Change we need – Don’t lose your voice, vote wisely

By now we’ve all heard a lot, some were same old noises, and some were new emerging voices encouraging us all to vote wisely. It is worth doing a simple reality check given we will be stuck with whoever is voted in for the next four years – that is a long time to be miserable.

To the OAU students who had trouble deciding who they should vote for on Saturday. Knowing that we have very short memory – I’ll help to juggle it. I know that lots have been exchanged in cash and kind in the hope to have your votes, who are we kidding – it’s Nigeria, Stomach Infrastructure is the norm. Bear in mind though that one of the main reasons you are at the university was to study and get a degree other social and political involvements are wonderfully great as they prepare you for the world outside.

Note that if you are in second year at OAU today, you have spent more time on the street than in the lecture room, if it wasn’t ASUU strike, it would be something else – the truth is you are at home/on the street instead of the lecture room. Do yourself a favour and imagine a leader who is capable of working in your favour – persistently encouraging the federal government to fix the mess in our federal tertiary institutions while the state does its part religiously in your favour. Who do you think could do this? The incumbent governor who has spent the last three years fixing the primary/secondary schools in the state – bringing the school to a state that all children are excited to go to daily? Or Dr/Senator Omisore who has represented the state for the last eight years both at the senate deputy governor and still can’t see any problem in the messy state school system?

Use your vote wisely.

Another scenario – the situation on our campus is bad when it comes to safety, because no one is doing enough to stop the trouble makers. Don’t get me wrong. You protested, yelled and made lots of noises but no one was listening. It is the government responsibility to ensure that your life is safe while on campus and in turn to make sure school administration does their job – not you taking on the responsibilities meant for the school admin.  Afrika, George Iwilade did not attend OAU so his life could be cut short in his prime, he spoke up against violence on campus and for that, he and a few others were butchered like loveless animals in their dormitory. Fifteen years on, no one has been brought to justice. Vote for a leader who is capable of bringing the problem of violent cultists on our campus to end. Violent campus cultists exist in a lawless environment where blame game is the norm – no one thinks it is their job to care about your safety. We are all aware of Omisore’s outrageous public display of emotions while in office – the most memorable one was his case with Chief Bola Ige and the cap saga, which of course was the only tip of the iceberg.

Goes without saying that some of our elders are controversial, their attitudes is not worthy of emulation – yet we still have many around us that we can trust and look up to for inspiration as and when needed. These are men and women who have been lending their voices for decades for the goodness of humanity. Their unrelenting energies is enduring. We do not have enough of them in their age bracket that are willing to fight for the common good.

In early May this year, I happened to be in a small gathering whereby Prof Wole Soyinka was in attendance, at the best time to get Professor’s attention – pointing towards him, I told to a friend that Prof is a keen supporter of our incumbent governor’s administration. Timothy who was not from Osun State faced Prof and asked “Hey Prof, is there any honest politician left in Nigeria at all?” Professor in his usual forthright manner said “yes, there are, a few, yes.” nodding as he reply the gentleman. I believed Prof – not just because of his words but also because his body language said a lot – it was more like “believe me or do some facts-finding yourself and make up your mind.” This is not the manner in which most of our elders talk – usually they impose their beliefs leaving no room for younger ones to think otherwise.

I do believe that we all need a champion, people who persistently stand by their words, speaking against corrupt regimes and drawing our attention to what is important – fair justice system, quality education for all, talks against intolerance of all sorts etc. Remember how serious Wole Soyinka said Nigeria should take Boko Haram in 2012? Imagine we listened to him at the time, perhaps #bringbackourgirls would never have happened and many other meaningless wasted of innocent lives could have been prevented. Now it is your chance to listen to the voice of an elder whose voice has not faltered for six decades.

Thank you Professor for your continued support of what is right.

A friend says to me, “What’s in it for you”? I say “A lot.” I loved to imagine Osun State to be a place where peace reigns, where everyone is treated fairly. A state where we celebrate our commonness. A place where differences of opinions would not trigger yet another killing spree. A place where for heaven’s sake students in our higher institutions can complete their diplomas as the stated in the brochure and being able to defend their results. A place where dialogue is favoured over violence to resolve conflicts. A state where we do not have to stoop so low for Stomach Infrastructure to point the obvious truths.

In the next 48 hours, all will be history.

I have done my part, hope you will do yours too – Vote wisely.

And if you did, I hope we can all “Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth…” Pharrell Williams.

 

Yoruba heritage – Cultural narrative on batik

Sangodare Ajala
Initiation – Oro sise

 

 

 

 

 

Batik here is an amazing creation of Sangodare Ajala – Obatala and Sango priest was unveiled at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford by Prof Wole Soyinka 04 May.

The story of Yoruba initiation into Obatala priesthood – god of creation as well as that of Sango, god of Thunder was vividly told in this artwork. From the little child in the basinet being welcomed to the world through the rituals of esentanye while the whole village stood, with tilted heads towards the sky in unity pleading to the gods on behalf of the baby. According to Baba Ajala, initiation can be done at anytime during lifetime, giving everyone opportunity to connect spiritually.

Also visible from the painting were market women with their produce well-balanced on the heads as if on the way to the market – colourful outfits, chatting happily along. Men in their elaborate agbada outfits in mood for celebration of some sorts. I especially liked that the batik highlights so much of the beauties of Yoruba culture and traditions that is fast becoming obsolete in Yorubaland- the part where we unite to celebrate and rejoice in our shared heritage.

Here is the link to Prof Wole Soyinka unveiling – enjoy!

John Adeleke was spot on with his comments on the steep decline for Yoruba arts especially the ones that capture the rich heritage such as the work of Baba Ajala was partly due to new religions – Christianity and Islam. He continues that yoruba traditional religion is now seen as backward and stigmatised. This is especially true today that most people of my generation only heard bad things about our grandparents’ religion but no one has provided convincing reasons why this religion is so bad for us.

I can relate to this – in the 1980s in my town, we had annual seven-day festival that includes all major Yoruba deities. Most people in my town were either Christian or Muslim and yet lots of them gladly participated at the festival. We lived in the central part of the town and opposite a T junction so got to see most of the parades – this was the time when Yoruba collectively celebrate our similarities and rejoice in simple pleasures of life – belongingness without the drama.

Baba Ajala was very accommodating and answered my never-ending questions about his upbringing and relationship with the late Susanne Wenger – his interest in preserving Yoruba tradition is enduring.

Prof Wole Soyinka was pleased to unveil Baba Ajala’s batik, he spoke fondly of his talents and genuine interest in preserving the tradition through his artistic and traditional healing talents.

Professor Roy Westbrook, Deputy Dean of the Saïd Business School at the unveiling says the 9 by 25 feet artwork livens his mood as he enters into the building every morning since it was put up – the statement I found truly inspiring!

Why is it that our artistic talents especially the ones that celebrate our common heritage of Yoruba culture are more appreciated outside of the country than within?