By Niyi Osundare
Let us begin by deliberating on the choice and import of the word “still” in the above title. A temporal, somewhat contrastive adverb, the word carries connotations of the relationship between time past and time present, with possible implications for time future. It purveys significations of an idea, an act, a condition, a circumstance, a plague, a pleasure that once was but has refused to go away, or has been prevented from doing so. In my personal deployment of that word in this lecture, I have imbued it with a dose of stubborn insistence, a heady never-say-die spirit, a somewhat inexplicable tenacity, a delicate optimism borne of a visionary impulse. It is emboldened by what is (or used to be, alas,!), a globally recognized Ekiti Ideal (More on that later).
For, the title of my lecture today has been with me for almost two decades, and its spirit had lived in my consciousness long before that. “In Defence of Lasting Values”: that was the title of my acceptance speech at the 2001 Amoye Grammar School Alumni Award ceremony. Almost one decade and half later, I had to update that address for publication in a special magazine by the same school. And curiously enough, while racking my brain for a fitting subject for today’s momentous event, that title popped up again, and I began to feel something akin to the urge to complete – no, continue – an unfinished business which will never stop agitating my mind until the task has been done. For, a frightful lot has happened to Ekitiland since 2001 when my first Values lecture engaged the attention of my fellow Amoye Grammar School alumni. Our state has see-sawed from light to darkness, darkness to light, and back to darkness again, as we fumbled from gubernatorial tenures marked by civility and visionary idealism to others characterized by primitive despotism and medieval barbarism. We became the only state in Nigeria clamped down under a state of emergency and humiliated with the imposition of a unilaterally appointed sole administrator, even in a civilian dispensation. In spite of all this, where then did I get that audacity to prelude my “Defence of Lasting Values” with that word ‘Still’ with its obstinately recurrent import?. What “values” am I talking about, and what is responsible for their much touted resilience?
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Values are that body of beliefs, principles, norms, and mores which undergird custom and convention, and are the major determinants of a people’s way of being, thinking, doing, behaving; their perception of themselves and others, their recognition of their place in the world. They are the building blocks of major societal institutions such as religion law, politics, and the econmy.. In many ways, the relationship among these institutions and the value system could be seen as symbiotic, mutually referential, and mutually reinforcing. Value consciousness, or what I am inclined to call value literacy, plays a vital role in the determination of what society categorizes as acceptable practices and protocols of behavior, much as it shapes what gets ostracized to the territory of abominations and taboos. This is why the aa kii; an in in Ekiti dialect (we do not…..; it is not done) principle in Youruba proverbs and other wise sayings is so potent, at times to the point of legal prohibition. In the thinking of many elders, the flagrant flouting of the aa kii principle is largely responsible for the social anomy and cultural degeneration that pervade Yoruba society today. It is also the cause of the rampart, ostensibly uncontrollable corruption that is the bane of our social health and economic sanity. The value system provides the determining tool for judgong greatness and its opposite, for heroism is determined by the aggregate of those achievements and salient aspects of behavior considered highly treasured by all, but achievable by only a few. The hero is the instantiation and practical demonstration of these ideals, their exemplum and enviable champion.
Our value options define us even as we define those options. “Show me the value system of a society, and I will tell you what kind of people it contains”. A society given to materialism will measure people’s self-worth and importance by their possession of hefty bank accounts and/or the size and number of their cash-loaded Ghana-must-go’s, the palatial superfluity of the family mansion, the exclusive location of their residence, the trendy, foppish extravagance of the wardrobe, the number of automobiles in the family garage and driveway and their ‘awesome’, exotic make/class, , the model, size, of the family private jet, and, these days, the pedigree and jaw-dropping price of their mobile phone/handset. And, of course, these material acquisitions never come without their socio-economic, political, and ethical correlatives. For, a well oiled, satanically orchestrated regimen of sleaze and corruption is required to keep the personal wealth going – and increasing – and ensure that the control of political power remains in the hands of those that are certain to maintain the hemorrhaging of the commonweal in order to guarantee the in-flow of public wealth into private pockets . Afterall, the money invested in the installation of lackeys through the rigging of a civil election, or change of government by means of coup de tat has one principal goal: the maintenance and sustenance of that evil nexus of economic power and political dominance to the benefit of the powerful actors and the eternal detriment of the citizenry.
