In Yorubaland Southwestern Nigeria, there exist a Cultural and Traditional deities, mostly originating from families, communities and different lineage called Orisha, which is often referred to as a Complicated, multi faceted homogeneous power, people and process.
Apart from Nigeria, these deities exists in Countries like Benin Republic, Togo, Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil.A practitioner of Orisha or worshipper is known as Olorisha. It is a known fact that Orisha are phenomenal forces of nature many attimes mystical but are Cultivated through ritual means.
An Olorisha is either a male or female devotee in the worship of the Orisha deity. He or she when initiated as a priests or Possibly Priestess do receive the governing authority of the Orisha for life and through mandate would have to continually observed the Orisha Tradition.
Why the underlying ideology behind the mythology and process of rituals are same, it is estimated that there exist over 500 Orisha in Nigeria.Orisha could be categorized into Three (3) types , First, the Primordial Divinities, which is assumed to exist before the Creation of the world, Second is the Deities Ancestors like the Kings, Warriors, Cultural Heroes and Heroines and the third type is referred to as the Personalified Natural Forces like the Phenomenal Creatures that function like the Spirit e.g Rivers, Mountain’s, Trees etc used as Medium of Worship.
The Story of Lawal Rashidat Aina a devoted Muslim,an indigene of Lagos and Mother of four is that with mixed feelings,married to Ayoade Abolaji Abiodun who hails from the Oloje Royal family in Oluyole Ibadan, Oyo State in November 12th, 2012.
The husband’s family,mostly from a Polygamous background have divergence opinion about religion.Though, report indicated most are traditional practitioner while few have been converted to practising Muslims. In such categories is the husband of Lawal Rashidat.
Blessed with Three Children in Nigeria namely Mariam Olasubomi Ayoade (Female) the first born on February 21st, 2013, Subsequently with Ayoade AbdulMalik Ayokunle and Ayoade Aina Abdul Rahman on both Male and lastly Ayoade Mohammed Olayemi (Male) who was born in USA on 21st July,2018 consequent upon leaving the shores of Nigeria for the protection of her life and her children, little did she know she was pregnant.
It is on record also that the Oloje family are part of the Olorisha descendants which forms constituent part of the Popular Oranyan Orita Merin Idi-Ikan traditional practitioner and observers of the Olorisha Cultural heritage and norms in Ibadan, Oyo State.
Historically, the Oranyan descendants as a result of Slave trade and Migration could be found in Kumasi, Ghana, Togo, Benin Republic, likewise the Olorisha worshippers in some of this country including Brazil, Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago.
Little did Rashidat ever know that the Family of her husband are engaged in long term traditional practice and worshippers of the Olorisha deity leading to the Choice of her husband as Olorisha priest that would perform an annual Traditional role of carrying prepared sacrifice during the festival procession.
The first time she had an encounter with her in law was when she was told that her First Female Child Mariam will be Circumcised by the time she attained the age of Five (5) via Genital Mutilation, according to her, it sent shivering to her spines and body system. After her family intervention, the in law soft pedal, but she had not recovered from that emotional depressing statements before she realised another prevailing family tradition matter that arose, this time not only her husband was directly the target but her two sons AbdulMalik Ayokunle and Abdul Rahman Aina.
In 2017, it dawned on her when she was confidently informed by her husband that against his wish and beliefs, he was called to be informed by his father that he had been selected by IFA Oracle as the next “Aborisha” (One who worship deities) for the 2018 Festival of Oranyan Festival and he must braze up and live up to expectations in view of the long outstanding commitments of the family to the organization of this Festival. Most significantly the inclusion of the male child as “Olorisha” and the Ritual activities that subsequently take place before the festival.
Apart from the above negative implications of initiating her two sons, she was made to understand that they are not allowed to practice any other religion except the worship of the Orisha deity and any attempt to do other wise comes with its Spiritual and Traditional implications.In Nigeria, it is a Crystal clear fact that, you don’t take the threat of a traditional practitioner for granted except one possess much more superior Spiritual Power.
It was based on this afore mentioned that Rashidat then a Mother of three realized the implications of the Cultural entanglement starring at her family. As part of the plans to protect her children, she moved her First Child, Mariam and the Second Born AbdulMalik to the custody of her Mother at Ejigbo, a suburb town in Lagos and Subsequently plan to relocate to a more secure and safer environment having discovered that her in law’s had been mounting persistent pressure on her husband to accept the Verdict of the Ifa Oracle.
Subsequently, she left the shores of Nigeria on November 8, 2017 having secured a traveling Visa on 26th September,2017.Since her unyielding and uncompromising principles had led to more threats with the belief from her in laws that she was a great influence on her husband non acceptance of the “Aborisha’ Role.
It was noted that attempt to report the incident to the police was muted by the husband who promised to handle the matter diplomatically through an alternative dispute resolution mechanism and embark on personal persuasion to prevail on his family sense of reasoning, believing that any attempt to escalate the matter may consequently jeopardise the lives of his family. This was because of the loss of confidence on the part of the Police to prosecute his family.
Any part of Southern, Eastern and Northern Nigeria would have been an alternative place of relocation but for the continual insecurity signs and signals emanating from different regions of the country ranging from Secession campaign, Herdsmen crisis, kidnapping,terrorism,ritual killing,etc and language barrier, for a non indigene it would not have been an easy task. Moreso, for Nigeria porous Security landscape anyone may be track down by any unsuspecting enemy.
On arrival in USA, in November 10th, 2017 she stayed with a friend, where she later took to Braiding as an enterprise activities and means of survival, it was in this moment of thriving and surviving that she discovered to be few weeks pregnant and later moved to Arkansas in Arlington.
In the Process of getting to high school, she enrolled in GED classes.During this period, Rashidat met with one Adrian Jones whom she got married to in January 2019 consequent upon her depressing state of minds and gradual disconnect from her husband whom she observed was no longer Communicating and with constant threat to take over the Children in Nigeria.
According to Jiddau Krishnamurti, ” Traditions, long conditioned thinking, can bring about a fixation, a concept that one readily accepts; perhaps not with a great deal of thought”. More so, the beauty of the world lies in the Freedom of Expression and the Diversity of the People.
The Practitioner of Traditions and Culture should make the Society and the people appreciate their past and prepare through Cultural innovations to sustain it in the future while ensuring that the Fundamental Human Right of any one is not breached. But when the past does not connect with the present and the Future, it would seriously lead to a complicated understanding of the Right to accept and practice willingly.
The Festival which was officially declared an annual event by the in 2012 has become a Centre point and platform for the Celebration of tradition and Culture with all its attendant ritual rites in Oluyole, Ibadan Oyo State till date.
Rashidat before fleeing and travelling for security reasons has been subjected to various harassment and intimidation with no confidence of being protected by the Nigeria law and the security operatives most importantly on matter of disagreement arising from traditional and Cultural norms.
It is becoming increasingly Worrisome as supposedly inherited archaic traditions and culture are super imposed on personal, family beliefs thereby encroaching on the fundamental Rights of citizens within various Communities and cities simultaneously threatening threatening our social heritage and inter relationship.
The United Nations and Committee of Nations need to protect the Right of many Citizens such as Lawal Rashidat Aina who are victims of circumstances and protect any family going through this agonising experience of Traditionally imposed Cultural norms.
Nigeria Government must do more in Protecting her Citizens through the implementation and enforcement of laws that protect the Right of Victims. More so, proactive intervention and timely mediation in matter of Religion through effective and responsive inter Religious Agencies, will go a long way to mitigate the threats to Family Fabrics, Co-existence and Beliefs.