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Who is Obafemi?

Who is Obafemi

The Life and Telling’s of the Chief Olowo Obafemi Ifayemi Epega

Born Stephen Mackey December 30, 1957 in Houston, Texas in the infamous 3rd Ward area. The fifth of Vivian Mackey’s six children, he has three older sisters, one older and younger brother. Stephen spent the first 12 years of his life in this area that has been looked upon as the conscience feet of Houston. His most notable experience during this period was school integration. This part of his childhood wasn’t different than anyone else’s except for his experience during the second grade involving school integration. His teacher (white) advised him, after raising his hands several times to answer questions that no other student seemed to be able to answer, that as long as he was black he was to never raise his hand in her class and then she spat on him. With the support and blessings from his family and ancestors, this never deterred him from asking or answering questions. In May of 1969, Stephen and his family relocated from the 3rd Ward area to another part of Houston called South Park, where he currently resides after 44 years.

Stephen’s spiritual trek began at age 16. Through his uncle, a very popular minister in the south side of Chicago, Illinois, brought him there in the summer of 1974, where he worked in a box factory from 4 am to 4 pm Monday through Friday, 4 am to noon on Saturday and church twice a day on Sunday. During that time he came to know the Bible very well. His uncle was a pretty dogmatic guy, an old school preacher, but Stephen owes him a lot. If there is anything he credits him with is he taught him what church was not. The spiritual war began when Stephen felt conflicted on what he was being taught about the right and wrong ways of Jesus as opposed to what his spirit, even at this age, was telling him what it was not. In keeping with the way that he was brought up, he allowed the conflict to become secondary and followed the teaching from the elders in his family with the confusion still being there.

After returning home from Chicago, he had a vision of a lady that come over his bed one late summer night. She was very beautiful giving off a glowing, fluorescent, white radiant light and her energy was such that she was very comforting and soothing. Although there were no words, there was communication and she comforted him letting him know that everything was going to be ok. After that encounter, he took a different turn into religion and committed himself to becoming a student of it.

By the time Stephen graduated from high school and the conclusion of his freshman year in college he had completely read the Bible from cover to cover. This is not to suggest that he had understood it in its entirety but that he read it. Simultaneously, his oldest brother had given him a copy of the Autobiography of Malcolm X. This book was somewhat of a contrast to the direction he intended to go but at the same time it played a key role in where he was going for the next 20 plus years.

Oftentimes, he would find himself wondering and staring into space. His grandmother, whom considered him her favorite, would always ask what he was thinking, doing and whether he was ok or not. She would make hints to others saying “that baby can see”. He never really knew what she meant by that statement but reflecting back he now knows that it was regarding his ability to prematurely know of things to come and/or to see the unseen. Initially, this ability manifested itself in situations such as whether his team would win or lose a basketball game, what was going on with his friends and when his girlfriends were lying to him or not.

Stephen’s career was basketball in that he played in high school, college and eventually went to Europe to play in the professional league. Leaving Europe, he returned to the US and received his Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Education, Political Science in 1981. He started work at the Grocers supply warehouse and married the mother of his three sons whom he met in his senior year in college. His three sons, Stephen Jr., Sheldon and Cory were born in 1982, 1983 and 1984. By 1989, divorced from his marriage and job, he started a new journey working for The Houston Chronicle (The Hearst Corporation). Having falling off from studying Christianity, he rekindled himself back into the church. Between 1990 and 1993 there was a great revelation in the church. He spent a lot of time there and devoted a considerable amount of time establishing his relationship within it. He was a dedicated student and subsequently given the opportunity to teach Sunday school. Stephen was a superb Sunday school teacher because he believed in studying the Bible, referenced it very well and was skillful in giving it back to the students. Every Sunday, his class was packed and students were asking questions to which they received valid answers. After much envy from other teachers and deacons he was asked to leave a church again within a two year time span. There was a bit of a milieu that occurred in exiting the church on a particular evening. During that milieu, he had a conversation with a 33rd degree Grand Master Mason, who was also a deacon. He explained to him he wasn’t allowed to teach the way he was trying to teach the students. Stephen responded that he thought he was teaching them what the Bible wanted them to know. The elder Mason politely replied with his hand on Stephen’s shoulder, “They are not here to know, they are here to believe.”

That same evening Stephen went to one of the local parks, while sitting on the bench, having his “Oprah moment”, he remembered hearing a voice saying “now you can do what I want you to do”. As he turned to his left, he only saw a squirrel and as he looked over my right shoulder he saw a blue jay. Not really knowing what was going on at the time, he only revered the moment. He would later come to know that a squirrel meant preparation and activity and a blue jay meant the proper use of power. Not knowing back then, he got the message and began his quest.

In February 1993 with listening to the video sermons of Minister Louis Farrakhan, developing ties with the Pan-African community and most notably the brothers and the ministers of Ta-seti African Historical Society, an extensional class room teachings of Dr. Yosef Ben-Jochannan. Also during this period, he met his second wife, continued to expand in many areas of African studies and most importantly he was introduced to Ifa which came at a pivotal point in his career with The Hearst Corporation. After 11 years, he was threatened with the possibility of termination. He approached the ministers of Ta-seti thinking the wisdom and teachings of Kemet and the Priest class of Amun-Ra could help him but to no avail he was told that such teaching could not help him in this situation. One of the ministers told him in order to get the type of help he was looking for he would have to back door Kemet. He asked how does he do that and he replied you must use Ifa. He asked what is Ifa and then received contact information to go see a Babalawo.

