I gave a public lecture at the Schomburg Centre, Harlem, New York in the late 90s and the subject of homosexuality was addressed by me, and one theatre director accused me of intolerance. The sum of my submission was, “The Yoruba do not have the word ‘homosexual’ in their vocabulary and by this reasoning, homosexuality is alien to the Yoruba nature and origin.” Someone shouted, “Did the Yoruba have a word for television? Words are created with new things. Yoruba language would soon create the Yoruba word for homosexuality.” The theatre director who bombarded me with emails thereafter, accused me of being intolerant of gay persons. I disconnected him from my email. Was this an act of tolerance?
The Iyanifa of New York sent me back to Obatala, and I came home to Abeokuta.
The Obatala Priest told me in a village: “If you must understand the worship of Obatala, remember this: It is tougher than Christianity. You must say goodbye to anger. You must say goodbye to intolerance”. How do you live a life without ever being angry? The credo of Obatala is creation, creativity, healing and tolerance. A life without anger? You will become Budha or the Dalai Lama.
In Yoruba civilization, Obatala is the only Orisha who has the virtue of absolute tolerance, because the awesome powers streaming through him to humanity prevents him from the vice of “apartness” or anger.
I was astonished when the Obatala Priest said true Obatala existential creed is tougher than the Christian one.
He said the Christians he saw were devoid of tolerance.
He gave me an example of his. A brand new Christian, aflame with his most recent transformation, invaded the shrine of his family Orisha and set it on “Holy Ghost” fire!
A string of tragic episodes followed in that family.
Each tragedy stretched the suffering of family members beyond endurance until they came running with “Baba save us …Stop this calamity”. The Yoruba civilisation gave man his freedom of religious choice and man boasts about it with the words: ‘Orisha, bo le gbemi, fimisile bo se ba mi’ (meaning, Orisha, if you cannot help me, leave me as you found me
Credit: Instagram | @orisa_priestess