Differential values. Differential goals. Differential accomplishments. Differential valuations. Contrary to the scenario laid out above, a society which places its priority is on knowledge, the wisdom which brings it into being, its generation, dissemination, and purposive command, is most likely to be made of a sober breed. While the money man flaunts his wealth, beats his chest, swears by the sheer superabundance of his possessions even as he sways and swaggers across his empire, the knowledge-seeker is priest in a different temple. The Book and other purveyors of knowledge are his prime possession, the library his mansion, his study his altar, the universe his canvas, Justice his abiding brief, Humanity his infinite charge. Ideas do not only rule the world. The world was invented by them and they have never ceased re-inventing it. For ideas are mercurial, potent, uncontainable, unkillable. They make the past present; they make the future look like the past. Inalienable offspring of the Imagination, they are the compost-bed of the most wondrous germinations, the fertile mother of all inventions, the forever intriguing cohabitation of fact and fancy. Very much like the architect, they live in houses before they are built.
Here, then, these two houses: the one built with cash and concrete, stone and steel, the other with dream and fancy; the one ruled by the netherworld of appropriations and appetites, the other by the invisible but eternally nourishing manna of the mind; the one hanging from the tinsel top of a golden rack, the other tremulous like that chord that strums the universal harmony; the one brash and brittle, the other made of supple clay; the one loud and rude, the other solemn and soberly reflective.
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Differential values, differential adulations. The ideals you extol reveal the kind of person you are and your grammar of values. Once upon a time, Ekiti weighed these contending options and had no problem in knowing which to choose and where to go. That was when the world knew us as Alagidi Ekiti (Stubborn Ekiti people); when the happy synonyms of ‘alagidi’ included words such as ‘proud’, ‘tough-minded’, ‘principled’, ‘dependable’, ‘tenacious’, a people who knew their rights and how to defend them without trampling on the rights of others. That was when our heads stood straight on our upright necks; for we knew, without being told, the difference between wrong and right; between fake and true, between the dissembling demagogue and the genuine leader. That was when we knew the difference between night and day. That was when an abomination called stomach infrastructure had not replaced our brain with our innards.
I never saw people starve and die in the Ekiti of my youthful days. Whoever had a little more shared the surplus with the needy and hungry. Hard work and honest labour were highly valued, and the length of your ogba usu (yam barn) at harvest time in December and/or the impressive expanse of your cocoa farm were the toast of the town, which brought honour to you and your family, and might even win you a new wife. Wealth, honestly earned, was respected; wealth from dubious sources was disdained and ridiculed in traditional songs and snide remarks. That was the time people asked: Ibi se ti reo re? (Where did he get his money from/What is the source of his wealth?). Humanity was at the very centre of our universe. One of my mother’s relations was named Eotomo (The human being surpasses money), a name I got to know before Nigeria’s 2nd Republic politics made Omoboriowo a household name. This idea also found expression in an aphoristic saying I heard quite often in those days: Eo fun ruru, e t’oniyan (Money looks so flashy, but it is not as beautiful as the human being). The electoral activities in those days had their own venal blight too, but it is surely nothing to compare with the dibo ko se’be, (cast your vote and earn money for a pot of soup), dibo ko ra’le (cast your vote and earn money to buy a plot of land) racketeering of today. I remember with aching nostalgia that Ikere man who was reported to have told his wife to return to sender the portion of salt given to her to secure her vote for a particular political party, his reasoning being Me yo j’e io (I don’t want to commit an abomination). Yes, indeed, that was when moral infrastructure sustained the strength of our house of values.
