Ajala of our time

Our new royal father enjoys travelling, I have no problem with that. People who finds joy within and outside of their palace seldom have time to dwell on little things or cause people in their community needless grief.

Having said that, there is high hope for what is expected of Ooni Enitan Ogunwusi at home, people have an endless list of disputes he is to resolve and I agree because b’íná kò tán l’órí ẹ̀jẹ̀ kìí tan léèkánná (it is not over, until it is truly over).

A 76 years old friend of mine (age matters here to show different eras of Ooni of Ife), said in a message the other day how he has not being able to see any value of Oba in the local community he represents. My friend, Baba was referring to Ooni’s travels while there are plenty of issues yet to be resolved at home – a case of hope deferred making the hear sick – Proverbs 13:12.

I understand where Baba was coming from, it is only those who are not directly affected by the last crisis that say people ought to count their loses and move on, but for many people the scar is still raw.

Coincidently a few weeks ago, there was another meeting by good people in town – the meeting was between Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi, Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi and our very own Ogunsua of Modakeke, Oba Francis Adedoyin. The meeting was about finding amicable resolution to many outstanding issues – seized farmlands being the topmost.

It is pleasing to know that we have elders who are not relenting in being the voice for the voiceless farmers. Also, from that meeting I learnt that Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi who is another prominent Yoruba Oba has not set his foot into Ile Ife in 50 years – that is a big plus for Oba Enitan Ogunwusi for being the force of unity.

Oba Lamidi Adeyemi not visiting Ile Ife in 50 years is not too surprising – Ooni  Okunade Sijuade and Oba Lamidi Adeyemi were the perfect ọmọ ìyá awùsá (cat and dog relationship).

Baba was happy to hear of the meeting between the three Obas and elders, Guardian Newspapers did an okay job with the story, the real reason of the meeting in the last three paragraphs – good to see it in prints. 

Resolving many of our many land dispute issues is not going to be easy but it can be done and it is only fair.

As I was thinking about Baba and a slight impatience that I sensed from the tone of his texts, then it occurred to me why Baba has a high hope of Ooni Ogunwusi.

Baba came to the UK in the 70’s to study, this was when naira was strong. He has seen three different eras of Ooni in his life time, the most painful one being one and only Ooni Sijuade.  Baba, like many people in diaspora of his age built his first home in Akarabata area of town with the hope of retiring there one day.

During the long drawn crisis of 1997, his house was razed to the ground, in it was his niece who has mental health problem – everyone left the neighbourhood but the lady refused to leave so she was burnt with the house.

Also, Baba’s village was Ògùdù, one of most hard hit during the crisis – all of Modakeke people in that village that were not killed, fled their homes. The only farm baba knew was Ògùdù. 

Baba is happy with his life now, his children all grown. He could move to Nigeria if he wanted and he will still be happy. Like many people from my area, he is well aware that he is privileged to have options but he is still concerned for those people who still live in limbo.

We are happy that almost two years into the reign of a new Oba, our towns have been in relative peace – I am still hopeful that the meeting between our Obas will yield positive outcome – if we are all omo Yoruba then it is only fair that those chased away from their farmlands get adequate compensation or be allowed to return to their farmland. The latter option is very thin given some part of the land is being used for projects.

We are still hopeful for a fair outcome.

 

 Ajala Moshood Adisa Olabisi was an international student in the States early 1970s, he was known for his love of adventure. He travels several miles within the States and around the world on his bike and vespa. 

Locally we call people who enjoys travelling Ajala

What to do about Arungún?

Intriguing the way we deal with social issues in Nigeria.

To get a glimpse of what is going on in the southwest, we read news coming out of Lagos which usually can be representative to an extent, however there are some issues specific to a few towns within Yorubaland that never received proper attention that it deserves.

Arungún (vandals), in most cases are people who have nothing to lose and not afraid of destroying what others have worked hard to create.

This post is about last Friday street fight between Asipa and Ipetumodu guys that lead to destruction of some of Akinola Market stalls.

To be clear, within Ife Central, Ife North, Ife South, Ife East and Ayedaade, if any, there are few people whose families are not stretched across towns. Even if one has no family relations in another town, we share villages and local markets so really disputes over borders should not come to people destroying properties they’ve worked hard for.

For example, in my village we have people from Ode Omu, Gbongan, Ipetumodu and of course God’s own town, Modakeke. We share ààlà (borders) that have been established from long time ago, people have learnt to respect each other’s boundaries so why can’t same wisdom apply today?

