Yoruba, Nigeria, indigenous nations and common lies
Nigeria is full of dishonest people. I do not know all that may have been responsible for the loss of values, but certainly the years of military rule led to perverted sense of judgment. Prompted by perks and material offers, it was at the time of military rule that many Nigerians become “anything goes for money.” It led to the emergence of a new psychology, a new way of thinking and a new mindset. Good became bad and bad good, all you need to do is to rationalize it. The worst aspect is for the rot in values to be taken to the realm of intellectual discourse, when educated people defend what is ethical wrong and historically false. The military regimes, in the desperate bid to keep the country as one, recruited the most brilliant, and all they needed was to rationalize every government action, no matter how irresponsible.
Some Journalists also joined the group. Today, for some intellectuals and crooked journalists, Nigeria must be defended in all her shape and colour simply because the break-up of the country would affect the interest of certain ethnic groups.
Recollect that at a time of the country’s moral meltdown, Dr Bala Usman became an anti-history when he argued that all the oil and oil products belong to the North since the tributaries of the South South took sediments and carbon remains from the North which became petroleum many years after. At that time, we read journalists who defended the killing of Ken Saro Wiwa. We saw journalists and intellectual who propounded theories and quoted false references to support the killing of Ken. The same hawks are back again in full colour.
In order to defend and promote the Nigerian hegemony, they have come up with lies against indigenous nations that existed before Nigeria was created in 1914. They argue that there were no Ijaw or Yoruba nations, no Igbo, Itsekiri, Andoni or Tiv nations. The worst is to assume that these elements are doing it for free. It is rather a conscious plot to demystify the indigenous peoples, destroy their existence and brutalise their past. They are wrong for the following reasons:
1) The indigenous nations existed in the pre-amalgamation era as defined by certain elements: Their language; their culture, their territory, their history, their values and their civilisations.
2) These agents of repression often base their arguments on existing systems of government. But nations are not defined by systems of government alone. There are indeed nations without systems of government. There were Jews before the Israeli government emerged. There were Chinese before the Chinese system of government emerged. Not all the indigenous nations had their systems of government, but they had authority. The indigenous nations had one form of authority (spiritual or political) accepted to many of them as at the time. The Yoruba for instance derived their spiritual authority from Ile-Ife. When the Oyo Empire was formed, a section of the Yoruba derived political authority from Oyo Empire. A section did not, but this does not remove the common ancestry that bind them together.
3) They have also argued on names given or bore by the indigenous peoples. The fact is that names are abstract, they could be given to a people by themselves or given by outsiders as a way of describing the people. The word Germany was not given to Germans by the Germans. The first person to speak of the word “German” was a Roman figure Tacitus in his work Germaniaaround 100 AD. The word English was not given to the English people by themselves. English is a West Germanic language brought from West Germany around the 5th to 7th century by Germans. The world Israel was not given to Jewish by themselves either. It was Jacob whose name was changed to Israel. This does not remove the fact that there were a Jewish people with distinct history and distinct ancestry traced to Abraham.
4) For the fact that the word “Africa” was given to black people in this hemisphere does not mean the African people only came with the emergence of the name or their existence was void until the name Africa was given. The name America was coined by Martin Waldseemüller from Americus Vespucius, the Latinized version of the name of Amerigo Vespucci. He is an Italian.
5) The Yoruba have a common history, common ancestry and have been called various names like Aku or Ekun or Oodua and also Yoruba. In Benin Republic, they are called Anago. The word Yoruba has been linked to various sources like Euroba, or to a certain writing by a Fulani scholar. Euroba is a moon goddess of the semitis. the Yoruba are close kin of the Phoenicians and the Greeks and the Egyptians, they have lived in proximity with these people in the past before their migration. As such, Egypt and Greek have places and names fossilized in Yoruba language till date. But the fact is that the word Yoruba is also found in Ese Ifa which existed as a theory of knowledge centuries before the Yoruba had any encounter with the Fulani people. It is all intellectual fraud to delete, deny and annul our ancestry. These same people prefer to be called Nigerians, a name given by Flora Sha and that makes sense to them, but yet deny being Yoruba because they do not know the origin of the word. What a shame! People deny themselves and their history for material gains.
6) The various accounts of European visitors to Yorubaland described their coming to “Yoruba country”. The war that took place in Yoruba land was described as “civil war” not a war between two nations, but a war within one nation.
7) For the fact that a system of government covering the entire Yoruba Nation had not totally evolved by 14th century does not mean there was no Yoruba Nation at the time. These same pseudo intellectuals argue there is a Nigeria Nation, even though it is still evolving but they deny the existence of Yoruba Nation. This is deliberate fraud to scuttle Yoruba campaign for self determination and to oil the interest of the Northern Fulani emirate system.
8) Mr Kolawole Simeon who has been supporting this view is not an intellectual. He is known to write in some flowery language but without depth and bereft of historical knowledge. All his career he has written consistently against his own people. He was honoured when he launched his The Cable and prominent Fulani leaders were there. He is one of such who live on the goodwill and benevolence of those who want to keep the Yoruba nation perpetually down.
9) We should continue to engage them intellectually. They cannot also deny the fact that Yoruba Nation has further been consolidated by the coming of Chief Obafemi Awolowo who has given us cause to be proud as a people with common history and ancestry desirous to assert ourselves as a sovereign nation that no force on earth will be able to stop, God willing.
Mrs Hamzat is the leader of Yoruba Women Professionals, (YOWEP)