Just Before Osun People Speak By Jonah Ayodele Obajeun @Obajeun
It is now generally agreed that colonization constituted a historic disruption of the normal evolutionary process of Africa. The old order was shattered together with most of its binding institutions. In some places, the colonialists tried to reinvent the wheel, while in other places, their intervention constituted a truly revolutionary restructuring of the political process.
Of the major nationalities that constituted what became known as Nigeria, none was in greater ferment than the Yoruba nation. The Yoruba could be said to have benefited from two benign historical conjunctures which forced them to look forward with unflinching determination. To look back was to be confronted with the glorious ruins of the old Yoruba empire, institutional chaos, political disorder and a nineteenth century in which they had fought themselves into a state of political coma until the colonialists came and ordered the warring generalissimos to go home and fight no more.
Any ideology, if it is not to die or lapse into historic worthlessness, must undergo periodic political metamorphosis and a dynamic reinvigoration of its cardinal tenets. Rather than looking inward and foreclosing external possibilities, we must be willing to achieve linkage with like-minded groups and associations thrown up by the social convulsions in these societies. South-Western Nigeria has a peculiar colouration in terms of leadership.
The region was in such ferment in the early 1960s that even the embattled progressive leadership represented by the Action Group —an uncanny resemblance to the All Progressive Congress? —was at its wits end. All they could do, recounted Wole Soyinka in Ibadan: The Penkelemes Years, was schedule meetings after meetings. The times have changed, and the same problems of the 1960s may not necessarily lead to the same solution of military-inspired change. It is not even desirable. What is inevitable is change; and it is here.
Bola Ige captured the perplexities of the 1960s when he wrote in People, Places and Politics, that he and other Action Group leaders wondered whether God still existed going by the entrenchment of evil by the reactionary political alliance in the region. Ige’s generation was shortsighted to have regarded the 1966 coup as the deux ex machina. However, the important thing is that change is here. Change will come even if the resources of progressives thin out. Change is ineluctable even if the hearts of progressives are wearied by the upper hand which the PDP has secured today.
In all this, Osun has stood unperturbed and immovable, daring anyone to come near. Osun has worked the tiny road to posterity. Mass appeal, yes Ogbeni Aregbesola soars high. He grew into a cult figure, an idol and his followers grown into a congregation of cult-figure or idol worshippers. And when The Nation splashed Ogbeni’s menu on its pages, everybody rushed to read it, as if to find out what made Ogbeni a man so much loved, so much hated and so much controversial.
Modern Osun is a fusion of boisterous and sometimes conflicting competitive ethno-religious groups in need of carefully measured but firm handling. However, if the State is not restructured, the contradictions it is groaning under today will explode in the long run. Osun needs an iconoclast with a sublime understanding of how to situate these futuristic but urgent requirements within a wider framework of a flexible society anchored on disciplined but responsive values. I don’t see this in Omisore.
What sets Ogbeni apart at the moment, is the cumulative and sanitising effect of time, or what some historians and biographers describe as iconoclastic posterity. It is indeed a strange phenomenon that someone so aloof as Ogbeni, can work a crowd so passionately. Strange still is the fact that he whips the crowd into frenzy, by delicately fused words and uplifting phrases, street dances and by the simple fact of his unfathomably aloof personality. Integrity and honesty best describe this bearded Alfa.
This is not the place for ethnic sabre-rattling, or the forum to rake up old wounds. Suffice it to say that Ogbeni is a product of this time and his politics, an acute reflection of the forces at play such that Ogbeni’s diehard enemies now dance to his street songs.
The Yoruba have always been in the mainstream of Nigerian politics. But now that the area boys from the gutters of seamy scams have arrived on the political scene proclaiming a new Yoruba hegemony and polluting the atmosphere like the sewage rats that they are, it is important for the Yoruba patriots to disown the false heritage being foisted on them. The hawks are in town.
Good luck to Osun!
Jonah Ayodele Obajeun is a professional. He blogs on: www.obajeun.com. Reach him on twitter via @Obajeun.
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