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Olofi Splits the Difference

There are two versions of this story that reveal two of the possible paths of this Odu. By looking at the two paths it quickly becomes apparent which path is the best one to follow and illustrates clearly what will happen if Orisha's advice is not taken seriously.

The First Path

Ogundá was going through a very bad time and found himself poor and very, very hungry. The only thing he could think of was to make a hook and a makeshift fishing pole to try his hand at catching a fish to make a meal for himself. So he went off towards a nearby lagoon, not thinking about the fact that this lagoon had an owner.

When he arrived at the shore of the lagoon he encountered a person who was throwing small pieces of meat into the water in attempt to catch fish but, needless to say, he had not caught a thing.

When Ogundá came upon this man, an idea immediately came to mind, "What if I used a piece of this man's meat on my hook. Then I will surely catch a fish and I will be fed."

And so Ogundá talked to man at the shore and was soon casting his hook laden with meat into the waters of the lagoon. It was not long before he was reeling in a large, beautiful fish. Almost as soon as he had the fish on the shore, who approached but the owner of the lagoon saying, "This fish was caught in this lagoon. This lagoon is mine, therefore the fish is mine, so hand it over!"

Immediately there was a complaint from behind, "No, no! I supplied the meat for bait. And without the bait, there would be no fish. Therefore the fish is mine!"

Ogundá naturally did not agree with either the owner of the lagoon or the man with the meat and staed clearly and loudly, It was my idea for the fishing pole and the hook. It was my idea to put the meat on the hook. It was my work that brought me this fish. It is mine!"

The three men started to argue, and it wasn't long before they came to blows. This fish, taking advantage of the situation, wriggled its way to the water and escaped. When the three men saw this they became even more angry, each blaming the other for the misfortune.They began to fight in earnest, pulling out their knives and a bloodbath ensued leaving all of them either dead or dying.

The Second Path

Ogundá was hungry and he was poor. Through the clouds of his desperation an idea suddenly appeared in his mind, "There is a lagoon nearby. If I make a fishing pole and a hook I will be able to catch a fish and my troubles will be over!"

As before he went to the lagoon, where he encountered the man with the meat, and soon had a bit of it on his hook which he cast into the lagoon, soon bringing in a fine example of a fish. Once again the owner of the lagoon appeared and a fight broke out over the true ownership of the fish. Each of the three men became enraged and soon they were facing each other warily, knives in hand. The owner of the lagoon was the first to speak, "This man here," he said, nodding his head towards Ogundá, "had the audacity to catch fish from my lagoon without permission, so I demand it as my own!"

The man with the bait soon chimed in. "It was my bait that lured in the fish. Without my bait there would be no fish, therefore the fish is rightfully mine", he growled.

Ogundá soon followed. "The fishing pole was my idea. The hook was my idea. I did the work. The fish is mine!"

Soon they were back to bickering angrily, even to the point of ignoring the presence of Olofi. Suddenly there was a roar like the thunder itself. "Atoto! Silence, now!"

They all ceased fighting and became silent. Olofi's voice became softer as he called for the fish to be brought to him. They knew Olofi had the right to claim the fish because Olofi was the true owner of the fish, the lagoon and even the three men themselves. They handed him the fish without comment.

"So that this business does not end in argument and tragedy, I will now divide the fish evenly so that each may have their own piece. To Iban Eshu!" and with that Olofi divided the fish evenly into three parts. And as each piece was more than enough for a meal, each went happily on their way to a sumptious fish dinner.

When this letter comes for someone when they are being seen with Ifá or Eleggua's shells , they are told they should avoid arguments at all costs, no matter how much in they feel they are in the right. They should either seek an equitable solution through diplomacy and sharing or they should walk away. Otherwise there could be a great fight, even bloodshed and death, especially if three people are involved. This person should never get caught in the middle of things where their presence will bring the number to three.

Maferefún Olofi.

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