Ever before the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, made that dramatic answer popular, if you asked Ekiti people in those days three items that occupied topmost place in their list of priorities, the sure chorus would be ‘Education, Education, Education’. Upcountry people with no powerful political pedigree and handed-down wealth, Ekiti wrote those lines with their belief and action before the prodigiously talented Odunjo put them down on paper:
Ise l’oogun ise
Ti a ko ba r’eni fehinti
Bi ole la nri
Ti a ko ba r’eni gbeke le
A tera mo ise eni
The heroes of my youth were educated people – or, more exactly, people who heightened our aspirations with the sheer enthusiasm and uncommon acumen with which they acquired Western education. Our aspirational anthem was composed of names such as Ojo Ugbole, Ogundare, Ajayi Ikole, Longe Odina Ukere, Aluko Ode, Akintoye, Babatola, Afe Babalola Ado, Osuntokun Okemesi, Ajayi Ugbara Odo, Olaofe Are, Okeya Emure, Ogundipe Ijes-Usu, Olubunmo Orin, Esan (of Esin Atiroja fame) Ikoro….. Infinitely fascinating is the nomenclatural peculiarity of these designations: the first being the surname of the subjects, the second the names of their towns of origin. In a true Yoruba oriki tradition, these figures bore their towns’s names as if they were their surnames. They shone the light of their achievements on those towns, gave them a place in the sun, and brought them to fame and reckoning. For a long, long time, I thought Ugbole was Ojo’s father’s name. The juxtaposition of person and place and the merging of distinct, uneven identities provides a unique instance of the ways one person could extol a whole town, the curious manner a tree could make a forest.
And of course, all this was happening when the magic of Zik of Africa, Obafemi Awolowo, Chike Obi, D.O. Fagunwa ruled the airwaves. All kinds of myths emerged around these names and their Ekiti counterparts listed above, myths which gathered strength and girth as they rolled along the boulevards of time . Absolutely edifying were the personal odysseys of many of these individuals, the different ways they triumphed over their travails. Take the case of Afe Babalola who, owing to financial indigence, took and passed all his degree examination at home, and who, today, is founder and proprietor of a flourishing university. There is the fabulous story of Ojo Ugbole who, too poor to buy books, would simply saunter into the bookshop, pick up the required book, read and commit it to memory there and then, proceed to the classroom and excel in test based on that book! Our juvenal realities derived both fillip and fire from their myths as we strove to be like these prominent individuals and replicate their sterling accomplishments.
Yes, education was the core value and driving dream of the Ekiti of my youth. And I, standing before you today, am a grateful beneficiary of the Ekiti Ideal. Many fathers leased out their cocoa farms; many mothers sold their favourite clothes to fund their children’s education. It was universally seen as the worthiest investment, as demonstrated clearly in the following song, which was one of my mother’s favourites:
Elu o e Elu o eee
Elu o aaa Elu o aaa
Ku ‘ku ba ti mo mo p’omo mi lule oko o If death does not kill my children in my husband’s house
Mo ti a p’itan ijo mo je o I will one day tell the story of when I had enough to eat
Mo ti a p’itan ijo mom un o I will one day tell the story of when I had enough to drink
Mo ti a s’eye Ologun Tisa o I will be the proud mother of the Gallant Teacher
Particularly significant in this song is the singer’s aspiration to become ‘eye Tisa’ (Teacher’s mother), a clear indication of the high esteem in which the teacher was held in those days. An institutional figure whose role and impact went beyond the classroom by virtue of his enviable learning and education, the teacher was regarded as an embodiment of enlightenment, a community leader, public letter-writer/reader, consultant on matters many and varied, disciplinarian of the community’s wayward children, who also sometimes doubled as lay reader or choir master in the community church. In many communities, the Teacher’s pantry was regularly stocked with all manner of farm products as a token of appreciation of and gratitude for his teacherly duties and other services to society. Yes, indeed, time there was when the Teacher was both gallant and glorious. And Ekiti society was the better for it.
