Few nights ago, Twitter was agog with tweets about the Ooni. The Ooni had come under the radar after a video of him proclaiming Jesus Christ as his father had surfaced online. While some supported this, many others condemned it. I was indifferent until some tweets started springing up. These tweets caught my attention and pricked me. Twitter, being a conglomeration of people with different background, undermining, intentionally or not, of the king and/or the institution he represents was bound to happen.
His coronation about a year ago was greeted with much enthusiasm because as a modern and wealthy young man, he was more positioned to open to development, the sleepy, ancient town of Ile-Ife. His effort in unifying the Yoruba monarchs is immensely applauded. In an interview of his I watched, he claimed to have opened up hitherto sacred sites in Ile Ife for tourism. This will further open up the town to visits.
His travels around the world have raised concerns though. The monarch has visited quite a number of people including Atiku Abubakar and the Jagaban, Bola Tinubu; both of whom are politicians. However, his visit to footballer, Obafemi Martins seemed odd though. It raised a number of eyebrows. In the aforementioned interview, he admitted to be quite restless and a traveller when he was a private citizen, thus, giving the explanation for his bouts of travels.
In primary school Social Studies, we were taught of the 3 major religions in Nigeria; Islam, Christianity and the Traditional religion. These 3 religions are mutually exclusive except for the former two, whose doctrines are slightly similar. The traditional religion is a collective term for the beliefs in the various orishas that abound. It is common place for monarchs to be custodian of the traditional beliefs. Chief among these custodians is the Oonirisha. History has it that the office started out as that of the Chief Priest; the custodian of all deities in Ile Ife. That seems to have sealed the faith and fate of any Ooni. Over time, the adherents of the traditional beliefs have been seen by the adherents of the other two as been diabolical and evil. No thanks to their dogmas. Heck! Aregbesola came under attack for declaring public holidays for the celebration of traditional festivals.
This got me wondering if the traditional religion is going extinct. This seeming defunctness also has a domino effect on culture. That’s where my fears really lie. For instance, a major cultural identity, language appears to be losing its relevance. Parents no longer communicate in their dialects with their children, thus, raising progenies with little or no cultural identities. Many wouldn’t be caught dead conversing in Yoruba in public, they’d rather speak pidgin. I’ve even had yearn to learn Mandarin and French because, according to them, they are economically viable. How myopic! There is a workshop that holds regularly in the US and Canada about African Linguistics. Yet, isn’t it ironic that the workshop hasn’t held in Africa before? Interestingly, the last one had less than 5 linguists from Africa in attendance. Talk about a prophet not being respected in his homeland! I won’t be surprised, however if, in a few decades, the Europeans and Americans are the Yoruba teachers in our schools. In fact, the celebration of Yemoja festival is already a mainstream in the Caribbean. While we hail them and brag about how advanced our culture is, we denigrate its aficionados at home. It has begun! People are rated highly because of their foreign affiliations. That’s how I view this. The subject is rated that high because of western validation; neocolonialism of the mind?
Finally, the Ooni can keep hailing his heavenly father but it really is a sign of the present state of our culture.
PS- Erhime, I’ve not forgotten my promise o! It’s coming up next 🙂