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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Ifa literature and the Yoruba society
Author:Lawuyi, O.B.ISNI
Periodical:African Notes: Bulletin of the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan
Geographic term:Nigeria
Subjects:world view
African religions
oral literature
Abstract:This paper attempts to understand Yoruba entrepreneurial society from the perspective offered by a combination of concepts occurring in Ifa literature. The argument is that Ifa poems play on conflictual imageries. A proper perspective on Ifa tradition requires some kind of dialectics of conflict and consensus because it is through this dialectics that the priests could maintain their patronage. The two sociological variables of 'Ori' and 'aye' constitute a dialectic that functions as a causal explanation of situational conflicts: if 'Ori' represents potentiality, 'aye' expresses a lack of it, if 'Ori' stands for individuality, 'aye' stands for collective interests. The tension between the two concepts is important for the idea of meaning in human existence: if 'Ori' is the indicator of one's purpose in life, it is the pathfinder in the earthly bush characterized as 'aye'. Of all the various concepts of 'aye' the one well articulated in the Yoruba thought system is the view of 'aye' as a market, involving monetary exchanges as well as intangible commodities such as time, authority, integrity, etc. In connection with the Yoruba market mentality as disclosed in Ifa literature attention is also paid to the concepts of 'ese' (leg, network of support) and 'ipolowo' (advertisement). The author concludes that conflict and consensus in a dialectical relationship serve to promote self-actualization and role performance. The Ifa corpus harps on this dialectics and has thus remained vitally alive in the minds of both patrons and clients. Bibliogr.