Like many countries of the world, increasing population growth presents real challenges for people in the rural areas because most people are farmers, it means more people are competing for limited resources – land. The land that used to be enough for a few people has now become a tussle amongst many.

My point here is that how could people have managed to live in peace with one another in our villages and small towns but can not seem to find a civilised way of settling border disputes or trace history to identify rightful owner?

When I was little, disputes over land boundaries and land ownership are what formed significant part of my childhood memories. I know elders have their explanations but I have seen enough of property destruction border disputes can cause, I see no explanation good enough to allow destruction of properties to continue over border disputes – there are better ways and we can surely adjust our thinking to find amicable solutions.

No society can develop if knocking people who have no other source of income over down to their knees every other year is what neighbourhood gangs specialise in.

Again on vandalism at Oja Akinola last week Friday where market stalls were damaged are stalls owned by people from local villages and towns, others bring wholesale goods from the city so people need not travel far from home. Akinola Market is where a few people I know buy their bulk food stuff.

Maybe fight after a football match is not unheard of but why do they have to destroy market stalls? Why can’t we be excited to see progress? Ha, awon arungún.

Vandalism should be made a punishable crime. I can’t say either of the town is my town but I see a developing pattern that I am well too familiar with which should not be ignored.

I could never understand why a fight after a friendly match between two communities – Asipa and Ipetumodu guys escalated to stabbing one another, gun shots to destroying market stalls.

It is only in Nigeria that we think this should be understandable because of unemployment and poverty. If you are poor, one thing that gets drilled into the psyche is to protect the little you have. Poor people keep their head low and don’t destroy the little glory in their neighbourhoods.

I am glad to hear that the state governor has made some arrests and promise to get to the root of the problem between the two communities.

After all the damages, the reason provided had nothing to do with the football match, disputes over  market owner was cited as the cause. This is just not good.

The issue remains the same as it was in 2015, if going by experience, I bet most of the buildings destroyed over a year ago are still there.

I hope that elders and government will work together and settle this once and for all. We have history, land disputes don’t go away on its own. Arungún will always use this as excuses to cause further damage which is unfair to local people and a big deterrent to any meaningful investment.

I am so happy to read from many young people from the area who want nothing but peace in both towns. O ti se se.

 

No longer isolated world

It is only in Nigeria that people would proclaim to love their ancestral land and at the same time are ever ready to turn the whole place into battle ground over simple disagreement. The thought of lives that will be negatively affected don’t cross their minds, their goal is to provide  flimsy reasons so people can find more reasons to loathe one another. When all is done and dusted, they are out of the town to their homes where their families and properties are safe and secure.

Anyone who thinks a fight between three adults is enough to justify so much loss of lives can not be taken seriously.

I am glad that Ooni Ogunwusi was in London when Westminster Bridge attack by Khalid Masood happened. How swiftly it was dealt with, and how investigation was focussed on the attacker and his likely reasoning behind his action – that is how to deal with terror if one truly loves their land.

If we insist on protecting local nuisance, we sure are going to remain in that darkness for a very long time to come.

Yesterday, the Afenifere group met with Ooni Ogunwusi, I love Kabiesi’s speech, my favourite part is the part where he was talking to the youths. This is very important for Ife and towns around, we have lost so many young people in recent years. I can not see any reason good enough to make anyone wanting to kill another person (even if they were from Jupiter), it is just not worth it.

He says “They (youths) should be careful and not allow this issue to be politicised. We should remember that most of these politicians don’t come to Sabo to render assistance until the misfortune that happened.” The Ooni of Ife, His Imperial Majesty Ooni Adeyeye Ogunwusi, Ojaja II.

In the whole of Yorubaland, there is no other town that has been through continuous unrest for a solid 35 years, now peace is slowly and steadily returning and the next thing they wanted is to start Yoruba Deliverance from the same town, why? Can’t people see there is more to life than trouble?

Another sentence that was credited to Ooni Ogunwusi was that often we can see the beginning of a war, but on one knows how far it will go and how it will end.

Actually, I know one possible way tribal war in our area likely to end. Plenty of lives will be wasted, properties will be ruined. We will hide identities of the victims. People travelling from Ibadan to Ilesa or Ekiti will avoid Ife at all cost, they will take the long back road – I don’t blame them. When enough youths are down, local people will be left to pick the pieces. Weapons used would change hands, and before you know it, that cute choir boy would become a local monster and for the next few years, same weapons will be used to terrorise their own people.