The Ekiti saw education as fortune-changer and tool of empowerment, the only way out of their land-locked lot with its rural privations and limited opportunities. People worked for it, hoped for it, prayed for it. Permanently etched in my memory is one of the events which occurred in Ikere in December 1971, during the Ikere Students Union public service drive. As Secretary to the Union, I was leader of one of the bob-a-job groups, armed with hoes, machetes, brooms, buckets, and all manner of tools, ‘jobbing’ all over the town for donations to our bursary fund – an ISU initiative designed to provide modest financial relief for needy and deserving Ikere students. As our group trooped through Ikere streets, townspeople stood by the roadside greeting ‘In okun o; In sere o’; and praying ‘A ye in o; Uku a pa in’ (Greetings. Thank you. It will be well with you. May you live long); with the women intoning this particular supplication ‘Ori mi, jo mo mi sayiye; mo jan an mu temi s’apinle’ (My God, let my children succeed; don’t let my own fortune become an additional bonus for others) . When we got to a compound in Iro quarters, greeted the family head, explained our mission, and were about to commence the clearance of the bush around the house and sweeping the dirty patch behind the kitchen, the man hailed us to a halt, and shouted ‘Abaekere, i a o’ (Young man, come here). A sully-looking boy emerged from the house and the family head, his father, requested us to ‘ko ri ire ran’ (infect him with your good fortune/success). ‘Asasukuru ni’ (He is a truant), the man continued; ‘In ba mu sure koo, koun naa yo ri bi tin in’ (Help me pray for him so that he too can be like you’. Whereupon yours sincerely went from bob-a-jobber to priest, and a chorus of Ase, Amin pervaded the early morning atmosphere of the neighbourhood. But our advocacy went beyond mere prayers. I drew the young boy to my side and asked what was his problem with school. ‘Tisa ra i na niyan yiye’ (Our teacher canes people too much), he complained. We counselled him to stop doing things that usually attracted the teacher’s cane; to work hard and be of good character. We also told the father to see the teacher. The cloud on the young boy’s face cleared. He promised to mend his ways. Years later an acquaintance gave me the happy news that Abakekere had become a university undergraduate.
This was the situation once upon a time. Education was Ekiti’s prime value and the acquisition of it was the supreme goal. The educated person was a respected, but the truly revered were the exceptionally brainy. At Christ’s School, the Oxford of Ekiti, the names of sterling academic achievers were etched in our memory’s hall of fame and passed on from generation to generation like invaluable legends. Who could pass through Christ’s School in those days without hearing about the exploits of the likes of Olukayode Osuntokun, Segun Aribatise, Kayode Obembe (then known as Ojo Lawrence), and Wuraola Olaofe, all of who garnered A1 in all of their eight WAEC subjects in their respective years; or Akin Oyebode whose performance in the Higher School Certificate exam of 1966 was one of the first stories of academic heroism I heard when I arrived at Christ’s School the following year for the same course? These achievements went a long way in confirming the Agidimo Citadel as one of Nigeria’s preeminent institutions, and Ekiti as a region which softened the soil for the blooming of exemplary academic accomplishments . Remember that all this happened in an era when examination malpractices were strange to our educational system; when miracle centres had not made their infamous/criminal entry, and unvarnished integrity was the crowning glory of the West African Examination Council.
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But all this is now upon a time. Today a new god rules the waves from the nether world of nescience, a blindfold across its face, in its hand a spiked cudgel caked with dollops of the human brain. It hears no voice except its own. The book is its implacable enemy; enlightened discourse its deafening adversary. Permit me to quote a few lines from ‘The Spirit of Ikogosi’, my keynote lecture five years ago, not long after the era of darkness the like of which we have just been through in the past four years:
The book lost its allure, knowledge its aura, enlightenment its sparkle. For the first horrible time, I heard some Ekiti people ask, as is the wont in other parts of Nigeria: ‘Na bukuru we go chop?’. The Fountain of Knowledge was muddled by political madness; its mountainous fountainhead was bulldozed by political bestiality. . . . . Thus, even in Ekitiland, Iwe du un aripose/Aogo sukuru dun iparifo agba. (The book became an object so repulsive/The school bell sounded like an empty barrel).
