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Awo Baba Falokun Fatunmbi is a white North American, who at the age of 38 visited Nigeria with the purpose of studying the Yoruba traditions Ifa Orisa. Baba got the initiation in Ifa in Ode Remo, Ogun State, Nigeria in Ile Ogunti Ode Remo. For 25 years Baba has been traveling around Nigeria, collecting little by little the Ifa knowledge. His main teacher became Adebolu Fatunmise, who was initiated at the age of 7 in Ifa (Kekere Awo – a young Babalawo).

During the initiation of Adebolu Fatunmise at the moment of reading it was foretold that he would teach a white Babalawo in practice and that Babalawo turned out to be Awo Falokun Fatunmbi, the author of a number of books about the Ifa Orisa tradition. Among them there are
Inner Pease,
Family Spirit: The Ifa Concept of Egun. Ifa.
Oriki Egun
Oriki Ebora
Oriki Orunmila
and etc.

My first meeting with a real Awo.

I heard his loud voice in the yard and came into the house.

He was sitting in the kitchen wearing jeans and a T-shirt…

As we came in, Baba stood up to greet us.

He was well-built. He looked kind, frank and wise…I was amazed.

It happened a long time ago…

I lived in Turkey and I had a chance to visit Demra, a town in the Aegean Sea. Earlier, at the beginning of the Common Era, this town was called Myra, and it was in the country called Lycia.

As the first Christians came, they built a temple. It was in 4 A.D.

But a temple can’t exist without a priest. They decided that a person, who would come into the temple the first, would be the Bishop of Myra of Lycia. Nikolas was forty. He looked as an aged man having a white thick beard. He followed the Word of God and always came to pray at dawn to the place where now the temple was. So Nikolas was the first to open the doors of the temple, where he had already been waited for. Since that day, he was called the Bishop Nikolas of Myra of Lycia. There are a lot of legends about his numberless miracles and I knew one. Nikolas was preaching the Word of God differently. It was he who started giving presents at Christmas and people joined him. Now we all remember this holiday and follow his example. Sometime later the tradition to decorate a New Year Tree and find presents under it was strongly supported by people. Later on, the Bishop Nikolas got a good name of Santa Klaus, a prototype of Father Frost in Russia. But only few people know about it. It happened so that I have had a special relationship with this Saint as I told this story to thousands of pilgrims who came to the Temple of Saint Nikolas.

Falokun Baba noticed my excitement.

- How are you? – he asked me.

- Fine. Thanks Baba. – I answered.

- Do I look like Santa Klaus? – he laughed. – I know. Many people say that.

That was the way he greeted me.

It was a miracle, a real sign for me.

So began the Ifa’Orisa seminar with Awo Baba Falokun Fatunmbi in Odessa in 2004.

Those were the most wonderful days I have ever had. It is impossible to describe in words the atmosphere, the spirit that reigned between us. Baba united all of us. Even distrustful skeptics and people with a negative attitude became more sensitive. Baba suggested that all should sit semicircle at the wall where he was sitting on the mat facing us. He greeted us and then gave his blessing to the beginning of the practice. Then he made people exchange their seats according to the position of seniority from the junior to the senior. Since that moment everybody had his own place in front of the teacher. Some of the participants knew nothing about the tradition; others didn’t know Odu, confusing the words ‘Ogun’ and ‘Egun’. But we all were united - those who arrived only to get Egun Pot and those who were preparing for Sefa and those who already knew Odu Ifa and those who knew nothing. There were people from Ukraine and Moldova. I was the only one from Russia. Earlier, before visiting Odessa, I had a chance to talk to a mysterious black man who underwent the initiation in 1969 at the age of 6 in Ibadan, a town in Nigeria. This man studied at the University and worked in Voronesh till 1996. Since then he has come to Russia several times. From him in 1989 I first heard about the Ifa tradition. It was he who told me what chances the Ifa initiations could give us in our life. So as soon as I heard about the arrival of Falokun Baba, I went to Odessa because for a long time I had been feeling the necessity of Ifa in my destiny. Baba made a plan of the initiations and we all followed it. At first Baba showed us how to sing Orin songs, how to read Oriks, how to foretell, how to cook Osain. Baba asked to go out into the yard and bring any plant. We all seriously treated the task. Baba put a pot with water and asked us to plunge the plants into it. Then when Osain was ready Falokun plunged cowries in Osain and asked a question: “Can we use this Osain here for the ceremonies?” Baba threw cowries. The answer was ‘Yes’. Baba gave the cowries to the junior and then we all were taking turns in throwing the cowries. At last I got them. I threw the cowries. The answer was ‘No’. All people after me got the answers ‘Yes’. I was disappointed. I thought I was a failure. All got the same answers as Baba except me. But Baba said that it wasn’t a real Osain and we couldn’t use it. So my cowries gave the right answer. However, not all of us spoke English well and understood what Baba meant. He meant that he would show us how everything should be with Osain and the stones and other things we had. The cowries showed him that it was possible to use Osain. Next day all the participants received Ancestry’s Pots and Ebora. Next came the Sefa initiation and in a day Baba conducted Ita-Foretellig for us. Later in the morning we were washing our Ikin and the feeling that Ase was with us didn’t leave me. After that I went to the place where I was staying in Odessa and on my way I was caught in the rain. There were lightnings and thunderclaps. I went up to the 14th floor and opened a window. At that moment there was a strong thunderclap like cannon short in front of my face. But I wasn’t afraid because it was my patron Sango greeting me. The strong thunderclaps were exploding and the lightnings were flashing over Odessa. It looked like a real fireworks in the sky. Early in the morning Baba Falokun greeted me. Then Baba showed how to foretell using Opele, how to interpret Odu Ifa, what each of Medgi Odu Ifa meant. We watched everything with our own eyes and could touch everything with our own hands. The knowledge acquired at the seminar became the basis of all the knowledge I have got in the Ifa’Orish tradition. I was grateful to Baba for everything I learnt those days. We prayed together a lot and to my surprise my business that was unprofitable started blooming since those days. I had a call from Moscow. My partners said everything was getting better and they needed me in a short period of time. A cloud of gloom above me disappeared and the sun was shining. All Ifa students and I, full of hopes, were waiting for the next visit of Baba and I read the following information at Awo Falokun Fatunmbi’s site with great pleasure:

“Last month students of Ifa and Orisa in Ukraine, Moldova and Russia held a workshop in Odessa. It was illuminating to see folks from this part of the work involved in such a serious effort to gain a better understanding of our faith. As a result of this training Awo Study Center will soon be available in Russian. It was especially meaningful for me because Odessa is a half days drive from my ancestral homeland.”

But these plans haven’t been realized till today because somebody wanted money and fame before the time needed and spoiled everything, having forgotten that everything is good in its season. I wish more people had been able to get acquainted with such a great Awo as Falokun Fatunmbi. But I remember Baba and thank him every day in prayers and under the mats I use for praying, there is always one, which Baba sat on during those days in August, 2004.

Mo dupe pupa Baba.

Hope to see you again.

Seminar in Odessa 2004

Iba A Se O!

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