And the politicians claiming ancestral home? Well, they are back in their city offices writing about how unfortunate Ife people are, they will pity you with their keyboards but will never contribute a kobo to help you out.

We have been there, that is the pattern.

Big thank you to Ooni Ogunwusi for reminding those who care to listen.

One of the  things that Governor Aregbesola did that I am super glad for is the fact that he did not take any chances and insists schools close to the area be shut. To me, this is what any leader should do. At least enough kids were spared from potential physical or emotional harm.

My 7 year old nephew narrated the reason he was off school for a week and half. I know he will remember this for a long time, the hope is that we will continue to have sensible leaders who can be brave enough to protect people including minimising children’s exposure to event such as this.

We no longer live in an isolated world, if people want to pursue politics, that is all well and good, but we can’t live in a world where just about anything is turned into politics with regards to people whose lives are sure to be most affected.

I am also glad that an investigative panel has been set up to get to the root cause and to get all those that worked behind the scene. Ultimately, the point of arresting a group of people is to calm the area in the first instance, and to determine appropriate punishment for each offender. And if there are more in town roaming about, please get them so people can continue to go about their business in peace.

Beware of those with nothing to lose

A man who thinks killing of other human beings over a small dispute has nothing to lose is hardly difficult to identify especially when they conveniently turning street violence into avenue to vent about politics.

Regardless of the identities of Ile Ife casualties, an arguably simple disagreement between three adults that leads to the loss of many lives should be treated as criminal activity. Femi Fani-Kayode (FFK) thinks this is the best time to praise those that were involved and reminded people how strong and prepared these youths were – this is a reasoning of a public figure who has in the past served as Minister of Culture and Aviation at different times – adagbà má kúrò láròbó (a grown man with a reasoning of a toddler).

Shame on FFK for referencing Modakeke/Ife crises in his articles 1 & 2 something that sounds very much like chest-beating peculiar of people who have lost nothing in the crises, therefore quick to think violence is the only answer for all disputes.

Whoever has a sliver of interest in Ife and of course commonsense would never think of praising violence, those that lost either family members, homes or livelihoods to the crises don’t wish similar event on their worst enemy – clearly FFK has nothing to lose.

To turn this recent event into Yoruba Vs Hausa/Fulani fight – how does that even make any sense? How is a neighbourhood fight about assault on a woman relates to herdsmen grazing? How is this event related to Southern Kaduna killings of christians is beyond me. I don’t see how this is the same thing with Bridget Agbaheme in Kano last year either.

This is the problem we have in Nigeria where unresolved issues are accumulated so we wait patiently for a trivial one and so we could display full-blown anger.

Here is the revealing part, most of the comments on FFK’s articles have nothing to do with Ife. They are emotional outbursts about the need for Yoruba to break away. This is clearly what the writer wants to achieve,  so why don’t we pursue this separately?

If Yoruba is to break away from the rest of the country, why do we have to start from Ife, a town that has witnessed civil unrest for the last 3 decades? And why can’t we start with a plausible social problem such as herdsmen grazing that many people can relate with?

And if we must start killing the ‘others’ to show our grievances – why can’t FFK (because he loves Ife so much) starts his “Operation Deliver Yoruba’ from his own neighbourhood ( he has no home in Ife) where his family and properties can be the first targets.

Illusion of ownership

Throughout both articles, there is this inflated sense of entitlement being promoted. This is a national problem that will never go away unless the government and progressive thinking citizens find a way to deal with it squarely.

I don’t understand how anyone could think setting up his own home/town on fire is a thing of pride.

The way things work at home means royal fathers’ influence is quite noticeable when we have crisis like this one. I am not too bothered about FFK’s take on this, I prefer to listen to what Ooni Ogunwusi has to say. He has been consistent with his words of working to restore lasting peace in the land.

In his interview with Ben TV a few days ago, Ooni Ogunwusi repeated the same sentiment that he has been known for in the past one year, we have seen the other side, now we know we are all better off when we unite for progress.

The relevant part of this video is 2 mins long, between 0:50 to 3:20

One very important thing that Ooni Ogunwusi mentioned in the Youtube video at 2:25 is where he stated that Hausas have been in Ife for centuries. Also that many were born and raised there. This is the part of history that people prefer to forget, thankfully we have a Kabiesi who is honest and courageous enough to say this.

Where do we want people to go if this place is all that they have known all their life?

