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Yoruba elders, are you dozing or asleep?

By Prince Bayo Osiyemi

I AM a very proud Nigerian and I have been doing my bit to project the image of the nation in positive light anywhere I have the opportunity to speak out or to operate, around the continents of the world, as a citizen of this uncommonly blessed country.

But I am first and foremost a Yorubaman who believes very much in the Omoluabi philosophy. The philosophy that recognises when you know when to talk and when to maintain studied silence; the time to act like a lamb and the time to behave like a free-born.

Before the advent of the white man and their colonising antics, Yorubas knew how to resolve the most knotty of disputes, sustaining the scale of justice in fair manners that you could hardly fault the rightness of their pronouncements. You guess right if you say they were endowed with Solomonic wisdom. The Omoluabi blood is still flowing in the Yoruba veins, the only pity is that we are unwittingly permitting alien cultures to pollute, if not erode, our values.

Paralysing puzzles

Too many instruments are available to help the Yoruba  maintain unimpeachable fairness and correctness in solving seemingly paralysing puzzles. But the two most potent ones are the talking drum and proverbs. When the talking drummer counsels with his drum that “ ma se b’oti to, to ba se boti to, okiki a kan“, it is pleading for restraint in our conduct and behaviour; nothing more. Or, when Yoruba say “opa agbeleka, tehin loju“, it is another way of cautioning of dire consequences of misdemeanour on the aberrant youth or elder.

Yorubas also say “omode bu’roko, o n boju w’ehin, se o ro pe ojo kan ni iroko nwo pa enia”.

There are occasions when  elders deliberately gain unfair advantage over the younger ones; or people do deliberate wrong over others. The temptation is high to seek instant retaliation or plan revenge on a more vicious level but Yorubas are quick to advise victims to “fija f’Olorun ja, ko fi owo l’eran”.

Those who are wise enough to heed this advice always have cause to glorify God in the end but the stubborn or recalcitrant ones take a plunge to avenge a wrong done them and most times end up worst by the outcome of their brashness or impatience. In such situations, people ask: ” se enia ti o ni olufisun” or is their case that of “aja ti o sonu, ti ki gbo fere ode”.

Current happenings in our Yorubaland make me ask the poignant question where are the Yoruba elders in trying times like this. Some may say, it’s a mere storm in a tea cup or a little irritation that will shortly pass, but my not-too-little understanding of life and its many dramas tells me we are inexorably rewinding the tape to the best forgotten era when chummy pals are being split apart by supposedly serious issues that turn to be non-issues at the end of the day; and when brothers turn against themselves or husbands and wives pursue what is drawing them apart and not again what first bound them together.

I plead for the second time for our elders to rise up to the situations in the land and put in their Omoluabi garments to equip them to help douse the fire I see on the mountain, before darkness envelops the land in an orgy of blind fury. The youths must feel concerned about what is going on and not lend themselves to be used as cannon-fodders in the raging storm. May the elders of Yorubaland find the courage to restore sanity to the system. Respect for elders must remain sacrosanct while the right of youths to dignity and regard must also be preserved.

This piece was written by Prince Bayo Osiyemi.

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