By Hon. Alderman Erelu Lola Ayonrinde
Bi ebo ba ko awon omo iya wa leru, o di dan dan ki a tu won sile.
Today, the 17th December 2014, The Reformed Ogboni Fraternity (ROF) - (Egbe Ogboni Onigbagbo)gathers for the 100th year Anniversary Colloquium & Lecture in Lagos, Nigeria.
A colloquium is meant to be an informal meeting for the exchange of views. It is a dialogue of doubts and assertions on the subject that concerns all stakeholders.
A colloquium is an academic conference or meeting at which all involved, spend time listening to lectures with a group of people who all know a lot about one particular subject.
The root of colloquium is the Latin word loqui, meaning “to talk,” which is what people tend to do at a conference.
Ahead of the Anniversary Colloquium & Lecture, here is my contribution:
“Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?” said JESUS.
Bi asiwaju ko ba mo irin rin, igbe lara ehin nwo - If the leader does not know his way the followers wind up in the bush. (The incompetence of the leader usually spells disaster for the followers)
The Parable of the Blind Leading the Blind was told by Jesus in The Bible. It touches on several important lessons and is a warning to many regarding the importance of spiritual discernment concerning what we are doing, where we are going, who we are leading and who we are following (i.e. spiritual discernment and awareness about false teachers, false prophets, false teachings and false doctrines).
There are also surrounding Bible verses which goes further to warn us against hypocrisy. All in all, we are strongly reminded about how important it is to wisely and with God’s help, focus on the most important things in our walk with God, not getting carried away by legalities and religious observations.
Blind leading the blind is a well known expression applied to leaders who know as little as their followers and are therefore likely to lead them astray:
When it comes to Yoruba Tradition, many lack knowledge and understanding of its spiritual and scientific nature. In a movement such as the ROF many including the leaders know very little about who we YORUBA were before the arrival of the British, consequently they inevitably are the blind leading the blind.
If foreigners deliberately or otherwise have made a successful attempt to replace orthodox Yoruba systems with counterfeit, those who know what has been done are bound by ancestral oath of allegiance to do something about it.
As the Reformed Ogboni celebrates its centenary it has been a privilege to be associated with it. The benefit of association is it becomes the foundation called Experience.
Experience many say, is either a bad teacher because until you go through it, you cannot profess to know about it. Others say, it is a good teacher because it provides you with a foundation called knowledge - on the basis of which you develop an understanding which you can share with others.
However, sharing the truth must be the way. Sharing falsehood is nothing but moral irresponsibility.
Venerable Archdeacon Rev. Thomas Adesina Jacobson Ogunbiyi
History suggests that Thomas Adesina Jacobson Ogunbiyi was an Anglican Archdeacon of Lagos and a priest at St Paul's, Breadfruit, Lagos. He was a clergyman and Nigerian who wrote a few books on Yoruba history including the modes of Ifa divination and the origin of the Ogboni.
In 1914, he initiated a reformed Ogboni Society partly to fill the void Christianity may have created in displacing native Nigerian traditional/aboriginal religion and religious practices.
The original name of the fraternity was Egbe “Ogboni Onigbagbo” which means in English language “Ogboni Fraternity of the Christians.”
As time went on, the founder considered it necessary to admit non-Christians, provided such entrants embrace a non-idolatrous belief in God."
The challenge for Yoruba includes organisations set up by those who due to personal circumstances beyond their control had no alternative but to establish organisations that has taken what suits itself to the original orthodox Yoruba system of government called the Ogboni or Osugbo of Yoruba people.
An outcome of colonialism is, it has and continues to create individuals and organisations who were and are still agents of declaring what Yoruba have and had as inferior and unholy to that of the white man.
Egbe Ogboni Onigbagbo was set up having declared the Ogboni of Yoruba idolatrous and evil. Idolatrous means relating to or practising of idol-worshipping or showing extreme admiration or reverence for something.
For a start, Yoruba Ogboni was and is not a fraternity. Ogboni of Yoruba people was and is legislature.
In the case of the Christian founder of Egbe Ogboni Onigbagbo known today as the "Reformed Ogboni Fraternity," one can say Reformed Ogboni Fraternity is the Yoruba version of the Anglican church with built-in freemasonry - no wonder it is called a fraternity.
The Reformed Ogboni Fraternity is a misrepresentation of Yoruba Ogboni which is and was not anything called fraternity because its purpose is not for "fellowship" but for governance.
The knowledge and understanding available to Venerable Archdeacon Rev. Thomas Adesina Jacobson Ogunbiyi CBE LTh, The founder of Egbe Ogboni Onigbagbo (Reformed Ogboni Fraternity) was inadequate compared to my experience of the Western world in particular British institutions from a practical and not theoretical basis.
One can therefore understand why he failed to recognise that what he set up was a Freemasonry - a British movement which promotes FRIENDSHIP (fellowship) among people of COMMON PROFESSIONAL (CRAFT) and NON PROFESSIONAL basis.
THE ONLY BENEFIT IS MUTUAL SUPPORT which many MEMBERS OF THE REFORMED OGBONI FRATERNITY continue to enjoy.
What ROF is misleadingly believed to have the capacity to offer its membership is support "under any circumstances."
To the contrary, all initiated members of the ROF are told quite clearly, that they must not offer such help to their detriment.
In other words, just like Freemasonry of Britain, The Reformed Ogboni Fraternity is NOT a MOVEMENT SET UP TO RESCUE CRIMINALS or promote criminality similar to the Mafia of Italy.
Sadly, many are blindly recruited into the ROF and remain BLIND for many more years.
Likewise, it appears The Movement deliberately prevents the Freedom to share the Truth among its members.
It is a case of what it was in 1914, so it should be 100 years later without reference to its relevance in the year 2014.
The ROF still treats women as second class citizens and believes the role of the Supreme Head should exclusively be reserved for men.
It is about time the ROF remembers that "Onile Ogbodoora" is one of progress not stand still.
It is time to reform the Reformed Ogboni Fraternity which is freemasonry in nature, and not Ogboni of Yoruba people.
Ogboni or Osugbo of Yoruba is legislature - any organisation that calls itself a "fraternity" is not Ogboni or Osugbo of Yoruba people.
Fraternity is a group of people sharing a common profession or interest. It is for friendship and mutual support within a group.
A Yoruba proverb says: Bi oba maa jo osaka ki o jo osaka, bi oba maa jo osoko ki o jo, osoko, osaka nsoko, ko ye omo enia. (If you want to dance to the osaka drum, dance to it; if you want to dance to the osoko drum, dance to it; to dance to both drums at the same time does not benefit a human person.)
It is time for the ROF to stop being wolves in sheep's clothing.
To all Omo Iyas worldwide I say E Ku Odun.
UK-based Hon. Alderman Erelu Lola Ayonrinde is the Erelu Tunwase of Ode-Remo (Ogun State, Nigeria).