Can you give a definitive answer to the question ‘What is the difference between Ogboni and Reformed Ogboni Fraternity?’ Have you even heard of Ogboni or the Reformed Ogboni Fraternity? If you are confused about the meanings behind these terms, or what makes them different, then allow us to help you out. We will try to explore this topic to the best of our abilities and answer the question at hand.
What is Ogboni?
Let’s kick this off with Ogboni. It is often considered to be a secret society or even a cult, which emerged among the Yoruba people a long time ago. As it has always been a secret organisation. it is still unclear when exactly it was founded, but the earliest mentions date back to 1884. Ogboni performed judicial, political and religious functions.
In their early days, they served as a link between the ancestors and the living; they worshipped the goddess Earth. Ogboni also used to be the highest court in Yorubaland. When they were most powerful, they had the ability to control the king and ‘remove’ him if necessary.
When it comes to their different rituals, membership or structure of the organisation, most scientists are stumped. Ogboni lodge has always been shrouded in secrecy, and those who gave up its secrets often paid with their lives. Therefore, there is not much known about it.
We do know, however, that both men and women were allowed to become members, but they could not tell anyone of their affiliation with Ogboni. It is also important to note that even though women were permitted to become members, the highest positions were occupied by older men.
Even though Ogboni have existed for ages, with their peak of power being in the pre-colonial era, they are still relevant today. Now that we have figured this one out (as much as we could, given the circumstances), let’s move on to the slightly newer organisation.
What is Reformed Ogboni Fraternity?
Reformed Ogboni Fraternity, often referred to as ROF, can be considered an offspring of Ogboni. According to ROF’s Facebook page, it was founded in 1914, even though some sources claim it was 1918. Unlike their namesake, ROF do not consider themselves a secret or religious organisation, but they claim to be religious in character. They also are not affiliated to any political parties.
The main objective of ROF is to create a network, which could promote its supporters economically and politically and support them in public functions. ROF also aims to uphold the law (both of the country and of God), promote chastity, charity and benevolence, and to provide help to people in distress regardless of their membership status, among other things.
Both men and women can become members of ROF, as long as they love and revere God, abide the law and are honest. Men have to be at least 21 years of age, while women have to be at least 40, unless their husband is a member; then the age limit drops to 30. If a woman is married, she needs a permission from her husband to become a member.
If you want to learn more about membership criteria, as well as ROF’s objectives and aims, click here. That said, let’s get to the comparison.
How are they different?
READ ALSO: Cult groups in Nigeria and their colours
Now, when it comes to the differences between the Ogboni Society and the Reformed Ogboni Fraternity in Nigeria, things get complicated due to the secretiveness of the older of the two.
The most obvious difference between the two societies is the fact that the former was (and probably still is) a secret society, a cult, if you will, while the latter is nothing of the sort. ROF do not consider themselves to be a secret society, on the contrary, they seem to be quite transparent in most regards.
However, as the Ogboni is very secretive, it is hard to compare it to ROF, as so little is known about it. From what we have been able to find, members of Ogboni could not dare to tell anyone about their membership, especially back in the day. It is said that those who have slipped up could expect a terrible death by poisoning.
On the other hand, members of ROF are free to disclose their membership as they please; nobody is going to punish them about it. It is also interesting to note that children of ROF members do not automatically become members, whereas with Ogboni, if the child knew of their parent’s affiliation with the society, they often had no other choice but to become members as well.
As for everything else, it seems like the Reformed Ogboni Fraternity took a big portion of their ideas and principles (as well as the name) from the original Ogboni and made them their own.
Both groups are still active and relevant to this day, but, judging from the news, the younger organisation gets more coverage than its predecessor, even though it does not seem to have quite the same influence as the Ogboni once had. Both organisations interest people with their promises of success, power and financial rewards, even though neither of them outright state that.
Taking into account all that we have said, it seems like the main differences between Ogboni and ROF are the age of the groups, their openness to the public and their relevance/position in the present day. We hope this might have helped you to figure out which one is which.
READ ALSO: Major types of religion in Nigeria