In the Orisa community, an initiation ceremony is widely accepted as a wedding between a person and the Orisa that leads their Ori. It is a ritual that we as Orisa devotees make supposedly fully aware of the responsibilities that we are committing ourselves to. As an initiate I have chosen to commit a major portion of time and energy into whatever endeavor the Orisas and ancestors may lead me to on behalf of the community. Although it is typical for initiates to do otherwise, the commitment to one’s Orisa is nothing to be taken lightly. It is a very serious matter that should be taken with understanding, knowledge, and appreciation. If we as initiates fail to do the work of Orisas on their behalf they will have to take matters into their own hands and we all pay when they decide to make changes.
So why are there so many parents, priest, and Orisa houses so gung ho to initiate babies into such a contract? A parent wouldn’t let a baby participate in a conventional wedding ceremony to marry someone human. Common sense would say that a baby doesn’t understand the commitments or requirements of such a union and is therefore not prepared educationally, emotionally, physically, mentally, or socially. Even when parents of certain cultures betroth their children for marriages before their out of diapers these parents understand that although they have made their plans known for who they want their child to marry, there’s a lot of growing up the child has to do before he or she is ready for the commitment of marriage.
So the question bears repeating, why are there so many parents, priest, and Orisa house so ready to initiate children, let alone babies, to an Orisa? While everyone in the tradition would love to continue the legacy of Ifa and pass their beliefs on down to their children, a parent cannot follow the paths of their children for their children. A parent cannot make a commitment to an Orisa on behalf of their children. And thankfully, a parent cannot force their children to truly worship and follow the doctrines if the child doesn’t want to. A child may go through the motions and learn the rituals and learn every detail about Orisa and ancestors. But if their heart is not into the commitment of service, the service is empty and hollow.
The responsible parent shouldn’t be so quick to have their child initiated as soon as possible. What would be the point? An initiation doesn’t imbue the child with the ability to do magic or enhance the baby with supernatural knowledge. The Orisa who rules the child’s head will always be there for the child regardless if the baby gets initiated or not. So what would be the rush?
The only answer I can get to these questions goes back to an issue of personal importance. It’s natural for parents within any belief system to want to be the parents of the next spiritual genius. Christian parents would love to be the parents of the second coming of Christ. Parents of the Islamic belief system would love to have a son of significant holiness in their family. Parents within Ifa are no different. They would love for their child to be the next great profit of Orunmila or maybe Olodumare himself. But regardless Orunmila junior still needs to learn his ABCs and 123s, how to relate to people, how to communicate with people, etc. Bottom line is the kid needs to know how to be an engaging human being.
People often assume that their child who may be obviously average (and many times less than average) is headed for greatness. Parents will argue with the soccer coach to play their son or daughter and pull out one of the other scrubs while the coach is biting their lip to keep from telling the parent that their little soccer player sucks. A parent will push their son or daughter to act when it’s obvious the little thespian participant couldn’t act their way out of a wet paper bag.
While the fore mentioned indiscretions are relatively minor, a parent pushing their kid as if they’re trying to make him a babalawo by the age of four is ridiculous and harmful. Orisas are in no hurry. Why are parents? Instead of making the choice for a baby to be initiated before it can be fully cognizant of what is happening is a waste. It would be a lot like taking a new born on an African safari and expecting them to retain the experience into the future. Unfortunately chances are good that as soon as the baby turns his view away from the elephants and giraffes walking along with the vista of Mount Kilimanjaro as backdrop the experience would be lost forever.
My suggestion is for parents to wait until the child can make an informed decision for themselves. But in the mean time, if the parents want their son to be a babalawo or their daughter to be an ifaniya then start educating them in the ways of the tradition and hope your efforts bear fruit.
Mr. Imus has been fired from both CBS and NBC. Good riddance.
