There have been several opinions to shape the line of arguments on the controversy trailing frontline gospel singer, Tope Alabi, in her latest reference to ‘Aboru Boye’ in her latest video. It is pertinent to analyse the issue with contributions of opinions from some analysts.
Contributing to the controversy, Samuel Fasanmi in his page, opined as follow:
One of my pastors will always call me ‘Sanmi’ instead of Fasanmi. Fasanmi simply means Ifa oracle is profitable to me, and my pastor felt that in calling me Fasanmi, he was indulging in idolatry! Such is the level to which Pentecostalism has tied us to delirious treadmill of profanity in Nigeria.
The same pastor feels comfortable with names like Adeboye, Kumuyi, Ajibade, Aina, or Ilori. It simply showed his lack of depth in Yoruba language and literature. The suffix Ade, for example, which looks like a crown to adorn the king’s head, is usually more than a crown in Yoruba culture. The crown is also a symbol of worship in the Yoruba palace, and a lot of sacrifices come with such worship. That is why a king can use his crown to place a curse on anyone, and it will come to pass.
Iku is also one of the orisas in Yoruba land. So, Kumuyi simply means the god of Iku has brought a special son. All the special children, like Taiwo and Kehinde, Aina, Ojo, and Ilori, have special panegyrics that portend their spiritual and physical talents.
In Ifa Corpus, specifically Odu Ifa, the stories of three women; Aboru, Aboye, and Abosise, who rendered special help to Òrúnmìlà were told. It was said that in a bid for Orunmila to consult Olodumare, these three women were like ombudsmen that must be appeased. Orunmila made sacrifices to appease these women, and he had an easy passage to see Olodumare. Just for their power and kindness, Orunmila proposed marriage to them, and the harmony of love ensued among them. In honouring these powerful women, Orunmila asserted that anyone who wants to see Iyanifa or Babalawo must first pay homage to.
Another version of the significance of Aboru, Aboye, and Abosise can as well be found in Odu Ifa, where it was said that anyone who could mention the names of the three pretty damsels would have the liberty of having them as wives. Only Tela Oko was able to mention their names after several other men had failed in their attempts to do so. The failed men who were kept on the gallows were released and showed their appreciation to Tela Oko. However, Tela Oko asked the men to thank Aboru, Aboye, and Abosise. Since then, those names have grown from gratitude to homage, and greetings among Ifa practitioners.
Tope Alabi is a gospel singer who is fond of using Yoruba words in praising God (Olodumare). Psychologist Rhine has Tope Alabi in mind in his description of extrasensory perception, also called the sixth sense. Rhine defined the sixth sense as ‘a claimed paranormal ability pertaining to the reception of information not gained through the recognized physical senses but sensed with the mind.’
Tope Alabi’s songs are tonics for the soul. She weaves Yoruba literature around biblical stories and conveys them in narratives, leaving one in unimaginable awe and unspeakable joy. She is rich in words, deep in thoughts, philosophical in composition, and beautiful to behold.
Tope’s lyrics are deep, and the recent controversies brewing about her word usage are reflections of a society suffering from cultural diffusion, pretentious religious dogma, and a poor understanding of Yoruba language and culture. Firstly, it was Oniduro’s saga. She succinctly answered the Oniduro question in Igbowo Eda through Alagbawi Mi by differentiating Oniduro from Alagbawi. This time around, she went to the spiritual field to fetch the names Aboru, Aboye, and Abosise, and as is her wont, she gospelized them! That is her new offence!
The three names, as explained in Odu Ifa Ogunda Meji, are actually more than names. No doubt, the Babalawos and Iyanifas use them as routine greetings. So also, any of the words can be used to pay homage to the elders in Yorubaland—I am sure this will jolt some of the Yorubas reading this! We have actually demonized some of the symbols of our culture, language, names, and even gods!
Till now, some Pentecostalists have believed that Satan is Esu which is not true! Aboru, Aboye, and Abosise are names; and nothing is wrong with using anything created by Olodumare in praising him! Sheep, Lamb, Rock, etc. were used in the Bible to denote God or Jesus and to compare His greatness.
