FINDING ROOTS IN NIGERIA
The Bode neighborhood of Ibadan's a place where Muslim prayers blare out on loudspeakers, where you occasionally see women walking as covered up as if they were in the Taliban. You also see people in western dress.
We followed Kumi back to his neighborhood for my divining ceremony. Kumi is a babalao and I wanted to learn my future by his tossing around the cowerie shells.KUMI IN HIS HOOD
We went first to his shrine behind his home. He said his Orisha is Yemanja, the goddess of the sea. Yemanja is one of the principal Orishas of Ibadan he told me. He also said he is the 9th generation babalao in his family. Much of the shrine seemed dedicated to his late grandfather, a babalao who's picture is painted on the wallKUMI'S SHRINE
I was joined by Kumi and four others who sat around me speaking in Yoruba, with Kumi interpreting from time to time what they were saying into English. They brought out some gin, which I declined, since I don't drink, but I did share a kola nut with them. They were smiles at one point as Kumi, who divined chosing whether I had a cowerie in my right hand(good or yes) or left hand(bad or no). Would I have a long life? Yes, the choice said.
COWERIE OF LONG LIFE
Kumi then proceded to tell me that the quality of my long life would depend on how well I got along with my Orisha, or Ocha, when he then continued devining with his 16 shells and sand on the board and choices from my hands until he told me. Your ocha is Obatala.
The divining took about two hours. What I recall is being extremely hot in that shrine. When I was not thinking about the heat, I was quite comfortable as each of the five men, except Kumi, told me in Yoruba what the spirits were telling them about me. I was in a kind of dreamy state much of the time, not understanding many of the Yoruba words, but it seemed I understood the general sentiments expressed. Kumi, in English, had to explain to me the numerous details: to please Obatala I should wear white as much as possible, my greatest blessing will come through a women, my African ancestor were not originally from Ibadan, but from Ife.
WITH THE KIDS
We ended the session by taking pictures with the neighborhood kids whom we had recite the following..."Hello Washington, Greetings from Ibadan, Nigeria." And we ran that greeting to Washington television viewers when we returned home to DC.
AROUND IN IBADAN