en# e,p i/uer a deri+a#ion de (er#ain" Omo Odu, I-eeri+nin a pu, dan" 1-ar#ii( (, u#i i"er de I*e+iden(e (u #ure e pou. e,p i/uer eur origine.


Yoruba 1, (1) 68-73

Bade Ajayi

forms which are difficult to account for. The something that happens when forming $pola of any what two principal Odu combine to form a minor thing in the process of formation, many changes in the case of Apo a Ogbe for instance, when combined with any of the other fifteen principal vice versa, the resultant minor Odu shows some of phonological processes. The purpose of analysis, let us list the thirty Omo Apo a Ogbe contains4 !. Ogbe5Oye/u (Ogbeye/u) .. Oye/u5Ogbe (Oye/ulogbe) 6. Ogbe50wori (Ogbeweyin #. 0wori5Ogbe (0woribogbe) 7. Ogbe5Odi (Ogbedi) *. Odi5Ogbe (0dingbe) (. Ogbe50rosun (Ogberosun) -. 0rosun5Ogbe (0rosungbemi) '. Ogbe5Oworin (Ogbehunle) !). Oworin5Ogbe (Oworinsogbe) !!. Ogbe5Obara (Ogbebara) !.. Obara5Ogbe (Obarabogbe) !6. Ogbe5O/anran (Ogbe/anran) (!

!#. O/anran5Ogbe (O/anransode) !7. Ogbe5Ogunda (Ogbeyonu) !*. Ogunda5Ogbe (Ogundabede) !(. Ogbe5Osa (Ogberi/usa) !-. Osa5Ogbe (Osalufogbe8o) !'. Ogbe 5 0/a (Ogbe/a) .). 0/a 5 Ogbe (0/agbemi) .!. Ogbe5Otuurupon (Ogbetomopon) ... Otuurupon5Ogbe (Otuurupongbe) .6. Ogbe5Otua (Ogbealara) .#. Otua5Ogbe (Otuaori/o) .7. Ogbe50rete (Ogbeate) .*. 0rete5Ogbe (0rentegbe) .(. Ogbe5Ose (Ogbese) .-. Ose5Ogbe (Oseogbe) .'. Ogbe5Ofun (Ogbefun) 6). Ofun5Ogbe (Ofunnagbe) 0n $pola Ogbe (!, 7, (, !!, !6, !', and .( above), there is elision of vowel 0, o, orm let us consider what happens in the following derivation4 (a.) Ogbe 5 Oye/u 9 Ogbeye/u

Yoruba 1, (1) 68-73 Ogbe 5 Odi 9 Ogbesi Ogbe 5 0rosun 9 Ogberosun Ogbe 5 Obara 9 Ogbebara Ogbe 5 O/anran 9 Ogbe/anran Ogbe 5 0/a 9 Ogbe/a 0n the above example, the phonological process of vowel elision deletes the second of two vowels in these derivations. 0n other words, the deletion is constant. But it must be stressed that other derivations such as those found in b" d below are more complicated. 0n :oruba phonology, contraction of vowels is a common process in the language. %ere are some sample words. Omo5;niyan9 Omoniyan (human being) ;ti5o/un 9 eti/un (ban/ of the ocean) ;ran9o/o 9 eran/o (animal) 0n each of these sample words both the second vowel and its tone are elided. The nominalisation pattern in (a) is identical with this " i.e. <oun 5 <oun showing an identical =. (vowel two or vowel number two.) elision process. $s closely observed, this phonological rule applies when Ogbe is in initial position of the compounded words. &ith the exception of O#uurupon different forms are obtained when Ogbe falls to the final position of the derived forms (see b, c and d below.) ,onsidering Apo a Ogbe (., #, !) and !.) a monosyllabic word, usually a verb, is inserted in the two combining Odu. (b) O%e'u 1 Ogbe 9 Oye/ulogbe Oye/u lu Ogbe (1abara) (Oye/u"beats"Ogbe"wiih"its"palm) O%e'u ni Ogbe 2O%e'u-ha"-Ogbe} I!ori 1 Ogbe 3 I!oribogbe 0wori bo Ogbe (+ole) (I!ori-(o+er"-Ogbe-up) Owonrin + Ogbe = Owonrinsogbe Owonrin so Ogbe (mole) (.

