Showing posts with label oro. Show all posts
Showing posts with label oro. Show all posts

Monday, January 22, 2024

History and Origin of Oro in Nigeria

History and Origin of Oro in Nigeria

History and Origin of Oro in Nigeria

In precolonial times the Orò cult performed legislative, executive and judicial functions in the Yoruba society. 

The origin of Orò can be found in the Ẹ̀gbá subgroup around the town of Abẹ́òkúta, from where it diffused among the Yoruba subgroups of the Ìjẹ̀bu, Ẹ̀gbádò and Àwórì. 

The cult started to decline when the British established their protectorate in Nigeria at the end of the 19th century and the traditional rulers lost their political influence.

 Orò executed criminals, could exile persons out of town (or sold them into slavery) and cleansed the community of witchcraft. 

Orò is a kind of male counterpart to the Iyáàmi, the female witches, and their senior lady Ontótóo.

Orò is a Yoruba ancestor cult, like the better known egúngún cult, they can be called "twin brothers". Both manifest themselves in annual masquerader festivals. 

The devotees of Orò direct their attentions to a collective of ancestors rather than to personal ones. 

Spirits of the dead play an active role in the daily life of the living, they are sought of for protection,guidance and are being consulted via means of divination.

 Orisha Orò commands the spirits of the executed criminals and those who have spilled human blood upon the earth, what onlythe most powerful players could do in the past, theỌba(kings),Ògbóni members and Ifa diviners. 

With his power Orò lets those deceased ancestors intercede in present day human affairs to establish social orderin the community. At the burial of deceased Orò members,ìsìnkú, Orò rituals will be performed as a rite of passage.

 Necromancing, ìpàdẹ, allows to consult the soul of the deceased members to clarify contending issues. In the Oròópagi ceremony (literally killing or eating of a tree) the clothes of a deceased person appear hanging on a tree, that is stripped completely of its leaves by magic incantations. Especially important is this for the Ọba, the king.

 When installed on the throne the king becomes èkejí Òrìṣà, a partly de-individualized demigod for the rest of his earthly lifetime. After his death his individual soul has to go through a set of ceremonies to get relieved from the immortal existence of the Ọba.This is directed by the Orò cult-members.

Although Orò lost his official political power the Orisha is still worshiped upto today in Yoruba towns to ensure peace and to ward off evil in the community. 

The annual festival, Oròdóko, when Orò comes out of the sacred forest, is usually held at the end of the yam harvest season around August and lasts for several days. In modern towns this can cause conflicts on various levels. 

Yoruba belief demands women and children staying at home during these days, as they must never see the Orò procession moving through town. If they did, they would get killed by Orò, as it is an absolute taboo for women to see the virile entity of Orò. 

According to Adunni Olorisa even to encounter an Orò possession, or wander into the Orò groves, would be catastrophic to the traditionally attuned woman. 

The woman who enters there on purpose or even by accident will be barren for the rest of her life or give birth to a monster, begotten by one of Orò's slaves,ẹrú, the criminals executed by him also called páakọ̀kọ̀ .

During festival time he takes over the land outside, "Orò gb’ode", and takes with him all those criminals and offenders who have to be punished. In the past beheaded corpses could be found after Orò was out in town, or people just disappeared and never have been seen again, with their clothes hanging in trees. Orò took them away.

The sound of the bull roarer announces the coming of Orò’s terrifying activities and men on the streets are shouting "Páakọ̀kọ̀, páakọ̀kọ̀!", calling the spirits of executed criminals that are always accompanying the Orisha. During festival time public life and business in the streets can get interrupted severely.Modern lifestyle, Christianity, Islam and traditional belief get into conflict. 

Ethnic diversity in modern towns is also part of today’s struggle with the cult of Orò. In 1999 around 60 people got killed in ethnic conflicts at Sagamu,a small town northeast of Lagos. 

