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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Alile: Traditional Security System among the Yoruba
Author:Olomola, Isola
Periodical:Africana Marburgensia
Geographic terms:Togo
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Religion and Witchcraft
Abstract:Among the Yoruba-speaking peoples of southwestern Nigeria, southern Benin, and southeastern Togo, 'alile' denotes the traditional security system, consisting of semiotic tags and charms used for the protection of places - the household, marketplaces, groves and palaces - or property, most importantly land and wives, by owners or other vested interests. 'Alile' is different from 'awure', which can be a charm, an amulet or a potion credited with power to bring good fortune to its wearer or user. 'Alile' is not 'aroko', which is a semiotic device among the preliterate Yoruba for the exchange of messages. 'Alile' is also different from 'ebo' (libation) and 'eru' (sacrifice). The common bedrock of all these phenomena, however, is Yoruba religion, its animistic nature and symbolism. 'Alile' is very distinct in its composition, purpose and use. It is basically a charm or potion with a sinister intent. It is rooted in the belief that the deities, divinities and ancestors usually manifest themselves in certain animals, plants and inanimate objects. These totems are generally credited with supernatural powers, and are used as 'alile' with or without any further invocatory rites. Informants interviewed by the author in 1975 insisted that the 'alile' phenomenon was real and potent. What is generally known is that the effect of 'alile' is contained in a number of Yoruba proverbs, axioms and aphorisms. Ref.