Hand in hand with the precipitous fall in the value we place on education and rapid decline in its quality went a corresponding tumble of other elements on our grid of values. Poor teacher education led to poor teaching skills; poor pedagogic practices and half-baked, unemployable graduates. Education lost its purpose, then its attraction. The book lost its bounce. Ignorance thrust up itself as a viable, unavoidable virtue. As the ranks of the unemployed swelled with the addition of the unemployable, school drop-out rates skyrocketed and our motor parks, marketplaces and other open spaces were turned into crowded haunts by desperate youths with ignorance in their heads, anger in their hearts, and anomy in their intent. These are the fodder for apocalyptic social conflagrations, ready and grateful recruits when diabolic politicians need murderous thugs at election times, for the elimination of political opponents, or the sacking of a sitting court of law, the tearing of the judge’s robes, and the destruction of legal documents. These are the agents you need when you want to block all access roads to a whole state, or terrorize those luckless enough to be your political opponents.
The barbarism and jungle justice witnessed in this state in the past four years is, without doubt, a consequence of the decimation of those long-enshrined Ekiti values that have featured so prominently in this lecture. All of a sudden illiteracy became so attractive, even desirable in a state where virtually every family boasts a university graduate, and the designation ‘Professor’ used to rank close to highest in the order of enviable titles. There grew a sickening mentality that literally made you apologetic for being ‘too educated’. Our artisans, transport workers, okada operators, and others less privileged largely due to the bottom of the pit to which a satanically unjust society has thrown them, were inveigled into thanking their stars for not having been corrupted by education. They were turned into the army for the enactment of wrong-headed, ill motivated civil disobedience, implementation of arbitrary political fiats and enforcement undemocratic edicts. A one-man authoritarian rule emerged that was strange even to the spirit of Nigeria’s ‘nascent democracy’. The incubus of demagoguery unleashed itself in a way it has never done in any other state in Nigeria. Ekiti became the laughing stock of the nation, the hellhole of country bumpkins ruled by fiat and fear, subservient like oxen who adore their yoke. Friends and compatriots from other states called me, asking, with a combination of shock and disconcertment: hey Niyi, what happened to the Ekti spirit we used to know; where is that enlightened bearing, that admirable pride, that stubbornly interrogative audacity, that have come to distinguish the Ekiti character for so long? A professor friend of mine who is one of the most erudite and most respectable sons of Ekiti jocularly threatened to tell the world about his intent to defect from our eviscerated state to one of the luckier states in the southwest. Dark humour, you might say, but one that stings like a scorpion of a particularly venomous breed. How could Ekiti’s once impregnable rampart against political manipulation have collapsed so calamitously? Why were Ekiti people so mindlessly satisfied with so little? How could demagoguery have succeed and spread so blissfully in the state of university professors?
Demagoguery, that cheap and hollow populism manifests itself in various dramatic ways: the ruler who stops abruptly at the marketplace, bolts out of his air-conditioned SUV, with his security detail in hot pursuit, grabs an otita by the roast corn-seller’s spot, grabs a cob, and starts eating it, to the thunderous cheer of adulatory market folks, and the frenetic clicking of assorted press cameras, for pre-paid posting on the front page of the next day’s papers, and as top news item on prime-time television. The next port of call in another three months or so may be the ponmon-seller’s spot; and much later, the agbo jedijedi-seller’s joint. Demagoguery is a calculated pretence, a cynical, clever exploitation of people’s vulnerability, a diabolic play-acting that keeps the exploited eulogizing the opportunistic do-gooderism of the ruler while turning their gaze away from their impoverished plight and the thieving antics of the ruler whose very policies and actions/inactions have kept the people in the abyss of penury.