Let Tope Alabi be! Allow her to vent her tentacle of praising God to anything that filters through her sixth sense. Allow her antennae of praise to roam every religious space in Yoruba land and the world. Allow her to spread the lurch embedded in Yoruba literature with her cheery creativity and talents. Tope is changing our world with her songs. She is truly a reincarnation of Olodumare’s ombudsman, who helps us access the things of God through her uncommon praises.
Another contributor, Gbenga Lawal, on his page titled My Sincere Thoughts on Tope Alabi, said:
Before I proceed, let me remind everyone that I was one of the people that almost tore Tope Alabi to pieces when she tried to call another person out on Onídùúró mi. My take was, you can’t tell anyone how to relate with his or her God.
However, I’ve been hearing this Abọru Bọye stuff and I was waiting seriously to hear what was really wrong with the statement. So I listened to the song. She said people brings SACRIFICE of praise which means ẸBỌ in Yorùbá language, to God, but she is presenting herself as THE SACRIFICE to God. Then she said, ABỌRU ABỌYE sir, in other words, father do to me as you pleases. Ride on in your majesty sir.
Weldone sir, see, the deepness of Yorùbá words makes English interpretation of it so watery many times.
We Yorubas are unique set of people, most of our religions have been adulterated by our language and culture. For example, “alagbada iná aláwọ tẹ́lẹ̀ òórùn” was oríkì of Sango, but now we reverence God almighty with it because of the potency of the word.
O gbemọ nija kí ẹrù ba onija, was the oríkì of ÈṢÙ ỌDARA (not Satan) but we reverence God with it because of its potency.
O r’ọmọ nisẹ faya tíì, was the oríkì of ORUNMILA, but we reverence God with it because of its potency.
KABIYESI means ká bí o kò si, which means no one can challenge you. This is a special panegerics used to reverence our kings because of how powerful they were then, but now we use it for God simply because of its potency.
I have said it before that the word SPIRITUAL is a fusion of two English words. SPIRIT + RITUAL =SPIRITUAL. The places of worship to Christians is church, to Muslims is mosque and to Yorubas is Shrine. So if I call myself a sacrifice for my God to make do with me as he wishes, and I want to greet him weldone, it’s “aboru boye bàbá o”. Ride on in your majesty sir.
This is not the first time we import our traditional words into our religion especially Christianity, because English language is not strong enough to describe the awesomeness of God. The CAC good women choir led by madam Fasoyin of the famous ọdún ń lọ sopin, sang “àyíká odo kii p’odo alọka ọlọ kii p’ọlọ, gbígbó ajá kii p’aja, kíkan agbo kii p’agbo. Please where were these words written in the Bible? Those words were pure incantations, but we imported it into Christianity because of its potency.
So, this ABỌRU BỌYE for me is nothing really, we are Yorubas and the way we worship GOD is unique. Our cultural beliefs have intertwined into any religion we practice and if you ask me. I LOVE IT. That’s what makes us unique. That’s why religion has nothing on us.
But a traditionalist viewed the controversy from another angle, saying that Tope Alabi may need ancestry DNA test. He says Ifa permits secrecy and allows adherents to practice without telling others.
Following the comments that greeted a video capturing the renowned gospel singer infusing a Yoruba traditionalists’ common greeting parlance, ‘Aboru aboye’ into her worship song, the Ifa-priest, Oluwo Jogbodo Orunmila, opined that the singer should to conduct an ancestry Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) to be sure of her origin.
Orunmila who is the chief priest of Iledi Imule Agba in Oyan, Odo Otin North Local Council Development Authority in Osun State said on Monday that Alabi has always been enmeshed in the usage of traditionalists’ lexicons.
He mentioned the singer’s use of ‘Eledumare’ and several other appraisals usually meant for Orunmila (god of wisdom) and Yoruba deities.
He said, “All these phrases showed that Tope Alabi needs ancestry DNA to confirm that she belongs to the Ifa tradition. Those words are forcing their way out, she only needs the right teachers to get fully on track.
“Ifa is ancestry. When a lineage known to be Ifa practitioners stops its practice, there would be a day when one of the family members will illustrate the doctrines of Ifa, knowingly or unknowingly”.