Obasanjo And The Fun About Age

Source: Andrew A. Aroloye
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I was not amused when I read from the papers of the dilemma of Chief Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo, when he said 'there are those of us like me who have no real record of birth'. He went further to say: 'I was actually born on Ifo Market day'. Chief Obasanjo said his mother fell into labour as she was preparing to go the market and before the people who went to the market came back, he had been born. In his usual jovial way he concluded, 'I know I was born on Ifo market day. Don't ask me what year or month'

I believe his old time friend, Oba Olusanya Dosumu, The Olowu of Owu instead of postulating that he knew that Chief Obasanjo was actually older than 77 years, could have saved the gathering the problem of how old The Chief was on that day. He, Oba Dosumu, is a Yoruba and not a pseudo-Yoruba historian he is also a home grown. The reader will remember that Oba Dosumu was a member of the original cast of 'The village Headmaster' the Radio and TV programme created by late Chief Segun Olusola. The weekly drama was based on a typical Yoruba village setting of the old. He and late Oba Funso Adeolu, the late Alaiye Ode of Ode- in Remo, late Oba Wole Amele, late Alara of Aramoko Ekiti, Oba Segun Akinbola, the reigning Aladeokun of Alade, Idanre, late Peter Esiri and Mr. Dejumo Lewis, The Oloja of Oja Village (that existed in myth) were masters of how Yoruba custom and tradition was before our time. I believe the respected Oba did not want to let off the cat from the bag.

The oldest man that ever lived was Methuselah. His age as recorded in Genesis 5:27 was 969 years. He was born when his father Enoch was 65 years old. Enoch was recorded to have lived for 365 years. Methuselah was recorded as the father of Lamech who was the father of Noah who was born c2070 B.C.E. i.e. 1056 years after Adam's creation. In that case, Methuselah was the grandfather of Noah who became more popular with the story Noah's Ark that was used to house every living thing of all flesh, two of every kind-male and female during the flood or Deluge of c2370 B.C.E.

If at that time the Bible was specific with dates and time, and this was thousands of years ago, how come, it could be difficult to do so today!. I do not see why it should have been too difficult for Chief Obasanjo to have a clearer idea of when he was actually born.

Ages were determined for those who were not lucky to have documented dates of birth through several events in history. The Egba war of Independence or Kurumi war had dates in history. The Kiriji war had a record too. The not too late ADUBI war in 'Egba-State' was fought in 1918. Both the legendary Moremi and Madam Tinubu were Yorubas, yet, the Yoruba had an idea of when they where born and how long they lived. To me, there was no 'seriousness' in the Chief telling the world that he could not actually tell how old he is when his daughter some years ago had told Nigerians that she knew her father was older than the ages advertised by the birthday 'sycophant greeters' in the news papers.

As far back as the seventeenth Century when we understand Islam first got to this end and even the eighteenth and nineteenth Century when the Europeans moved in, it has been possible to link events in the life of any individual and this nation to specific times and dates. We have just celebrated the nations Centenary. We knew the amalgamation was 1st January, 1914. People were born on that day, three months after or even four-five years after that amalgamation. A proper calculation for an individual's dead or living since 1914 birthday or year could equally be calculated from that point.

Christians and Muslims have set days and months for their FEAST and festivals.. Chief Olusegun is a devout Baptist. The dates could change but the season and period remains. The Advent season is the beginning of the Christian year and it continues till Christmas day which is 25th December each year. Epiphany is 6th January of every year and is generally referred to as the day of Revelation of Christ. Easter-day, on which the rest of the Christian festivals depend, is always the First Sunday after a Full Moon, which happens upon, or next after the 'Twenty First Day of March'; and if the full moon appears on a Sunday, Easter day will be the Sunday following. Ash Wednesday is usually 40 days to Easter day. Advent Sunday is November 30th this year and it is always the nearest Sunday to the Feast of St. Andrew.

Easter Sunday was 8th April in 2012, but in 2013, it fell on March 31st whereas in 2014, Easter day is April 20th. And for the Muslims, Eid-Al-Fitr was August 19th in 2012 but in 2013, it was August 8th: however in 2014 it is most likely to fall on 28th July depending too on the sighting of the moon. These Feasts do not necessarily fall on a particular day but they fall within a particular season for the Christians and Muslims. If for instance somebody was born on Easter day of the year of ODUAHGATE in Nigeria Airways, it means that, that person was born on 31st March, 2013. Or if the person was born on Ash Wednesday of the same year of the event in question, it means, the date of birth was Wednesday 13th February 2013. Had the birth been on Ash Wednesday of the year 56 pupils were killed in Buni Yadi, Yobe State Nigeria, by Boko Haram, then the birthday would have been Wednesday 5th March 2014. All put together in our traditional beliefs and in Christendom, we have on the whole 364(5) days or 52 weeks in all in a year.

In local parlance every Yoruba town has fixed days for each ceremony like Chief Obasanjo said his mother told him he was born on 'Ifo market day' which is every five days. In Idanre, it is possible and easy to know the date a new moon will appear in the sky because of town festivals and market days. Each month in Idanre has a local name like the British Calendar. For instance, 'Osu Use' is February of every year ditto 'Osu Ogun' (God of Iron) which is October of each year. Each month has a specific festival and in between, falls the market days, that are used for calculation. If for instance, one goes to Idanre Palace today, even through one may not have been there often, as soon as the person enters the gate of the Palace left or right, it will be easy as an indigene to determine which local festival will be celebrated within that month. On the date, a particular gate is closed to traffic (left or right), that night, the new moon will appear in the sky. These are what our forefathers used for calculation before the advent of the British Calendar and it has never failed.

What I am trying to say further is that a child whose mother has told him that, he was born six days after Nigeria attained independence will know that he was born on the 6th of October 1960. When my mother died, we had the problem of calculating her age. But, from available records we were able to ascertain that she was born during the month of 'USE' which I said is February, and six years after Governor Carter visited Idanre to present a letter from the Queen of England to the Owa of Idanre. With that, we calculated that our mother was born in February, 1902 because Governor Carter visited Idanre on 5th September 1896, it could not have been the festival of 1903. The only thing we missed out was the REAL date in the month of February 1902. This really is what I am driving at; So readers let our distinguished former President, tell Nigerians his actual age.

Andrew A. Aroloye Is A Public Communicator Who Wrote From: [email protected]

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