Copyright © 2024 Centre for the Traditional Yoruba Culture
The history of the Oduduwa Temple in Brazil goes back thirty years. When Bàbá King came to Brazil, he was given the opportunity to live in the Western world. He could choose either the UK or the USA, but he was attracted to Brazil because he was told that there are a lot of Òrìṣà devotees and that Yoruba culture in Brazil is very active. So this was what first attracted him to Brazil.
He went there to study and he finished his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in business administration management and sociology. He eventually started teaching the Yoruba language and culture at the University to researchers and Òrìṣà enthusiasts. By studying the Yoruba language and culture they were able to learn a great deal about the Òrìṣà philosophy, eventually developing the ability to create Yoruba thought patterns.
Simultaneously, he started to teach people how to perform divination. In Brazil, these teachings were poorly structured because people did not believe that one could teach the Ifá divination with 16 cowries on an academic level. They thought this was something private to be taught only in temples. With the opening of the cultural centre Oduduwa Centro Cultural, he started to teach people outside the Academy. As a result, Bàbá King was highly criticized and attacked, but nothing could prevent the success of the Centre.He gave his first lecture to only two female students. Out of 30 chairs in the classroom, 28 were empty. But he persisted and continued his mission. It was a course that ran for four months, twice a week. After finishing this one course, Bàbá King carried on and the number of students gradually increased to the point when there were not enough seats for all the applicants.
Out of this emerged the need to re-introduce the Ifá initiation in Brazil. Nowadays, Brazil doesn’t provide education for bàbálawo priests. That might have been the case in the past, but it now no longer is.
Even before this decision was made, some Brazilians travelled with Bàbá King to Nigeria to undergo the Ifá initiation with bàbálawo Ṣówùnmí Fábùnmi and to do the Òrìṣà initiation in his mother’s house with the late priestess ìyálórìṣà Obimọnúrẹ̀ Àṣàbí Díyàólú. In this way, the first seeds of his life mission as a priest were planted.
Then he invited bàbálawo Fábùnmi and ìyá Obimọnúrẹ̀ to came to Brazil to do initiations. His culture taught him that no one is a self-sufficient master who could do everything alone. Despite the fact that he was a bàbálòrìṣà, he invited ìyá Obimọnúrẹ̀ to join him. A priest in Nigeria always works together with his own priest or priestess. Introducing the same practice in Brazil was a way of laying down a solid and credible foundation.
The first time around, the two only did five initiations. But Bàbá King was committed enough to invite them again next year so that these new initiates could have their own Ifá festival.
And gradually they have expanded.
Bàbá King bought six hectares of land in the forest 70 km from São Paulo and started to build a Temple. But then, at a certain point, he could no longer handle the pressure of being a priest. He was dealing with a number of unfaithful people and a lack of loyalty. No matter his dedication, he found himself denying his mission, doing things with decreased devotion, often feeling like a displaced amateur. He no longer wanted to bear this immense responsibility, recognizing that the reality in the Western world concerning religion, philosophy, or a given promise is quite different than in Africa. He noticed that people saw him less as a priest and more like an emergency drug to use whenever they are in pain.
In his culture, there are no former masters or former priests, but in the West, people often get initiated and then turn their back on you. These are the reasons why he was hesitating to finish the construction on the land he bought, ultimately abandoning the idea altogether.
He was working in his office as a priest and performed certain rituals at peoples’ homes.
Later on, he rented a house in Rua São Bartolomeu in São Paulo so that he had a space for his altars. Then he started to use the place to perform the ẹbọ rituals, initiations, etc. This venue was initially intended for him and his family, but since the energy of the Òrìṣà is stronger than his own, he was forced to open the doors to others. No matter how small the place was, it was always big enough for everybody.
He was using this place for many years, but at the same time, he was hiding himself away, boycotting his mission and neglecting his responsibility, thus betraying his own mind and common sense.
After 18 years of living in this limbo, always questioning whether to move to the Temple or not, whether to build or not to build, he encountered a problem with his neighbour. The neighbour was a kind man, a psychiatrist who never caused any issues. Then one day, Bàbá King had an ọ̀sẹ́ with 140 people in that small house that also served as a temple. The neighbour came at 3 pm complaining about the noise. Instead of talking to Bàbá King he called the police. The police came, explained the situation to him, and took some participants to the station to file a report.
After these people returned from the police station, the neighbour called and apologized.
But Bàbá King told his people that the time was ripe to go away from there. In fact, it was overdue. This was how Bàbá King interpreted that situation. He was not furious with the neighbour because he knew that he was actually doing him a favour.
And the next day he started searching for a piece of land. One option was to find something in São Paulo, but it was too expensive. He didn’t want to go back to the forest, where he had already constructed two houses, because it was a boring place for the clients with no access to stores or restaurants and no chance to move around. For urban people, that was not a suitable place to stay. So he opted for the seaside instead.
Luckily, he found a piece of land in Mongaguá.
It was a land at the seaside stretching over 2.900 m2. It was expensive, and he didn’t have the money to buy this land in full, but enough for the down payment. Because he knew he needed to move away from São Paulo, he signed the pre-contract. Then he spoke to Manuel Caamaño, his client and friend from Spain who often visited him in São Paulo, travelled with him to Nigeria, etc.
Manuel offered to pay for the land himself, and Bàbá King was finally able to move forward with his mission. The Temple in Mongaguá was built in 2004, and all the activities were moved there.
After a few years, the Temple grew so much that the existing constructions became too small for all the people interested in joining. Bàbá King bought another piece of land beside the wall, and nowadays the Temple measures 6.300 m2. The second part of the temple was officially opened in 2008.
The art inside the Temple and on the outside wall was created in 2010 and 2011 by famous artists from Oṣogbo, Chief Àkànjí Adébísí and Chief Adéṣínà Nurudeen Adébísí.
As the Temple is still growing, it is just a matter of time when additional land will be needed.
The Temple in Abéòkúta represents a continuation of Bàbá King’s mission. To have a mission is to do absolutely everything that is in your power. So, the Temple in Abéòkúta started operating even before being built. The initial step towards the construction of the Temple was made by the first group of people Bàbá King took to Nigeria decades ago to get initiated into Ifá and the Òrìṣà.
When Bàbá King finished constructing the first part of the Temple in Mongaguá, he came to realize that he needed to give something back to Africa. Because it was Africa that gave him the most important thing anyone can have in life – prestige and respect.
Therefore, he decided to build a Temple in Abéòkúta. He bought the land in 2005, and the first part of the Temple was built in 2007. The Temple is still under construction primarily because there are so many things Bàbá King plans to do.
All the artwork is by famous artists: Chief Àkànjí Adébísí and his son Chief Adéṣínà Nurudeen Adébísí, by Jímọ̀ Ìdòwú Ọlábómì and Jímọ̀ Ìdòwú Ọlábọ̀dé as well as by Ọlálẹ́yẹ Ọláoyè Jósèph and Ajíbẹ́ṣin Abíọ́dún Àlàdè.