People come to sit on my mat from near and afar, and in their heart the question they eagerly seek an answer to is how to take revenge of someone who has done them wrong. Getting even with one who has done you wrong is not the advice you will get from Ifa. Those whom have done you wrong have, by their own actions, brought unto themselves repercussions you can only dream about imposing on them.
On this Ifa has a few Odús which covers this situation.
We shall start with Ogbe Osa, alson know as Ogbe’Sa and Ogbe Rikusa, and Ogbe Sooto.
The liar dies and dies in a forest of fire.
The wicked dies and dies on a sun-scorched Savannah.
But the righteous dies and dies peacefully,
Leaning back against a water jar decorated with jewels.
Orunmila, priest of the world, interpreted the teachings of Ifa
for the people of the world.
When they were creating a world,
A world where there was no peace,
A world where there was no harmony,
They were advice to sacrifice.
But only the righteous remained to
So, speak truth; do justice
Be kind and do not do evil.
Truth travels on a narrow path
But the wicked wanders on a wide road.
Speak truth; do justice
Do justice and speak truth.
For one who is righteous is supported by the Divine.
This is a teaching on the need and value of righteousness in the world. The wrongdoer who lies and is cruel is portrayed as one who does not find cool relief, but rather searing heat signified by the “forest fire” and the “sun-scorched Savannah.” These metaphors for heat and discomfort are contrasted with the metaphor of leaning against the jeweled water jar which signifies not only relaxation in wealth, but also a coolness or calmness suggested by the image of water.
The verse urges us to practice two of the cardinal virtues of Ifa ethics: truth and justice.
And it assures us that the righteous who practice these will be favored by the Divine. The verse also encourages us to “be kind” and not be evil. This joining of kindness to the virtues of truthfulness and justice is key to the care and responsibility we must feel and exercise towards one another. For both truth and justice can be harsh, And it is with loving kindness that they are balanced and serve their essential function of bringing and supporting good in the world. It is through kindness that the moral excellence of iwapele, gentle character, is grounded and flourishes.
And although we have been conditioned to believe that “getting even” helps us move on, Ifa tells us differently. On this Ogbe Irete, also know as Ogbe Ate and Ogbe Seete says:
Even if the beginning of wrong-doing is pleasant,
The end of wickedness will not be good.
We cannot use evil to secure goods and expect
them to be anchored firmly.
These were the teachings of Ifa for the upright one.
The offspring of the initiated one who treads the
earth in humbleness.
Olodumare is the lord of the land.
Olodumare is the owner of judgement.
The king of the world will reward everyone
Precisely according to the work of their hands.
As you can appreciate from this Odu, vengeance over those whom have done us wrong should be left to the “Lord of the Land.” As Olodumare is the owner of all judgement.
Yet there is a difference between knowingly doing evil and one who has done wrong unknowingly. Ifa says that if you have unknowingly done wrong the you must be courageous and apologize. On this on Okanran Irosun Ifa says:
Knowingly doing wrong evil is not god.
If a person who does evil apologizes,
The matter will be resolved.
Everyone forgives those who do wrong unknowingly.
This was the teaching of Ifa for the
one who confronts matters,
the courageous one, Mabelufe
Whose name means “I will not beg
even the king.”
Everyone was continually complaining about him.
If he would just apologize, people would say
the matter is finished.
Then, one day it happened.
Therefore; consider your actions carefully. If you feel someone has done you wrong, then your obligation is to confront the person with a kind and humble heart. Be prepared to accept an apology, and clear your heart of any ill feelings or desire for revenge.
If however; the person(s) whom have done you wrong have decided to hide from you, then let Olodumare deal with the matter. Inventory your conscience and if clear, then cleanse your heart of any desire to “get even.” These people have much to learn and you are not the one to change their ways. Focus on furthering your good character and rest in the knowledge that “The king of the world will reward everyone Precisely according to the work of their hands.”