Humanising history

What a fresh breath of air listening to Prof Yemi Osinbajo views on Biafra. I especially like that he started by relating to his school mates who went home during the war and never came back.

He talked about how we are better and stronger together and capable of succeeding together if we put more emphasis on the rich diversities we all bring to the table as opposed to highlighting our differences.

Even if he is one of them. It feels so nice listening to someone representing the country speaking eloquently on the subject that many of our leaders have used endlessly to divide us.

I don’t remember learning a thing about Biafra in school. The first time I heard about it was from my mother describing how awful it was. Thankfully, now reading the accounts from books and the internet, I can see why people from that region can’t wait to leave Nigeria.

Then, again I share Prof Osinbajo’s views that separation is unlikely to benefit common people.

This same sentiment goes for all of our regions. Can northerners survive on their own?  Oh well, with Boko Haram and more than 5.8 million people needing food assistance in IDP camps across the northeast. In the same region, many public officials are on EFCC list for corruption, we’ve even seen one hiding raw cash in a safe tucked in a poor neighbourhood.

The answer is common people will continue to suffer.

Can we survive in the SW? Good question, let’s take Lagos out of the equation to see lives of common people in all of our states – from schools, hospitals to infrastructure, it is the same story from decades ago. We wouldn’t kill one another with guns if it is a collective struggle but we will definitely turn one another to zombies through too much grammar blowing off the roof.

By now, I think President Buhari can keep the title, I know a Nigerian president would never resign, not when he can still breathe, assisted or not. But at least, he is welcome to stay in London while Acting President mends the fragile relationships with kinder words.

The first two minutes of Prof Yemi Osinbajo is what Nigerians need to learn more of.

 

Education inequality due to lack of funding

Sometimes last week I read about a group of Nigerian students stranded in different parts of the world because the government has not been up to date with tuition and living expenses payments. The students, as always reached out to Nigerians online home and diaspora to echo their voices.

This is not new, last year a group of students studying in UAE were recalled as the state responsible for the scholarship could not keep up with the costs.

Firstly, I emphasise with students in this situation. I wish them all well and hope the government would listen and do the needful.

Sometimes stating the obvious is the least that we want to hear, however, many of the promises (some blatantly ignorant) that Nigeria government made a few years ago were based on oil prices so now almost everything and everyone is affected as the prices has gone down significantly. The only people that still in the bubble are the government officials.

That is for study abroad students.

For home students, who is looking after the interests of millions who are ready to learn but were left unattended to?

The other day, a friend ranted endlessly about the state of LAUTECH and the fact that the school on no lecture. Both Osun and Oyo are supposed to sort out maintenance of the institution – the school is not free by the way, state university tuition is still higher than most of our federal universities.

In January Governor Ajimobi of Oyo got backlashed after addressing students with disdain attitude in public. A week later in February, there were news saying students are now back in school after 8 months strike orchestrated by unpaid lecturers’ salaries. They were only back to write 2015/2016 first semester exams. Lecturers were not happy enough with the settlement received in February as they are still being owed 5 months salary so the school is back to no activity after exam.

Being enlightened and educated is one thing that we like to talk about in the SW, but sometimes I wonder who have we been educating for 2 decades with public schools in terrible state.

Our governors are happy to spend hours unending to recite same story on Obafemi Awolowo and his education policies but yet, public education don’t get necessary funding in the same region.

LAUTECH has a teaching hospital too, the story is the same. Workers protest half salary that started last year. I have a friend with three children whose husband works at this hospital, she has a side hustle of a grocery shop to supplement her teaching wage. Even with that it is hand to mouth.

Yoruba elders especially love to remind us how much being older means they know all.

Bola Tinubu is the Chancellor of the school. As far as politics goes in the SW, whether we admit it or not, he is very powerful. Yet, I don’t see him getting involved in this.

Governor Aregbesola is arguably the best governor Osun has ever had in terms of restructuring public education. From what I have heard, he is the least bothered about the strike of LAUTECH lecturers, does it make sense to continue with many projects, most of which are on credit which all of us are going to eventually pay for and yet finds no money to pay existing workers?

