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What Good is in a Name?

by Awo Ifalade Ogunbunmi Efundeji

According to the Ifa tradition one's name is an identification tag of where a person has come from and/or who a person will develop to be. Often times people ask themselves, who am I? Why am I here and what is it I am supposed to be doing? In Ifa tradition these questions are answered at birth in a baby naming ceremony, but what if one was not born in the Ifa/Yorubatradition - how then would these questions be answered. Orisa initiation can as well give a more accurate answer to these questions, Yes there are other means, but I want to deal with those who are initiated and particularly those who are initiated into the realm of Ifa who are still asking themselves these questions in particular regarding the type of priest or priestess they are to represent to their perspective community. The answer to the mysterious question is hidden within the name you were given and the specific Odu that incarnated your rebirth through initiation. These two aspects should be examined very carefully by the awo seeking the source of one's power and the mysterious path of one's destiny. I will for the sake of example use my own name and Odu Ifa to illustrate what I mean. My name in Ifa is "Ifalade" or Ifa crowns me; that is all well and good but who is this aspect of Ifa and what does this particular Ifa crown me with. This is the depth of the question one should ponder in its purpose. This particular Ifa is known to be "Okanran Tua" and it is this Okanran Tua that has decided to bestow a crown upon my head. In order the understand the nature of the realm of my kingdom that I have been crowned with I must first understand the nature of the Odu Ifa that incarnates my very existence. When this is clearly understood then I can begin to understand the path and purpose I have chosen from heaven to experience in my life. Generally speaking Okanran means trouble and Otura means peace; this denotes that a troublesome life will come to a peaceful state. Ifa says that whenever you see Okanran Tua you will know that whatever is troubling you in your life, it will be resolved and it will be done peacefully; "there is no problem that cannot be resolved in a peaceful manner". This is a beginning to understanding the chosen path and purpose of my life, that is to grow into a person that is a "peacemaker" - take conflicts and resolve them by peaceful means. Odu Ifa Okanran Tua states " what you do to me, I do to you does not allow for the problem to be resolved swiftly" stating it is of no use to fight fire with fire. Ifa Okanran Tua also alludes to conflict with the personal as well as the extended family, but it is through these personal conflicts and jealousy that one would gain ample experience in learning how to approach and resolve conflict without fighting fire with fire; this on the other hand forces one to learn to exercise great patience and wisdom to overcome domestic issues. Ifa says "there is fear in the darkness, war is mounting to my right, war is mounting to my left, war is mounting right before me" but later on Ifa states the solution in resolving the problem by saying, "we have dispersed them with our knowledge, we have dispersed them with Ifa".

Okanran is known for the creation of problems and Otura is known for the attainment of peace; but this particular aspect of Okanran has been tempered by Otura and comes to be known as "the gentle Okanran" or the peacemaker. In many instances of Odu Ifa Okanran Tua it speaks of making divination for the son of a chief, the son of a king or the becoming leader of the family; with this aspect added to Okanran Tua one then finds out the type of "lade-crown" being bestowed upon the head. So Okanran Tua crowns one to be the "head of the peacemakers". This added information furthers the depth of understanding of the path one is destined to undertake. Ifa says, "what one sees is not what one is, what one is not perceived by the reality of who one lives to become" According to the muslim babalawo's interpretation of the Odu Ifa Okanran Tua, they state that Okanran means to manifest, to bring forth or to be and Otura means to live or alive; so Okanran Tua means to "be alive" or "born to live". This interpretation is just as important because there are a few Odu Ifa of Okanran Tua that speaks to being an abiku child or one born to die at a young age but who is rescued from death and able to live a long life. On this Ifa says, "Ifa divination was performed for he who's day of death was set within the next three days", Ifa further states in this Odu that "he who is not going to die with them today, he who is not going to die with them tomorrow, he who is not going to die the day after tomorrow even". Another Aspect of Okanran Tua states "he who takes solace in the woods, conjured a special Ifa leaf to ward off all heavenly and earthly spirits". This information adds to the crowned one who is to become the head of the peacemakers is also destined to overcome all adversities. This has held true in many aspects of my entire life as to being able to recount at least ten occurences of being saved from near death experience: As an infant having many seizures and convulsions Elementary school art class coming close to severing the radial artery with an exacto blade from working on cutting a cardboard box Having been hit in the head with a boiled rock thrown at me from the second floor Having to be transfused from nearly overdosing on doctors recommended prescription for juvenile arthritis Being held at knifepoint up on my toes with the knife held at my carotid artery Nearly drowned in the Ocean Had a gun pointed at the back of my head at night by a lone police officer Having a car miraculously turn around after partially going off a cliff

and so many others, no I was not ever a bad kid, but there were always a circumstance that came about leading to misunderstanding or grounds for misinterpretation; but Okanran Tua was always there to remedy the situation because I was "born to survive". Okanran incarnates conspiracy and Otura incarnates the mouth; Okanran Tua speaks of conspiracies of the mouth from others. Ifa says, "Ifa divination was performed for the mouth, the mouth has many enemies" Ifa says that many people will talk about you and conspire against you because of misunderstanding and jealousy. But Okanran Tua will always fight with gentleness and wisdom.

So what good is in a name? To know one's name is to know one's power, To know one's power is to know one's limit as well as expanse. *To reveal one's Odu is not the revelation of the secret to one's power, it is however a means of identification of the service one provides to the self as well as others and a means to fulfilling one's own destiny. *The extent of the confirmation of one's power is in the secret of one's "Ita Odu" that confirms one's life Odu, this is what must be kept as "awo". One knows Okanran Tua to be a priest, a councilor, a spiritual guide or some form of a teacher based on reform of the society at large. One comes to Okanran Tua for conflict resolution, to assist in changing a troubled life into a peaceful state, protection against untimely death and to solve one's problems. Ifa (Okanran Tua Tua Tua) Lade "The head of the peacemakers who overcomes all adversities with gentleness and wisdom" "Conflict Resolution", in a word "Resolved" *I hope this reflection can assist you in you own self discovery of who you are why you are here and what you are here to accomplish in your service to the world. Of course this is a very general perspective to a very deep view of the nature of this Odu, but suffice it to say, it is a mere model to illustrate a deeper point. What is the nature of Odu and what is the nature you incarnated by any given Odu. Aboru (may sacrifice be accepted) Aboye (may sacrifice give long life) Abossise (may prayers be accepted)