Awonifa

Study the Teachings of Ifa

One day Orunmila decided to journey to the city of Owo. Before beginning his trip, he cast sixteen divining nuts to see what lay ahead. Twice he cast the nuts, and twice they told him nothing, which was odd, since Orunmila was the father of divination. But he ignored the matter, and began his journey.

On the first day, Orunmila met Eshu, the orisha of chance, whom he greeted as a friend. On the second day, and again on the third, Orunmila met Eshu, coming from the opposite direction. “I am coming from Owo,” Eshu said simply. Orunmila thought it very odd to have met Eshu three times. But Eshu was rather odd in any case, and Orunmila was in a hurry to reach Owo, so he ignored the matter.

On the fourth day, Eshu took some fresh kola fruits and left them in the middle of the trail just outside of the city, where Orunmila would be certain to find them. Once more, Orunmila and Eshu passed one another. This close to his journey’s end, Orunmila did not feel the need to consult his divining nuts.

Orunmila found the kola fruits, and picked them up and began to eat. As he did so, a farmer came out onto the path. “Those kola fruits are from my tree.”

“That is not possible,” Orunmila said. “I found these fruits here, in the middle of the trail, and there are no trees nearby.”

But the angry farmer did not believe Orunmila, and tried to take back his fruit. In their struggle, the farmer cut Orunmila’s palm with his bush knife. Orunmila turned away from Owo, and slept by the side of the road that night. He despaired that he would always be known in Owo as a thief, though he had never in his life taken another man’s property.

During the night, Eshu entered the house of all the people of Owo–including the Oba and the farmer–and cut everyone’s palms. The next day, Orunmila decided that he would complete his journey. Once again, he met Eshu.

“Eshu, I always considered you a friend, but I think you have made my trip to Owo difficult.”

“Quite the contrary,” Eshu replied. “Enter the city without fear. If there is any trouble, I will speak for you.”

The kola farmer saw Orunmila when he entered Owo with Eshu, and he went to complain to the Oba, who ordered the stranger brought before him. Again, the farmer accused Orunmila of the theft.

Eshu then spoke for Orunmila, as he had promised. “This stranger has come to Owo only today: how can he already have enemies? What evidence do you have that this man stole your fruit?”

“We struggled outside the city,” the farmer said, “and I cut the palm of his hand. If he opens his hand, we will see the evidence of his crime.”

“And why should he be the only one examined?” Eshu demanded. “I am sure that many of the people in Owo had the opportunity to steal your kola fruit. Let them be examined as well.”

The Oba consented, and had all the people of Owo come forth and display the palms of their hands. And across each one, there was a fresh red cut.

“If a cut is a sign of guilt, then all of Owo is guilty,” Eshu said, and the Oba agreed, and proclaimed Orunmila’s innocence. The people of Owo brought the mistreated stranger gifts of goats and wine and kola fruits.

And so it was that, both despite and because of Eshu’s actions, Orunmila was welcomed in Owo.