Same goes for Governor Ajimobi of Oyo – why do our governors find it easy to unite on endless Owambe events but yet can’t see the damage being done to future of the country when adult students spend more time to protest strike on the streets than they do in classroom?

I hear they plan to reduce the workforce. Then go ahead. Pay staff owed salaries and let them go. Everyone will be alright in the end.

No point talking about the former president Baba Obasanjo, he doesn’t care about anyone at all, also the fact that he too owns a private university so no incentive to care for children of unimportant people – being a two-time president is a lucrative venture in Nigeria.

So when are we going to learn? Good luck to LAUTECH students and shame on Aregbesola, Ajimobi and all Yoruba elders who are indifference to the plights of these students.

Why do I relate home school to the study abroad students? Their stories is similar now. Imagine if all these money were spent on providing quality education at home, perhaps w’ll be a bit better off.

Now both home and abroad suffer the same fate of government neglect.

Trying times

It was only two months ago we were hit. My girls talked about the school reinforcing that we must not be cowed – life must go on. We talked about it at home and watched videos encouraging people not to give in to fear. Kids tend to be okay if adults around are.

This time again with higher casualties, any lives taken away through act of terror is sad but to target children?

We have a discount leaflet for an indoor event as something to do sometimes next week during the midterm. I could not help but think perhaps we should avoid crowded areas for a little while. And I am the one that’s supposed to be strong, need to try harder.

Radio chats about Monday night attack are slightly different from that of two months ago, everyone is upset and want assurance. This evening some callers are pointing fingers to clues to spotting terrorists, other callers spend most of the time isolating religion from it.

Security in town now is quite noticeable, which should be enough assurance to make anyone relax, but somehow I can’t stop thinking this is a reminder of the time we live.

Prayers and thoughts to the families and friends of those whose lives were cut short and those recovering at the hospital.

Slavery: the woke and the delusional

Internet is filled with lots of different opinions on every single subject. People choose the best angle they can relate to when talking about sensitive subject such as slavery/slave trade.

In general, we (Yorubas) are quite protective of our traditional rulers. Things are changing though as we have seen enough in the last 50 years to know when to call a spade its name. It is only through reading from different authors that I learned that our own people with shared heritage are also huge beneficiaries of slave trade.

Having said that, what is hard to swallow in today’s Yorubaland is having people, who due to family background assume the post of authority talking about slavery as if it is a thing of pride.

Small world:

A few days ago I came across an article titled ‘My Family’s Slave’ by Alex Tizon. The story is remarkable. The writing itself is brutally honest. The slave in the story was affectionately called ‘Lola’ from the Philippines, her real name is Eudocia Tomas Pulido. Lola was a family Help from a very young age of 12 and lived her life to serve two generations of one family. The debate around Lola’s life is what I found the most fascinating, many people are very upset with the author’s choice of focus in the narrative. The piece has generated lots of responses and suggestions of how the story should have been written.

I may not be able to understand fully the views of African-Americans on slavery, however I can see the mentality of entitled people we still have in Nigeria today. People who for some reasons are stuck in the dark ages and seem to think the world is still the same as it was.

Take for example the issue around Oba’s supremacy in Yorubaland. For the lack of a better word, I like to think many of our Obas are alawada (jokers). Many can read but easy to see they don’t. Many have access to the internet but their only concern is to compete in automobile with the Queen of England. Many are crowned as Obas in their communities but one can see their lifestyle with local communities is thousands of miles apart.

There was one of such jokes last week in Ibadan whereby an Oba claims to be the leader of all Yoruba. Reading through what was credited to the said Oba, I wanted to ask if he meant Yoruba in Yorubaland or in his very mini world he meant Yorubas all over the world.

I used to have a king like that next door, he had so much money but refused to pay attention to the changing times. Oh well.

Most of the statements credited to Olugbo of Ugbo make no sense at all.

For starters, when he proclaims himself as a leader of all Yoruba people, won’t a leader needs followers?  And when he says he was bestowed with special power to Yoruba blessings – who is holding him back from taking the land from misery?

