The Need for Restoration
Training in Priesthood and the ancient herbals for health improvement and spiritual fulfillment will enhance community health and global learning. The Health clinic facility at this shrine will compliment health and social care services in the Ife community and the world at large. It will serve as facility for Olorisa around the world to gain more learning about ewe, Orisa and spiritual practice.
There is a great amount of benefit in holistic healings, most ancient African method of healing are holistic. Between 1998 and 1999 over three billion dollars was spent on reconstruction and restoration projects worldwide. Tragically, less than 3% of this amount was spent in Africa, in spite of the fact that 35% of ancient history originated in the African region
The Society for the Preservation of Traditional African Culture has undertaken the creation of an appeal fund to restore The Obatala Palace Shrine’s physical structure to its former grandeur. It is our further intention to establish this landmark as a point of economic development by creating a viable asset that will attract tourism. While shoring up the cultural vitality of the community, we will also establish a guest- house and a conference center to serve the needs of those who visit Ile-Ife for cultural and educational enrichment. The centre, will support efforts to increase literacy and impart basic skills that would enhance economic development.
The project's goal is to rehabilitate the Obatala Shrine. This includes landscaping and a face-lift for the building. An administrative building and residence for the Oloja and his deputy. A Community clinic and a Guest-house. Conference facilities and a library. Art/crafts workshop a gift shop and a meeting room. The guesthouse which will accommodate 25 individuals, and the conference room/library are all expected to be income yielding, making the shrine self sustaining and able to support community development programs.
Importantly, the restoration and recreation of the classical art elements for which Ile-Ife is known will be an important part of the project. As the project is developed, there will be a determination to keep the essential design of the shrine while adding design elements and facilities that reflect the original purpose of the structure and meet the approval of the Obatala priests. Among the plans discussed is the re-creation of carved pillars and relief friezes in all of the outer areas of the shrine building. The decorative sculpture would be accomplished by devotees of Yoruba religion from Brazil, Cuba, The United States, Europe, and of course, Nigeria. The work will follow the design style of ancient Ile-Ife art and would be a statement about the sacredness of humanity. The work would be accomplished under the supervision of the priests of the shrine as well as master Ife artists.
Presently the shrine building sits at the end of a barely rising path about 100 yards long that extends from the street to the shrine itself. The path is about 12 yards in width. About ten one-story houses line the path. The building which houses the shrine begins with a wide, covered porch like portico that sits above ten wide steps. The portico leads to an inner courtyard. The shrine itself is a one story rectangular building, which sits to the left as one enters the courtyard. To the right of the courtyard is a large area overrun by bush where the proposed guesthouse will be built.
On passing through the low entrance in the shrine wall one finds oneself inside another courtyard that is paved and features four long, covered porches, one on each side. This is the shrine proper. The porch to the left has an entrance on its back wall that leads to the room in which the shrine objects are kept. The tin covered roof that covers the porches are held up by eight large cone shaped mounds of clay. Everything is "painted" with a kind of whitewash made of "efun" that is sacred to Obatala. Other than the ritual whiteness, there are occasional trimmings in green. There is a kind of wing at the far-left end that is accessed by another low door. This area outside this door is used for side meetings and for cooking and eating as well as for ceremonies that should not be performed directly in front of Obatala.