A Hausa woman was out on the streets at night during Orò procession and died, what led to more violent outbursts between the Yoruba and the Hausa people..
The bull-roarer during Oro festival

The bull-roarer during Oro festival

The bull-roarer during Oro festival 

Bull-roarer  are simple musical or sounding instruments and are used around the world in different cultures. 

Most likely you could have seen them in a documentary about Australian Aborigines. It is usually a thin slat carved out of wood, attached to a long cord. 

This cord can be fixed to a flexible pole around two meters long. The pole is rotated and the wooden spatulate can be whirled with a big momentum. 

The slat is swung in a circle above the head and at the same time spins around its axis, till the cord winds fully, in one direction. 

The vibrating sound produced by the slat moving through the air can be modulated by the length of the rope and the way it is swung. 

Especially large bullroarers (up to 50 cm or 20“ long) produce a low-frequency tone that can be heard over long distances.

The Yoruba call the bullroarers.iṣẹ́ Orò. It is usually around thirty to fifty centimeters (twelve to twenty inches) long, made of camwood or bamboo and can be decorated with figurative carvings. 

Once consegrated it is an absolute taboo for women to see this phallic representation of the Orisha. In addition every initiate receives a smaller version of a bullroarer, this oneis called ajá Orò, literally Orò’s dog. 

Onthe one hand the metaphor of barking through the sounding of an instrument announces the coming of the Orisha and on the other hand vice-versa also invokes the Orisha’s attention, like a dog might do.

 In addition, because of its smaller size, the ajá Orò produces a higher frequency tone mimicking also the voice of a smaller animal rather than the low frequency tones of the larger iṣẹ́ Orò bullroarers.Iṣẹ́ Orò are usually reserved for the elderly members or are kept in the shrine in the igbo oro ojubo Orò, the sacred forest of the Orò society out of town, where only initiated men are allowed to enter.
What is ORISA Oro? (The dreadful Deity that Forsake Women)

What is ORISA Oro? (The dreadful Deity that Forsake Women)

What is ORISA Oro? (The dreadful Deity that Forsake Women)

This write up  was written by Nana DE Oxum from Havana Cuba , an ifa apprentice under tutelage of babalawo Obanifa Ile Ife osun state Nigeria.

I remember vividly when I ask baba Obanifa 'baba what do you have to share with me on Orisa Oro'?  He just said, ' Oro is a male cult before people turn it to a diety.

 I think  what you just is need to know about Oro as a female  ifa apprentice is that Oro is a male diety that Ifa can in some cases during ifa divination reading choses as adimu for a client to Propitiate, Oro  be a male diety have power of punishing the wicked, criminals and witches,it also have power to exonerate the innocent.

 It has power to prevent the evil witch from carry out their evil intentions. It can provide children for barren women. And what you can ask ifa to feed orisa oro with ranging from akara(beans cake), Isu sise(boil yam) emu(palm wine) ewa (cooked beans) akukodiye (cock) elede (pig) ewe ekoya(it is a  a variety of yoruba leaves, he didn't give me botanical name for this leaves as he normally do,I notice from his intonation he didn't want to divulge much that day on the topic under discussion)'.I  now said Baba Obanifa is this all you think I need to know about Orisa Oro? His further reply is  intimidating, he said 'bi obinrin ba for kan oro, oro agbe (that is if a woman witness Oro the woman will be killed'.

 I was discouraged. What is wrong in be a women and Oro. He just told me  he has given enough information on Oro to be useful for me in my field as ifa preistess.

 He is very nice man  open minded and intelligent and alway ready to share knowledge, I respect him a lot, but on this topic of Oro he was a bit different with me. He said it is not  a thing women need to know details about, like any other part of my training. 

On my own personal conversation with others and information I get on orisa image about Oro, I discover while baba Obanifa give little info he thinks will help in practice. But later  when I apologize to him for asking him to much questions on Oro,that I have known it is a male cult. 

