I had a conversation with a babalawo in the tradition that I’d like to share with you. There was a dream where a bunch of people were walking around in the olorun looking lost and trying to find their way. Everybody was wearing white t-shirts and stepping from this one particular building that looked a lot like an old office building or a high school. A lot of the people had the name of an orisa on their t-shirts. But other people had names that were not of orisa but looked like it might have been their own name and telephone number. One man in particular stepped up and their name and phone number was retained after the dream ended.
A few days passed before my curiosity got the better of me. I tried the number that was revealed in the dream. The number had an area code outside San Diego, California. The number belonged to a newly installed babalawo within the tradition. I informed the baba that his number was revealed in a dream and he suggested I see a psychiatrist for some long worded mental disorder. His theory was that his name and number was picked up subconsciously from his website (www.IMAJERK.com), etched into the brain, and revealed itself as part of a dream. The idea of someone having some type of supernatural perception was absurd according to this high priest of Ifa.
This was one of my earliest lessons as an iyawo in his first year. Not everyone in the tradition will be for the tradition or fully aware of the capabilities of the tradition. I ventured to this babalawo’s website to see exactly what he was about. The man was a European American. He had a photo of himself plastered on his site. He recently received his babalawo title and was promoting his services in assisting others with their pursuit of Orisa related studies. This man wanted to help others in their Orisa studies but doesn’t understand or believe in the relationship between our unconscious state and communicating with orisa or ancestors.
A lot of people have paid good money for rituals and ceremonies performed without having the heart and/or intellect necessary to fully embrace the principles of Ifa or any of the African based spiritualities. Consequently a lot of people have hijacked the tradition for their own agenda. A lot of people are incapable of believing in the importance of community and equivalence. When given the opportunity to sellout the Orissa, the ancestors, and the community many priests and priestesses are more than willing to accept the money from these European interlopers who may be incapable of truly believing and accepting the Ifa doctrine.
The European model of community is based on the hierarchy of feudalism. Members of the privileged class at the top were served by the lower classes with the serfs bringing in the rear at the very bottom of the class structure. With such an ancestry many people of European descent cannot relate to the African model of community based on a communal structure that eschews hierarchy in favor of social equality and collective property ownership. In fact, the introduction of a class system into the African psyche has met with disastrous results. With widespread poverty on the African continent many rulers of African countries live lives of royalty while the military run amok terrorizing the public.
Because of circumstances far beyond our control the blood of most African Americans includes some percentage of European contagion. Ever since black people and white people have crossed paths the people of African descent have suffered at the hands of the European. More women of African descent gave birth to children with European fathers than vice-versa.
But if a study was conducted on the behavior of most Africans in the Diaspora a professor would be hard pressed to determine the link between us and our African ancestry. In general we have abandoned our African past and all that it may contain preferring to adapt to the lifestyle of our European ancestors who rejected and subjugated us. There are some very successful examples of Africans adapting to the European concept of community and economy. However, for the most part, Africans as a group have not, will not, and can never adapt to this economic concept without completely abandoning our communal heritage.
So what makes a person predominantly of European descent and what makes a person predominantly of African descent other than the shade of their skin, the texture of their hair, and/or the width of their nose? Pretty much it’s a personal choice. A lot of people of obvious African descent choose to do their best to live as if they were European Americans although it’s pretty obvious that they are anything but. Although these people claim to be as black as the next guy they choose not to be African. They made the conscious if not informed decision to go in that direction. Good luck. But there is little doubt that they will be back. The path of the European is one of materialism and selfishness. The community isn’t something to be embraced. The community is to be used and manipulated for any and all personal gain so the individual can live on top of the herd. In essence, the good of the one always supersedes the good of the many whenever we find ourselves as the one.
But the question that begs attention is can people of European descent adapt to the African doctrine. Like the African who wants to be European it takes a seriously strong effort and serious devotion. I’m not sure how many occasions European blood has been mixed with African blood. Africans weren’t the race controlling the opportunity for sexual relations. Not as many women of European descent giving birth to children with African fathers. So there isn’t really an ancestry to help guide the European to the African theologies.
Does that mean it’s impossible? Not really. But it is highly improbable. There is such a stigma associated to white people embracing a way of life that many Africans don’t even want for themselves. The social programming has convinced the vast majority of us that it is far better to be an economically poor white person than to be a wealthy black person. So the white person who chooses this path is essentially choosing to swim against a seriously mighty current. Black people will feel that these people are trying to usurp something they don’t want and the white people will feel that these people are nigger loving nigger lovers.
To the few people of European descent who will show the courage to truly try something different that can enrich their soul and enhance their lives I will say welcome. Anything that I can do to help you in your endeavor please let me know. However, to the white people who are looking for a new fad or an opportunity to make a dollar at the expense of my heritage, I pray that the Orisas and ancestors have mercy on your soul and you learn your lesson/lessons quickly.