An African Tragedy by Adesina Ogunlana

1 Comment » October 21st, 2010 posted by // Categories: General Articles



Omo ale

Lo n fi ow osi

Ju ‘we ile baba re” (Yoruba proverb)

(Only a bastard points out his father’s house with his left hand)

Sometimes last month, in the fore-teeth of September, I was on official duty as it were, one fine Sunday afternoon, to Ibadan.

The occasion was the thanksgiving service and reception of Mr. Erhabor 2nd Vice President NBA for his electoral success in the last Delegates election of the NBA in July 2010.

Expectedly O.J’s friends, relatives, admirers turned up at the event, likewise his political supporters and strategists. Success is never a lonely brand.

It was a rich quiet victory dance of a thanksgiving service. It was praises galore to God for the “wonderful victory” recorded by O.J at the polls. The man himself received a lot of commendations from all and sundry.

Yet the happy event was marred for me, incidentally from  rather unlikely quarters; a royal father from Ilesa, Oyo State- O.J’s practice base.

The royal father, a high chief from Ilesa who was more or less the representative of the paramount ruler of Ijesa land prefaced his speech with these stunning remarks- “When I left home, today the Kabiyesi specifically instructed me that I should not speak the English language here, that I should deliver his message at this gathering in Yoruba language. But when I got here and saw the array of learned men all over here, I was perplexed. I thought within me how could I deliver Kabiyesi’s message in this August gathering in Yoruba. So as things stand, I will speak in English and when I get home, I will tell Kabiyesi that I just could not speak Yoruba in the place you sent me”

I was shocked and saddened at this declaration which was a desecration of culture, a perfect and tragic self abnegation and degradation of the entity called the Africa. The greater tragedy was that the foul talk was greeted with applause, smiles and wide grins. What a horror – like you must feel, seeing a mad man marching up and down a busy street in broad day light, in  only his skin, arms akimbo and whistling merrily away! My sadness can only be imagined. By his declaration, the chief (is he really a chief?) thumped his race in the face. How can a true Africa high chief declare openly that he could not obey his monarch and did just that brazenly? What a sorry pass the African ‘monarchy’ (even if only decorative) has come to, that the instructions of a first class king like the Owa of Ilesa could be treated with levity by his own ambassador. The chief’s (is he really a chief?) position is quite clear –  Yoruba  is not a language fit for the society of civilized folks and enlightened souls, but fit I reasonably presume for the hills of Philistia and Isles of Barbary!

Oh, how are the mighty fallen! Oh what arrant nonsense! Yoruba the home of a thousand and one poetics, the flute of the dirge, the trumpet of the panegyrist, the drum of the Oshugbo, the voice of the Ifa the unerring deity of divination, the conductor of the potent invocation, the very tongue of Oduduwa, understood and respected in the heavenly ………. Now not good for use in the midst of mere mortals who happen to be lawyers?

Indeed, how very low are the mighty fallen! That Ilesa chief is typical of most Africans; deep, fervent and incorrigible believers in the inferiority of the African in the comity of the human race.

Oh, pity for a people who take pride in other people and pour scorn on themselves. Oh, pity for self made, self-defined slaves. Oh, pity for a race that calls others giants and themselves mites. Oh, pity for fools and ignoramuses. As for me I AM BLACK AND PROUD.

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One Response to “An African Tragedy by Adesina Ogunlana”

  1. Labuata Bayouasis says:

    The denigration of indigenous languages in Africa is a sad thing to see and the so call educated elites contributed in no small way to the sorry state of affairs in the cradle of humanity. I recently visited Lagos and all my nieces and cousins could not speak yoruba language and these are people born and bred in Lagos. The inferiority complex has now become part and parcel of  us that most of us forget that THERE IS NO SUPERIOR CULTURE. A man who is not proud of his culture is not fit to live.   

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