And the punchline is when he says he is the real husband of Moremi Ajasoro – Oh well, now we are getting somewhere. Moremi is said to be a very attractive and courageous woman, I am not sure why associating with a beautiful woman is a big deal, all I can say is to count himself lucky to be one of the players.

Yoruba people were up in arms with Oba’s assertions, however the only statement that sums all up for me is this:

“Don’t mind my critics who use Facebook to abuse me. The truth is that many of them are children of slaves“. 

 

The fact that this Oba mentions a social media outlet shows that he could read, but I wonder what he reads online. This is an example of crowned people who gives Yoruba bad names especially amongst other blacks due to their inferiority complex.

Slave trade/slavery is considered a tragedy, hence it was abolished. Many people across the world today are still working to come to term with effect.

So a supposed Yoruba leader not realising the act of owning a slave is something that is better left for courtyard banters but talks about it in an event is a reminder that at home, we have a long way to go.

It is okay to be born into a royal family but it is no longer excusable to remain ignorant about a very important event that shook the very foundation of black race.

Lastly, in a recent BBC documentary by Alice Morrison ‘Morocco to Timbuktu’. An eye opening documentary with Alice following the footsteps of earlier traders through the desert. I enjoyed this piece for so many reasons. Then in the second episode, modern-day slavery in Morocco was mentioned. Here the guide, Hafida H’douban shares her history of being born to a slave family in Morocco. Her great grand father was gifted a slave to marry, when the slave has a child, the child is seen as a slave and it goes on like that.

As pointed out in the documentary, estimated 13 million people from west Africa were taken through the desert as slaves to north Africa, same way they were taken through Trans-Atlantic routes. Many today are all over the places across the globe.

Hear Hafida here in 2 minutes from 7:15 to 9:15 in the video below.

Here we are, Yorubaland in 2017 with people who intentionally want to remain oblivious to history from their thought process to their choice of words – it is a shame, well only to themselves.

 

 

A Nigerian Aunty

Rape is a serious case in Nigeria but we seldom talk about it, victims don’t report due to costs of involving the police or even the fact that victims likely to be shamed for reporting.

Mrs Michale Matthew in Lagos is one of those aunties that we all need close to us. The kind of aunty who perhaps have read enough about rape to know that preventing it happening is the best gift one can give to young girls. She bravely stopped a group of secondary school boys from raping their female classmates in broad day light.

The story goes that Mrs Matthew was just leaving her office with her son while she noticed the commotion around her workplace, after enquiry she was told that the group were there making noise ready to take turns raping their mates in broad day light – where is the pride in that?

Mrs Matthew being a good Naija Aunty could not bear the thought of just ‘minding her own business’ because as I also believe, it is all our business to set good example. Anyway, she was appalled to see school kids just finishing their final exams breaking laws with no concern about possibility of any consequences – those who were not participating are busy filming the ‘show’.

In the articlewe can see the girl’s skirt already torn. Apparently, this rape has been going on for a while as of right of passage after final exam. 

Not only did Mrs Matthew foiled this criminal act, she also led the girls to the bus stop so they are safe to return home. She also collected enough information about these guys, follows through with reporting them to the police.

A few of the boys have now been arrested and are helping to smoke out others. The original post on this incidence as narrated by Mrs Mathew is something that would make any parent shiver a little. While she was helping these girls, her own son was there witnessing her mother, going out of her way to prevent violence and rape – what a great way to show by example.

Rape in schools is not limited to Lagos alone, it is in all of our regions. A couple of weeks ago, an Osun University student was boasting about raping his female friend because she ‘wouldn’t let him’. A few people talked about this online but I doubt any arrest was made.

As citizens with no real power, we can only report and echo one another’s voices, it is the job of officials to investigate and bring criminals to book, if we ever want to see end to violence against women in our society.

Since Nigerians now celebrate both UK and USA Mother’s Day, the more the merrier I suppose –  this is to Mrs Matthew for her courage and for being a good Nigerian Aunty!

We need to consolidate tribes for progress

Nigeria has 371 different tribes so we’re told, the list is impressive. This is not peculiar to Nigeria, many nations of the world are in a similar situation. Nigeria is categorised into three major groups for economic and ease of governance purposes, amongst many reasons.