Ooni Ogunwusi as seen online is presently in the UK with many people around him visiting many places in town. I hope those who are visiting the UK for the first time among the entourage can note how diverse the UK is. And realise that if say London for example has to be burned down for every little disagreement, who is the Kabiesi going to see here?

Ancestral home/land only worth the pride and glory where peace is given a chance over violence.

Taming aggression

Trigger happy people are nightmare to anyone around them as they are always ready kill, loot and burn.

 

Naturally, Wednesday fight in Ife caught my attention after all we are the closest pals.

From all different variations of the story that led to the killing of over two dozen people, I do not find one that is strong enough to justify the loss of lives and properties.

In all of the versions I heard/read, the fight started between a woman and a man. The husband involved to fight his wife’s corner.

So the version that sounds reasonable to me goes thus. A lady was mistaken for an olosho (working girl) in Sabo, Ile Ife. The said lady was assaulted when she responds to the guy who was trying to get her attention angrily. The lady left the scene to report the unfair treatment to her husband. The husband took offence, went to meet the guy who had laid hand on his wife, he carried along with him his work mates (NURTW).

 

Sabo area in Ile Ife being in the heart of the city, has a buzzing evening market for suya, roast corn etc. The fight started at this market on Tuesday evening.

Logically one would ask, how on earth do we end up on another killing spree to resolve an issue like this ? It does not add up.

Nigeria newspapers reported this incidence as Yoruba vs Hausa so many people decided to see this as We vs Them issue. Nigeria newspapers say death toll on both sides is 10 people. Locally people say victims were more than 2 dozen people.

In addition, a church and a mosques in Sabo area were torched – just because this is what we do.  This action is always interesting to me because we claim to be highly religious but anytime there is any disagreement between two groups, religious buildings always (unfailingly) get burned. The irony.

Burning down town

I know that Ooni Ogunwusi has intervened and working closely with the state government to keep the streets safe hence the curfew 6pm to 7am from Wednesday until Monday. They have increased police presence in the area. All very commendable.

We can not always prevent every little disagreement with neighbours or workers, actually it will continue to happen but we must change our attitude to the way we react during conflict. This is 2017, looting and destroying properties regardless of whose properties they are should be condemned, we all know how hard it is to accumulate wealth, to see one’s own properties being looted and homes razed to the ground should never be accepted way to revenge.

We have been through this so many times and it is shameful that perpetrators still get away with this.

 

Given the location of this area, damage to the area will be visible to many travellers passing through town for many months to come (except if miracle happens) So tell me who is going to be ‘giddy up’ happy to invest in a town with long history of vandalism that we are all trying to repair and forget (still there) and now this one.

As we say, Who is doing whom? 

I know that Ooni Ogunwusi is working hard to unite the area. It is a massive work, I wish him wisdom and strength.

It is never a good time to have public disturbance. Ooni Ogunwusi is due to start his 12 day visit to London tomorrow for his global outreach program meeting with people, preaching peace and reminding us of home. And this happened a few days a go.

If I were Ooni Ogunwusi, I will cancel this trip and delegate my chief,  Obalufe to attend all meetings on my behalf. No buts or ifs. I will stay put until the curfew is lifted to re assure people and to reiterate the message of peaceful coexistence.

 

Courageous woman

Moremi Ajasoro is one of the handful of Yoruba women whose story has been passed down as a courageous and beautiful woman of her time. She was married into the royal family and helped fight invaders off Ile Ife.

What was significant about Moremi Ajasoro was that she allowed herself to be taking away by the invaders, and was married to their king. During her time with the *Ugbo king, she was skilful and lived by their rules, yet worked towards her primary goal of gathering intelligence about the people who constantly terrorise her town.

When the invaders came, we learnt that Ife people at the time often take to their heels as they thought they were being raided by Iwin/Anjonu (aliens) impossible to defeat with physical weapons because of their costumes.

Moremi eventually learnt that it was indeed humans beneath the costumes and that the costumes were made of dried grass.

Moremi Ajasoro was not only courageous, she was a loyal woman who kept her promise of returning to her people once she knew how to defeat the enemy.

Moremi eventually escaped back to Ife, briefed her people and gave tips to prepare materials for making quick fire to burn the highly inflammable dried grass the attackers wore to disguise.

Apparently, before Moremi embarked on her mission, she pledged to sacrifice her only son Oluorogbo to Esimirin, a river goddess if she was successful in her quest – and she did. At that time human sacrifice was quite common and for one to let go of their only child for the sake of her people was seen as the greatest selfless act.