Since this controversy broke over a week ago a lot of black people have been coming out of the woodwork to say that the black community is being hypocritical going after Mr. Imus when so many of us are wrong. They may have a point. But for a black man to stand in front of white people and saying black people are all wrong does nothing but make excuses for white atrocities. But I’m willing to give these people the benefit of a doubt. If someone can tell me the name of the Snoop Dogg, Nelly, 50 Cent, DMX, or any other rap or hip-hop song that explicitly rags on the Rutgers women’s basketball team I’ll hang up my pen. I’m pretty sure my gesture is an empty one because I doubt if anyone can. Mr. Imus and his bootlickers took the initiative to make their racist, sexist comments. But the fact of the matter is so many of us want to point the finger at ourselves which makes every apology to white people’s racism.
Now is not the time to start pointing fingers at each other. Now is the time for the black community to come together as one and say we don’t want this in our faces by society. We have problems in the community for sure. But this community is strong. We hang tough. And this is the unified voice we will speak with from now on. Instead, like we almost always do we have public dissention. And white people have their tom to show the hypocrisy of the black community. Black people need to listen up. For the sake of black culture, black people, and black families in general, it is better for a black man to stand with his brother who he thinks might be wrong than to stand with a white man who we know are wrong.
The good Reverend Al Sharpton and his accomplice the Reverend Jesse Jackson were wrong for going after some justice in the racially insensitive and sexist remarks by former radio and television talk show host Don Imus. At least that was the opinion of a black commentator on one of the prime time, nationally broadcasted evening news shows on one of the traditional networks. The man being interviewed was a columnist for a newspaper in one of the plane states. Obviously this brother was trying to step and fetch for a higher profile job. The interviewer asked this man his opinion of Al Sharpton and RainbowPush’s effort to have Don Imus fired. Although I didn’t have anything to record his reply with I did manage to commit much of it to memory.
Well massah. I wanna thank you good people fo’ havin’ me on yo’ fine front porch so I can be on yo’ fine sho’. It ain’t often I gets t’ be in such fine company as yo’s. Workin’ out in dat cotton field iz such hard work. I jus wanna let ya t’ know you can trust me t’ tell the truth. I know wha’s right. ‘Coz I’m here to tell ya, that Rev. Sharpton and that Jesse ain’t fit to be tied. How dey gonna go ‘round talkin’ ‘bout that poor massah Imus fit t’ be loosin’ his job? Why he ain’t said nuttin’ dem field negroz out dere in dat cotton field ain’t be sayin’ ‘round anybody who be listenin’ for d’pass 5, 10, 15 yerz. If dey don’t say nuttin to dem why don’t dey say nuttin t’ nobody is wha’ I’m sayin’.
Al Sharpton’s gotta lot o’ pain in hiz closet. He got dat Tawana Brawley negro girl t’ think ‘bout. He did dat LoanMax commercial fo’ dem people and dat ain’t no good. And Jesse ain’t no bett’r wit dem bastard kidz o’ hiz. And dat coach? She ain’t fit t’ be tied. She tellin’ dem girlz t’ be angry and hurt ov’r wha’ massah Imus said. She needz t’ tell’em get used t’ it. Dem white peoplez got da right as long as wez where we are.
I be tellin’ dem ta shuddup. But do dey listen? No dey don’t. Y’know, dey ain’t got dat fancy word, y’know, ‘tegrity.
So I say no field negro’s got da right to be pokin’ ‘round massah’s house talkin’ ‘bout massah doin’ wrong and such when wez let dem people out dere do wrong. I know fo’ a fact dat dem negro girlz be dancin’ ev’ry which way tryin’ ta move in wayz dat’ll make de devil ‘imself blush. Dey be bouncin’ ‘round. Make o’ Jaspah here get beside ‘imself wit’ lust in m’ heart. But I stay strong ‘coz dats what a good negro do.
Now massah, I wonts ya ta unde’stand, I ain’t sayin’ wha massah Imus did waz right. I don’ tink he shudda be sayin’ all dat stuff. In fact, I really don’ care fo’ massah Imus. But who’s dey to be tellin’ some fine white man he be doin’ an’ sayin’ iz wrong when I’z got so many o’ my own ta tell. I jus’ wanna set de reco’d straight. We negroz need ta get ou’ selvez t’gedd’a ‘fore we be gettin’ all big headed an’ tryin’ ta tell yooz wha’ ta do.
Now if y’all don’ be minddin’ I needz ta be getting’ back t’ work. Dat cotton ain’t gonna pick itself y’know.