Internet is filled with lots of different opinions on every single subject. People choose the best angle they can relate to when talking about sensitive subject such as slavery/slave trade.
In general, we (Yorubas) are quite protective of our traditional rulers. Things are changing though as we have seen enough in the last 50 years to know when to call a spade its name. It is only through reading from different authors that I learned that our own people with shared heritage are also huge beneficiaries of slave trade.
Having said that, what is hard to swallow in today’s Yorubaland is having people, who due to family background assume the post of authority talking about slavery as if it is a thing of pride.
A few days ago I came across an article titled ‘My Family’s Slave’ by Alex Tizon. The story is remarkable. The writing itself is brutally honest. The slave in the story was affectionately called ‘Lola’ from the Philippines, her real name is Eudocia Tomas Pulido. Lola was a family Help from a very young age of 12 and lived her life to serve two generations of one family. The debate around Lola’s life is what I found the most fascinating, many people are very upset with the author’s choice of focus in the narrative. The piece has generated lots of responses and suggestions of how the story should have been written.
I may not be able to understand fully the views of African-Americans on slavery, however I can see the mentality of entitled people we still have in Nigeria today. People who for some reasons are stuck in the dark ages and seem to think the world is still the same as it was.
Take for example the issue around Oba’s supremacy in Yorubaland. For the lack of a better word, I like to think many of our Obas are alawada (jokers). Many can read but easy to see they don’t. Many have access to the internet but their only concern is to compete in automobile with the Queen of England. Many are crowned as Obas in their communities but one can see their lifestyle with local communities is thousands of miles apart.
There was one of such jokes last week in Ibadan whereby an Oba claims to be the leader of all Yoruba. Reading through what was credited to the said Oba, I wanted to ask if he meant Yoruba in Yorubaland or in his very mini world he meant Yorubas all over the world.
I used to have a king like that next door, he had so much money but refused to pay attention to the changing times. Oh well.
Most of the statements credited to Olugbo of Ugbo make no sense at all.
For starters, when he proclaims himself as a leader of all Yoruba people, won’t a leader needs followers? And when he says he was bestowed with special power to Yoruba blessings – who is holding him back from taking the land from misery?
And the punchline is when he says he is the real husband of Moremi Ajasoro – Oh well, now we are getting somewhere. Moremi is said to be a very attractive and courageous woman, I am not sure why associating with a beautiful woman is a big deal, all I can say is to count himself lucky to be one of the players.
Yoruba people were up in arms with Oba’s assertions, however the only statement that sums all up for me is this:
“Don’t mind my critics who use Facebook to abuse me. The truth is that many of them are children of slaves“.
The fact that this Oba mentions a social media outlet shows that he could read, but I wonder what he reads online. This is an example of crowned people who gives Yoruba bad names especially amongst other blacks due to their inferiority complex.
Slave trade/slavery is considered a tragedy, hence it was abolished. Many people across the world today are still working to come to term with effect.
So a supposed Yoruba leader not realising the act of owning a slave is something that is better left for courtyard banters but talks about it in an event is a reminder that at home, we have a long way to go.
It is okay to be born into a royal family but it is no longer excusable to remain ignorant about a very important event that shook the very foundation of black race.
Lastly, in a recent BBC documentary by Alice Morrison ‘Morocco to Timbuktu’. An eye opening documentary with Alice following the footsteps of earlier traders through the desert. I enjoyed this piece for so many reasons. Then in the second episode, modern-day slavery in Morocco was mentioned. Here the guide, Hafida H’douban shares her history of being born to a slave family in Morocco. Her great grand father was gifted a slave to marry, when the slave has a child, the child is seen as a slave and it goes on like that.
As pointed out in the documentary, estimated 13 million people from west Africa were taken through the desert as slaves to north Africa, same way they were taken through Trans-Atlantic routes. Many today are all over the places across the globe.
Hear Hafida here in 2 minutes from 7:15 to 9:15 in the video below.
Here we are, Yorubaland in 2017 with people who intentionally want to remain oblivious to history from their thought process to their choice of words – it is a shame, well only to themselves.