Wednesday 3 April 2024

Sacred Art of Odu Ifa…' by Lekan Babalola

A new book on Ifa by the Grammy Award-winning musician-philosopher, Olalekan Babalola, will be formally unveiled on April 13, 2024 at the Kongi’s Harvest Art Gallery, Freedom Park, Lagos.

Titled “Sacred Art of Odu Ifa…”, the book is described as a “sumptuous introduction to Odu Ifa,” sharing the essence, meanings and influence of West Africa’s Binary and visual writing language.”

The limited edition of the 200-page book, which is being released April 13, is designed to “tantalise philosophically and visually as it shares what Odu Ifa means to the Yoruba People of West Africa; its influence on contemporary art; and how jazz maestro John Coltrane believed its traditional wisdom should play a significant role in 21st century thinking.”

According to the blurb, the book is “informative, philosophically stimulating and visually deliciously, the author’s passion and knowledge of his subject shines bright as he introduces this sacred, intriguing and binary centric form of visual communication. 

The publishers, the Ifa Yoruba Contemporary Arts Trust, offers further explanation: “In this book the Sacred Art of Odu Ifa, Lekan has summarised the philosophical essence of each of the 16 principal odus in writing and vividly stunning self-illustrated artistic aesthetics. 

“Detailing the depth to which its sixteen variations are woven into the wellbeing and life cycles of West Africa’s Yoruba people (who live predominantly in Nigeria, Benin and Togo), the author also explains jazz musician’s John Coltrane’s deep love and connection to this sacred and energising form of communication.

“Featuring 16 photographic plates and over 20 artworks by the author, Olalekan Babalola’s book is a visual feast that brings a unique language, as well as its potency and wonder to the consciousness of a whole new audience.  And for that he deserves our wholehearted thanks.”

Said to have been “inspired in a dream by the consummate African American jazz impresario and musical innovator, John Coltrane,” the book, stated Babalola, the twice-Grammy award- winning Nigerian percussionist, is a celebration of the Odu of Ifa signs, binary writing image of divination system practised by the Yoruba people of West Africa and African Diaspora. Coltrane exhorted that traditional wisdom should have a prominent place in new millennium thinking, with an exciting mode of communication through digitally artistic visual language communication.”

Babalola continues, “Sixteen essential life situations are represented which have sixteen possible variations each. Through these linked concepts of order, creation, and destiny, the narratives of each Odu have created the prayer that would enhance the motion of the human life cycle and well-being. 

“Each Odu of Ifa has its own music, food, herbal prescription, iconic symbols, stories, allegory, morality, meaning and divination, colour system, dance, sensibility, poetry, and therapeutic effects. 

“That the celebration of the art and writing of the sixteen major sacred Odu of Ifa in the African Diaspora and their influence on contemporary art will help you too to feel connected to this energy and motion, and that you too will appreciate the power and majesty of the work created for Sacred Art Of Odu Ifa.“

About the author: Founder and artistic director of the Ifa-Yoruba Contemporary Arts Trust, a UK-based registered charity trust committed to fostering the development of Yoruba arts and culture, Lekan Babalola is twice Grammy award- winning Nigerian percussionist. A custodian of Yoruba tradition, he has Yoruba art and culture resonating in all aspects of his work. He studied filmmaking at Central St Martin’s College of Art and Design in London and continued his studies at Northern School of Film & Television, Leeds. He has undertaken education work as part of his artistic programme and has an on-going relationship both in the UK, USA, Europe, Caribbean and Africa as a percussionist, cultural curator and producer.

Also read:

Separating Yoruba religious tradition from Isese (2)

Separating Yoruba religious tradition from Isese

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