Yoruba traditions

By Sunday Adole Jonah

I HAVE cause to believe Professor Farooq Kperogi is a very intelligent fellow and he is an extremely perceptive man, too, even if he is a mite touchy sometimes, and with an acerbic tongue (is it now an “acerbic quill?”).

 Most keen observers who follow events in Yorubaland sensed what Prof. Kperogi blurted out in his essay-column on the Christian-Muslin tangle in Yorubaland, albeit with the professor’s usual swagger-stretching of reality-check.

I do not think it is the Yoruba Christians doing the “Yoruba-on-Yoruba ‘poaching-proselytisation’”, and it is a not unjustifiable assumption, with a strong and bold assertive deduction, that it is the Yoruba Muslims (the “learned ones”, and everyone knows there is hardly an “unlearned” Yoruba household these days) who are “fleeing from Islam” in droves.

Even I, who thought I understood this progression in Yorubaland, was slightly surprised about the turn of events just recently when Mohammed Fawehinmi passed away.

Recall, that was the son of Gani (obviously, Abdul-Ganiyu) Fawehinmi, who, in the “norm-of-things” was “Muslim”.

My “first shock” was when the head of the Fawehinmi household in Lagos (someone named Rasheedat, if I recall correctly) issued a statement that “funeral arrangements shall be announced shortly”, when Mohammed’s younger sibling, Saheed, returns from the US.

Oh, where was the ubiquitous Islamo-dirge mourn-phrase, “inna lilahi walahi …” that precedes almost instantaneous internment? Soon, we learnt that a Christian funeral was slated at the Anglican Cathedral of Ikeja GRA. I am sure Prof. Kperogi was “shocked” too.

Now, on Tiwa Savage: A short while ago, I inquired from my “Oga” (Prof. Kperogi would be interested to know that the root of our Pidgin English “oga” is the standard word “ogre,” likely taught to the colonial servants of the past as a “proper” term of address for a “master”, and that mischievous colonial officer enjoying fits of guffaws each time an eager-to-please Black servant calls him “oga”).

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Here at school, Dr. A.A. Rafiu, who knows a thing or two about “Lagos families”, about the Savage family whilst mentioning I once read about one Taoreed Savage who was made a “chief” by the Oba of Lagos (I recall this event in light mood because I tried, in the deep recess of my mind, to have fun contemplating in “Pinyin-Mandarin-English” that “impossible combination nomenclature, Taoreed Savage” and chuckling about “a Chinese savage named Tao hiding amongst reeds” in the Zhuzhou countryside to attack travellers on their way to Peking; whoa, this humour wild-imagination “chuckler” would have thoroughly pleased Rudyard Kipling).

Dr. Rafiu was quick to retort, “don’t mind her o, her father was a Muslim o, and see what the ‘entertainment industry’ has done to her!” I nodded in knowing appreciation because Tiwa was married to one Tunde Balogun, who was Muslim, and they have a son called Jamal, a Muslim name, but Tiwa and Jamal are devout Christians.

I am sure Prof. Kperogi knows this. The patterns describing the Fawehinmi and Savage families replicate all over Yorubaland and this must have caused Prof. Kperogi great angst.

This professor, being from Baruten in Kwara State, knows in his heart that if Oduduwa Republic becomes a reality, his Baruten folks will gravitate no more in the direction of the Arewa Kano and Kaduna enclaves but they will trend to the Lagos area. Prof. Kperogi fears Christianity is gaining a strong foothold and it is spreading rapidly in the South-West.

What Prof. Kperogi must know is that the norms of Islam, à la Nigerian Arewa(where Yoruba Muslims are victimised as “proto-Muslims” and they are effectively barred from leading Islamic prayers in mosques there because, well, “they speak Arabic with thick Yorubawa  accent” blah blah blah), à la Boko Haram, à la ISWAP, à la Saudi Arabia, à la this, à la that, do not suit the free-spirited and open-mindedness of the Oduduwa folks.

Prof. Kperogi deftly threw a worm-infested apple into the Oduduwa Republic’s sphere of agitation. Alas, Prof. Ishaq’s MURIC bit into this rotten apple with all gusto.

The worry here is: “Has Prof. Kperogi awakened a monster in the hearts of Yoruba Muslims such that “good Muslims” now target Christian hotel guests for pagan-juju ‘money rituals?’”

In the light of this worry, one should also remark that adherents of Yoruba syncretics are more than Yoruba Christians and Yoruba Muslims combined.

Thus, if a Yoruba “Muslim” hopes to “convert” to Christianity in order to boost his standing in society, like that mysterious “Muslim” Foursquare engineer-interviewee, well, that is simply reality-check.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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