Bade Ajayi (O!onrin-#ie"-Ogbe-do!n) &e may give a tentative statement or speculate what happens in the process of this derivation. 0t may be possible that after inserting a verb such as u (to beat), bo (do cover) between the underlying form, the vowel of the inserted item is deleted leaving only the consonant remnant which of course, helps to suggest the inserted verb. On purely phonological evidence, what we have are intrusive consonants which do not seem to be predictable. %owever, a semantic consideration will ma/e us consider that a syllable has been inserted. $ phonological process of vowel deletion follows, in cacti of the above examples, it is another Odu that collocated with Ogbe. ,an we therefore, conclude that when any of the other fifteen Odu combines with Ogbe a monosyllabic word (preferably a verb) be inserted> ?efinitely, such a rule or generalisation would not be wor/able because it does not cut across all Apo a Ogbe of similar combination. ;xamples are *, -, !# .# and .*. The, operation in !( and .) is even more complicated for, in the former, the initial vowel of the second Odu is elided and two other syllables arc added. 0n the latter, a single syllable is inserted. (c) Ogb( 1 O"a 9 Ogberi/usa 0/a 5 Ogbe 9 0/agbemi &hat all these irregular systems of combination amount to is that we cannot use phonological rules to e@plain the derivation of every minor Odu in Apo a Ogbe. Semantically, the second Odu of some Omo Odu not have bearing with the original odu. ,onsider the following4 (d) Ogbe 5 0wori 9 Ogbeweyin Ogbe 5 Owonrin 9Ogbehunle 0rosun 5 Ogbe 90rosuno/an8ua Ogbe 5 Otua 9 Ogbealara

Yoruba 1, (1) 68-73 0n the above example, the underlined wards under the deriving forms do not mean the same thing as their counterparts underlined in the derivation. The information collected from our informants confirms dial neither is I!ori related to !e%in nor Oworin to hun e.. I!ori and O!orin are names of two principal Odu while the terms !e%in (loo/ bac/) and hun e (loo/ after your household) in isolation are verb phrases. &hat all the irregularities thus pointed out amount to is that semantic property cannot be the basis for the formation of Omo Odu. $s shown in the preceding analysis, ii is evident that .either phonological rules nor semantic properties can be used to explain the derivations of some Omo Odu in Ifa corpus. %owever, such Omo Odu whose derivation cannot be explained linguistically must have their origin somewhere and thus cultural evidence is put into consideration. ;ach Odu in Ifa i#erar% corpus normally, has several stories or E"e Ifa associated with it. Our finding reveals that the baba a!o attributes the most popular and favourite ori/i (praise names) arising from one or more e"e Ifa to a particular Odu. Such Odu are named after the praise names pic/ed from the stories associated to the Odu of 0fa in Auestion. Such names may be sentential or phrasal in structure as characteristic of other :oruba names or nic/names. %ence we have such Omo Odu as Ogbeweyin, Ogbehun e, O!orin-E ejigbo, Ogbeejengbere, Ogbe-afibi"o oore, and O"e-a aro%e or O"e-a!o'o derived from different e"e Ifa. 2or example, the origin Ogbe!e%in can be traced to either of these two ese 0fa4 (!) Ogbe !e%in baja re o baa pa /un A dia fun arugbofu ani #-oun #-ogo (6

Bade Ajayi Ogbe, oo' ba('!ard" "hou d %our dog 'i a 'ind of "/uirre Ifa divination was performed for a 2ulani with a club for self B defence. (.) Ogbe !e%in ba8a re o pCa/un i gboro Dannyanrin ma de o, obinrin 0gboro

Yoruba 1, (1) 68-73

Bade Ajayi


Eopular <ames Ogbesa Ogbefun Yoruba 1, (1) 68-73 Ofunnara Ogundabede Ogbeyonu 0/agbemi Ogarabogbe Otuaori/o Osealaroye Owonrinsogbe

