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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The Pastor and the Babalawo: The Interaction of Religions in Nineteenth Century Yorubaland
Author:Peel, J.D.Y.
Year:1990
Periodical:Africa: Journal of the International African Institute
Volume:60
Issue:3
Pages:338-369
Language:English
Geographic term:Nigeria
Subjects:healers
missions
divination
Yoruba
Religion and Witchcraft
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
History and Exploration
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/1160111
Abstract:The system of divination called Ifa is among the most elaborate of African systems of divination and occupies a unique position in the traditional religion of the Yoruba (Nigeria). The author of this article argues that its saliency has been because of its capacity to 'ride' social change, to detach itself from much of what Muslims and Christians call paganism, and to impose itself on the respectful attention of the modern educated. After a description of Ifa in Yoruba religion, he pays attention to the interaction between Christian missionaries and 'babalawo' (Ifa diviners) since the 1840s. In particular he considers the conversion histories of three babalawo - Akibode, Masolowo and Philip Jose Meffre. These cases are known from the journals and letters of Samuel Pearse, a Sierra Leonian of Egba descent, who ministered at Badagry from 1859 to 1875. The author shows that, from the 1870s, the interaction of the pastor and the babalawo gradually entered a new phase. As the missionary movement started to achieve some real if modest success, Ifa came to be viewed in a new and more favourable light. 'Heathen' Ifa may have been, but on account both of certain theological ideas and of some specific prophecies, it could be seen as pointing in a Christian direction. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in French.
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