Discover a soulful film that goes where no other has gone before. Introducing Across the King’s River: the first insider documentary of the sacred ethnomedical traditions of Yoruba and Senegalese healers.

aboutAnd it all begins with a powerful proverb. Across the King’s River is derived from a Yoruba proverb that I learned more than 10 years ago from my dear friend and brother, Ifasola. He’s the man in the trailer translating for Aseda, one of the 16 major Ifa diviners/healers of the Yorubas, an ethnic group of some 20 million in Southwest Nigeria.

It’s a proverb that’s often used when one is compelled to say something that’s difficult to say, or do something that’s difficult to do. It’s the idea of following through on a mission that’s potentially dangerous. The proverb states that one cannot challenge an order from a king; it implies that a king has commanded someone to swim across a river, even though odo bakun (the river is full). Yet one has no choice but to fulfill the mission even if one is swallowed by the river.

Across the King’s River hints at a more courageous and inspired way of living – the path of the disciplined but enlightened warrior fully committed to a mission, despite hardship and obstacles, until the very end. Hence, Across the King’s River is not merely a proverb – it’s high philosophy. One who truly grasps it, is not only liberated but transformed. The king, in my opinion is nothing more than a metaphor for the all-powerful soul that quietly and persistently illuminates the path to the unknown and refuses to take no for an answer.

One’s Family Quest For Healing

My father “passed over” in the spring of 2008, but his energy and leadership still guides me Across The King’s River. But I’m also extremely fortunate to have the guidance and the love of my spiritual father, Aseda, one the most knowledgeable Ifa high priests in the world who confidently predicts that I’ll follow his footsteps and become a master diviner in the future. “Ko si ani ani” (there’s no doubt), he says.

Ifa has been called the “ancient wisdom.” It’s an 8,000-year-old philosophy that germinated and flowered among the Yoruba peoples of Southwest Nigeria. Yet Ifa also encompasses spirituality, art, medicine, literature, history, ethics, dance, metaphysics, science, mathematics, divination, poetry, sacrifice and ancestor worship, hence, the proverb, “Ifa covers everything.” Dr. Maulana Karenga, best known as the founder of Kwaanza and the Nguzo Saba, describes Ifa as “an ancient legacy worthy of the most profound reflection.”

Ifa is also another name for the orisa, or divine spirit, known as Orunmila who is said to be “ibijeki Oludumare” (second in command to God) and sees past, present and future. In the trailer, we witness Aseda in early morning prayer, clapping his hands and touching his forehead gingerly to the ground in reverence to Ifa/Orunmila who is said to be “stronger than medicine” and “perfect in the house of wisdom.”

In the scene that follows, Aseda mentions my daughter, Tulani, because he’s about to inquire about her health and well being by communicating directly with Ifa through divination even though Tulani is not physically present. He whispers to the opele, the trusted divination chain that relays the esoteric messages of Ifa from heaven to earth.

At the old man’s compound, clients stream in all day to consult the oracle. Bags stuffed full of dried roots and herbs sit on a window ledge facing the dusty, pot-holed street. In one room, smoke billows into the air as an assistant stokes the flames under a charred pot of some boiling concoction. Enter the compound and you’re likely to hear someone utter “adura gba” – it means the prayer, your prayer has been answered. Outside, car horns and motorcycles transporting drivers and passengers punctuate the air at regular intervals.