"Rowland Abiodun tells us that the high value placed on ivory goes back to antiquity and is reflected in mythical accounts of Orunmila's preference for and association with it. The Holy Odu OgbeOkanran, for example, teaches us that it was the elephant's refusal to pay Orunmila, combined with his blatant disrespect of Ogun Lakaiye that prompted the latter to slay the elephant and present one tusk to Orunmila. Because ivory was such a precious resource, and the preferred material for denoting the status of kings, chiefs, warriors, and diviners, elephant tusks were a commodity controlled by a powerful elite. Within the kingdom of Owo's sphere of influence, elephant hunters retained only one tusk out of every pair of tusks and were required to present the other to the Olowo (the king of Owo). This photograph is of Oba Olateru Olagbegi II, the Olowo of Owo in 1959.
The Holy Odu IworiMeji tells us that the first Olowo was the 8th son of Orunmila. His arrogance is what prompted Baba to ascend to heaven through Ope, the sacred palm. After Orunmila's departure, the world became chaotic. The people called to him for direction but Orunmila refused to return.
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Instead, he instructed them to stand at the base of Ope and outstretch their hands, into which one set of ikin (sacred palm nuts) fell. Orunmila advised the people to use those ikin whenever they wanted to speak to him; if they needed health, wealth, homes, spouses, children or victory, they should consult Ifa through the use of ikin.
The trusted advisor must transcend people and circumstances so that he might continue to perform his duties effectively. His success does not compete with his clients' success or need for recognition. The king is an earthly power. The diviner serves a heavenly cause. Orunmila's ascent at once averted an unnecessary power battle with his son, the Olowo, liberated him from limitations of space and time and affirmed the superior nature of wisdom. Aboru aboye abosise."
Obafemi Origunwa, MA | www.ObafemiO.com