Yoruba 1, (1) 68-73 Bade Ajayi


THE SECRET OF IFA DIVINA- (Ofun on the right and Ogbe on
ihc left).
TION and the teachings of Orunmila As shown in the above examples,
are embodied in the Odu, a collection of each Omo Odu is named and interpreted
stories having a .similar theme. The in terms of the two halves
Odu of Ifa are of two categories the Oju configuration. However, the sign on the
Odu (The principal Odu} which are right arm of each Omo Odu said to be
sixteen in number and the Omo Odu more powerful for it determines (the
(the minor Odu) which arc two hundred real message of Orunmila.
and forty. (See appendix for details). We are aware that, Abimbola
Both the principal Odu and the Omo (1970, -1977), Bascom (l969) and
Odu are arranged in a specific order of MicClelland (1982) have worked on Ifa
seniority and the hierarchical ordering is literary corpus generally, our main
of great significance in the focus in this paper is the examination of
interpretation of Orunrnila's message. the process by which Omo Odu are
There are two identical arms lo the derive (from the principal Odu) The
sign of every principal Odu. But to form thirty. Omo Odu of Eji Oghe which
an Omo Odu, the sign on one arm of a Abimbola (1970) calls Apola Ogbe are
principal Odu combines with the sign being used as a case study.
from one arm of another principal Odu. Like the Apola of each of
(see chart The other principal Odu, the derivation
of Apola Ogbe takes

1 -4)


Lessignes Odu refletent dans la langue. 0 fi han pe ogbon omo odu ni a le ri fayo lati orison Apola Ogbe. O salaye pe ilana fonoloji tabi osuwon itumo ko le kogo alaye nipa iecda omo odu ja ninu imoIfa. examiner la derivation de l’Omo Odu (Odu subardiniuc) de I'Oju Odu (I'Odu principal). can combine with to form an Omo Odu (Ogbe on the right and one arm of one arm of Ofun called Ogbefun ofun on the left). !70 . Bi omo odu won yi se hu 1o tan yebeyebe pelu iwadii to jinle.les odus mincurs qui en resultent. montrent quelque evidence des processus phonologiques tels I 'elision des voyelles et ton. tandis que le yorouba. utiliser de I'evidence culturelle pou. expliquer leur origine.IIs . idi si niyi ti o ft tun foju asa daso ro won. A partir d’une etude soignees de la structure d 'Aploa Ogbe (des phrases nomnales) on s point de contact entre la langue et Ie symbole. ni les proprietes semantiques ne peuvent expliquer la derivation de certains Omo Odu. comme 1 'anglais et Ie francaiss’ecrit du gauche a droit La derivation de quelques Omo Odu est difficite a expliqucr linguistiquement. (1) 68-73 Bade Ajayi O For example. La derivation d'Omo Odu du corpus "ttcraire d'lfa L'eeri vain propose L.s 'eei ivent et se lisent du droite comme des mots arabes. I’eerivnin a pu.Yoruba 1. Mais ou ni Ies regles phonologiques. of /yf' contraction de voyelles. dans 1’artiiclc.The Eji -Ogbe sign meji combination can be O O O OO O reversed to produce O O O O Ofunmagbe O O O OO O O OO O O O O O O O OO 1 2 3 4 O O Bi omo odu se n hu ninu ifa dida Bi awon babalawo se n seda amulu odu tabi omo odu lo je Bade Ajayi logun. Ce faisant.

Ogbe+Okanran (Ogbekanran) The something that happens when 14. (Ogbetomopon) The purpose of analysis. Irete+Ogbe (Irentegbe) 5. Ofun+Ogbe (Ofunnagbe) !71 . Ogbe+Oworin (Ogbehunle) 10. Ogbe+Irosun (Ogberosun) 29. Irosun+Ogbe (Irosungbemi) 30. Obara+Ogbe (Obarabogbe) forms which are difficult to account for. let us list the 22. Okanran+Ogbe (Okanransode) forming Apola of any what two principal 15. 18. Ogbe+Obara (Ogbebara) 12. (1) 68-73 Bade Ajayi ! 
 9. Ogunda+Ogbe (Ogundabede) the process of formation. O t u u r u p o n + O g b e thirty Omo Apola Ogbe contains: (Otuurupongbe) 1. Ogbe+Oyeku (Ogbeyeku) 23. Ogbe+Ofun (Ogbefun) 8. O g b e + O t u u r u p o n processes. Ogbe+Ogunda (Ogbeyonu) Odu combine to form a minor thing in 16. Ogbe+Otua (Ogbealara) 2. Ogbe+Odi (Ogbedi) 27. many changes 17. Ose+Ogbe (Oseogbe) 7. the resultant 20. Otua+Ogbe (Otuaoriko) 3. Iwori+Ogbe (Iworibogbe) 26. Odi+Ogbe (Idingbe) 28.Yoruba 1. Oworin+Ogbe (Oworinsogbe) 11. Ogbe + Ika (Ogbeka) fifteen principal vice versa. Ogbe+Osa (Ogberikusa) in the case of Apola Ogbe for instance. Osa+Ogbe (Osalufogbejo) when combined with any of the other 19. Ogbe+Irete (Ogbeate) 4. Ogbe+Iwori (Ogbeweyin 25. Ika + Ogbe (Ikagbemi) minor Odu shows some of phonological 21. Oyeku+Ogbe (Oyekulogbe) 24. 13. Ogbe+Ose (Ogbese) 6.

