Cult, Culture and Religion | By Ọlọbẹ Yoyọn
Inbox Question: “You write a lot about Ifá, is Ifá not just a cult?”
Me: Yes, Ifá is a cult just like Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Shinto, Buddhism and any other system of belief.
Cult is generally defined as a system of religious veneration and devotion directed towards a particular figure or person or object.
The term “cult” made its debut in the English language circa 1610 as: “homage paid to a divinity”. The meaning changed to “a particular form or system of worship” in 1670.
It came from French “culte” or Latin “cultus” which means “worship”.
Also from Latin “cult-” (verb ‘colere’) meaning: “cultivated, inhabited or worshipped”.
Please note that in ancient times, planting seeds was not just an economic activity but a religious one too and religious rites were usually performed before planting and during harvests.
Generally speaking, religion is an inseparable aspect of culture. “Cult” and “Culture” share the same Latin root and you can’t separate religion from culture no matter how much you try.
For example, the wearing of turban by men is primarily a cultural thing in Arab countries but seen as a religious thing by many Africans! The mode of dressing is cultural, pure and simple.
While there is nothing wrong in adopting certain aspects of other people’s culture, rubbishing your own in the process is a serious sign of inferiority complex.
Can you imagine any of the following?
An Imam without a turban (Arab culture)
A Babaláwo without an Agbádá and a fitting abetí-ajá or gọ̀bì fìlà (Yoruba culture)
A Pentecostal Pastor without suit and tie (Western culture)
A Buddhist monk without the Kashaya robe (Indian/Eastern culture)
A Jewish Rabbi without the Kippah/Kappel skull cap (Jewish culture)
An Anglican Priest without the clergy collar (English/Scottish culture)
Tell me your reaction if you see any of the following?
A Babaláwo wearing a suit and tie!
An Imam wearing Kippah/Kappel skull cap!
A Pentecostal Pastor wearing a turban!
A Jewish Rabbi wearing the Kashaya robe!
A Buddhist monk wearing the clergy collar!
An Anglican Priest wearing a Babaláwo regalia and carrying Ọ̀pẹ̀lẹ̀ divining chain!