After then he give me elaborate lecture on Orisa Oro. So in  this write up, I will like to share what I gain from him and on orisha image.
According to orisha image wish give comprehensive explanation on Oro.

Orisha Orò is a male entity whose cult is closely connected with the political council known as Ògbóni or Òṣùgbó. Orò acts under its command and carries out their sentences. 

The cult is very secretive and excludes women completely. The sound of the sacred bull-roarer, a sound-producing instrument, accompanies the public appearance of the Orò masqueraders in Yoruba towns. In these nights women must hide in the houses, because they – and even men not being members of the cult – run the risk of being killed if they happen to see the procession or the rites. Orò cult survived the middle-passage and the Orisha is still worshiped in Cuba, although not known to a broad audience. 
Oro in Santeria (Oru in Cuba)

Oro in Santeria (Oru in Cuba)

Orò = Oru in Cuba

It is interesting that Orisha Orò’s cult survived the Middle Passage and is still worshipped among the Lukumí in Cuban Santeria. 

The Cuban colonial context left no room for the political functions of the Orisha. His cult is devotional, secretive and mostly in the hands of the babalawo, Ifá-diviners. 

His ìlèkè, the beaded necklace, is completely black. Women are also excluded completely not to be harmed by the virile powers.

 Cubans call Orò intheir Lukumí dialect Oru, Orun, Oro or even Orus (Horus) – see also theYorùbá Guide to Lukumí in this blog. Omo Oru have a close relationship withikú, the death,eégún, the ancestors andòru, the night time, in their spiritual work and perform efficient chanted invocations supported by his power and sacred tools.

Fernando Ortiz, the famous ethnographer, still witnessed the sounding of bullroarers in Afrocuban funeral rites around 1950.

 The small bull-roarer ajá Orò, Orò’s dog, in Cuba became the ẹjaOrò or Luk.eyá Oru, literally Orò’s fish. It is not far from Luk.ayá(dog) toeyá(fish).

 Ortiz described in his influential books the “pesciform” bullroarer, what might have influenced the Santeria priests to carve them in the form of a fish today. 

Various other forms of miniature bullroarers can be bought in the Botanicas as "Oru set" for babalawo today, see the links below. Its sound is enforcing the spiritual powers of the devotee initiated into the Orisha's cult. 

Elements of Yorùbá Egúngúnworship also have been included into Cuban Oru worship as well. I found this especially interesting, as usually the common opinion is thatEgúngúncult and ancestor worship was substituted by the Espiritismo in Cuba. So this would be worth some more research.

Michael Marcuzzi,ìbà’ẹ, wrote an elaborate study of the bullroarer cult in Cuba, that leaves hardly any questions.In his study he focuses on various levels on the Yorùbá roots of Lukumí words, the influence of academic literature on the worship and is mentioning many details, speaking about the rites, Oru’s tools, pots, switches and even transcribed Lukumí songs for Oru.
List of Oro Proverbs and enlightenment words

List of Oro Proverbs and enlightenment words

Orò Proverbs

Òwe, Yoruba for proverbs, allow us to take a closer look on the Orò cult in Nigeria. One rule for proverbs is: translating does not mean understanding.

 Without knowing the cultural context often you can not interpret them correctly. It is a good way of getting familiar with another culture.

 Oyekan Owomoyela has published a great book I can recommend to everyone interested into Yorùbá culture (Oyekan Owomoyela: Yoruba Proverbs. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln and London, 2005). 

There I found some good examples that express how present-day people think about the Orò-cult.

A kì í dájọ́ Orò ká yẹ̀ ẹ́.One does not set the day for an orò rite and then ignore it. (One must not let important matters slide.)

Etí l’obìnrín fi ngbọ́ ohùn Orò.It is only with the ears that a woman hears the voice of Orò. (One must not intrude into affairs that do not concern one; undesirable people should be kept in the dark about important or delicate matters.)