Given our history is largely oral, sometimes it is hard to separate myths, legends and true stories, however, Moremi’s story and its core message has always been consistent over the years as a courageous, beautiful and loyal woman.

Ooni Ogunwusi recently unveiled a giant 42ft high statue to honour Moremi Ajasoro on the same spot the princess lived at centuries ago. The statue looks quite impressive. I do hope that there is a plaque and perhaps booklet detailing more accurate information on the courageous woman with dates.

Thank you to Oba Enitan Ogunwusi and his team for walking the talk.

Just a little thought though, looking at this statue, I am a bit disappointed that if a photo of it was taken and shown to me, I wouldn’t have guessed she was a Yoruba woman let alone Moremi Ajasoro – we are at different time now, accurate representation of an important historical figure such as Moremi deserves better than a cheap replica of Statue of Liberty – it is a bad taste, sorry Oba.

I would have preferred to see Moremi Ajasoro to be in a Iro and buba with Oja strapped to her waist because that is what she was likely wearing at the time and the same style is what most of our women wear today.

Having said that, there is nothing wrong with copying a piece of artwork that one admires, calling it Moremi Statue of Liberty is what makes this one a bit tasteless.

Again, sorry Oba.

Overall, this project is a much appreciated one.

 

*Ugbo is located in Ondo state 

Sabada

I have heard ‘Sábàdà’ so many times over the years, usually during events when the drummers were doing their job. The word is associated with people of Modakeke. The drum message goes:

Sabada ni e lu fun, Modakeke lo ti wa – (Beat sabada for him, he is from Modakeke). For some reason, like intoxication, people will rise up to move their hips in rhythmic fashion – they’d dance for the recognition.

Once you get the grip on Yoruba language, it is not hard to decipher the meaning of any words, knowledge of accents and dots makes it a lot easier – creativity with words is endless.

However, looking at the word ‘sabada’ on its own – the meaning beats me. And interesting enough, a few elders I know agreed it to be a new word, perhaps in use in the last 30 years or so (yet to get hold of the relevant book).

As with all other languages of the world – language does not exist on its own, it evolves, changes, improves by the events of the society and the people therein – adding to the beauty of it all.

But where does Sábàdà come from and why is it associated with this group of people, the Modakekes?

Ẹwà Èdè – Beauty of Language

I found out that Sábàdà is a relatively new word coined Dr Oladiran Ajayi who was once a lecturer at University of Ibadan Chemistry Department and a passionate writer on the issue around Yoruba culture & tradition and how Modakeke-Ife fits into it.

This post isn’t about Sábàdà alone, it is more about how peaceful co existence facilitates progress.

Dec 26th 2015 was 32nd Akoraye Day – it is the town’s own festival to celebrate gift of life. It would have been the 34th but we missed two years 1997 & 2000. Read about that here

History, I have found is powerful. Knowing the past allows us to plan to execute actions differently if we ever expected different results.

On this day, I was with a friend, she is a fellow Modakeke and her husband is mixed (not race) His father is from Modakeke and Mother from Ile Ife. (what an irony) Our talks was all around our town, how we all are hoping that permanent (not pretend) peace reigns.

Permanent peace here means people in both towns and villages can go about their business with no fear for their lives.

“Oh well, let’s thank God now, abi? At least there’s more awareness and something promising is happening.” I said.

Then a text message about Ooni Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II came through that reads “Oba Enitan Ogunwusi is also present.” I showed the message to the adults around me – everyone was happy!

We were over three thousand miles away, all lived through the last 35 years and for the first time a monarch, in our lifetime deem it fit to step on to the soil next door to jubilate with fellow Yorubas, fellow Nigerians and fellow humans – well, Ooni Ogunwusi is making history and a positive one.

When people follow what they communicate with actions, then it means a lot.

I have heard and read online about Ooni Ogunwusi’s  insistent on bringing back permanent peace both in towns and villages – that is commendable.

My two kobo here is that – B’ina ko ba tan lori, ẹjẹ kii tan lekanna – (Lice infested clothes encourages ones fingers to be feasted on).

E f’ori jin omo, to ba se bi owe o.

I am not suggesting this will be an easy task given our long history, however, I hope Ooni Ogunwusi would look into making it possible for our farmers to return to their farms and villages. These are the people who managed to survive the massacre in the farms between 1997 and 2000. Residents of both towns were affected. Some of these people are still picking up pieces of their lives after 18years.