Nigerians are passionate, often times I enjoy the comments more than the essay itself. I really do not understand what this list of 371 tribes was meant to achieve but one can tell easily that tribal ‘love’ (well, let’s put it that way) is one of the very few things that get Nigerians talking.

Over 600 comments on a list of tribes? Nigeria politicians love fruitless argument like this, they knew it will never lead anyone anywhere but they delight on future of the nation to remain confused.

I decided to look at the list of tribes, partly to see where I am being thrown. I already know I am Yoruba, but Nigeria is a funny country, how? A middle-aged guy only a few days ago tried to convince me that I and my neighbour speak two different languages, I actually thought he was joking but he was dead serious. To him different dialects is seen as different languages which in turn create another division of different tribes. I can’t argue with such mindset so I walked.

Back to the list of tribes. I am not terribly surprised that Nigeria has 371 different tribes, I thought number is higher.

I know we are not meant to look at data closely, that would mean we are doubting or being troublesome. However, I know there is always a pattern that tells bigger story.

Plateau state with estimated population of 3.2M has the highest number of tribes in Nigeria with 68 different tribes, followed by Bauchi with 63 tribes between 4.7M people. This is the story with most of our northern states.

Six southwest states including Kwara has 1o tribes, interestingly Kwara state alone has 5.

To make sense of this list Adamawa, a northeastern state has 58 different tribes while Osun state in the southwest with similar population has 1.

How can a nation progress when the highlight of our conversations is on our differences?

Southeast/southwest have similar low tribal divisions as southwest with Cross River at 26 tribes and Rivers at 11 tribes.

Diversity can be beautiful. Everyone should be allowed to identify with any group of their choice. However, tribal divisions in Nigeria unfortunately only perpetuates hatred which in turn means regression all round.

Within southwest, most of us speak Yoruba with different dialects and therefore happily identify as Yoruba. I am sure if we wanted, we could have broken the region down into tribal bits to match with the northern states but that would not have benefitted anyone. We could have easily say Akoko, Ilaje, Ijesha, Ijebu or even Ife are different tribes but what this would do is to stall development and foster public distrust of one another.

So looking at Bauchi state with 63 tribes – does that mean these are all distinctively separate tribes or they are more like what we have in the SW but we have for a long time happily agreed to be under one umbrella of Yoruba?

I found Bauchi to be quite interesting because even within a local government of a few thousand people, folks still find reasons to divide themselves further. Example of this is the case of Tarawa Balewa LGthe end result of it was endless clash between people.

A region is better off when deserved attention is paid to what we all share in common which we all know are far more than the other way around. I am sure many of these tribes speak very similar language, so why not consolidate for progress?

In SW for example we have a fair share of violence, many embarrassing ones too. However, looking through this list makes me realise the massive work that our past leaders had done, carving an identity that most people are comfortable to relate with.

This post is not about picking on any particular region, it is just an observation in relation to the reality on ground.

We could spend as much money as we like on rehabilitation on parts of the country, it would still not bring permanent change if we continue to ignore fundamental flaw that is hindrance to collective progress.

As a society highlighting what we have in common can only be a good thing for everyone. We have seen enough of what the other side is like.

Final resting place

In diaspora, I have seen different ways in which people choose the last resting place for their loved ones.

A few years a go, an elder man who had lived in the UK for about 50 years went back home for a visit. He was from my town. During his trip, he fell ill and passed away, the man was said to be in his late 70s. His children were not very familiar with home so they made an arrangement for their father’s corpse to be repatriated back to the UK for burial. He had pre-existing health condition known to his family so paperwork was easy to sort out.

This incident was a new twist to the popular way in which I heard many Africans  especially first generation immigrants in the UK deal with deceased family members.

The ones I have heard is people in diaspora sending corpse of parents back home for final burial. This BBC article shows how trendy repatriation of corpse amongst Africans.

In this article, a Ghanaian had to crowd fund in order to afford the costs to send his uncle’s body back home, he did so due to family pressure.