“Mo mọ̀ ọ́ tán” l’Orò-ó fi ńgbé ọkùnrin.“I know it all” is the reason for Orò’s carrying a man away. (Knowing it all leads to disaster. “I know it all” is used like a name for a person here.)

A kì í rí àjẹkù Orò.No one ever sees the leavings of Orò. (What must be consumed must be completely consumed.)Bí eégún ó bàá wọlẹ̀, Orò ní n ṣe.A masquerader who wishes to disappear into the ground cries “Orò!” (A person intending to do something extraordinary should give prior warning.)

Ẹni tó ránṣẹ́ sí Orò-ó bẹ̀wẹ̀ fún àìsùn.Whoever sends for Orò is contracting for sleeplessness. (Whoever deliberately provokes trouble should be prepared for a difficult time. Orò is feared by all.)Bí ẹnìkán bá fojú di Orò, Orò a gbé e.If anyone defies the Orò mystery, it does away with him or her. (Whoever disdains potential dangers eventually pays for the disdain.)

Bí obìnrín bá wọgbó Orò, a ò lè rí àbọ̀-ọ ẹ̀ mọ́.If a woman enters the ritual grove of the Orò cult, no one will ever see her return. (Any person who engages in forbidden action courts destruction.)Ẹni tí Orò-ó máa mú mba wọn ṣe àìsùn Orò.The person who will be the sacrificial victim of Orò is joining in the revelry onthe eve of the sacrifice. (The intended victim innocently helps in making preparations for his or her own demise; if there is the slightest possibility of peril, one should not act carelessly.)

Obìnrin tó gégi nígbó Orò, ó gé àgémọ.A woman who cuts wood in the grove of Orò has cut her last. (Whoever tempts a fate that is known to strike unfailingly has tempted her last.)Òjò n rọ̀, Orò ń ké; atọ́kùn àlùgbè tí ò l’áṣọ méjì a ṣe ògèdèmgbé sùn.The rain is falling, and the call of the secret cult is sounding loudly outside; the shuttle that lacks a change of clothing will sleep naked. (If one has not made provisions for rainy days, when they come one must suffer the attendant hardship.)

Àpagbé l’Orò n pagi.Killing-without-recourse is Orò’s way ofkilling trees. (When unanswerable disaster befalls a person, there is neither recourse nor response.)

Àwíyé n’Ifẹ̀ n fọ; gba-n-gba l’Orò n pẹran.Explicitly is the way Ife speaks; it is openly that Orò kills animals. (Whatever one has to say, one should say without mincing words. Ife refers tot he oracle here.)

Àgbà l’ó tó Orò-ó lọ̀; ọba l’ó tó ehín erin-ín fun.Only a (male) elder is qualified to invoke Orò; only a king is qualified to blow a horn carved out of elephant tusk. (Certain tasks are for august people only.)Ọ̀pọ̀ èèyàn kì í wọ Orò kí Orò gbé wọn.A multitude of people cannot enter the Orò grove and be carried away by Orò. (There is strength and security in numbers.)

Ní inú ilẹ̀kú l’Orò n jẹ.Where the dead are buried, there Orò feeds. (Some people’s misfortune is other people’s good fortune.)

Awo Eégún l’obìnrín lè ṣe, awo Gẹ̀lẹ̀dẹ́ l’obìnrín lè wò; b’óbìnrín bá fojú kan Orò, Orò á gbé e.Only the mystery of Eégun is accessible to women; it is only the mystery of Gelede that women may watch; if a woman catches a glimpse of Orò, Orò will make an end of her. (Only certain rites are allowed to certain people; the rest are proscribed.)

Etí l’obìnrín fi n gbọ́ ohùn Orò.Only with her ears does a woman hear the voice of Orò. (The sight of Orò is forbidden to a certain class of people.)

Obìnrin kì í tóbi k’Órò má gbèe e.A woman is never so large that Orò cannot carry her off. (There are certainoffenses a woman cannot get away with.)