Our Ancestral Home
Ile-Ifè + ̩: the first of creation here below; the original home of all things; the place from which the day dawns; the enchanted, holy city; the home of divinities and mysterious spirits! That was the multifarious picture of Ile-Ifè + ̩ which used to form part of our childhood knowledge. Even today, in spite of several years of Western sophistication, the city still has a certain enchantment for the Yoruba people, if only because it is the heart which sets the religious blood coursing through their national veins.
Until comparatively recently, when easy communication has made it possible to travel almost all over the country safely and quickly, Ile-Ifè + ̩ used to be the sacred loadstone which filled the Yoruba people everywhere with a deep yearning for pilgrimage. There was ever in evidence something nostalgic in everyone, always a community of interest everywhere, about the city.
Our elders used to have (they still have) many stories--entertaining, enchanting, or hair-raising--to tell about its manifold mysteries. They told of places and things of great interest, of things permissible to the young to see, of things which not even an elder, and none at all except the initiated, might see on pain of grievous perils. For example, there was the grove of O+̩ló + ̩fúra: he was a divinity reputed to have the habit of hailing and welcoming visitors even from the distance with laughter and spontaneous joy as one does an old, long-missed, beloved friend. If, however, any visitor responded correspondingly, his facial features would remain permanently fixed in the contortion of mirthless laughter. How could a young, unwary, person visit such a perilously tantalising place without endangering his face! Or the shrine of the "Moon". There the "Moon" lay in the shape of a flat slab of stone. The visitor took a small piece of stone and rubbed hard on its surface. As he rubbed, he was sure, within a short time, to observe the movements of certain shadows: these were shades of people who had departed from this earth, among whom he was sure to recognise someone! He must not be startled or frightened,