African Poems

Oral Poetry from Africa

Tag: Ifa

Lion Refused to Perform Sacrifice

Another of the thousands of poems associated with the Ifa oracle of the Yoruba people (see also How Leopard got his honour). There are 256 different Odu or branches of lfa poetry, and many hundreds of different poems are associated with each Odu. The Ifa priest learns these poems during many years of training. Each poem is associated with a set of ‘throws’ of the divination instruments (cowrie shells, kola nuts etc.) to indicate which poem is suitable when a client comes to him for advice. He recites the poem to the client who must find his own meaning in the words. The Ifa priest will also direct the sacrifices to be made to the relevant Orisha following the divination.

The twisted wooden stump which crosses the road in a crooked way.
Ifa divination was performed for Lion…

How Leopard got his honour (from the Ifa oracle)

I thought that with the inclusion of the Ifa poem, Lion refused to make sacrifice, that now would be a good time to repost one of my favourite poems, Tiger (From the Ifa Oracle) and to make a slight modification to the translation. In the translation from the Yoruba by Bruce Alvin King the big cat is referred to as a tiger but I think that the leopard is a more accurate translation.

This poem from the Ifa oracle illustrates how, through a superb description of the leopard’s hide and claws, leopard was granted honour by consulting Ifa and making sacrifice.

Ifa divination was performed for Leopard,
The one with the lovely and shining skin…

Tiger (From the Ifa Oracle)

This is one of the many thousands of poems associated with the Ifa oracle of the Yoruba people. There are 256 different Odu or branches of lfa poetry, and many hundreds of different poems are associated with each Odu. The Ifa priest learns these poems during many years of training. Each poem is associated with a set of ‘throws’ of the divination instruments (cowrie shells, kola nuts etc) to indicate which poem is suitable when a client comes to him for advice. He recites the poem to the client who must find his own meaning in the words. The Ifa priest will also direct the sacrifices to be made to the relevant Orisha following the divination.

This poem from the Ifa oracle illustrates how, through a superb description of the tiger’s hide and claws, tiger was granted honour by consulting Ifa and making sacrifice.

Ifa divination was performed for Tiger,
The one with the lovely and shining skin…

African Poems