Àkọsẹ̀jaiyé, which loosely translates to ‘feet in life’, also known as Ẹ̀sẹ̀tayé and Ìkọsẹ̀daiyé, is a traditional Yoruba religious ceremony done three days after the birth of the child.
This practice is a way of looking forward to the future of the child to see what their destiny would look like.
It is believed that each child was given an ‘àyànmọ́’, a purpose, and chose a path before leaving ‘Ọ̀run’, Heaven, for the earth and that the Àkọsẹ̀jaiyé had to be performed early to prevent a child from forgetting and the purpose from being lost.
The parents of the child would consult Ifá, the Yoruba god of Wisdom and knowledge, to know their expectations from the child. They are usually the only ones, apart from the Ifá priest present, as sensitive information vital to the child’s future and wellbeing would be shared during the course of the rite.
Àkọsẹ̀jaiyé cannot be done in absentia; the child itself has to be present as the feet of the child must be placed on the priest’s sacred tool known as the ọpọ́n ifá. The name of the child was sometimes revealed in the course of the Àkọsẹ̀jaiyé reading. The reading enabled the child’s parents to know how best to raise their child so as to fulfil its full potential.
The ambition of the child, as well as their future profession, was often stated during the àkọsẹ̀jaiyé, and this prevented the child from wasting time on self-discovery and going after irrelevant endeavours.
The Yorubas, who strongly believe in the act of incarnation, also used this as an opportunity to check if the baby is just one of their ancestors coming back in another form.
Àkọsẹ̀jaiyé is still being practiced in some parts of the world to date, and many are returning to this ancient practice.