I know this is a lot to ask, but then again, Ooni Ogunwusi is Enitan (person of history), you have the authority to change the course of history – mend the broken hearts.

K’ade pe l’ori.

Underdevelopment as a result of cycles of violence

The talk about poverty has gained momentum in the last year, we talk about how the rural areas can be better developed, government deservedly gets lion share of the blame for mismanaging nation’s wealth however, we rarely talk about how our many royal families have contributed to the underdevelopment in their various regions.

Poverty and violence go hand in hand. In recent years, the commonly talked about violence in Nigeria is Boko Haram, however, before BH became globalised  there has always been less talked about violence in many of our regions contributing to underdevelopment.

On a Facebook forum the other day a picture of Oba Adesoji Aderemi was pulled up. He was the king of Ile Ife from 1930-1980. As usual, everyone said what they thought of him – in general royal families are celebrated, such was the attitude.

Then a lady asked – How come Ile Ife is so underdeveloped given all the privileges it has enjoyed over the years?

Ile Ife town has the second university in the southwest, founded in 1962 currently have about 35,000 students from all over Nigeria.

Prior to the university, Ile-Ife has for a long time enjoyed other privilege such as Isakole (proceeds from land lease) from neighbours.

This is a very important question that I have always thought not enough attention was given.

Not too surprising, most commenters decided to talk about the significance of Ile Ife to Yorubaland, all the glamorous bits that are in total contrast to the reality on our streets.

To the lady who did not shy away from asking a difficult question, I explained that it is true that our past history is distorted, sometimes hard to know what to believe. However, one of the reasons why Ile Ife remained underdeveloped despite a 50+ years old popular university in town was largely because of internal conflict that was ‘renewed’ in 1981, a few months after the sitting Ooni of Ife Oba Sijuade became king.

I shared a bit of what I witnessed and how growing up in the area has changed the way I view of our monarchs. How fights over land ownership has gotten the best of our elders, they kill, grab the land and sold on.

While many of the killings did not make it to the media outside of the region, words do get round hence investment is rarity in the area.

Here’s what one of the forum members had to say:

“I can’t even believe grown adults raising money to buy weapons to fight Modakeke. My dad gave hundreds of thousands of naira for weapons then. He abandoned the whole thing when he realised that there was no accountability on the money raised. He raised the issue of accountability in the palace and Ooni suggested that he should not talk about accountability so abstained from their agenda.”

To this guy I was grateful, not many people can be this honest even when not much is secret.

The second question was whether anyone has ever been arrested and brought to justice for the killings of the innocent farmers during and of Modakeke and Ife crisis.

To my knowledge, no one has ever been arrested let alone tried for any of the deaths.  The number of people that have been murdered both in towns and villages are in hundreds and counting since 1981.

I heard it’s all complicated.

Is it really?

I suppose what happens in a small town of a few thousand people is a reflection of our country as a whole – absolute power.

Speed to feed hungry roads

On the motorway going 70mph, it felt a bit too quiet after a friend called about her 82 years old father’s passing.

“Can’t talk, promise to call back in the evening” I cut in after hearing the reason for the call. I can already tell the funeral preparation is underway.

Mind drifted to the last time I heard about her father, he was a nice man. Then, I remember he had a car accident a while back that killed one of the passengers, that was a terrible one, the passenger was a family member.

“When was the last time your father sat behind the wheel?” I asked my friend when she told me of the fatal accident. I knew he always had a personal driver.

“Only started driving after retirement.” She responded. He has always had a personal driver.

God, help me I must stop this line of thoughts, before I ran into someone.

I stopped. Then turn on the radio.

Off the radio.

The silence became unbearable, so paid attention to my surrounding. I forgot how noisy it can get no the motorway, cars flying by.

Then I remember only a week ago that I encountered my very first psychic, my taxi driver. I had kept my peace initially but thought I’d tell my day’s story to a complete stranger.

I was at the supermarket to pick up a few items but discovered at the till that I had lost my car key, how could that be? How?

“The angel took the keys from you because you were not meant to drive” he says. “Ok” I responded.

Following driver’s recommendation – relax and think about how to replace the keys.

I felt better.

That was a week prior to the road trip.

I must focus but not before making a quick mental calculation of my chances of survival if I did not pay attention to what was going on around me. Well, given most drivers flying by were going between 70/80mph – I could be a dead meat.

Focus, I did.

Thinking about how it is in Nigeria:

Nigeria FRSC can be annoying sometimes, but I am glad that their presence has forced dangerous drivers to slow down therefore reduction in road fatality but we still have a very long way to go.