Another lady said she had to bow to family pressure of repatriating her husband’s corpse to Zimbabwe, even when she knew it would’ve been better to bury him in the UK where she could visit graveyard as often as she is pleased.

News of Nigerians taking body of family members to be buried back home is quite common here in the UK, many people prefer it that way.

Then I think about home where significant number of people have left their villages and small towns to settle in the city. How do these people deal with the corpse of loved ones? Were they buried where they had worked and have homes or do they insist on taking the corpse back to the village where only few (if lucky) remember them?

Looking at a few examples, different patterns emerge. My mom’s younger brother settled in Lagos in the 70s on his return back from schooling in Canada (good old days when jobs await returnees) so decided Lagos was the place to put his root.

So when he passed away a few years ago, the children and his widow decided Lagos is the most appropriate place to bury their father and husband, it is the place he had his home and had raised his family. Extended family from home with no question asked were happy to make the trip to Lagos for the final burial and Owambe.

In other words, people in Nigeria often have no problem being buried in Lagos state even when they see other state as their ancestral home. This is likely to be true for the Yorubas.

Conversely, a few months ago, my sister’s mother inlaw passed away. She was in her mid 90s. When I asked my brother inlaw where his mother will be buried, he said ‘home’. ‘Where is home?’ I asked.

The ‘home’ that his mother wanted to be buried at was not Ife the town she has lived at for 70 years, definitely not Lagos the place she died at and not even her husband’s town. Her wish was to be buried in her birth town infront of her house. The wish that her children honoured.

Beliefs around burial and final resting place is fascinating. Everyone seems to have strong opinion to support beliefs they hold dear.

No, I am not dying but I found this topic very interesting and a lot less depressing than Nigeria politics of these days.

Keep it on the chin and bear it

Why are some people ever so critical of Nigeria government? I suppose knowing that Nigeria can do a lot better is enough reason to keep poking the officials, they often tune out the voices anyway, but until they pay attention, poking it will be.

What was that saying about those who do not learn from their past are bound to repeat the same mistakes – our experiences are there to guide and enlighten us only if we let it.

Every event in Nigeria is another opportunity to turn the mirror inwards to re assess what we see as normal to be one of the many reasons we lag behind – the incident at the burial of Serubawon is one of those golden opportunities.

Serubawon’s sudden death was sad, no argument about that. I read a few tributes dedicated to the senator as I was trying to see what others were saying, predictably it was hard to see if the senator was appointed to be a socialite or public servant.

The state government has opened an inquest to investigate the cause of the senator’s death so as to appease those who are suspicious of the his death.

Is the cause of Serubawon’s death due to known underlying health issue? Or a case of enemy has killed him as many of Serubawon’s supporters believed, time will tell –  good luck to the state with the inquest.

What I found quite disturbing was not particularly the senator’s death but the fact that he was knee-deep into preparation for the next state governorship election,  his supporters’ way of showing loyalty was by turning what should have been a quiet final burial into chaos.

I still remember like yesterday when Serubawon was the governor at 37 years old – this was 25 years ago. And for the best part of the last 10 years he has been senator representing Osun West at the federal level.

Online, anywhere Serubawon gives a speech was for another election. And when that election is won, he is back at the senate.

I know most of our senators at best bench warmers at the senate but I have seen quite a few senators voicing their opinions, engaging Nigerians both from within their constituents to the wider nation. Even when their opinions are heavily criticised, they persist.

This guy, Serubawon did none of this and yet he was thinking of coming back after 24 years to serve another term?

Well, RIP to the dead but I think the joke is on the people of Osun, not on Serubawon.

I know generally in the southwest, we prefer to take it on the chin and bear it all. That has not benefitted us, too obvious.

So Governor Aregbesola has a new mantra Hold your Gov accountable: Here is one for Ogbeni.

At Serubawon’s funeral, a public official was publicly assaulted and this was swept under the carpet as if nothing had happened.

Idiat Babalola is currently the state Special Adviser for federal matters. Prior to that she was a member of House of Assembly and now a state commissioner- nominee. As state politics goes, she deserves to be given equal respect and protection as any others in similar position.