<ic/name3$ppellation Ogberi/usa Ogbefohunfolohun

;nglish eAuivalent Ogbe"runs"away"from"death Ogbe"gives"something"to" Bade Ajayi the"right"owner Ofunnagbe Ofun"beats"Ogbe Ogundamorogbe Ogunda"0"have"seen"Ogbe Ogbeegun, Ogbegunda Ogbe"is"long, Ogbe"8oins" Ogunda 0/aala/engbe, 0/a"has"big"gourd, 2ather" Babaala/engbe has"a"gourd Obaraonigba, Obara" Obara"the"owner"of" Olowuu Obara"the"owner" calabash, people3Obara"the" of"Owu owner"of"thread. Otuaori/o/u, Otuaoriire, Otua"head"re8ects"death, Otua"ogood"destiny, Otua generousity"pays"me. Oseawo/o Oseafibisoloore Ose"the"tal/ing"bird, Ose" who"repaygoowith"evil Owonrin"onigbagbo, Owonrin"of"the"Owonrin" ;le8igbo, believers or ,hristian faithfuls, Owonrin"of"the"Ding"of" ;8igbo


Yoruba 1, (1) 68-73 ;mi n lo ile o/o aaroF Ogbe, loo/ bac/wards should your dog /ill a /ind of sAuirrel, Ifa divination was performed for Dannyanrin the wife of over"grown farm. Dannyanrin has come, the wife of an overgrown farm. 0 am proceeding to my first husbandCs houseF (!) and (.) the words Ogbe (a noun) and !e%in (a phrase) are nominalised to form Ogbe!e%in thatfor the name of the omo Odu from which the two e"e Ifa are pic/ed. Dannyanrin is a type of ese that grows well in a fertile land. Other example is that of the omo Odu I'agbemi coming from the following favourite ese 0fa. 0/a gbe mi n o 8oba 0la 0/a o gbe mi n o 8oba 0la. 0fa n lo taye Olufe so bi e ni sogbe. 0f 0/a blesses me 0 will be crowned the /ing of 0la $nd if 0/a does not bless me 0 will be crowned the /ing of 0la. The three underlinedwords are compounded to bear the name of the Omo Odu, 0/agbemi. There are some Odu that tell the histories and myths about the foundation of particular :oruba towns and villages. These are described as Odu to te ilu do (the Odu that founded a town), that is, the Odu revealed when a babalawo was invited to divine before the particular town or village was founded. The common practice was to have the names of such town or village reflected in the Odu Auestion. 2or example, Owonrin" ;le8igbo is the name given to the omo Odu (Owonrin5Ogbe) that founded ;8igbo town in Osun State of <igeria. One verse from the Owonrin";le8igbo the nic/name for Owonrinogbe reads4 (#) $ragbandu o/o ni yi gbirigbiri, $ dia fun Ogbo8a Ti i somo oba lC;yo"$8ori. (*

Bade Ajayi $ragbandu o/o ni yi gbirigbiri $ dia fun ;le8igbo Ti n lo fomo oba ;leyo"$8ori $ boulder that rolls over and over, 0fa divination was performed for Ogbo8a The princess of ;yo"$8ori $ very big stone that rolls over and over 0fa divination was performed for the /ing of ;8igbo. Bascom Ogbe Oye/u Oye/u Ogbe Ogbe 0wori 0wori Ogbe Ogbe Owonrin Owonrin Ogbe Ogbe Ogunda Ogunda Ogbe $bimbola Ogbeye/u Oye/ulogbe Ogbeweyin 0woribogbe Ogbehunle +cclelland Ogbe"Oye/u Oye/u"Ogbe Ogbe"0wori 0wori"Ogbe Ogbe" Owonrin Owonrinsogbe Owonrin" Ogbe Ogbeyonu Ogbe"Ogunda Ogundabede Ogunda"Ogbe

&ho wanted to marry ;leyo" $8ori princess. 0n fact, each of the cited ese 0fa (!"#) has long and interesting stories attached to it, but for lac/ of space we shall not go into the detailed stories.&hat interests us is the derivation of some Odu which are being explored by means of cultural evidence. ;leyo"$8ori is part of Oloye descendantsC Ori'i, :oruba praise and descriptive chant. The ese 0fa above and the ones (!"6) preceding it were collected from $wo Olaifa $8ayi of Ondasa compound, Oyo, Oyo State. $fter a careful stu8dy of the structure of $pola Ogbe, it is observed that the Odu signs are reflected in the language. 0n this wise it is suspected that there must have been a meeting point between

