Psychological Implications of the Use of Indigenous Knowledge in Aiding Agricultural Production among the Yoruba of South Western Nigeria.

Author:Kayode, Olaleye Samuel


To a large extent, since science and technology came into existence, they have contributed immensely toward agriculture and crop production in the world. They have made tremendous efforts to improve the life of humanity and have provided food to cater for the large number of the people living in the world through concerted efforts and research work in different directions. Today, there are high breed crops and livestock to further boost food production.

They are done not only for the love of humanity but also for economic gains by the nations, groups, companies and individuals involved in the production of these crops. In the same way, African people, particularly the Yoruba, have had their own ways of boosting their economic power through crop productions in agricultural setting even before the advent of white people on the soil of the Black nations. One of such means is the indigenous knowledge through the use of magic and medicine otherwise known as indigenous intelligence. They are called different names by different localities. In some parts of the Yorubaland, it is known as ako, eda, oko sisa and asanko. It is known and called kadoko in Yoruba speaking areas of Kogi State where this research work extended to. Despite the fact that the knowledge usually involves the spiritual and rituals which normally have negative implications on the farmers that used the system and the fact that there are other scientific means like fertilizer of different categories of crops and soil that can be applied in this modern time, some farmers still continue in the old tradition. To know the reason why the act is still on, ten herbalists, ten Babalawo and twenty farmers were interviewed. Their responses were content analyzed. The paper is divided into six major sections. The first section traces the origin of agriculture as a profession in Yorubaland from picker of fruits to a more settled life. The second section looked at the disposition of Ifa toward the use of indigenous knowledge to aid the production of food for people. Application and the use of the knowledge to produce crops occupied section three. Here, some crops were selected and discussed extensively in the areas of two crops that are available in the country which is the food and cash crops. The positive and negative implications of these crops planted through this knowledge was also discussed in the next segment followed by the psychological implications that await the users and the consumers; at the same time, there is a discussion of the implications for the person his/her spirits were used in for the cases of the ones involving human parts or spirits. The concluding part discussed the findings, which included greed, poverty, social status, peer influence, and material gain, and the opinion of the writer on the issue.

Origin of Agriculture as a Profession in Yorubaland

The Yoruba, like other nations around the world in creation at the beginning, relied on nations, fruits and animals for their survival when life started (Adeoye, 1979). In their creation myths, nothing much was said about agriculture besides the fact that Ogun was limiting games which was his profession. Humankind was moving from place to place in search of food. Therefore, there was no real settlement then. It was when the knowledge of agriculture started that humankind began to settle at places that brought about formation of communal life on earth today. Ifa in Odu Obara Meji (Abimbola, 1968) explained that Oboleboorogun, one of the numerous sons of Orunmila, started agriculture at Otuufe, a place where the Yoruba believed the world started. In the Odu, Ifa says:

