By Tunde Asaju
Our elders have a way of saying it – ana wata ga wata. The French say, mauvais herbes croît toujours. In Yoruba – ègbìnrìn ọ̀tẹ̀ Nigeria, bàa tíì pàkan, nìkan ń rú . Not too long ago, I was interacting with community leaders on a forum. Worried by the incursion of herdsmen into their lives, they would like to do something to stop it. My advice to them was – don’t rush into anything. Wait! Sometimes, time not only heals wounds, it gives us the direction in which the pendulum of life swings.
I knew that this community was a strong one with faith. The kind of protection they were advocating would take them back to the ages when if you entered someone’s farm to steal, you start sweeping until they show up. If it takes them a week to show up, you know that you are a dead man who just reaped what you sewed. These things are real.
If you stole someone’s bike and sat on the saddle, you start swelling. These things sometimes sound like fiction but they are real. The life we live is full of surprises and metaphysics shows us that forces beyond our understanding control life. Most of us just believe that in an era when Elon Musk explores the agbedemeji aye oun orun(the boundaries of the skies) of the stratosphere, humanity should join the race of advancement, not exhuming the practices of the Stone Age.
This is not to say all our ancestral believes are ‘paganistic’, potent medicine, like good soup takes unusual ingredients. ‘Powerful’ medicine involves weird sacrifices. But it does look like the train of sensibility has left the station long ago.
I have had the misfortune of watching shocking video clips – young men defecating in the public in broad daylight and eating bread with their own excrement – in public glare in broad daylight. I think they call it Okeite! It is said to bring money. Not long ago, in Freetown (I think), a young nubile lady, walked around town butt naked to the cheers of her peers. It was supposed to be the ritual needed for her to make it.
Lately, the shameful video of three 12-14 year olds who left their parents in Warri to come to Benin ‘to join Yahoo boys.’ People killing their girlfriends for ritual; children killing their parents for money – one boasts he’d do it without scruples adding what his parents have done for him. Of course there’s mental health in the mixt.
It used to be limited to the ostentatious part of Nigeria, but it has spread to the four winds of Nigeria…maybe Africa. In Namibia or somewhere, baldness attracts ritualists. In Malawi, it is albinos.
Yet Bob Marley reminds us that – everything is just for a while! I know we all want to ‘make it’ but at what cost. Is this rat worth all the troubles? Would you want the blood of another human on your conscience for money that you may not live to spend?
A lot has been thrown at the foot of our parents. Yes, there is an aspect of upbringing there, but not all. If you were raised well, you need to retrain yourself – kí á bíni kò tó ká tú ara ẹni bí (KSA). We have seen the children of men and women of God become armed robbers and ritualists while kids raised in compromised households have come out as role models and heroes. Pastor Tunde Bakare got it right when he sang – ẹrójú olè ẹ ò mùn, ọmọ yín ò s’alágbàfọ̀ ó ń k’aṣọ wálé, ẹrójú olè ẹ ó mu ni. Some of our parents are in the thick of it – forcing their kids into stupid status races. If your kid left home a few weeks and returned with classy cars and retinue of aides and you’re neither Dangote, Otedola, Iwuanyanwu or Alakija and you’re advertising their uppity status – sum tin wong!
A vital lesson that is never lost on me one day is how Islam buries everyone the same way – kings, plebeians, and serfs. Give the ostentation to those who can afford it.
Unfortunately, the genie is out of the bottle. When we were growing (yesterday), it took a village to raise a kid. If I did something wrong and an elder slapped or whipped me, I begged them not to tell my parents because I would suffer greater punishment. Today, even in churches, parents go to Sunday school to beat up teachers who as much as correct their kids. The video of the Lagos mother in her child’s school is still fresh in our mind.
I don’t have the solution, I am just a voice of one crying in this wilderness – saying if we continue like this, our country – our race is doomed. Maybe I’m just another idiot seeking attention by running unwarranted commentary. I hope this speaks to somebody out there to look at the man in the mirror and ask him to change his ways.
*Tunde Asaju, a multi-lingual journalist and public affairs analyst, writes from Ottawa, Canada