Yoruba 1, (1) 68-73 language and symbol. 0n fact, one would be curious to /now how the structures of omo Odo are related to ritual function. &hen, for instance, a babalawo casts the chain and Ogbeye/u emerges thus4 OO O OO O OO O OO O the first of the combining Odu appears on the right side of the sign. $s the sign changes position, the Odu names also changes. 2or example, the name and the sign of the following minor Odu change position4 Ogbeye/u OO O OO O OO O OO O O OO O OO O OO O OO can this alternating effect in the language and the Odu can be coincidence, an accident or a design> $s pointed out earlier. Odu signs arc mar/ed and sad from right to left (the way $rabic words are written). But :oruba, li/e ;nglish and 2rench is written from left to right. Since the system of mar/ing the Odu and writing the name of the same Odu ta/es different directions, there is bound to he changes of position in the sign and the language though both presenting the same thing. These changes would not have been necessary if the Odu are named in $rabic. ,hinese, odu sign is written from top downwards. Thus, a babalawo prints an odu sign in the following order4 . ! 6 6 * 7 ( Oye/ulogbe

Bade Ajayi $lmost every babalawo in the geographical areas of research prefers to call the minor odu the way the $pola Ogbe (! " 6)) are listed above. $ccording to $debayo Dehinde of ;lepe compound, Oyo and $nafi 08ala of Dondoro compound, $lore"0lorin, omo odu are callea as regorded to ma/e things difficult for the babalawo"in"training and also to maintain the sacred"less of 0fa corpus. 2or instance, during 0fa divination session (where a number of babalawo are present) or an initiation ceremony or a graduating babalawo, the young may be tested on the identification of the Odu that bear certain nic/names or appellations. 2or example, Ogbeelesin (Ogbe has horse), Ogbeoloosa (Ogbe of the deity), is the same Odu as Ogbeye/u, the first minor in 0fa corpus. (Of the many names that an Odu may have, variant forms will surface under different circumstances. <one of them is actually derived from the other). $ny experienced and learned babalawo can easily recognise that the above appellations refer generally to Ogbeye/u, the leader. of the minor Odu. Our informants have proved beyond any doubt that there is hardly any omo Odu that does not have at least, a nic/name (beside the popular name). The nic/names are ori/i characteristic of an individual omo Odu. %ere are some examples, (see table !). These nic/names or appellations which often during divination process especially when the signs are being verbalised, can be multiplied. The emergence of the names depends lo a large extent on the situation and circumstance surrounding the divination. $nother important Auestion that needs be answered in order to throw further light on the derivation of omo Odu generally $pola Ogbe in particular is whether or not all scholars on 0fa literary corpus write the names of the


Yoruba 1, (1) 68-73

Bade Ajayi


Yoruba 1, (1) 68-73 odu ali/e. The answer is definitely negative. The way Bascom (!'*'47)) writes the Odu is different from the way $bimbola (!'((4!() and +c,telland (!'-.4##" G #7) write and analyse. The way, Bascom and +c,lelland write the names (as shown above) is basically the same. &hat differentiates +c,lelland s writing is the use of hyphen !) compound the iwo words. $lmost all our informants list omo Odu the way $bimbola writes them. Thus we select relevant data from $bimbolaCs together with ow own collection for this analysis. $s revealed in this study, the derivatory process of some of the Omo Odu names is difficult to explain linguistically. But where neither the phonological rules nor semantic properties can be used to explain the derivation of certain Omo Odu, cultural evidence, as demonstrated in this paper, can be used to explain the origin. %owever, the learned babalawo are so familiar with almost every odu in 0fa corpus that once an odu is mentioned, they can readily identify and narrate the stories (ese 0fa) relevant to the Odu. $t initiation ceremony, for instance, the master babalawo might call any emerged Odu by its appellation or nic/name to test the ability of the graduating student babalawo.

Bade Ajayi