8. there is elision of Oyeku lu Ogbe (Labara) vowel I. c 17 and 20 is even more complicated for. it is another Odu that both the second vowel and its tone are collocated with Ogbe.i.d below are more complicated. As inserted? closely observed. orm let us consider what (Oyeku-beats-Ogbe-wiih-its-palm) happens in the following derivation: Oyeku ni Ogbe {Oyeku-has-Ogbe} (a. the vowel of the other derivations such as those found in inserted item is deleted leaving only the b. 4. Odu. The nominalisation pattern in (a) conclude that when any of the other is identical with this . elided.) elision process. It may be deletes the second of two vowels in these possible that after inserting a verb such derivations.) in the former. contraction helps to suggest the inserted verb.e. However. Can we therefore. On of vowels is a common process in the purely phonological evidence. 13.Yoruba 1. Here are some sample words. what we language. such a rule or applies when Ogbe is in initial position generalisation would not be workable of the compounded words. the statement or speculate what happens in phonological process of vowel elision the process of this derivation. 10 second Odu is elided and two other and 12) a monosyllabic word. consonant remnant which of course. Noun + Noun fifteen Odu combines with Ogbe a showing an identical V2 (vowel two or monosyllabic word (preferably a verb) be vowel number two. the initial vowel of the Considering Apola Ogbe (2. o. bo (do cover) between the is constant. (c) Ogbc + Osa = Ogberikusa !72 . (b) Oyeku + Ogbe = Oyekulogbe 19. 7. a Eti+okun = etikun (bank of the semantic consideration will make us ocean) consider that a syllable has been inserted. Eran=oko = eranko (animal) A phonological process of vowel deletion follows. In the latter. operation in position of the derived forms (see b. 5. and d below. In Yoruba phonology.) Ogbe + Oyeku = Ogbeyeku Iwori + Ogbe = Iworibogbe Ogbe + Odi = Ogbesi Iwori bo Ogbe (Mole) Ogbe + Irosun = Ogberosun (Iwori-covers-Ogbe-up) Ogbe + Obara = Ogbebara Owonrin + Ogbe = Owonrinsogbe Owonrin so Ogbe (mole) Ogbe + Okanran = Ogbekanran (Owonrin-ties-Ogbe-down) Ogbe + Ika = Ogbeka We m a y g i v e a t e n t a t i v e In the above example. In other words. a single verb. have are intrusive consonants which do Omo+Eniyan= Omoniyan (human being) not seem to be predictable. the deletion as lu (to beat). is inserted in the two combining syllable is inserted. 11. in cacti of the above In each of these sample words examples. 14 24 and 26. (1) 68-73 Bade Ajayi In Apola Ogbe (1. usually a syllables arc added. With the because it does not cut across all Apola exception of Otuurupon different forms Ogbe of similar combination. Examples are obtained when Ogbe falls to the final are 6. and 27 above). The. this phonological rule Definitely. But it must be stressed that underlying form.

such Omo Odu whose derivation cannot be explained linguistically must have their origin somewhere and thus cultural evidence is put into consideration. the second Such names may be sentential or phrasal Odu of some Omo Odu not have bearing in structure as characteristic of other with the original odu. ii is evident that . Semantically. the underlined Ogbeweyin can be traced to either of wards under the deriving forms do not these two ese Ifa: mean the same thing as their counterparts (1) Ogbe weyin baja re o baa pa kun underlined in the derivation. look backwards should related to weyin nor Oworin to hunle. has !73 . and Irosun + Ogbe =Irosunokanjua Ose-alaroye or Ose-awoko derived from Ogbe + Otua = Ogbealara different ese Ifa. Each Odu in Ifa literary corpus normally. Such Odu are named after the cannot use phonological rules to ezplain praise names picked from the stories the derivation of every minor Odu in associated to the Odu of Ifa in question. (1) 68-73 Bade Ajayi several stories or Ese Ifa associated with it. obinrin Omo Odu. What all the irregularities thus pointed (2) Ogbe weyin baja re o p’akun out amount to is that semantic property i gboro cannot be the basis for the formation of Kannyanrin ma de o. defence. Oworin-Elejigbo. Our finding reveals that the babalawo attributes the most popular and Ika + Ogbe = Ikagbemi favourite oriki (praise names) arising What all these irregular systems from one or more ese Ifa to a particular of combination amount to is that we Odu.either phonological rules nor semantic properties can be used to explain the derivations of some Omo Odu in Ifa corpus. Ogbe-afibisoloore. (d) Ogbe + Iwori = Ogbeweyin Ogbehunle.Yoruba 1. The A dia fun arugbofulani t’oun information collected from our t’ogo informants confirms dial neither is Iwori Ogbe. For example. Ogbe + Owonrin =Ogbehunle Ogbeejengbere. your dog kill a kind of Iwori and Oworin are names of two squirrel principal Odu while the terms weyin Ifa divination was performed for (look back) and hunle (look after your a Fulani with a club for self – household) in isolation are verb phrases. the origin In the above example. Consider the Yoruba names or nicknames. Igboro As shown in the preceding analysis. However.. Apola Ogbe. Hence we following: have such Omo Odu as Ogbeweyin.

