Beauties of our heritage


On the authority of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), Chapter IV, Section 38, this opinion piece is anchored. In it, fundamental rights to freedom of thoughts, conscience and religion are spelt out. This is my motivation. Similarly, Section 10¸which prohibits state religion, serves as an adjunct. In the country, there are three main religious faiths.

For the traditionalist, August 20, every year, is set aside for celebrations. The adherents of other faiths have long-established periods for their festivities. This year, 2018, it appears that the scale has dropped from the eyes of the indigenous faithful, to fix a definite date for theirs. In regard to Nigerian cultural heritage, people are gradually losing bearings; in particular, the Yoruba and the Edo of the South-West. In line with a columnist in the Sunday Times, Pa J.V. Clintou, I do not believe in English pluralisation of Indigenous words. Therefore, Yoruba is Yoruba, but not ‘‘Yorubas, Igbos, Hausas or Fulanis.” Recently, a national daily on August 24, 2018, published a news story: “African culture, not subservient to Europeans. ” Truly , it is not subservient.

In the publication, the Olu of Ibogun- Balogun, in the Ifo Local Council of Ogun State and the promoter of Ifa Olokun Foundation, Oba (Dr.) Ifakayode Adesina Faluade, described the richness of African culture and tradition as second to none. At the 2018 edition of the Isese festival, he spoke that African customs, culture and tradition must be uplifted, but untrammelled. For several decades, our heritage is disdained, whilst foreign-sourced ones are glorified. Culture is diverse, including songs, languages, names, mode of dresses, religious faiths, et catera. In this opinion piece, religious faiths are the loci. Because of colonisation, Nigerians embrace Christianity from the western world. In regard to Islam, long time co-existence of the races hugely assist, aided by trans-Saharan travels to Mecca and Medina, in streamlining the faiths in the South. This is by population movement, due to trades. I am convinced that Islam came into the country, before the advent of Christianity. This is not to argue that Islam became world faith before Christianity.

The founder of Christianity, “Yeshua” or “Jeshua” was born in 4 B.C, whilst the originator of Islam was born in 570 A.D. In a Jumat sermon, one Friday, an Imam confirmed this as I listened.

In essence, ‘imported’ faiths have dazzled our people so much that the indigenous “Isese” is discountenanced. Both faiths give scope for their adherents to enjoy the revelry of singing and dancing. They are dazzling to the eyes and minds, with their faithful bearing foreign names-European and Arabic – at the expense of our native names which are meaningful. The reading public must understand that our traditional faiths have their forms of music and dancing as well. But these are considered to be crude, meaningless and barbaric. This phobia for our culture smacks of ignorance.

Rather than answer to native names, these hypocrites and ignoramuses are deceiving themselves. Ignorance is bliss. These foreign names are meaningless, unlike African ones; what are the meanings of Edward, Ignatius, Florence or Theophilus, compared with Chukwuma, Ope-Oluwea, Afolasade or Chinyere? Our heritage has immeasurable beauties. Mention these to the ignoramuses, the names shall be greeted with derisive guffaw. Where ignorance is bliss, its folly to be wise. High-sounding and jaw-breaking foreign names get approval from Nigerians. These names are given to us, because the Whites cannot pronounce our native names. After the civil war of 1967 to 1970, Sir Francis Akanu Ibiam, the governor of Eastern Region was immensely incensed and disturbed by Ndigbo’s passionate philia for English names. He dispensed with his first name, Francis, for “Akanu,” and enjoined his people to do the same. Many of the Ndigbo of that generation complied, but others declined. Today, there are many bearers of European names without undergoing Church baptisms. Essentially, our problem is that Nigerians are politically liberated without mental liberation.

Our minds need to be liberated. We do not value what we have, as Nigerians. The then British Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, turned deaf hears to the astrologers’ advice not to call for parliamentary elections. He dissolved the House, but the Prime Minister’s Labour Party lost the elections, conversely, the Americans and Europeans value their astrologers. In his two-term presidency, Ronald Reagan, had five astrologers, at his beck and call, introduced to him by his wife, Nancy Reagan. I was an avid reader of her biography. Through the astrologers, Reagan was able to smash up the Soviet Union. The particular date and time for him to travel out of the United States were specified for him, and he complied strictly to make a success of his journey. The then British Prime Minister, Baroness Margaret Thatcher was visibly rejoicing in her 10, Downing Street office on the success of President Reagan.

Before his transition, the then Ooni of Ile-Ife, the Olubuse II, Oba Sijuwade, visited Brazil at the height of severe drought and caused rain to fall. He was accompanied by a cohort of rain makers from Ile-Ife shortly thereafter the rituals, there was a deluge of rains for the first time after a long period – African science and in display, foreigners appreciate our African heritage that is disdained. Just recently, our Brazilian brothers added colour to Songo festival in Oyo, Oyo State. The Alafin of Oyo, Oba Olayiwola Adeyemi said: ‘‘In June, 1999, when I visited the US, the drummers who entertained us at the airports were all Americans. I looked at them and shook my head in sympathy for our people back home.’’

To the glad tidings, there is no end. Our oracles or small gods have their values. Besides that they are far-seeing to prophesy future good and bad occurrences, they are wiser and more humane than mortals. I cannot be ashamed or bashful to say these. I had occasions to interview a female oracle. I asked: Why is it that you oracles do not help solve our problems in this country? It (she) replied: Ohun ti a fi Elemoso so, ni o nso, meaning, A worthy watchman keeps within the limit of his duty-post, and not over-step it. You mortals do not consult us for help. Why should we oracles help you in your problem?. On another occasion another oracle said: You mortals deprive fellow mortals of sources of livelihood.
Oshisada, veteran journalist, wrote from Ikorodu Lagos.

But we oracles provide fellow oracles with foods and drinks, meaning, You people sack or dismiss yourselves from work. But oracles never do that. To a question, another oracle replied: I am a woman. Do not say, ‘sir’ to me.

It was an eerie experience. One wonderful quality of these small gods is that they are more loyal to the Almighty God than we mortals who claim to be His adherents and followers. For example, perplexed by a problem, an oracle would take permission from its (his) priest: Excuse me. I am coming, meaning that it’s to consult the Supreme Being for a solution to the knotty problem. This may sound to be incredible. But these oracles are creatures of the Almighty to whom they pay homage. This is what mortals fail to decipher – small gods consulting the Great Almighty. The former Archdeacon of St Paul’s (Anglican) church, Breadfruit, Lagos, Dr. J. O. Lucas, studied comparative religions Christianity, Islam and indigenous faiths – for his thesis. He was an exemplar. Recently, the Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode thanked the Ayongburin of Ikorodu, Oba Kabiru Shotunmibi for exterminating Bado menace at Ikorodu. Fulani herdsmen and Boko Haram can equally be confronted by traditionalists if approached.

Therefore, on the strength of these narratives, my submission is that motals are much brain-washed with the doctrines of “imported faiths” to discountenance our heritage. Most people suffer one calamity or the other through excessive indoctrination; marriages and businesses have collapsed. It is often argued that traditionalists are counterfeits. My contention is that there are also phony pastors and imams. There is the need to look inward for progress. The Chinese, Japanese, Indians and Koreans are what they are to today, because of their pride in their heritage.

From the foregoing, the promoters of Ifa Olokun Foundation are enjoined to fish out the black sheep in their midsts to instill confidence among the people. Indeed, there are beauties in our heritage.
Oshisada, veteran journalist, wrote from Ikorodu Lagos.
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