Apa nla nigi aje Ose abigi rereere, A difa fun Orunmila Ifa nlo lee gbe Oro Tii se omo Olowu niyawo Won ni o saka ki mole O jare eb o ni o se O ni apabru e e ku Lo ba ru idaji odidi eran Ti won ni o fi rubo Ni Orunmila ba mura O gbe Oro, omo Olowu, niyawo Nijo ti awon egbe iyawo o tuka, Ti o ye ki Orunmila o sunti obinrin re Ni won ranse wa lati ode Oyan Won ni Ode Oyan ti daru tan patapata bayi Ki Orunmila o maa sare bo o. Ni Orunmila ba mura. O kori sode Oyan O si mu Oro, obinrin re lowo lo Lale ojo ti won d'o de Oya n Orunmila sun ti obinrin re Obinrin naa si loyun Ki o to di wipe won kuro lode Oyan Obinrin Orunmila ti bimo Won ni oruko wo ni awon o so omo naa Orunmila ni ki won o soo ni Amukanlodeoyan. Laipe, won kuro lode Oyan Igba ti Oro wo omo naa won, Nje ki Orunmila o tun sun too Ni won ba tun ranse pe Orunmila pe lode Onko Ibe ni Oro tun bi omo re keji si Afzelia bella is the tree of the witches Baobab tree spreads widely Casts divination for Orunmila Ifa was going marry Oro The daughter of Olowu He was asked to greet the gods He should please offer sacrifice He said he who offer sacrifice in part would not die He then offered half of a goat Prescribed for the sacrifice Then Orunmila prepared He went ahead to married Oro the daughter of Olowu On the day Oro friends left her place, That Orunmila supposed to sleep with his wife A message came from Oyan town That Oyan town is in disorder That Orunmila should come quickly Orunmila then prepared He went ahead to Oyan town He took Oro his wife along with him On the night of their arrival at Oyan town, Orunmila slept with his wife The woman became pregnant. Before they left the town, The wife of Orunmila gave birth He was asked, what name would they call the child? Orunmila said the child should be called Amukanlodeoya Not quite long they left Oyan town When Oro wean the child Orunmila was making attempt to sleep with her again, A message came from Onko city It was there that Oro gave birth to the second child Won ni oruko wo ni awon o so omo naa, Orunmila ni ki won o soo ni Amosunlonkoegi. Igba ti Oro wo omo naa tan, Ni won ba tun ranse pe Orunmila lotuu 'fe Igba ti won de otuu' fe tan, Oro tun loyun O si tun bimo Won ni oruko wo ni awon o so omo naa Orunmila ni ki won o soo ni Oboleboogun Oun lo se iran agbe sile... They asked what name shall the child be called? Orunmila said they should name him Amosunlonkoegi When Oro wean the child again, Orunmila was sent for at Otuu'fe When they got to Otuu'fe, Oro became pregnant again She gave birth They asked what name the child be called, Orunmila said the child should be named Oboleboogun He was the one that started farming... This is an indication that there was nothing like farming before he started it despite the fact that there had been settlement of people at that time.

There are basically two types of farming. The traditional system of agriculture involved planting of food and cash crops while mechanized farming, though it involves food and cash crops, includes other types of farming. These are live stocks farming, like fowl, turkey, pig, goat, and cow among others. There is also fish farming in mechanized farming. The scope of this paper is limited to the traditional method of farming due to the fact that it is on this that the use of magic to enhance planting for bountiful harvest is common, and also since in mechanized farming, the use of fertilizer to enhance crops is a common practice.

In the traditional system of farming, there are two types of crops as earlier discussed. These are cash crops like cocoa, kola nut, cashew, rubber, palm tree, and coconut. There are also food crops such as yam, cassava maize, potato, melon pepper, okra, cotton, garden egg and groundnut among others. All these crops are what magic or indigenous knowledge can be used to enhance their production. Cash crops are planted in thick forest areas and are always permanent crops that can be there for many years and that will produce fruits on yearly basis. Some of the crops can outlive the people that planted them. Such crops like palm tree, bitter kola, kola nut, coconut, and rubber tree are found in this category.

Food crops are planted for a few months before the crops are harvested and ready for consumption. These types of crops are usually planted on rotational basis. This gives room for shifting cultivation of the land for a better yield. Besides the shifting cultivation mentioned, there are other means of improving the crops to do well for a better profit by the farm. This includes the use of magical and medicinal preparations that would be applied to the crops or the soil on which the crops are planted. However, this is not limited to the food crops alone; rather, it cuts across both cash and food crops.

The Position of Ifa on the Use of Indigenous Knowledge to Aid Food Production

Ifa is the mouthpiece of both the divinities and humankind, particularly, the Yoruba. It is Ifa that tells a devotee of any of these gods to offer sacrifice to the gods whenever the gods are offended. Although there is no place where Ifa actually mentioned that medicine should be used to enhance planting of the crops, it is the usual practice of the Yoruba not to venture into any business without due consultation of Ifa with prompt and adequate offering of sacrifice. As said earlier, Ifa talked much about crops and agricultural production, but there was never a place where he encouraged the use of indigenous knowledge to aid its production. Rather, Ifa lays much emphasis on the use...

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