Yoruba 1. ! !74 . (1) 68-73 Bade Ajayi .

(1) 68-73 Bade Ajayi Popular Names Nickname/Appellation English equivalent Ogbesa Ogberikusa Ogbe-runs-away-from- death Ogbefun Ogbefohunfolohun Ogbe-gives-something-to- the-right-owner Ofunnara Ofunnagbe Ofun-beats-Ogbe Ogundabede Ogundamorogbe Ogunda-I-have-seen-Ogbe Ogbeyonu Ogbeegun. Ogbegunda Ogbe-is-long. Obara.Yoruba 1.calabash.Obara-the-owner-of- Olowuu Obara-the-owner. Otuaoriire. Otua-head-rejects-death. Owonrin-of-the-King-of- Ejigbo !75 . believers or Christian faithfuls. Ogbe-joins- Ogunda Ikagbemi I k a a l a k e n g b e . Otua-ogood-destiny. people/Obara-the- of-Owu owner-of-thread. Ika-has-big-gourd. Osealaroye Oseawoko Oseafibisoloore Ose-the-talking-bird. Owonrin-of-the-Owonrin- Elejigbo. Otua generousity-pays-me. Otuaoriko Otuaorikoku. Ose- who-repaygoowith-evil Owonrinsogbe Owonrin-onigbagbo. Father- Babaalakengbe has-a-gourd Ogarabogbe Obaraonigba.

weyin (a phrase) are nominalised to form Ifa divination was performed for Ogbeweyin thatfor the name of the omo Ogboja Odu from which the two ese Ifa are The princess of Eyo-Ajori picked. Kannyanrin has come. that is. Ifa divination was performed for A dia fun Ogboja Kannyanrin the wife of over-grown farm. Kannyanrin is a type of ese that A very big stone that rolls over grows well in a fertile land. The common practice was to have the names O g u n d a Ogundabed O g u n d a - of such town or village reflected in the Ogbe e Ogbe Odu question. look backwards should your dog the nickname for Owonrinogbe reads: kill a kind of squirrel. In fact. (1) 68-73 Bade Ajayi Emi n lo ile oko aaro… One verse from the Owonrin-Elejigbo Ogbe. Ti i somo oba l’Eyo-Ajori. Owonrin- Elejigbo is the name given to the omo Who wanted to marry Eleyo- Odu (Owonrin+Ogbe) that founded Ajori princess. O g b e Ogbeyeku O g b e - If Ika blesses me I will be Oyeku Oyeku crowned the king of Ila O y e k u Oyekulogbe O y e k u - And if Ika does not bless me I Ogbe Ogbe will be crowned the king of Ila. (4) Aragbandu oko ni yi gbirigbiri. For example. favourite ese Ifa. The three underlinedwords are Ogbe Iwori Ogbeweyin Ogbe-Iwori compounded to bear the name of Iwori Ogbe Iworibogbe Iwori-Ogbe the Omo Odu. and over Other example is that of the omo Odu Ifa divination was performed for Ikagbemi coming from the following the king of Ejigbo. each of the cited ese Ifa (1-4) has long and interesting stories attached !76 . There are some Odu that tell the O g b e Ogbehunle O g b e - histories and myths about the foundation Owonrin Owonrin of particular Yoruba towns and villages. O w o n r i n Owonrinsog O w o n r i n - These are described as Odu to te ilu do Ogbe be Ogbe (the Odu that founded a town).Yoruba 1. the wife of an Aragbandu oko ni yi gbirigbiri overgrown farm. Bascom Abimbola Mcclelland Ifa n lo taye Olufe so bi e ni sogbe. Ikagbemi. Ika gbe mi n o joba Ila Ika o gbe mi n o joba Ila. A dia fun Elejigbo I am proceeding to my first husband’s Ti n lo fomo oba Eleyo-Ajori house… A boulder that rolls over and (1) and (2) the words Ogbe (a noun) and over. Ejigbo town in Osun State of Nigeria. the Odu revealed when a babalawo was O g b e Ogbeyonu O g b e - invited to divine before the particular Ogunda Ogunda town or village was founded.

