Jaap Verduijn is NOT a Babalawo…

August 4, 2013 by · 4 Comments
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… so can we finally cut the crap, please?!

Sometimes I have the feeling that the bullshit never ends. Today, in a Facebook Group that I left precisely for that reason, the administrator insisted on calling me a Babalawo. That’s a new one for me… during the past fifteen years I have been dozens of times accused of claiming to be a Babalawo (which I emphatically am not), but this time it’s somebody else who claims I am a Babalawo (amused but also irritated grin)!

I have tried to reason with this man in the hope that he would stop, explaining to him that the title Babalawo is a well-defined concept, to wit a person in the Yoruba/Orunmila system who went through initiation as an Ifa priest within a well-defined structure and lineage. It is at the same time a rank, and a title of honor, neither of which I deserve, or even aspire to. Geez… I’m not even in the Orunmila-system, so how could I be a Babalawo?

No babalawoThis is a great big bother for me, because it totally opposes what I have been doing for fifteen years online: making clear that I am not a Babalawo, I am not an initiated Ifa priest… I am a simple Ifa/Fa/Evwa/Afa/Ebba etcetera diviner. This shit will begin to lead its own life again, because when this spreads nobody will know or remember that it was not me, but that Group’s administrator that calls me a Babalawo… and as usual the angry shouts will start: “See: Jaap Verduijn is claiming to be a Babalawo! He is a liar and a cheat”. Well now, I’m far from a saint, but a cheat and a liar I am not, and for the hundredth time I state clearly and plainly: I am NOT a fuggin’ Babalawo! What about that is so difficult to grasp?

This thing has been going on for far too long: since early 1998, and now it is suddenly revived. I can do without the aggravation – I have work to do instead of countering this kind of bullshit, which in the past has come with lots of hatred and even death threats. Can we finally cut the crap? I am not a Babalawo, so don’t fuggin’ call me one! It really is that simple: if I ask a person not to call me a Babalawo because I am not, why not honor that simple request? It’s a bit like military rank: if a person is a sergeant, you don’t call him a captain.

Apart from the crap that has been coming my way for fifteen years and that has been revived by the actions of that Group administrator, there is also a very serious spiritual issue involved. Firstly: calling me a Babalawo is disrespectful towards the real Babalawos. Secondly, Ifa simply forbids me to call myself a Babalawo. Thirdly, Ifa forbids others to call me a Babalawo, simply because I am not a Babalawo. It’s very clear that not only me but first and foremost Ifa states that I am not to call myself, nor be called by others, a Babalawo. Ifa wants me to call myself, and be called by others, an Ifa diviner. I have made the person in question aware of this, stating “It’s up to you to decide to go against the word of Ifa or not…”

Well… the person decided to wipe his ass with Ifa’s words, making various statements about Ifa like: “Whatever its validity may be, it is not infallible” and “The views anyone ascribes to Ifa or to any representatives of Ifa are secondary to my rights to insist on my views based on my understanding of the Ifa system”. In other words: “Fuck whatever Ifa says, because it is always overruled by my rights to insist on my views”. Do you see the irony? This person insists on calling me a Babalawo, and subsequently throws to the wind what Ifa says through me… Now that’s what I call disrespect!

I have had too many drama’s in the past to be interested in starting it all over again. So let’s finally cut the crap (again… deep sigh…): Jaap Verduijn is not a Babalawo, does not claim to be a Babalawo, and does not want to be called a Babalawo. Is that finally clear? Well… for most of you. But there will always be some who don’t get it. And then, inevitably, it will all start over again.


Fortune cookie

May 31, 2013 by · 4 Comments
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By publishing a page of an existing book I’m on the edge of what is legally permitted, but on account of it being small and quite educational I think I remain within the safe boundaries of “fair use”. This so called “Odu Ifa” text (it’s supposed to be from Ika-Otura) is one of the many things that would worry me about Ifa today… if I were the worrying type, which I am in many ways but definitely not when it’s about Ifa taking care of itself.

Cookie wisdomThis kind of thing is what many people in the Diaspora think of, and accept as, Ifa. Personally I think it’s a load of crap. It’s fortune cookie wisdom. It’s a sad example of how you can cheat the unsuspecting punters out of their hard-earned money. What do you think about Ifa “wisdoms” like “You have a pair of underwear that is ripped”? Or “You had a dream last night or a few nights ago that was good”? Or “You once threw out a piece of jewelry”? Or “Do not go near the shore of the river or the sea because you may fall in”? Or the classic “If you do not make ebo, you will become very ill”? Yep, that last one is a beauty! Threaten and scare the client out of his greenbacks! And what about “You are not happy with the Oluwo that you have”? Well, that’s finally a good one! True! And run, run like hell!

Fortune cookie stuff. Fun fair soothsayer’s “predictions”. Geez: “You once tried to kill yourself or have thought about it”… could that have been after having read this crap? It sure would be a reason! Or could it have been out of profound sadness because “You have a pair of underwear that is ripped” 😉 ? C’mon guys, grow up!