Demagoguery is a melodrama and farce with a settled plot and protocol of enactment. First, impoverish the people, then try to impress them with the gravity of your specious care and concern. Work your way into the vulnerable part of their consciousness; let them know how safe it is for them to leave their thinking to you to do for them. Mock their poverty with occasional toys, pittance, and other tokens. Do everything to estrange them from the truth about themselves and their condition; build yourself into a god-like inevitability in the theology of their thinking; feed them with the lie that you are there to protect their interests, and you are the only one ordained to do so. Trick them into thinking – and believing – that in fighting for you they are also fighting for themselves.
Demagoguery is nothing but the ruler’s play on the intelligence of the people, his macabre dance on the grave of their dignity. The demagogue is, in soul, spirit, and design, a rabble-rouser. He derives his political capital and energy from manipulation and selfish control. For him to succeed in doing this, he has to constantly make a rabble out of the people. And as we all know, to rabble up a people is to dehumanize them, to deprive them of their right to genuine citizenhood. The genuine leader is not one who joins the people in the pit for one ephemeral moment for a calculated photo-op, while pretending at being poor. Instead, he is the one who does everything to lift them from that pit, to the point where they too can live and thrive as full human beings. The Ekiti people I used to know would have asked about the palatial lodges their ruler retired to after those choreographed stopovers at their wretched market joints; they would not have missed the criminal difference between those mansions and the shacks in which they are forced to rest their bones at the end of every enervating day. The Ekiti people I used to know would have asked questions and invoked the spirit of their agidi-ism (stubborn insistence on the just and right) to throw off the yoke of their own abasement. The Ekiti people I used to know would not have fallen so precipitously from their height as the brain-box of the nation to the alaterunje (shameless, obsequious, and opportunistic sponger) hellhole of stomach infrastructure and other demoms of perverted appetites.
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The preceding narrative may sound to some as disheartening, but it is not half as gory as our situation in the past four years. It is a way of telling the new Governor and his administration – and ourselves: this is where we are; this is where you have met us. In a manner of speaking, Governor John Kayode Fayemi, you have your work so cruelly cut out for you. And what a task it has turned out to be! You have an impoverished populace to empower; a swarm of jobless youths to engage; rundown educational system to fix; the people’s psychological clock to reset. Your policies, programmes, and actions must help our transition from the rule of a despotic strongman to the leadership of a democratic statesman.
In plain, specific terms, most urgent in the implementation of your meticulously laid-out agenda must be the tackling of the problem of youth unemployment. Far too many of our energetic young people are left to roam the streets, crowd around the motor parks and city centres, anxious to work, but finding no work to do. When you ask even those among them who are still in their teenage years “what’s your occupation?”, the answer that shocks your ears is “We are politicians”. Yes, politician at age 17 or 18! Who doesn’t know that the word “politician” in this regard is a glorious euphemism for “thug”. It is from the pool of these jobless, aimless, angry, and vulnerable youths that the demagogue recruits his followers, the crime king his hitmen, the religious charlatan-predator his disciples. We must never forget the role of these mis-used, exploited human beings in the political thuggery and anarchic anomy that have reduced Ekiti to Nigeria’s laughing stock and pitiful patch in recent years.
But finding work is one thing; being educationally equipped to do it is quite another. And this is where qualitative, functional education takes the stage. Top on the implementation list of your Restoration Agenda must be the banishment of illiteracy, mediocrity, and other demons of ignorance, the training and re-training of teachers and adequate adjustment of their remuneration, the refurbishment of educational facilities, the total prohibition of “miracle centres” and their cooked-up miraculous exam results. And most important, a re-orientation of our people’s minds to the value of education, the indispensability of enlightenment, and triumphant return of the learning culture …. To borrow my favourite two lines from the University of Ibadan anthem, “The mind that knows/Is the mind that is free”. Let us make Ekiti the education centre of the nation again, the brainbox that it used to be. Let us re-humanize our values.
