Adechina or Adeshina (“Crown of Fire”) is credited as being one of the most important founding fathers of Ifa in Cuba. A Yoruba born in Africa and initiated as a babalawo there, he was enslaved and taken to Cuba as a young man in the 1830s. Legend has it that he swallowed his sacred ikin ifa used in divination in order to take them with him across the ocean.
An intelligent and gifted man, he later bought his freedom and became a powerful property owner in the Havana suburb of Regla. In addition to his large African and Creole religious family he had many influential godchildren from Havana’s Spanish, white elite and had important high society connections. He set up a famous religious institution, the Cabildo of the Virgin of Regla (the Cabildo Yemaya) in around 1860, which became a powerful centre of Ifa and Orisha worship.
Along with his daughter, the famous Ocha priestess Echu Bi, he organised the annual street procession on the feast day of the Virgin of Regla, every September 7th. Each year seminal Afrocuban drummers like Pablo Roche Okilakpa would sound the mighty Ilú batá in honour of Yemaya as they processed around the town. Incredibly, Adechina is also reputed to have returned to Africa, the land of his birth, in order to acquire the sacred materials needed to initiate babalawos. He returned again to Cuba with these sacred items in order to build Ifa there.
All the mojubas (prayers and recitals of lineage to honour the ancestors) of babalawos in Cuba include Adechina.
A great man who helped carry African profound spiritual knowledge to the Americas.
My Yaruba friend says, "my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather in Ifa, I salute you.
Mo juba Oluwo Adechina Obara Meji, ibae bae tonu.
For the fathers we choose, and who accept us."