Alailojuti! When Maami described a person in this term, it was never pejorative in her usage, it was always intended as a description of the person, and it was not a word she used lightly. Shamelessness in her world, was the highest of vices, and not a vice she could ever pardon or rationalize. An abominable character flaw that may never be discounted in evaluating the value of a man, and his word: the sum of his personal integrity.
At the foundation of the Yoruba worldview and sense of the self, and evaluation of the value that a man has for himself, is to be found the amount of respect that he is deemed to have for his own self. Respect in the Yoruba culture, originates from the self, and it is the overflow of the respect for the self, that might flow to any other person. To the Yoruba, the quantum of respect a man has for himself, might be deducible from the amount of respect that he shows to others.
When a man carries himself with self respect, he offers nobody the opportunity to disrespect his person. Respect begets respect. The Yoruba culture, views the world through these prisms, and the reciprocity of respect, is widely valued. The elderly would have had a lifetime of learning, that whilst he might take the reverence and respect of the youth as a given, he is equally obliged to show due respect to the young. The father might issues instructions to his children, but he is careful about ordering the grownups around.
The Yoruba culture demands mutualities in measuring respect in all relationships. The husband respects the respectful wife, and the children respects the father, who in turn respects the children, in an overflow of the respect with which he is expected to imbue himself. Children learns values from their parents, and the Yoruba culture demands that older persons, who are generally deemed to be in loco parentis, undergird their interactions with the young, with the respect that they expect in return. Respect for the self, and for everyone else, regardless of age, and or status, is deemed evidence of good breeding, in Yoruba culture.
The highest marker of a man’s quantum of self respect amongst the Yoruba, is the amount of respect that he has for his own freely given words. If the man occupies a position of trust in the community, the value of his word becomes exponentially more valuable, and he must never be found dishonoring his own words, or doing anything, that would derogate from the honor and integrity of his office. A warrior had the duty to die on the battlefield, and he must never be seen fleeing the battle arena. A sworn duty is sacred, and so is a man’s word his bound. Death before dishonor was an integral part of Yoruba culture.
To be found doing something, anything, that is inconsistent with the expectations of the society, or those raised by the person: be that a breach of a duty, a moral infraction, some lie that has caused another person to alter their own positions, was to be avoided at all cost, for to be caught up in a shameful deed or misdeed, was sufficient to ostracize the man considered shameless, by the society. Ailojuti, olori arun: the absence of shame, is the foundation of all vices. When the shamed is a man of considerable power, he is expected to take his own life.
The rulers of Nigeria are shameless. Their genetic makeup is somehow shorn of the tiniest smidgeon of self respect. They have no respect for themselves, and are therefore incapable of having any for the people that they purport to rule. That the entire ruling class is peopled by moral degenerates, common crooks, myopic thieves, liars, base men, is beyond argument. That the state of the country should make all the persons that have ruled the Nigerian state ashamed, would be stating the obvious, but the one thing that has become a scarce commodity in the Nigerian state, is a sense of shame.
Our rulers are unambitious. They have huge appetites for consumption to be sure, but they are untouched by the capacity to envision the future of Nigeria. When they look at the country they have been blessed to rule, their only preoccupation is how to loot enough from the people, to go and buy their homes in any other country in the world. They started with our colonial masters, and the difficulty would be to find a single one of our rulers, without a home or palace in the UK. Then America came into the picture, and now it’s Dubai and the gulf states. They have now colonized part of Accra Ghana.
When they pretended to build what they had seen on their peregrinations, it is always as a calculated effort to loot. Sorry, acquire assets. Ala Mallami. Rocha’s statues comes to mind, and the presidential bus terminals of Lagos are available to the curious. The Nigerian state is a major crime scene.
The Nigerian state made a shameless pronouncement yesterday, and that is what has drawn me into this morning’s vituperative lamentations: a supplementary budget is to be funded by the donations made by the different persons and organizations to the Covid appeals. Eni to ba lo’ju, ni oju n’ti. You must be possessed of integrity to understand what it means to be ashamed. The Nigerian state is particularly shameless, and for the government of Buhari that has proven itself to be completely bereft of either shame, or integrity, this is a new low.
The lockdown failed mostly because the people were too poor to stay indoors. The hordes of unemployed and criminalized youth, forced people into the streets as vigilantes, and the cluelessness of the rulers made the reopening inevitable. To then turn around to treat donations meant for the poor as another loot to be turned into assets, takes the cake. Our rulers have no respect for themselves, and no sense of integrity or shame.
Bi enia o ba ti lo’juti, ko si ohun ti ko le se: a man devoid of shame is capable of doing anything. These were Maami’s words, and our rulers are the very definition of Alailojutis. Nothing is beneath them: and they are beneath contempt. Infra dig.