You mistake THE Yoruba for a weak race at your risk because they present themselves as a very smart and educated people. As a Yoruba, I am a useful tool in the deeper investigation of the Yoruba corporate personality and worldview, as is the Secretary General of the Afenifere.
The love of freedom that every Yoruba person, numbering millions worldwide, fervently desires for themselves and, at tremendous personal cost, also battles for others both individually and collectively.
My fondness for road trips has obviously diminished recently, but I was compelled this past weekend to attend the funeral of Chief Olatubosun Adenipekun Omole, the Asiwaju of Ipetu-Ile, who was the elder brother and mentor of Dr. Wale Omole and whose wife and I were childhood friends.
We traveled via Boripe Local Government on our way from Akure to Osogbo, passing past the Ikirun seat of Ifelodun Local Government, which due to its proximity to Osogbo may soon become a part of that city's territory. I took particular interest in the organization's headquarters, the old village of Iragbiji, which was significant in Yoruba history and its wars and was made perpetually relevant by the allegation that it was the birthplace and cradle of a colorful Nigerian politician.
Ipetu-Ile, our objective, is under the Obokun Local Government, which in all respects depicted entry into Ijesa country from that axis. There were more people outside the auditorium of the big Methodist Church, where the burial service was place, than could fit inside. My interests ranged widely, covering politics, the military, culture, and history.
The venue's crowd of ladies serving as expert female headgear (gele) makers who generated large profits was the teaser. My delay was made worthwhile by the cultural splendor that featured little theater groups with no more than six members each performing for paying customers while my wife was receiving care.
The preacher and officiating priest inside the church kept things alive and intriguing by making subtle political jokes and digs that only those in the know would get. Several times, when they felt that the Amen response to their prayers was insufficient, they would simply add, "And may we all be spared kidnapping on the way home," to which the thunderous Amen! response would almost tear the Church roof apart.
The preacher questioned the congregation: "Tani o kan?" at the end of his sermon (whose turn). When I noticed that most people were silent and a few shrewd individuals responded, "Emi ko lo kan," I almost responded, "Emi lo kan" (it is my turn) (it is not my turn).
The tension was only relieved when he signaled the funeral directors to prepare for the recession of the deceased's remains. He then asked humorously, "Who knows whose turn it is to also answer the call of the creator to the other side of existence?" to which the Church responded, "Emi kó lo kàn," as if they had practiced it beforehand (it is not my turn).
The celebration was a clear example of the Yoruba people's beautiful interreligious cooperation. The Omole family, a pillar of the Methodist Church, whose deceased patriarch was in fact the Baba Ijo, was revealed to be initially Muslim by my brother and Thanksgiving host Dr. Wale Omole. The town's elementary school was established by the Methodist Church in 1933 and is open to all followers of traditional religions, including Christians and Muslims.
We traveled through Yorubaland, where buildings of both Christianity and Islam coexisted together. Even amongst couples and their adult children, religion is absolutely a personal concern. Only God, as we say in Yorubaland, can identify His sincere worshipper.
The reception in the Community Grammar School sports center served as yet another stage for a show of politics, business, security, and top-notch music by Yinka Ayefele. I talked with some other guests first about the historical connections between Ipetu-Ile, Ipetu Ijesha, and Ipetumodu while my wife, Mrs. Omole, and her siblings, Dupe and Jide, were interested in the Ayefele jives.
I know for a fact that in my region of Yorubaland, on the eastern and southern axes, the word "Ode" is used as a prefix to show the source or head-town of the tribe while "Ile" serves the same purpose for the central and northern axes, despite the fact that my research is still ongoing on the response provided to me by my interlocutors who understandably would play up their town.
Instead of revealing their choice in political party or personality, the people were simply remained interested in political analyses. They engaged in frank discussion of the major issues and presidential contenders while remaining impartial.
Their first priority is security, which they believe should be taken for granted by all citizens. They would make their decision without taking religion into account because they cannot compromise on their children's education.
I was enjoying my private conversations when, as a consequence of Mrs. Omole and my wife's owambe antics in front of the talented musician, my name was suddenly announced over Ayefele's enormous loudspeakers. Some of my pals, politicians and allies at Great Ife, must have known I was in the arena after hearing about Ilaje because they came under Wale's awning to get me.
I could not help but admire Jeremiah Obafemi Awolowo and his colleagues' ingenuity as we left Ipetu-Ile and traveled through Ijebu-Jesa before bursting out at Iloko-Jesa on our way to Akure. These men acknowledged the Yoruba people's unusual love for freedom, which led them to wage wars even among themselves, especially between 1789 and 1880. The old mud residences architecture that still dot the terrain of all
They granted the Yoruba free education because Awolowo and his associates believed that education was the only way to harness and express this spirit of freedom.
The Afenifere Anthem, which I sang during our return trip, perfectly expressed the feelings of these modern Yoruba architects. Indeed, Africa's guiding light is our destiny.
We have a duty to do this.
To the Great Motherland, our dear
To improve her
And to encourage her
In the eyes of everyone on earth
Egalitarianism It is our country's watchword.
Equal opportunity for success
Each certain award must be to.
Brotherhood and freedom
Are the objectives that we shall work toward?
In addition, add policy
and other positive aspects of life
Oodua, up, up
And take your proper position.
You were born with it.
And the outcome
Africa's brightest star.
Nigeria! We salute you.
Afenifere's Secretary General is Ebiseni.
© SOLA EBISENI