Fortune cookie Ika-Otura


Knowing vs arguing, a proverb

April 9, 2013 by · 2 Comments
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ArgueAmong the proverbs I’m occasionally asked my opinion about, is: The one who knows does not argue, while the one who argues does not know. This is often interpreted to mean that the knowing (about a given subject) person should keep silent, and not take part in any argument and/or discussion conducted by those who lack knowledge about the subject in question. Of course this interpretation is at best incomplete, and at worst plain bullshit. Now look: discussions, even arguments, are (Members: click to read on)


Any road will do

March 25, 2013 by · 5 Comments
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LabyrinthLike many African peoples, Yorubas are well-known for their enormous collection of proverbs. In fact I feel they’re overdoing it, every now and then: it’s sometimes pretty hard to get a sensible opinion out of an African (including many of their offspring in the Americas), on account of a proverb being provided as the answer instead of the person’s own view on the issue.

A well-known proverb is “If it doesn’t matter where you’re going, any road will do”… usually explained along the lines of: “You should always know where you’re going, or you might take the wrong road”. Of course there is that aspect (duh!), but I believe there’s much more depth to the issue. My own explanation is totally different (Members: click to read on)


Holy business

March 4, 2013 by · Comments Off on Holy business
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Every now and then I encounter a statement of which I wish I had thought of myself ;-)! Here comes such a quote by U.G. Krishnamurti (who, by the way, was not related to “the other” Krishnamurti).

“I am not out to liberate anybody. You have to liberate yourself, and you are unable to do that. What I have to say will not do it. I am only interested in describing this state, in clearing away the occultation and mystification in which those people in the ‘holy business’ have shrouded the whole thing. Maybe I can convince you not to waste a lot of time and energy, looking for a state which does not exist except in your imagination.”
― U.G. Krishnamurti


“New” Ifa-Orisha

February 4, 2013 by · 4 Comments
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During my three decades in Ifa-Orisha, especially in the last few years, I have noticed the increasing need for some “new” forms of Ifa and Orisha practice. I don’t simply mean “Independent” practice which already covers a growing number of people anyway, but much more the understanding and the realization that wearing a swim suit for climbing the Mount Everest or taking a motor bike along when you go deep sea diving, is kind of silly, counterproductive, and indeed quite unhealthy (amused grin)!

More and more am I beginning to understand, even to grok, that Ifa is wide and large enough to be practiced in many very different ways, depending on many factors like the country you live in, the culture you’re born from, the conditions of weather and climate, and the local concepts of decency and values. There’s a whole other bunch of course, but you get the picture. Even the Orishas themselves are very, very different, depending on the places where they live and are worshipped. Yemoja, traditonally a river deity, became the Orisha of the ocean in the Americas; Oya, another river deity, got the cemetary added to her tasks in the West; Oshoosi, who in Africa isn’t particularly interested in getting people behind bars, found himself appointed sort of the local sherif in the Diaspora… that sort of thing.

I am working (yep, I’m always working, dammit… I should be a retired gentleman of leasure by now, but I ain’t… sad grin!) on some articles about this subject, and not only that: I’m also working on some stuff about essential deviations from whatever “old” form of Ifa-Orisha worship happens to have arrived in the place where I (you, he she, they) live, into “new” forms of Ifa-Orisha fitted to the circumstances. Don’t misinterpret the word “new”, because such new forms will quite likely be the exact form Ifa-Orisha would have taken in your particular area if it had originally been born and developed there, and not in Yorubaland.

Ifa works everywhere, because Ifa is everywhere. But it works differently in different places, a pleasing fact that we shouldn’t oppose and try to camouflage, but use to the fullest and most joyful extend instead.


American? African?

December 29, 2012 by · Comments Off on American? African?
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The idea that there is in a general sense any close connection between Black Africans and Black Americans apart from their skin color, is a mistake that is kept alive artificially by wishful thinking. Black Americans tend to have some nostalgic feeling for Africa (usually soon healed after a couple of visits), but otherwise they’re simply Americans – regardless of shade, hue or color. I’ve seen Black Americans travel hopefully to Africa, only to return disappointed, (Members: click to read on)


The source of Ifa

December 26, 2012 by · 1 Comment
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Although Ikin (Ifa’s palm nuts) are supposed to be the paramount means of Ifa divination with the Yorubas (the “Orunmila system”), I have never encountered them anywhere else in the wide-spread African complex of Ifa/Afa/Fa/Eba/Evwa etecetera divination. In short: nobody else uses them… they are confined to a very small subgroup of Ifa diviners, to wit the Orunmila bunch.

Ifa-Divination-OpeleThe opele, which is also used within the Orunmila system, is much more wide-spread: in various configurations you’ll encounter the opele over large parts of Africa. However, opele is hardly likely (Members: click to read on)