Asara

Asara is traditionally known as Oduduwa’s appointed priest in Mecca who extended the worship of multiple gods to the disdain of Moslems, who were at the time, subdued. Asara’s son, Braima, who was opposed to this practise, had caused a riot that led to the great exodus of Oduduwa and his kindreds to Ile Ife. This exodus is historically taken as the beginning of the Yoruba nation.

As discussed by Samuel Johnson, one of the foremost writers on Yoruba history, Asara is most likely a Christian priest, not a Pagan. One of the reasons given is that his name shares striking semblance with the name Christians were been referred to in those days; Ansara, meaning, followers of Christ the Nazarene. The idols Asara commissioned his son, Braima to sell in the ‘mosque’, as told by Oral historians, could have been images of the saints, as Catholics may possibly do, and the mosque could have been an Egyptian church. Braima, who was the son of Asara apparently did not envisage serious reprimanding when he opposed this practise, another indication that the crisis was internal. When he quoted from the scripture against idolatry, he clearly expected the people to hear him out. The execution by burning, to which Asara’s son, Braima was condemned, another popular act of punishment by Christians of this age, was met with unanticipated resistance from previously silent sympathizers and fellow iconoclasts.

The fate of Asara is not known for certain. He might have stayed back in Upper Egypt, in solidarity with his son, who was though a gross embarrassment to him, or he might have fled with Oduduwa to Ile Ife, supporting the fierce judgement passed on his own son. The former appears more likely to be the case, as there are no indications that Oduduwa imported any religion from the East without special adaptation. Asara’s possible inconsistence and failure to follow Oduduwa to Ile Ife might have discouraged Oduduwa in his faith, thereby weakening his resolve to evangelize and consequently necessitating his acquaintance with Agbonniregun, who was the first Ifa priest.