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The bitter truth about the Yoruba

03 September 2013, 13:47 Onyiorah Chiduluemije Paschal

As the saying goes, an elder does not stay at home while the she-goat delivers at the teeter. But, somehow, this maxim does not seem to make sense yet for the Yoruba elders and leaders alike over wild reactions arising from Fashola’s deportation blunder.

Otherwise, one had thought that these elders and leaders would have hitherto called Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode to order, so as to stop his unbridled, unwarranted and hate diatribes against Ndigbo. But since this is not the case and it rather appears that this rabid rabble-rouser is speaking their minds and that of the vast majority of the Yoruba people, so to speak, I have no option as a bonafide and patriotic Nigerian of Igbo extraction than to keep setting the record straight as relates to the nonsense, canards, vilifications, invectives, aspersions and naked insolence directed against the Igbo nation, our personalities and collective sensibilities.

In line with this resolve, it is simple to note that Kayode’s claim that Ndigbo lacked history is one of the most nonsensical contentions in this 21ist century to come from a supposedly educated person. Indeed, it may interest us to hear him out: “…to be accommodating and generous is a mark of civilization and it comes easily to people like the Yoruba who once ruled empire.

It does not come so easily to those who never had any history at all and who never had monarch or properly organized hierarchial society that place value on tradition and culture”. While it is no longer necessary to dwell again on the fallacy of Kayode’s so-called Yoruba “mark of civilization” – having candidly addressed that in part one this of piece: The bitter truth about the Yoruba – it is axiomatic that common sense has made it clear for human beings, as opposed to animals, to know that two or more people cannot live, relate or engage in one form of interaction/event or the other without invariably creating history at the end of the day.

Therefore, one wonders whether Mr. Fani-Kayode really understands what he is saying as it concerns his assertion that Ndigbo “never had any history at all”, which in itself is tantamount to saying that Ndigbo never existed or do not exist.

Similarly, Kayode’s claim that the Yoruba had “properly organized hierarchial societies that placed value on tradition and culture” is to a large extent a mere subjective submission. To be sure, a critical look into the chequered history of traditional Yoruba societies or their leadership in the pre-colonial era would reveal how much this farcically  hierarchical system had occasioned both social and political incubi which were basically what precipitated a series of wars in Yoruba land  and the eventual collapse of the Oyo empire as well as the disintegration of the Yoruba nation; with the effect that today the Yoruba are not only scattered all over the North-Central geo-political zone (and are subjected under Emirate system in their land of sojourn), but also appear to be contending with grave identity crisis, as in the case of those in Kwara state, and the perennial case of political marginalization – as is the fate of those in Kogi state.

Yet, the Kayodes will not stop at anything in bragging about the traditional hierarchies of the Yoruba that have rather become the bane of their lives. Incidentally, at a time the world is guided by the ideals of democracy (which are basically inherent in Igbo republican system), the mentalities of the kayodes are still under a heavy spell of the obsolete concept of traditional hierarchies.

This in part accounts for why in the South-West a whole leadership of a political party, like the then Chief Awolowo’s Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) and the recently defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), would be tied around one man and be operated according to his whims and caprices. And it is most unfortunate that the Kayodes would boast about this tyrannical order that is clearly antithetical to the dynamics of this present world order.

While talking about the relationship between Ndigbo and their South-South neighbors, Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode has told us that “the people of the old Mid-West and the Eastern minorities (who make up the zone that is collectively known as the South-South today) have always viewed them (Ndigbo) with suspicion, have always feared them and have always resented them deeply”. Indeed, at the moment, nothing could be farther from the truth than this figment of Kayode’s imagination.

But assuming this submission is true, one would have expected the Yoruba “who are so dearly in love” with the people of South-South region and are neither suspected, feared nor resented by them to be giving President Goodluck Jonathan their unflinching support and cooperation in his unrelenting efforts to transform Nigeria for our collective good. But this clearly appears not to be the case.

Instead, what we are increasingly beginning to experience nowadays from Yoruba elders and leaders alike is an unnecessary denigration of the persons of the President and his wife (please note their use of shippopotamus and kindergarten tags on the duo) as well as their excessively unguarded utterances – always employing all manner of pejorative words in describing the office of the President of Federal Republic of Nigeria.

And, if one may ask, how many people from the South-South geo-political zone did insult or use such derogatory words on President Olusegun Obasanjo, and his late wife, while he was there at the villa in the manner certain Yoruba leaders and elders are now doing? Again, how many times did the Yoruba throng the streets to protest the removal of fuel subsidy during the Obasanjo’s administration, which he effected for good eight times? Why is it that the Yoruba appear very loath to reciprocate the unalloyed support and solidarity shown to President Obasasnjo by the people of the South-South region, both in his first and second term presidency?

Now, granted that the people of Niger-Delta resented or still resent Ndigbo and yet the latter are relentlessly supporting them despite all odds, why then would the Yoruba not do same to President Jonathan and his people, given Mr. Kayode’s claim of Yoruba purported ties with the people of South-South from time immemorial? Or, are the Yoruba implying that there are no more ties with them now or the need for Southern Solidarity, having taken their own turn to govern the country? Anyway only time will tell.

What is more, in his last article, Fani-Kayode has equally told us that Chief Awolowo was not a tribalist because when “he ran for the presidency his running mate was from the east and not from the north”. It is indeed funny that the Kayodes are still unable to see through Chief Awolowo’s frustration at the time which arose from his inability to get any “willing tool” as a Vice-presidential candidate from the North.

Equally related to this frustration is the fact of the profound sense of guilt that pricked his conscience at the time and which essentially prompted him to take that decision, in the hope that it would avail himself the opportunity of atoning for his sins against Ndigbo. Otherwise, come to think of it, how on earth did Awowolo’s political arithmetic convince him that a Yoruba-Igbo presidential ticket (which automatically failed to take cognizance of the feelings and sensitivities of the people of Middle-Belt and their far-Northern counterparts) would fetch him Presidential power?

As nonsensical as this political mis/calculation seemed, the Kayodes should realize that Nigerians are now wiser and as such are no longer amenable to their Yoruba puerile deceit and illogical conclusions. Meanwhile, it still beats one’s imagination how a very unpatriotic element who once described Nigeria as a mere “geographical expression” later became so desperate in hankering for the presidency of the same entity he ridiculed.

Of course, given Kayode’s pontification about “virtues and vices” as well as the issue of “cultural deficiency” as they relate to Igbo way of life, it will be pertinent to juxtapose all these with just two aspects of Yoruba idiosyncrasies. At the risk of going extreme, it is necessary to plead with anyone out there to tell the Kayodes that if the meaning of virtue within the context of the Yoruba cultural milieu entails that someone should sleep with his daughter-in law as was alleged against an ex-President of this country which was widely reported in the media, then Ndigbo would rather prefer the very opposite of this “virtue”.

In the same vein, if it is a cultural criterion in Yoruba land that before one can eminently qualify as a leader of his people, he must have been either convicted, sentenced or imprisoned, again Ndigbo would be pleased to welcome or accept such as their “cultural deficiency”. Needless to say that while the Yoruba can boast of having a number of their leaders who are ex-convicts, Ndigbo can boast of none, at least for now, and this is a telling comment on the Yoruba dysfunctional culture and perception of conventional morality.

At this juncture, I will like to tell all the “Kayodes” who have been pouring their verbal venom on me that if setting the record straight makes one as a bigot, then I will be grateful to answer that name. However, let us not forget that before you blame the hawk for its wickedness, you must first of all blame the mother hen for exposing her children to danger.
* Onyiorah Chiduluemije Paschal, a Journalist, writes from Abuja

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