Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What Is Ìkúnlẹ̀- Abiyamọ ?

What is Ikunle Abiyamo ?
and can I attain it ?

some professors of Yoruba thought have written that Ikunle Abiyamo is only the Yoruba traditional act of giving birth on bent knees OR is a combination of acts during the final stages of the expectant mother-to-be in labour.

In a paper titled ABIYAMO: THEORIZING AFRICAN MOTHERHOOD by Prof. Oyeronke Oyewumi, writes

,,,".....Motherhood occupies a special place in African cultures and societies. Regardless of whether a particular African society displays a patrilineal or matrilineal kinship system, mothers are the essential building block of social relationships, identities, and indeed society. Because mothers symbolize familial ties, unconditional love and loyalty, motherhood is invoked even in extrafamiliial situations that calls upon these values. For example, in the Ogboni a traditional political organization which formed part of the hierarchy of governance in some Yoruba polities, members refer to each other as omoya - mother's child— emphasizing that fraternal and sororal bonds derive from mother and the institution of motherhood (Oyewumi 2003a). My goal in this paper is to articulate Yoruba conceptions of motherhood as one African model.
The social context of motherhood and the meanings attached to birthing events are a good starting point for appreciating Yoruba constructions of the institution. At the moment of birth, two entities are born - a baby and a mother. In Yoruba language, the term for mother is abiyamo, which can be translated as natal mother or nursing mother. In everyday usage, the term abiyamo is usually accompanied by another one ikunle which means kneeling, the preferred birthing position in the culture. Thus ikunle abiyamo refers to the kneeling of a mother in labor. The day a particular mother gives birth is referred to as ojo ikunle (day of birth).
The kneeling posture is invested with a lot of meaning, as is demonstrated by the prevalence of this pose in Yoruba art. In the cosmology, Ikunle recalls akunleyan - the pregestation act of kneeling before the Creator to choose one's - ori— Destiny on earth. It is significant that the most fateful choice any individual makes at this crucial pre-earthly moment is the selection of one's mother. Apart from the fact that the mother is the one who introduces a person into earthly life, there is the added fear of choosing a mother who has a short lifespan, because a motherless child is unlikely to survive. Omoalainiya (literally motherless child) is the term used to describe an orphan in Yoruba, regardless of whether the father of the child is living. The saying omo k'oni ohun o ye, iya ni ko gba - a child survives and thrives only at the mother's will - suggests the critical role the mother plays in the child's welfare. She is not only the birth giver - motherhood being present at creation - she is also the life giver, making motherhood a lifelong vocation.
Motherhood is a lifelong commitment and one remains a child to one's mother regardless of one's age. The importance of having a mother who has a long lifespan cannot be overemphasized. It is understood that one needs one's mother at every turn in life and most especially through rites of passage after birth such as marriage, and the birth of one's own children. Until the very recent past, an expectant mother normally had her first child with her mother in attendance....."

Ifa however, teaches us that the RITES of Ikunle to become Abiyamo starts at the very dawn of ones life, let us examine some statements from Yoruba women who have performed traditional & cultural Ikunle Abiyamo rites of birthing.

(Excerpt from Ìkúnlẹ̀- Abiyamọ)

Mrs. Olúṣàánú Kólájọ
“Before I became an ardent follower of Ọ̀rúnmìlà, I was convinced that the blessed position a birthing mother is supposed to assume during labour or childbirth is for her to kneel down. Any time I went to the hospital for child delivery, the doctors used to advise me to lie flat on my back but I always refused, insisting that I must kneel down. Thanks to Olódùmarè that I did. All my children are blessed by Olódùmarè. Anytime I pray for them and I invoke Ìkúnlẹ̀- Abiyamọ, my prayers usually come to pass. Let all mothers assume this position henceforth during childbirth and they will have spiritual access to Olódùmarè in shaping the lives of their children for good”.

Folúkẹ́ Ọdúnfá-Jones:
“I was very young when I had my son. An elderly woman in our house assisted in taking the delivery. During labour, I instinctively knelt downand the elderly woman encouraged me to do so. Shortly after, there was a disagreement between my husband and me. I left my matrimonial home and took my son along with me against all pressures from my husband’s relations. Three weeks after, my son fell seriously ill and the doctors said that he had only 20% survival chance. I prayed that may Ìkúnlẹ̀- Abiyamọ come to my aid so that I shall not be blamed in the end. Surprisingly, my son became well three days later, we were back home from the hospital. Ever since that time, he had never been ill. This incident happened eleven years ago. Thanks to Ìkúnlẹ̀- Abiyamọ”.

Mother to Son:
“I beg you in the name of Ìkúnlẹ̀- Abiyamọ, whatever the differences between you and your wife, I want you to forgive and forget. If you do as I have said, Ìkúnlẹ̀- Abiyamọ will bless you abundantly. Remember, I am the one who poured blood on your face when you were about to enter into this world”.

Mother to Daughter:
“For taking proper care of me as your mother, I am totally convinced that Ìkúnlẹ̀- Abiyamọ will bless you and repay you in several folds. Anytime you remember me as your mother, just say “Àṣẹ”, because you already have the blessing of Ìkúnlẹ̀- Abiyamọ”.

Father to Mother:
“You are not giving your children proper moral education, I advise you to change your attitude in order not to incur the wrath of Ìkúnlẹ̀- Abiyamọ”.

Mrs. Adijat Adékúnlé
“The accident was terrible. We were in an eighteen-passenger bus traveling from Abẹ́òkúta to Lagos when suddenly the tire burst and the bus somersaulted three times.  Only my daughter who was carrying a seven-month old pregnancy and I came out unhurt. There was too much blood. I am sure it was Ìkúnlẹ̀- Abiyamọ that saved us. I Beg Olódùmarè to let Ìkúnlẹ̀- Abiyamọ spare the lives of those who are still unconscious”. 

Ìkúnlẹ̀- Abiyamọ is more than the position a woman assumes during childbirth. 

Certainly, it is the

Àṣẹ of Motherhood.

I am posting a copy of these Ifa stanzas on marriage process, and other matters to consider with relationships according to the tradition of Ifa. These are an excerpt from a recent Ifa book - Ikunle Abiyamo : The ASE of Motherhood, by Chief S. Solagbade Popoola & Fakunle Oyesanya, (isbn 978-09810013-0-2) by Asefin Media LLC

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