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Erin jogun ola and the value of a legacy

By Oluwadele Bolutife
06 May 2021   |   3:30 am
I have been asked why I constantly use my native language in most of my writings for some time now. Some asked as a matter of genuine concerns for my non-Yoruba readers, while others, mainly fault finders, did it in consonance with their passion.


I have been asked why I constantly use my native language in most of my writings for some time now. Some asked as a matter of genuine concerns for my non-Yoruba readers, while others, mainly fault finders, did it in consonance with their passion. I have consistently replied that I always interpret the meaning of the words I used. Second, as I indicated in my article, my life as a community letter writer, who had to translate words spoken in local dialect to written Yoruba language, and how I had to pass the same processes of thinking in the local dialect to proper Yoruba before an essay is written in the English language.

With this background, it is not an accident of life that my thought processes are appropriately grounded in Yoruba linguistics epistemology. For that reason, until some thoughts pass that unique test of conformity with Yoruba’s underlying philosophy, though mostly unrecorded, it may have been denied its prominent places in philosophical discourse. Nevertheless, for me, the richness of this background can hardly be imagined on my worldview.

Erin jogun ola is literally translated as “elephants naturally inherit its honor of hugeness.” This saying’s essence is underscored by the good, and deliberate legacy parents leave behind when they are gone. It speaks of what you bequeath to your offspring as the replica of what you are when you are on this side of the planet.

With a society sinking in the dysfunctional pedigree that has never been heard of in human existence, especially in its sociological interactions; if not urgently addressed and rectified, the trajectory of this dysfunctionality, while there is still hope to do so, can spell doom for our collective future.

At a start, how many of us are concerned about the issue of legacy, not to talk of ascribing any importance to it? Do we think what we do or do not have any implication of the future of those we will hand over the reins of affairs to later? Or perhaps, do we even think that sometimes we will no longer be in charge of our affairs in the future? If answers to the above questions and similar questions are of utmost paramount to most of us, perhaps, our attitude towards many things in life will change. However, before such change can occur, we might need a sizable dosage of introspection about what we do and how we do it. What legacy am I leaving behind? That then becomes our meditation. However, how many of us still care or have ever cared about the matter of legacy.

When we were growing up, we were constantly reminded that we should be mindful of the son and daughter of who we are. Our progenitors were then more concerned about us not spoiling the good name they have acquired or assumed to have acquired over time. Of course, we were then not in a particular vantage position to interrogate them about the legacy they intended to leave behind. We thought, perhaps, wrongly too, that the ethos of life handed down to us are sufficient in themselves. On the surface, this may seem all right and nothing to bother about.

Nevertheless, it denies us the elements of unearthing the essence of those ‘ethos’ and undermines our critical thinking ability. Do not get me wrong, many a family had a good name to themselves. However, many abound that are just too artificial if one has to be reasonably charitable. Also existing then and even now is the preponderance of a name that is only as good as the sound of its echo. So many names have nothing of the value of legacy worth building upon. We can now ask what the value of remembering the sonship and daughter-ship of such names is.

The late Orlando Owoh, a songster of immense pedigree, stated that the children of the rich would inherit riches, while the wards of the poor people will only inherit tattered rags. While the first part of that song might be taken for truism, the second part is highly debated. Can it be said that a poor person has no value that is worth transferring to the next generations? The answer is definitely no. A poor parent can still leave a legacy of integrity that may be of value than riches. Honesty, fidelity, and similar virtues are not conferred only on people of immense means. Therefore, thinking legacy in terms of the money only is a shortsighted paradigm. Good legacies transcend money and all the riches we can ever think of.

Many people will agree with me that is the point where society has gotten it wrong. We place undue value and emphasis on money that the legacy concerns have been thrown overboard. There is an unwritten code that, with all your getting, gets money at all costs. Of course, we are constantly inundated with the ‘money answers all things’ mantra. To that end, therefore, many have concluded that the end justifies the means. It is what is put to do that matters and not how the money is gotten.

To be continued tomorrow.

Bolutife is a chartered accountant and public policy scholar based in Canada.

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