While the FRSC monitors the highway, how do you get the neighbourhood drivers to apply common sense while driving?

Only about two weeks ago a middle-aged man from Ile Ife visiting a friend in my town late in the evening killed an Okada man (motor cyclist). The bus driver has been driving way too fast and oblivious to other road users.

The driver ran away from the scene of accident leaving the deceased man in the pool of his own blood. Passersby applied the only way they knew the dead person could get justice – Jungle Justice. The bus was burnt.

Apparently the bus belonged to a politician not the dangerous driver, oh well.

Either way the innocent life wasted because of someone’s dangerous driving,, the driver now back on the road walking free.

In January this year, 11 women from Madam P home state were killed during campaign drives – the incident was terrible news for anyone with blood running through their veins but what is also sad and perhaps terrifying was the reactions of lots of Nigerians about this accident. People completely ignored the dangerous drivers and turned it to another political fights. Here

Even if all Nigeria roads are state of the art tomorrow, people still need to learn to take responsibility for their actions while on the road.

One good turn

It’s no longer news that the likes of Mr Chameleon ex Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha who escaped Europe in 2005 to avoid being prosecuted for money laundering or the other guy who became the governor of Delta state shortly after being  sacked for stealing at a UK DIY store  are easy ice breaker wheVn meeting strangers from out of country for the first time.

Despite all these corrupt public officials and many 419 email scams, there lie many, many Nigerians who are still very trustworthy and take pride in their work.

Professor Tim worked at an African Literature department in a UK university. When he was a young associate in the early 1970s, he visited the then University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) to study more about Nigeria literature. He was there for some time, a year, I think. During that time he had a steward called Patrick, who was slightly younger than Tim. They forged good friendship. Time came for Tim to leave, he left and that was it.

In 2005, I happened to be in the same place with Tim so he recounted his memory of Ile Ife, he spoke fondly of Patrick and wondered how he was doing. Perhaps he’s gone back to the east. Tim was just retiring from his professorship and would like to get to help Patrick financially, if he happens to need any.

A few years later, Patrick and Tim lost contact once again, they both have relied on letters – the last letter Tim had received was not particularly a happy one, he was concerned for his old friend, he asked if I could help locate him, again.

This time, it was a bit different as the popular market of Old Buka had been moved to a new location within the campus called New Market. The moving was very significant as it meant those short on cash were not able to relocate to the new area.

My sister was the No. 1 Lady Detective Agent – no one has seen Patrick in a long time even well before the move. Given the relatively small community nature, eventually after three weeks we found Patrick in his house bed-riding recovering from okada (motorcycle) accident.

He was like many ordinary Nigerian caught up in a lawless society. Knowing that he would not be able to afford the relocation to the New Market, he had used his savings to purchase a motorcycle to carry passengers, hoping his daily bread would be secured that way.

One day on his way back from dropping a passenger at the Sabo Market, a private car hit him unaware, sent him flying off his motorbike. Given it is during the day, and witnessed by many passersby, the driver of the car behaved responsibly and paid the initial hospital bill, then disappeared into the thin air.

Patrick narrated his story with shaky voice, a sixty something years old man who has been working from his teenage years (that’s very common for the Igbos around my town) and now at the mercy of samaritans. He was ashamed to hear from Tim but glad anyways that he still thought of him.

The friends were later reunited.

Regardless of the terrible news about Nigeria, Patrick is a reminder for Tim that there are plenty of decent everyday people in all of our cities,  going about their daily businesses – it was this mindset that inspire the strength to reunite friends.

Women and faiths during crisis

My perspective on religion is shaped by my small town crisis, everyone belonged to one sort of religion, some people two.

During crisis people around me called upon God in so many different ways. How did God respond?

An older woman in her 70s from my town shared her views about how God, Christian God fought for Modakeke during 1997 – 2000 crisis. It’s no secret we had fewer resources compared to the Ifes after all, Ile Ife is the cradle of Yorubaland.

Mrs Aduke was convinced it was the message she was sent from Prophet Obadare to the town that helped. She lived out-of-town at the time but travelled many times back to town with God’s anointing.

I agreed with Mrs Aduke, afterall Jesus said to the woman “… Your faith has saved you”

I believe there are many ways to see this given people of different faiths gave their undivided support.

Traditionally women were expected to fully participate by keeping the family together while men are in the front line.

