A would be governor of the state is distinguished solely by his dancing skills… The incumbent governor goes around showing a toothy smile, even as the people groan in pain, and sophisticated morons argue about the difference between six, and half a dozen…
I am a Yoruba man. Born in Ijebu-Ode, to an Ijesha man, a scion of Imesi-Ile. My mother is of Oyo stock, from the town of Fiditi. My parents were born in Ibadan, and grew up there. I am a Yoruba man.
This piece is designed to provoke. Let us get that out of the way once and for all. I would have achieved my primary goal, if I somehow manage to provoke you. I seek to force introspection. “Yoruba Ronu”
“Bi n’ti e ka’we, mo ka ogbon inu mi”. Handicapped as I might be, for want of literacy, I am educated”. This was Maami’s constant refrain for anyone silly enough to presume that her lack of literacy, somehow equaled idiocy, and or stupidity. She ran a business selling Elubo, the traditional yam flour, and she kept very precise records of her stock with the dealers at Opo-Yeosa, Idikan, and Ita-Merin. I recall her attending Adult Literacy classes at the church. She was nobody’s fool.
Tomorrow, the 22nd of September, the people of Osun State, will go to the poll. The people will be presented with choosing between six, and half a dozen. There are almost a hundred political parties, but in a system that has assured a democracy without choice, the people are forced into merely deciding, how much they can get for their vote, or into the sort of apathy evolved from knowing that the vote counts for nothing.
We watched the Ekiti election and the massive, brazen, shameless, monetization of the electoral process. The elections that have subsequently been held in Kogi, Bauchi, and Katsina states, have been just as mercantile as the Ekiti one, and it is safe to expect that a people that have been rendered impecunious by the disastrous reign of Aregbesola, are looking forward to being bought tomorrow.
When Mazi Nnana, the Vanguard man, called the Yorubas, “sophisticated morons” otherwise sedate men and women of Yoruba stock, Voltrons born of other ethnic nationalities, clamorously called for his head. I laughed at the time. It was my conclusion that Nnana’s real offense was his having spoken the truth impoliticly.
An African-American might call another a “Nigga” but the same word is deemed a racial slur, when appropriated and used by a white American. The real meaning of the word is rendered transient and context becomes very important in decoding the meaning of the word.
The Yorubas, once the political conscience of the Nigerian state, have become a major part of the ongoing asphyxiation of the Nigerian experiment. With the enthronement of the current tendency in Yorubaland, poverty and ignorance have become veritable tools for the maintenance of hegemonic power.
Grinding poverty, the sort of which was alien to the Yoruba people, have become commonplace in our land. The infliction of systemic poverty, coincided with the abandonment of governmental responsibilities, and the consequential collapse of the health, education, and road infrastructure. To drive through Yorubaland, outside Lagos, even to nearby towns, would be harrowing for anyone still capable of introspection.
Vast populations of young able bodied men, and women, who have not managed to escape to Lagos, are either riding Okadas, engaged in subsistence farming, spaced out on weed, or something else. But most are either unemployed, underemployed, or even worse, unemployable. The trade apprenticeship system is all but dead, and despair reigns supreme in the land.
When I was growing up, beggarliness was alien to the Yoruba culture. I can say without any iota of doubt, that save the occasional blind person you might hear begging alms plaintively in Yoruba, the Yoruba beggar was a rarity in Ibadan. No matter how poor a family was, they also took exceptional care of the elderly, and infirm. The culture ensured that the weak and impecunious, were provided for.
Today, when you travel to Yoruba towns and cities, there are armies of beggars in attendance at the function you have been invited to, and they come in different guises. You have the ones dressed and ready to entertain. You will see different interpretations of the Baba Sala, Baba Suwe, and other comical interpretations of the traveling theatre, you will find the street artists, varying levels of artistic skills would be displayed in a bid to get you to part with something, and most painful of all, old women, in their dotage, bent with age, are led round to beg for alms, at the fringes of the gathering. Leftovers are scavenged without any pretense of self respect and or dignity.
Yoruba political discourse have become extremely existential in content, and a once sophisticated people, have become exasperatingly moronic in the way that they have engaged with the political system, and the political leadership. The political leadership of the Yorubas used to be anchored on personal discipline, and temperance, the people’s welfare anchored leadership exertions, and leaders were accountable to the people. Yoruba leaders were never sybaritic in outlook, and to flaunt wealth was a taboo for those in leadership positions.
Alufa n’san ‘ra, omo ijo n’ru. The leaders grow fat, even as the followers are kwashiorkorized. Leaders boast of being wealthier than the state, in proof of their incorruptibility, but cannot point at anything beyond rhetorics, in proof of their stewardship of the commonwealth. A would be governor of the state is distinguished solely by his dancing skills, and the controversies surrounding his educational history. The incumbent governor goes around showing a toothy smile, even as the people groan in pain, and sophisticated morons argue about the difference between six, and half a dozen. Iru ki’ru, obe iwo! Birds of the same feather.
There is an obvious correlation between the fabled wealth of today’s leaders, and the grinding poverty of the people, and the hollow protestations of progressivism by the reigning hegemony, does not jell with the objective realities on the ground. When the market opens tomorrow morning, the highest bidder will win.
First published 21 September, 2018.