Some Nigerian pastors have expressed conflicting feelings over the use of ‘Aboru Aboye’ in Tope Alabi’s viral song.
While some pastors we spoke with saw nothing wrong with Alabi’s choice of words in the viral song, others disagreed, claiming that the musician should not combine traditional terms into gospel music.
Alabi made headlines when netizens heard her new song containing a lyric that had the ‘Aboru Aboye,’ a terminology usually used by Ifa believers while meeting initiates, commonly referred to as ‘Babalawo’.
‘Emi ni aboru, aboye… abiye ni mi, Oruko mi ni yen,’ Alabi could be heard singing in the popular video. “Mo de bo, mo ru, mo ye” (My name is a sacrifice). That is the name of a sacrifice accepted by God.
Her poetic selections have sparked debate both on and off social media.
Reacting to the viral video, Pastor Lanre Kayode, Senior Pastor of the Christ Apostolic Church, Shibiri branch, Lagos, stated that the controversy surrounding the video might be attributed to some of her detractors’ lack of comprehension of the Yoruba language.
“It’s a language thing. I see nothing wrong with what she said. She was simply praising God” he added.
He argued that another gospel act, Dunsin Oyekan, has a song where he used similar words only sung in the English Language and no one raised an eyebrow.
Oyekan, in the song titled ‘More than a Song, sang the words: ”I am more than a song today, I am a sacrifice…” similar words to Alabi’s but conveyed in a different language.
”Why are people not complaining about that? Is it because he sang in English? Why do people not have issues with this? Is it because Tope sang in Yoruba?” Pastor Kayode asked.
He stressed that there is nothing wrong with Tope Alabi’s choice of words. “It’s simply a language thing. Not many people understand Yoruba that well and that’s why they are criticising the song,” he said.
Also speaking, Pastor Tunde Afolabi of the Christ Redemption Church, Ogba, Lagos, kicked against the criticism of Tope Alabi over the Aboru Aboye song saying people probably misinterpreted Alabi’s stance on the use of the ‘Aboru Aboye’ and believed it is and can only be used by traditionists.
He said, ”People believe she is referring to Ifa but I feel she is worshipping her God the best way she knows how. We all have the best ways to worship God.”
Prophet Akinyele Timothy of Celestial Church Of Christ, El morijah Olubukun parish, Ikorodu, also backed Alabi’s use of ‘Aboru Aboye’ words in the viral video.
“Tope Alabi was simply praising God. Even the Muslims say ‘Oba Ajoke aye, Asake Orun’. They are also simply praising God. Tope was simply acknowledging God’s might, she was not in any way affirming that she is an Ifa worshipper. I do not see anything wrong in the phrases she used.”
However, Pastor (Mrs.) P.S. Otitolaiye of the Mount of Fire Ministries, Ijanikin, was against Alabi’s use of ‘Aboru Aboye’ in a gospel song.
She said Alabi should have refrained from using traditional phrases in her songs, noting that there is no relationship between light and darkness.
In her words, ”Tope Alabi should endeavour not to bring in any traditional phrase into her song because there is no relationship between light and darkness.”
Pastor Otitolaiye, however, added that “the conversation about the intersection of religion and culture in Nigeria is far from over.”
Speaking in the same vein, Pastor Ifeoluwa Fatoki of Divine Grace Baptist Church Ogbomosho, a graduate of African Traditional Religion and World Religion from the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary Ogbomoso, argued against the use of ‘Aboru Aboye’.
He said, ”I do not think those words are appropriate in the worship of God because they are not original to Christianity and they already have roots in the worship of Ifa.
”I think there are better words that can be used. To refer to the believer as a sacrifice is okay. But those three words have different connotations. It’s like saying, Eriwo ya… No matter how we paint it, it is not acceptable.
”More so, hallelujah, which is the Jewish word for ‘praise Yahweh’ as a word is known in Christianity. It’s like saying, Ifa worshippers now also say hallelujah in their worship.”
General Superintendent, Apostle Adeboye Ajakaiye (JP) of Ile Adura Mose Orimolade Tunolase Cherubim and Seraphim Church, Festac Town, said Tope Alabi was only performing to please her fans as a singer.
Apostle Ajakaiye said, ”Romans 12:2 shows that we live out God’s will when we change our thoughts to God’s thoughts, rather than living as the world dictates. The world will always pressure us to live sinfully and selfishly, but to live the good life God wants from us requires changing how we behave—by changing our thoughts.
”Tope Alabi is an entertainer. From my observations over the years, her performances have always been to please her audience, whether intentionally or not I can’t say. She’s also human that can also make mistakes. From the video that I watched, she was trying to use the word, ‘Aboru, Aboye, Abiye’ positively in her way.
”I know the devil twists the things of God for his own use, but should or can we as children of God, in the light of Romans 12:2 do the same? I think you know the answer. Such thinking has made the Church conform to the world. These days, you can’t distinguish a Christian from the world in all ways, from dressing, talking, use of worldly vibes in Christian songs, dancing, etc. I remember in times past, a word of commitment from a Christian was seen as a bond; now, when you call yourself a Pastor, that’s when people become extra careful in dealing with you.
”Why? It is because we have refused to conform to the instructions of the Lord by allowing such little compromises in the body of Christ. It’s sad, but it’s the current reality. The Church needs to wake up. Luke 18:8 says, however, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth? The choice is yours.”