• Instagram B&W

21st Century opon ifa

The paragraph below is an excerpt from a story written by Alya Al-Harthy from a story titled "I am not afraid of the dark"

"It's hard to believe in an anecdote when everyone has a phone in their hands to record magical occurrences. It's hard to believe an anecdote when people are savvy at manipulating stories, and even evidence to suit their purposes. It's hard to believe an anecdote when it included a historical racist stereotype of blackness versus whiteness. It's hard to believe an anecdote that is always word of mouth, whispered in ambiguities of when/where/what/how. It's hard to believe an anecdote when it strikes you with fear. Fear, so believe. Fear, so pray consistently. Fear, so your real concern at death won't be your morality and honest service to fellow human beings and the earth, but instead it'll be your personal, serves-no-one-but-yourself prayer that will save you from darkness. "

As I read this excerpt, I started to think about stories related to things I have heard in Lagos, Nigeria. One of the common stories you hear relates to black magic and goes thus. If you pick up money you find on the street you will turn to a goat or a yam. In all of these stories there is always a fear of the unknown or of a drastic change. 

I then started to try to imagine this scenario. What if in the 17th century when the Yorùbá people (from the south west of Nigeria) became dominant, the Balabawo (deviner) had access to a smartphone. How would he be perceived by the community and how would that have shaped the world today? Would the smartphone have been perceived as a god that had to be worshiped by the use of electricity? Would the custodian of the smartphone have been a renaissance man? Would that knowledge have forced the Yorùbá people to develop to the level that is normal now it he 1800's?

The ọpọn ifá (divination tray) is an essential part of traditional divination in the Yorùbá culture. The babalawo uses it as one of his tools to communicate with the spirits. 

21st Century Ọpọn Ifá explores the similarities between the ọpọn Ifá and the smart phone. They are both communication and recording tools that work with the unseen. The only difference is that the ọpọn Ifá was not user friendly and there was a need for a translator to communicate with the unseen. 

The internet has replaced the medicine man. We are experts in anything and everything when we want to be. We now have access to writing and videos with any level of credibility on any topic. You can find 4K messages tailored to how you want to hear it. In a matter of seconds you can call on transportation that knows where to go and summon people from any part of the world at will. What a time to be alive! 

You are the translator of the 21st century Ọpọn Ifá