Stephen had no idea what a Babalawo was but he went to go see this person. He did a reading which was his first exposure to such a system. He confirmed that Stephen was indeed in a lot of trouble but if he did this ritual and followed his instructions to the letter that he would be ok. Stephen did the ritual as proscribed and the Babalawo then informed him that when he went to meet with the supervisor that he should not say anything, be truthful, and agree to what is said and everything would go ok. The day Stephen went to meet with his supervisor and manager concerning the incident, things became very interesting. The duo could not find any of the paperwork that he was supposed to have been written up about. They were unable to access any of the details of the incident and all of the information they needed to indict him was never found. Stephen left the meeting amazed at the power of this thing called Ifa. At that point, he asked the ministers of Ta-seti “how can I learn and do more?” So he began working with a guy in the community who he later found out was not really a Babalawo in that he was not an initiate, but simply a person who practiced Ifa.

He later sought his teacher and studied with him for close to two years. During this time, he saw and learned a lot but understood very little. One thing that left a bad taste in Stephen’s mouth was his dogmatic style and egotistical personality. Another thing he learned during that time was the one thing he does not do very well and that was church. At that point, another cycle was coming to an end to start a new beginning. He left the church, distanced himself from the Pan-African community, disappointed with his expectation of the Ta-seti Society, brief stint with Ifa was not good and on top of that his marriage ended and he had a one year old son. He was totally frustrated with the whole African conscience movement mainly because of “Negros and egos”. He had even given the thought of creating his own system, Mackeyism.

Nearly a year later, one of the ladies he met in the Babalawo’s temple told me that the author of a book we discussed The Sacred Ifa Oracle by Dr. Afolabi Epega, prominent babalawo, was in Houston. Stephen contacted another person who he believed was one of Dr. Epega’s students. The person stated this was his teacher and that he remembered him and wanted to invite him over to meet Dr. Epega. He heard him hold the phone and tell Dr. Epega “this was the guy I was telling you about”. Dr. Epega then said “tell him to come on by”.

It was a late Tuesday evening and Dr. Epega was scheduled to leave the next day. When Stephen arrived he was his last client for the day. He did a reading for him and was right on point. They ended up talking for hours and the conversations were very intimate, intense, and funny. He was this little black Buddha of some sort. What he basically told him was who he was, where he came from, where he was and where he was going. Primarily, what Stephen got out of it was that Dr. Epega came from a generational lineage of high priest in Ifa. All of the questions he asked, he answered. He kept inviting him to end the conversation, go get some rest because he knew it was late. Dr. Epega delightfully refused and insisted that they needed to continue talk. At the close of their session, he informed Stephen that they would talk more, get to know each other better and requested he stay in touch. He anticipated returning to Houston in the fall of 2003. When he came back into town, Stephen probably spent every day with him, not even being an initiate. What they did talk a lot about was being initiated and that experience happened for him along with two good friends of his, Baba Sangodare (Christopher Brown) and Baba Sangokayode (Anthony Todd Jackson). He (they) was initiated in January of 2004 as a priest of Obatala. His was given the name Obafemi meaning Obatala is the king that loves you. His odu came down as Ejiogbe. Baba Epega told me that he would need to receive Tefa (Awo/Babalawo) in at least one year. During his initiation, he was told he would be fired from his job. In the fall of 2004, Obafemi accepted a company buy out and on October 15, 2004, he left the working would as he knew it. Although it was a buyout, the paper work stated terminated. Ase, Ifa.

Almost one year to the date, February 2005, his first of many trips to Nigeria began. Obafemi arrived at the Epega compound in Akure, Ondo Nigeria, Africa and he was initiated as an Awo. During my initiation he had a very memorable moment in which the woman he believe visited him in the summer of 1971 at 16 years old appeared to him again. She stayed with him during that time and continues to do so til this day. If he is on the mat doing divination or any situation he may be in she has a tendency to show up. Years later, Obafemi met a psychic who told me there was a lady who wears an Egyptian African headdress with beautiful colors that follow me. He has now come to believe this lady is his spiritual mother, Osun.

Baba Epega’s approach to Ifa was rooted in his philosophy of bridging the gap between science and religion. He emphasized Ifa was really not as much a religion as it is a sacred science of the Yoruba people, but for lack of reference it was considered a religion. So, from the spirit of nature; the universal truth that we know as Ifa has become his way of teaching and his way of life that he brings to other people. Baba Epega transitioned in the summer of 2006 and for the little over two years that he spent with him were a monumental part of his life. Whatever Obafemi was supposed to get from him, he got. Most importantly, whenever he is at the crossroads he thinks about Dr. Epega’s words. He said “you have a great gift and a great tool which is your opele, along with your ability to divine which will give you the strength to make a choice.” From there Obafemi began to do work and provide readings to others. Baba Epega was around long enough for him to initiate his first godchild in 2006.

Soon after, he got to a point where he had 50 godchildren in a period of three years. Shortly thereafter, he asked the elders of Africa, after Baba’s transition, if this was enough and whether he could stop so he could focus on other parts of his journey in life. They replied that Ifa said it would have none of that and that he was to keep going. At the time of this writing, he currently has well over 250 men, women and children and still growing. He is humble as well blessed to be around some highly intelligent and wise brothers and sisters who are helping him to build an organization that will bring a constitution of healing to African American people through Ifa. Babafemi often comments that he would not change anything in his life. He says in this moment he is the summation of all his choices and experiences, whether it is judged by others as bad or good. He is proud to be an African American, a descendant of a slave, Priest of Ifa, teacher, author, mentor, son and most importantly a father and a friend to many. All of this allowing his life to display what his heart has chosen. Ase.