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Odu, Bits, Orunmila, Yoruba, 256, Octagrams

Ifa Computer Names

The Yoruba gods of western Nigeria once existed as humans and had their way of communicating.


Prior to their disappearance, they left with the people a means to communicate with them in the outer realm (the ifa divination).


Over 12,000 years ago, Africans developed Ifa Oracle divination based on the square of 16=16x16=26 = 2^8 corresponding to the vertices of an 8-dimensional hypercube and to the binary 2-choice Clifford algebra C1(8) and so to related ones such asC1(8)xC1(8) = C1(16) [7]. Since the number of sub-hypercubes in an 8-dimensional hypercube is 6,561 =81x81=3^8, the Ifa Oracle has N=8 ternary 3-structureas well as binary 2-structure.




Babalawo, Corpus, Computer Science, Bits, Base

The 16 Odus

Orunmila, in order to make access to the retrieval of the Divine Message (Ifa) easy, devised the computer compatible binary coding system, thousands of years before the emergence of computer consciousness in so-called modern man! So, Ifa is preserved in binary coded format and is output Parable - Format.


Ifa is coded within 256
Odus or Corpus, each Odu representing an esoteric pigeon-hole, itself divisible into256 sub-holes. Within each of the 256 Odus, there are1,680 Sacred Verses all presented in Parable - Format.Thus, the body of Ifa consists of 430,080 messages for mankind [1]Prof. Olu Longe in His December 22, 1983 Inaugural lecture titled Ifa Divination And Computer Science asserted that Orunmila is one of the deities of theYoruba while Ifa divination is a device for forecasting the future. What has those two got to do with the high-tech world of computer science?

Ifa Binary Codes
Oyeku Meji

Ifa is actually an ancient binary computer system which, in some inexplicable way, has successfully linked the probability of numbers with the complexities of the human condition and the ever complex flux of events.


Eji Ogbe

Ifa, Longe said, is based on the 8-bit pattern with its eight–piece divination chain, 16 major odu(chapters) and 256 odu in all. Bade Ajayi in his paper titled A New Model of Ifa Binary System stated that Orunmila, the Yoruba God of Wisdom and divination uses a geomantic system of divination to arrive at appropriate signs and employs Ifa verses to interpret the signs [1]


Ifa literary corpus consists of 256 possibilities called Odu and each Odu also contains superfluous stories called ese. Sixteen of the Odu are the principal ones while the remaining 240 are the mixed or minor Odu. As the name implies, each mixed Odu is formed by thecombination of two principal Odu. Each of the Odu (both principal and minor) is represented by a specific sign which is binary in nature [13]. Every Odu sign has two arms illustrated by the first two principal Odu, Eji-Ogbe and Oyeku Meji 3rd and 2nd images above, and the 1st is the computer model worked out by Ifa's Opele.


Ifa Elements

Bade Ajayi emphasized in his paper that communication with the Odu is achieved by means of a calculated mathematical framework based on the prescribed course of conduct required from each Odu[1]In fact, digital computer uses the binary system.


Like the computer, Yoruba anthmomancy is based on binary system and it is therefore a computer oriented science which can be used in mathematical education.


At a divination session, several Ibo (instruments for casting lot), may be used to find detail information about a client's problem. The commonest and simplest form of Ibo of Cowry Shells tied together representing types (1) and piece of animal bone representing “Iho” (0) This relates to computer language today, we need prediction (which is scientific and reliable) more than divination (which is religious and uncertain).

Eji Ogbe

Considering the locio in the arms of the opele, the pairs should be punched (d) and there ‘bi’ spairs not punched(0) using this code paper model of Ifa -6-A-Bits computer model N has been developed.


The 1st of the 3 images is the computer model worked out by Ifa's Opele.


Ifa is also known as Voodoo in Haiti, Lucumi in Cuba, Obeah in the West Indies, Chamdole in the Caribbean and Sateria in Brazil.


Computer Science is the systematic study of the feasibility, structure, expression and mechanization of the methodical processes (or algorithms). It underlies the acquisition, representation, processing, storage, communication of and access to information, whether such information is encoded in bits and bytes in a computer memory or transcribed in genes and protein structures in a human cell.


You can download or read this full reaserch by following this link: A Comperative Study on Ifa Divination and Computer Science. Including another full article link from


Divination Chain, Opele, Nut, Ogun


The illustration below shows the activities during Ifadivination. It displays the basic steps during the divination from the point of listening to client problems and then to the prescription of Ogun.




(listen to client problem)



Ifa Dida (Divination)



Is Ebo Required (Rituals)?

No Next----


Prescribe Advice or Ogun (Medicine)



Is Ebo Required (Rituals)?

Yes Next----


Do Ebo (Rituals)



Prescribe Advice or Ogun (Medicine)



The pattern of outcomes derived from the opele is analysed against all 256 odus and ese (poem) to derive a solution to the clients problem (Processing).


Then the ifa priest prescribes an oogun (medicine) for the client (Output).


The ikin (sacred kolanuts), the opele andother instruments are like the interfaces used to send inputs for processing.




The opele is a divining chain consisting of two armsmade of 8 beads on both the left side and the right side.The right side is called the male, and the left is calledthe female [11]


In Computer Science, a byte consists of eight bits and a nibble represents four bits.


Thus the four beads on one side of an opele can be likened to a nibble and all eight nuts, is a byte in Computer Science.


Now, just like bits are arranged in different patterns of zeros and ones to form a particular binary number or digit.


The binary number formed from the arrangement or combination of zeros and ones in Computer Science can be likened to an odu ifa in ifa divination.


The image at bottom left shows the opele nut combination. The concave or smooth side of a nut is represented as band the convex side is represented as f.


The concave side is two strokes, 1 in binary and the convex side is a stroke, 0 in binary [3]




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