Mrs Dorcas Adedoyin aka Rush E was once married to the Ogunsua of Modakeke, Oba Francis Adedoyin. They had a son together before their divorce several years ago. The then Mrs Adedoyin earned her nickname Rush E during the early years of her marriage to Mr Adedoyin (yet to be king), she sells akara (bean ball) at Oke Amola, Ologbin compound at which time people rushed to get to her stall on time to get their hands on her delicious akara before it’s all gone. Rush e relocated to Ore in Ondo as an independent woman and worked as a Herbalist and traditional healer after her divorce.

During 1997 crisis Rush e was very instrumental in liaising between the people in the front line and the palace. She gave all she had as a professional herbalist to help extract bullets from the wounded. This is very important as at the time many people died from gun wounds given all local clinics were filled up – only teaching hospital is at Ife so no hope and roads to get to Osogbo hospitals were blocked.

This was how Ade, my childhood friend died.

Just like many of us who happened to have family from both sides, Rush e’s mother was from Ife, father is from Modakeke and was caught in the middle so decided to defend her fatherland where her livelihood was.

I hope Oba Sijuade is noting this to see how families/relatives were turned against one another so the king could maintain his alter ego.

Rush e passed away a few years back, may her soul rest in peace. Modakeke will never forget her.

Mrs Déponírŏ was another courageous woman who secured Odo Okun area of Modakeke during the crisis. Her bravery was most notable in the 1983 crisis, when with a young baby still on breastmilk joined hundreds of others. She was popularly known as the woman who fought with a bunch of broom – how did she do it? God of Modakeke knows.

Mrs Déponírŏ lived in Pakoyi compound, an area that was very close to the borders of Ile Ife.  The Apostolic church headquarters at Odo-Okun survived the 1983 crisis as the area was well secured, thanks to Déponírŏ and other brave people.

Sadly the church and the mission house was burnt in 1997 crisis.

Mrs Dorcas (Rush e), Mrs Déponírŏ and many more women who prayed and worked on different projects were all God’s agents.

Boko Haram can be defeated with united Nigeria.

A sliver, hope nonetheless

This is part of an epic tale of growing up with my Yoruba monarch

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My parents generation today have witnessed at least two different Ile-Ife monarch reigns so sometimes they are best to tell some stories given most of our stories were not written and those that were, are seriously skewed to the benefits of the writer. Not everyone in that generation thought anything would ever change, most complained of being tired of asking for what is right, others feared they’d be at risk.

Either way, I believe we can not keep going the same old way and expected different results. If we want improvement in the way that  land ownership is being dealt with, then there must be a change, a defined and fair one.

I get excited about things – new experience, new places to explore so naturally visiting Thailand excited me more so that I have plenty of time to see and learn. For my six weeks there I saw plenty from the beautiful Grand Palace, to riding elephants in the north jungles. Really, you guys have palm trees too? That sort of knowledge filled me with innermost joy.

The biggest surprise of all came two days before leaving. I was in a big market in Bangkok, Chatuchak market, just window shopping but when I spotted a group of African shoppers, the veins in my head popped. I remembered the saying that 1 in every 5 black person you see is likely to be a Nigerian so I thought, I’ll keep walking around to see if I’d see some.

Before long I found myself in a Nigerian restaurant eating eba and egusi – incredible. Spoke to an Osogbo woman who has African prints shop, the type and quality that you don’t get back home, so I stocked up for my parents.

Then comes the biggest surprise of all. Adegoke walked into the restaurant, ordered his food, and sat opposite me. He has been in Bangkok for a while, so decided to settle there, not easy he told me. “Compared to home, what do you say?” Goke chuckled and looked me in the eye saying between us both “Hell is better than home he left behind.”

Nigeria is not that bad, maybe not enough opportunities but really not that bad. so I asked him, tell me “where are you from that is that bad.” He hesitated because he thought I could never understand, but I urged him to trust me. Then he said the most unexpected town ever, “Modakeke” No way, I yelled and gave him the biggest hug ever.

After getting over the shock, then come the familiar stories, we both shared tales of our beloved town, we knew each others primary and secondary schools even knew a few people in common.

It was the 1997 – 2000 crisis, he went to secure the borders for a few days with a gun, the experience was just a bit too much for him so he swore to get away from it all and here he found himself. Goke was in his early 20s at the time.

Meeting Goke gave me hope. He knows the true story of what has happened and continue to happen till today and the aftermaths on people. This negative effects is not just on one side, it affects everyone from both communities.

Hope it is.