and the Odu can be coincidence. 3 language and symbol. 5 be curious to know how the structures of 8 7 omo Odo are related to ritual function. (Of the can this alternating effect in the language many names that an Odu may have. the OO O young may be tested on the identification of the Odu that bear certain nicknames or Oyekulogbe O OO appellations. omo odu are the sign changes position. Yoruba praise and changes of position in the sign and the descriptive chant. like English into the detailed stories. it is observed that the babalawo prints an odu sign in the Odu signs are reflected in the language. an variant forms will surface under different accident or a design? As pointed out circumstances. Oyo. None of them is actually earlier. during Ifa Ogbeyeku OO O divination session (where a number of OO O babalawo are present) or an initiation OO O ceremony or a graduating babalawo. But Yoruba. For instance. According OO O to Adebayo Kehinde of Elepe compound. When. (1) 68-73 Bade Ajayi to it. odu sign is After a careful stujdy of the structure written from top downwards. As compound. Alore-Ilorin. For example. Ogbeelesin O OO (Ogbe has horse).What interests us and French is written from left to right. there is bound to he descendants’ Oriki. O OO the first minor in Ifa corpus. following order: In this wise it is suspected that there 2. the first of the combining Odu Oyo and Anafi Ijala of Kondoro appears on the right side of the sign. Odu signs arc marked and sad derived from the other). Oyo State. the Odu names callea as regorded to make things also changes. named in Arabic. Chinese. one would 6.30) are listed above. is the same Odu as Ogbeyeku. Any experienced from right to left (the way Arabic words and learned babalawo can easily !77 . but for lack of space we shall not go are written). a babalawo casts the chain and Ogbeyeku emerges thus: Almost every babalawo in the OO O geographical areas of research prefers to OO O call the minor odu the way the Apola OO O Ogbe (1 . is the derivation of some Odu which are Since the system of marking the Odu and being explored by means of cultural writing the name of the same Odu takes evidence. Thus. The ese Ifa above and language though both presenting the the ones (1-3) preceding it were collected same thing. a of Apola Ogbe.Yoruba 1. Ogbeoloosa (Ogbe of O OO the deity). Eleyo-Ajori is part of Oloye different directions. 1 must have been a meeting point between 3. the name and difficult for the babalawo-in-training and the sign of the following minor Odu also to maintain the sacred-less of Ifa change position: corpus. These changes would not from Awo Olaifa Ajayi of Ondasa have been necessary if the Odu are compound. In fact. For example. for instance.

can be multiplied. Here are some examples. The nicknames are oriki characteristic of an individual omo Odu.Yoruba 1. (see table 1). The emergence of the names depends lo a large extent on the situation and circumstance surrounding the divination. Another important question that needs be answered in order to throw further light on the derivation of omo Odu generally Apola Ogbe in particular is whether or not all scholars on Ifa literary corpus write the names of the !78 . (1) 68-73 Bade Ajayi recognise that the above appellations refer generally to Ogbeyeku. Our informants have proved beyond any doubt that there is hardly any omo Odu that does not have at least. These nicknames or appellations which often during divination process especially when the signs are being verbalised. of the minor Odu. a nickname (beside the popular name). the leader.

Yoruba 1. (1) 68-73 Bade Ajayi ! 
 !79 .

!80 . What differentiates McClelland's writing is the use of hyphen 10 compound the iwo words. The answer is definitely negative. Bascom and McClelland write the names (as shown above) is basically the same. as demonstrated in this paper. However. Thus we select relevant data from Abimbola’s together with ow own collection for this analysis. they can readily identify and narrate the stories (ese Ifa) relevant to the Odu. the master babalawo might call any emerged Odu by its appellation or nickname to test the ability of the graduating student babalawo. The way. cultural evidence. At initiation ceremony. But where neither the phonological rules nor semantic properties can be used to explain the derivation of certain Omo Odu. the learned babalawo are so familiar with almost every odu in Ifa corpus that once an odu is mentioned. can be used to explain the origin. The way Bascom (1969:50) writes the Odu is different from the way Abimbola (1977:17) and McCtelland (1982:44. (1) 68-73 Bade Ajayi odu alike. the derivatory process of some of the Omo ! Odu names is difficult to explain linguistically.Yoruba 1._ 45) write and analyse. for instance. As revealed in this study. Almost all our informants list omo Odu the way Abimbola writes them.