Half of a Yellow Sun – History repeating itself

Nigeria has always been blessed with visionary leaders, most of them never made it to any public offices, they didn’t need to. Quite a handful were artists so we have the benefit of either reading them, watching them on stage or listening to their words of wisdom over and over again.

When I wrote my thoughts on Half of A Yellow Sunbook and the movie, little did I know that the same delay that HOAYS experienced in Nigeria before it was allowed to be screened in public cinema was not the first time such happened to Nigerian artist whose work was deemed ‘objectionable.’

Chief Hubert Ogunde play Yoruba Ronu (Yoruba Think) was first staged in 1964. The play was meant to call attention to the political unrest of the then Western region to not just be swept under the carpet. People were burnt to death and properties demolished. Hubert Ogunde like many people of his age believed that all Yorubas are Omo Oduduwa (Children of Oduduwa) and as siblings we were not supposed to betray one another and definitely not tortured one another for political gains.

The result – Ogunde play Yoruba Ronu was banned in the Western region while others around the country enjoyed the show. The ban was only lifted in 1966.

At the time, lots of emphasis was placed on the importance of working together in unity within a region but what has transpired over time was that good and bad leaders come from different parts of Nigeria. Working for collective good has long been lost.

Both Yoruba Ronu and HOAYS were written by Nigerians who refused to be quiet on matters that affected us all, they both thought without soul-searching and reckoning we can not genuinely move forward as a nation. Ms Adichie and Chief Ogunde both from different regions of the country but the message of their works was strikingly the same.

Who would be qualified not only to sing our praises but also love us enough to inform us when we are going off the rail?

Human parasite: Aso ebi craze

Is Aso Ebi really our tradition?

Aso ebi in Nigeria is a situation whereby a group of people wear the same attire in outings such as wedding, funeral, christening, graduation etc. When sending out invitations for an event, accompanied is a sample of clothing that the host wanted guests to wear so everyone looks the same on the day.

The problem with this now is that the tradition has gone beyond any logic that in a given year, very likely that a dozen out of a score invitations received would require one to buy new item of clothing specific for each occasion. Political  rallies across the country has joined in the ‘tradition’ too.

Never has eavesdropping been so sweet! Not that it is socially acceptable but in this instance I got a good feeling throughout the day relishing in the fact that I am not the only odd one, that many people are out there sick of Aso ebi craze.

On a bus minding my business was a lady on the phone trying really hard to convince her sister not to buy into the craziness of Aso Ebi that the guests coming to their family wedding should not be subjected to yet another expenses for the occasion, She stresses what matters is that lively atmosphere is created for the guests and that people should be allowed to where what they liked.

I heard her saying “What tradition?” Which suggests her sister thought Aso Ebi is a Nigeria tradition. My co-passenger on the bus threatened her sister that she did not want to be a part of a senseless tradition where wastage of limited resources is celebrated. The whole conversation was in Yoruba and this makes it even sweeter.

Is Aso Ebi really our tradition?

In the late 1940s, Chief Hubert Ogunde a respected Nigerian artist of diverse talents having observed the new trend sweeping through Lagos whereby guests at events such as wedding or funerals were made to buy new set of outfits to each occasion being invited to. Chief Ogunde could see ahead how easily the trend can get out of hand because really it is not about the occasion, it is more about bragging and showing off individual’s wealth.

Based on this, Hubert Ogunde termed the trend social evil as it exposes how the less well-off could be easily alienated from a group and more importantly was citizens focus being shifted from important issues that could add to the quality of life such as toilets to materialism that fades away as quickly as they came. He subsequently wrote a two Acts play titled Human Parasite so as to call attention of the public into the social menace.

More than six decades after the play was written, Aso Ebi craze has been adopted throughout Nigeria and If Chief Ogunde were to be alive today, he’d probably be ‘sweating.’ There is a saying in Yoruba that when elders sweat when giving a speech about important issues, the beads of the sweat are tears.

Here is the president joining in the craze at the expense of good schools, sanitation to mention but a few.