Apetebi: The Wife of Orunmila

Posted on 17 November 2009 by Babalawo Aworeni


An Apetebi is the name given to wife of Orunmila. It is also the name Orunmila gave to the wife of a Babalawo.

In the Odu Ifa Ogbe Sa, Ifa gives the story of how the Apeeibi became the wife of Orunmila. Ifa relates that Orunmila went to war in the town of Ilu obirin after all the efforts of the other Orisha were unsuccessful. Orunmila consulted Ifa, made the proper sacrifice and subsequently was able to defeat the uprising in Ilu obirin. The town of Iluobirin was inhabited by only women. These women were tied together with rope and taken back to the town where Orunmila resided. Once they arrived in town Orunmila’s advisers wanted to kill all of the women. Instead of killing the women Orunmila decided to make them Apetebi.

The difference between an Apetebi and an Iyanifa (female Ifa priest) is that an Apetebi is not necessarily initiated to Ifa but is a wife of a Babalawo. Whereas an Iyanifa is not only initiated to Ifa but is a learned Ifa priest.

After a woman marries a Babalawo, she is required to clean the area and house of Ifa every 5 days. It is necessary to keep the area where Ifa rests clean. She is always to take water to visitors when they arrive in the home. She must also honor her husband and cannot be rude. She should be respectful of all her husband;s omo Awo. She must be the keeper of her husband’s secrets and be careful of her words outside the home.

A Babalawo’s duties to an Apetebi include treating his wife with respect. He cannot beat or use harsh words towards her but must be cool tempered and patient. If a problem arises between a Babalawo and his his it must be solved amiably.

When feeding Ifa the Apetibi should bring Esin and use these materials to pray. There are many songs specific to Apetibi. In the Oketase temple in Ile-Ife, the Apetibi have Aro, which are roles specific to Apetibi in the Agboniregun and Ifa festivals. When Odu is being carried out Apetibi have Orin that is sung specifically at that time. During each occasion there are many necessary assignments and duties the Apetibi must perform. Through these many tasks the wives of Orunmila receive the blessings of Ifa.

Respect that is given to a Babalawo is also given to his Apetibi. The Apetibi has power. She was given cowries by Orunmila to divine for his clients in his absence. The Apetibi can divine with erindilogun. She has access to all of the Orisha houses. However she can never into the house of Odu or Oro. These places are forbidden to female. The Apetibi will wear Ide Ifa and traditional cloting. Another babalaow can never sit in the place where an Apetibi has just vacated.

The Apetebi is a valued member of the Ifa community.

Omo ti a fi etebi ki a ma pe ni Apetebi

Lubedo siko aya mi no

Ajagbakira aya mi ni se

Eri mi e dasi yayaya

Edo koyaya

O to ka daesi doko nu ka wa sere gba yi o

Emorora ka o emo ku aribo ode o

Ifa ati Orisa a gba wa o ase

14 Comments For This Post

  1. Ifafunmike Oyegbade Says:

    This information is very important to know, you see there is so much confusion and mis-understanding about the titles Iyanifa, Apetebi, most Apetebi think they can marry a Babalowo’s Ifa, or if they are Apetibi then they are also Iyanifa. Thank-you for clearing this up.

  2. Ifatokun Says:

    Aboru boye
    In what year have appeared iyaonifa in Africa?
    Women iyaoniofa make Tefa for men?
    If is not present, why?
    many thanks

  3. Babalawo Aworeni Says:

    Aboru Aboye,
    There are many Iyanifa in Nigeria. Women do not make Tefa for men.
    Thank you for your question,
    Babalawo Owolabi Aworeni

  4. ifa bambola Says:

    Iboru mi odu es obaraka esto me tiene muy confundida no he encontrado informacion de mi signo que tranquilice a mi ori, desde que me hice iyanifa mi vida se detuvo y no he podido hacer nada profesionalmente ya que soy graduada en la universidad como tecnologo en alimento, solo me dedico a estudiar IFA no me quejo me va bien sin embargo ya no me mantengo sola como antes y eso a veces no me hace feliz . Mi pregunta es tendra que ver mi odu de IFA? De mi iniciación hace casi tres años micho sabria agradecer si me ayudan Gracias

  5. gipsy Says:

    what is necessary to be initiated, in ifa? what are the requirements? can I have adetailed information sent to my email please.?
    Im interested in being initiated.( gipsys88@yahoo.com).

  6. Oshun Guere Says:

    I’m Apetevi . This is an excelent article. Congratulations to you for explain who is Apetevi and her duties. You remember too a Babalawo’s duties to an apetevi. It’s a very importan in our religion.
    I’m olo Oshun.
    My Husband is a respectable Babalawo of this religion AWO NI ORUMILA OMO ODUN OTRUPON BEKONWAO.

    Is was a pleasure to us give our opinion in this web site.

  7. Omo Oya Says:

    Iború Iboya Iboshishé

    My husband will be doing Ifa soon and I have a question. Can a daughter of Oya (as I am) be an apetebi?

  8. Chun Li costumes Says:

    I follow your website for quite a lengthy time and should tell that your content articles usually prove to be of a high value and quality for readers.

  9. Mini Says:

    Iboru Iboya’
    Thank you for thorough information.
    I see no action here for about a year – I hope you are still on!
    My husband is a Babalawo. At his initiation he was asigned an Apetebi in the absence of both a wife and his mother. How is the Apetebi tittle/duty re-assigned to me.

    I thank you in advance


  10. Gabriel Olivares Says:

    Aw, this was a really nice post. In concept I wish tobhp opole put in writing like this additionally – taking time and actual effort to make a very good article… but what can I say… I procrastinate alot and not at all appear to get one thing done.

  11. fagbadegun fayemi Says:

    a very nice post,ifa yoo gbe wao.pls d orisha list

  12. Awogbenga Adeleye Says:

    pls sir can someone goes to gboro ifa twice

  13. Talibah Kennedy Says:

    Thanks much very informative post!

  14. A. A. AINA (TRIPLE-A) Says:

    good work sir. i love to hear yoruba story

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