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Training of an Omo Awo-Ifa Apprentice in Nigeria at a glance

Training of an Omo Awo/Ifa Apprentice in Nigeria at a glance.

The 7 steps of training all would be Babalawo and Iyanifa must go through under the tutelage of an experienced and elder Awo are:

  1. Presentation to Opon Ifa and Itelopon.
  2. Learning how to perform Ebo Riru, Akunlebo, Ipese, Etutu, Ibori, and other rituals.
  3. Learning how to prepare Atese, Akose, Afose, etc (medicines of various types).
  4. Being given Ese Ifa to memorize, learn each one’s correct interpretation, and all da ebo materials attached to each one. How many verses a student needs to memorize and learn varies from Baba Ifa to Baba Ifa but in my home, I recommend a minimum of 4 verses per Odu before being allowed to graduate.
  5. Various talks and lessons on developing Iwa Rere and Iwa Pele, the importance of an Awo displaying these, and being an example of these characters. This of course implies learning da philosophy of Ifa and living the lifestyle Ifa wishes everyone would be Babalawo and Iyanifa to live.
  6. Various talks on how to establish yourself as a Babalawo or Iyanifa once you’ve graduated from training. The importance of continuing one’s studies of Ifa with other adept Awo. Awo to client relationships, confidentiality, ethics, and the importance of being a servant to the community you find yourself or live in, and many other topics concerning the profession.
  7. In the last step, this is where the Omo Awo goes through their graduation called “Ayeye Aseyori Awo”. Here the Omo Awo is given various rites that will make them Official Babalawo or Iyanifa and have the full freedom to practice on their own without the support of their Baba Ifa.
    These are the above stages (traditionally speaking) that all would be Babalawo or Iyanifa must pass through before being considered competent, able to work on their own, initiate others, cast on their own for others, and before they can call themselves a Babalawo or Iyanifa. For this reason, one cannot truly call oneself a Babalawo or Iyanifa unless one has gone through these training stages and rites.

Those who initiate into Ifa

but do not wish to be Babalawo or Iyanifa are known as Awo Atemaki or can also be just called Awo.
Those who are currently being trained are known as Omo Awo.
One CANNOT become a Babalawo or Iyanifa by reading books, watching videos, listening to recordings, etc. One MUST study under an adept Awo not just to receive the proper training but to also receive the Ase of one’s mentor. It’s mandatory and of utmost importance in traditional Ifa.

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