Custodian as defined by Oxford dictionary is a person who has responsibility for taking care of or protecting something.
In order words, a custodian of Yoruba tradition is someone who actively promotes all things Yoruba and building on positive legacy of the ancestors for this and generations to come.
Ooni Okunade Sijuade was said to be the Custodian of Yoruba tradition. I know my people rejoice in giving unearned praises but why do we have to stoop so low in 2015 when little was left for imagination?
My nephew last week was excited to share the news about his WAEC results. He had a B in Maths, a C in English and the rest of his papers were all like these two. I was happy for him as anyone who had written a WAEC in Nigeria could testify – it is not easy. Exam questions were just fine, the same can not be said for standard of teaching and available facilities.
So I asked “Aburo, what did you get in Yoruba?”
Reluctant to tell me. So I cut in to repeat what I had said earlier, that he had done really well with all his core subjects, just a shame that interest in Yoruba history and language is dying within the country.
So he muttered “F9.”
He is 17 years old.
Yoruba language is low value to many and I don’t blame them. Why would anyone take interest in the history and tradition of a language that elders preach one thing and did the opposite?
Many Yoruba of my nephew’s age understand enough Yoruba language to get by, no any real interest in tradition, culture and history because they have seen/read enough of some of our Yoruba kings’ drama on television/newspaper throwing words at each other, the fights is never about ways to unite Yoruba or leaving memorable legacy for the younger generations – usually it is about self-important and who deserved better recognition. The famous kickstarter of these exchanges usually is our dear Ooni Sijuade.
According to Femi Makinde of the Punch Newspaper, an Ife elder hinted the ‘crucial’ qualities the next Ooni of Ife must posses:
“Whoever wants to succeed him must be a very wealthy person.”
“…The late Ooni was feeding about 500 persons everyday. The number was not static because sometimes, it could increase to about 700 and the new king must inherit those dependants too.”
To the first point, am sure in 10 years time someone like my nephew would likely nod along taking this for truth instead of asking:
– And he could not afford to repair the road leading up to his palace even with $79M fortune?
To the second point, anyone who grew up in SW is likely to scratch head and ask:
– Are these 500 people disabled or gang of Trouble Making Enterprise?
Most people in SW are subsistence farmer. Even folks from SE and SS in the area lease land to farm their vegetables. So how come people who owned land have to rely on food handouts?
Listening to Senator Omoworare reading Ooni Okunade Sijuade’s Biography to the senate tells priceless story about the king.
For the whole four minutes, we heard about honorary titles from different universities, and relationships with Nigerian kings – no single mention of any from Yorubaland. Not even his best buddy Alaafin of Oyo?
Oba Okunade Sijuade’s international repute were not left out yet no single traditional ruler from within the continent.
“He built ‘bridges’ across Nigeria” – How I wish the Senator could make this biography texts available online so Nigerians could read all about these wonderful ‘bridges.’
I am grateful that in Yorubaland today, we still have many Obas that are not as wealthy, with far less honorary titles and yet have contributed enormously to Yoruba race – to these kings, I say, thank you.
Now, who is going to be the Custodian of Yoruba tradition we didn’t have for 35 years?