There is a lot in your political track record that points ineluctably in the direction of healing; something in your first coming as governor that lends credence to the term “Restoration” as keyword in your current statement of intent. Once more, here is quote from my keynote address at the 2013 Ikogosi Graduate Summer School, the first of its type in Nigeria:
A man of letters who has shortened the distance between the governor’s office and the classroom, he knows that no country can ever advance beyond the mental capacity of its people, and that education has no substitute as the sine qua non for human development and progress. It does make a difference when the governor of your state is the type that can ring you up in the United States on his way to deliver a lecture at Harvard; or when a couple of weeks later, he is counted among the dignitaries at the lecture of a brilliant friend at Oxford. It does make a difference when a state is governed by somebody who knows the virtues of Omoluabi and is well schooled in his Iwapele philosophy. It does make a difference when you have a leader who is capable of thinking and feeling. The age of the philosopher-king may have been over, but this country and this age are in dire need of the kind of scholar-administrator/leader so prospectively typified by the Fayemi Ideal; the instance of leadership informed by answerable knowledgeability, and knowledgeability tempered and humanized by enlightened leadership. The instance of a leader who is not allergic to thinking; a thinker who is not afraid of leading.
But that promise is still unfolding, that ideal is still in the process of steady maturation. There is so much more to think, so much more to do, so much more to accomplish. And as usual, the devil is always in the detail, in the un-seeable, in the ostensibly intangible.
It is no idle coincidence that one of the prime events of Governor Fayemi’s gubernatorial inauguration is the presentation of two books on governance and public service, written by himself. The Restoration train has set off from an auspicious station, literate and edifying:
Ekiti, a muu didu Ekiti, who put black spots
Ba ju un fifun On a white surface
Akowe kowura People who write the book into gold
Alara an gba ida People whose style others can only copy
Akowe kowura People who write the book into gold
Alara an gba i da People whose style others can only copy
Ekiti cannot wait for the hope and promise which that Restoration bespeaks. So, nose to the ground, Governor, nose to the ground; ear to muffled cries, more closeness to the people, your hand on their pulse, your goal the eradication of the poverty and ignorance which debase their lives. Carve yourself a stanza in their songs. Don’t damn them with a glance through the tinted windows of a speeding car as you drive along the street. Share their joys, reduce their sorrows. Let salaries and wages arrive as and when due (as happened during your first term); let us banish the uponju (desperate, extreme need) and deprivation that have turned a proud people into alaterunje exponents of the stomach infrastructure infamy Your new mandate carries the combined import of a second term, second act, and second chance. It is a rare, significant opportunity waiting for holistic fulfilment and purposive accomplishments. And now, this benevolent intonement before I take my seat:
Didun, didun lu ‘le oloyin Sweet, sweet is the house of honey
Omi i tan lule akan The house of the crab never runs dry
Otin i sajoji luku ireke Juice never departs the inside of the sugar cane
Ekiti a dun May Ekiti sound clear like a bell
Ekiti a dun May Ekiti be pleasant and prosperous
Ekiti a dun lugba i tere May Ekitiland be pleasant and prosperous during your tenure
Aye a ye a May our lives be pleasant
Ugba ra a toro bo mi a fouro pon May our days be peaceful like the stream at dawn
Ekiti Kete, a jaa sise o. Ekiti All, may we never find it impossible
Hearty congratulations, Professor – oh sorry – Governor Fayemi.
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your valuable attention.
TEXT OF PROF NIYI ODUNDARE’S LECTURE AS PART OF THE INAUGURATION CEREMONIES FOR THE NEW ADMINISTRATION IN EKITI STATE ON 11 OCTOBER 2018
What do you think?