Seeing Ms Babalola being publicly humiliated at Serubawon’s burial should not be acceptable. Imagine the extent the mob would have gone if governor of Ogun state didn’t come to the rescue? What a shame.

I had thought those guys would be arrested and made to write some statement but it seems this event is not big enough to be addressed.

This is the first time I am reading about this woman, she has been in Nigeria politics for a while, her journey to politics is a mirror image of Serubawon’s, watching her on TVC news revealed that much.

Why is Ms Babalola not insisting that the guys who rough handled her in public be arrested?

Why is the state governor not thinking if these guys get away humiliating a public official now, they are coming back during election to cause bigger harm? I think it is not good enough that Ogbeni unlooked this incident, if you want people to respect the state law, then it is only fair to apply it equally to all.

Between honour and wealth

In  Yoruba language one can pretty much make up any names one desires based on objects, beliefs or fantasies by combining words or letters, tonal marks on letters are to guide readers of the meaning.

This post is about Yoruba language translation of words into English.

do ( \ )

re (  )

mi ( / )

For example: ‘Ola’ on its own has no meaning without tonal marks (àmìn), by putting àmìn on top, it is a lot easier to understand.

Àmìn is important when writing Yoruba, the tone is important when speaking. These are the basics with Yoruba language that we all agree with.

When writing, with àmìn in places, we all tend to agree on the meaning easily.

So I am a bit taken back in this particular instance where with tonal marks, people tend to give different meanings.

What is Ọlá in English?

A few weeks ago I saw somewhere online whereby Ọlá was translated as wealth in a given name.

Abiola : a child that is/was born in wealth.

If Ọlá is translated as wealth, what is Ọrọ̀?

In Yoruba ọrọ̀, owó = affluence, material wealth, money hence ọrọ̀ is wealth.

In Yoruba, there are a few names associated with wealth and money

Olówóòkéré |  Owódùnní | Owósení | Kofoworola (does not buy honour)

Names associated with wealth or money are quite few in Yoruba.

However Ọlá within a name is a very popular one because being honourable is preferred. Traditionally, having plenty of money is not the same as being a person of honour.

Ọlá as far as I know is something that is bigger than wealth. Ọlá is used to describe integrity, prestige and honour.

This is why Ọlá, Iyì, Ẹ̀yẹ are used interchangeable to mean the same thing, honour.

Based on the traditional affiliation to Ọlá in names, here are a few examples;

Ọlálérè  | Ọlápade |  Wúràọlá |  Jọ́laolú  | Ọládélé |  Tóriọlá  |  Ọlánipẹ̀kun

All these names above have ‘ọlá’ in common. They are a few of older names to help understand the meaning of ọlá better. If we were to say ọlá = wealth, that would be a mistranslation because ọlá in Yoruba as we can see from older names is far deeper than wealth, because wealth is finite. Ọlá in Yoruba names tends to mean something that comes from family line or one that a family aspire to – bigger than material wealth.

Trying to get clarity on the best translation of ọlá to English, out of the five people I spoke with two in the first instance without any hint from me said ọlá = honour, (what a relief to know I am losing my mind) two people after we went through a few traditional names and values were convinced.

The last person likes the sound of wealth too much so adamant – who doesn’t like money?

Now checking online – incredible to see handful of people working hard on writing in Yoruba. Popular ones were names and their English translations, all that I checked out have ọlá to mean wealth. This is not too surprising because plagiarism is quite rife and it means people seldom check what they copy.

However, my efforts paid off when I found a Yoruba translation dictionary site. May Orunmila bless those behind that work.

 

 

 

 

 

This shows that I am not alone here thinking ọlá = honour. I don’t know the people behind this website, but a few other Yoruba words that I checked out are accurate.

Language and culture are intertwined. Like other languages, to understand Yoruba, there are many words with origin in what people hold dear, ọlá is one of those words. Not many people are wealthy or will be wealthy, whereas being noble, uprightness don’t always come with wealth and this is what tend to be common with older generation.

It is not hard to see how this mistranslation came about. Yoruba writing for decades have been pushed aside, also looking at the society today speaks volume.

Here I am with my ọlá = honour

Different point of view on English translation for ọlá? I would love to read what you think.