Yussuf Olatunji sings for the ‘owners’ of Nigeria
Ampewon l’omo Eran, Won hu’wa Omo Eshin
Ampe won l’omo Eshin, Won hu’wa Omo Garawa
Awon Eniyan Yepere, Ko to Siruwa lati se Gada
—-Yussuf Olatunji in the 70s
Throwing banters, direct abuses that are often times laden with deep rooted and stinging sarcarsms, were hallmarks of Apala, Sakara and Juju musicians “Ode to nso Eledumare, Ori Egun lo ma ku si” was thought to be a warning shot from Ebenezer Obey to Sunny Ade, in 1969.
‘‘Oro ija emi pelu Sunny Ade o, o ti pari, ko s’ogun mo…” also by Obey, was a proof of that trend. Abuses amongst Sakara and Apala musicians were even more frequent and more direct. The listening public was more interested in the relevance and applicability of the proverbs and philosophical contents of those banters and abuses. Let us take this Evergreen piece by Baba L’egba Alhaji Yussuf Olatunji against S. Aka, Baba Waidi, who was a foremost competitor to Yusuff Olatunji. The masterpiece above was widely believed to have been a response to some earlier abuses from S. Aka. In response, Baba L’egba released the above which when translated, goes as follows “we initially called you “Omo Eran” – Son of a Goat, but your attitudes and utterances have made us promote you in our minds from the “Son of a Goat” to something worse, “Son of a Horse”. As if that our perception of you was not indicating of you enough, you have graduated from behaving and talking like the “Son of a Horse” to a level much worse, more rascally and most dysfunctional to people around you – you have graduated and turned to “Omo Garawa” – somebody to resent and avoid completely!
October 1st has come and gone; 60 years after Independence, most of Nigerian’s Professional and Business Class and increasingly, the youths, both at home and worldwide are certainly burdened by some nagging and embarrassing questions adroitly crafted by three musicians in the past. In the words of Sunny Okosun, ‘‘Which Way Nigeria, Which Way to Go?” I love my Fatherland, I want to knoow; which Way Nigeria, is heading to?”
The second recording that reflects the mood of the moment was that one by Shefiu Ayan, the foremost and most threatening competitor to Baba Haruna Ishola in the late 50s and early 60s before his life was abruptly cut short. It goes like this: “Kinikan nbe’nugbo ton dun mawuru, mawuru…Eru nba mi, Ominu nko mi, Shefiu Ayan, ki lon ko e lominu? “A Tiri cannoti make a Foresti…. Simply translated. “There is loud and threatening danger, coming from the direction of the forest, sounding “Mawuru Mawuru”, threatening and dangerous. If it is going to kill us, I don’t know. It will harm us, I don’t know, but I am suspecting a Lurking Danger ahead. All I know is that this lurking danger cannot be confronted by only one Man…A tree cannot make a forest.
As a Social Scientist, Development Economist, Engineering Contractor who 60 years ago, at the age of 12 years, was priviledged to line up in a March Past, representing Victory Primary School, Oke-Ado, Ibadan at the Liberty Stadium Independence Day Parade and witnessed all those dashed expectations; of the last 60 years. I have opted to analyse the journey so far through the Proverbial Lamentations of Baba L’Egba, Yussuf Olatunji’s Famous Volume 17 CD… ‘‘Ampe won lo mo Eran, Won hu’wa Omo Eshin, ampe won lomo Eshiwon huwa Omo Garawa.”
The major attraction in this Yussuf Olatunji’s masterpiece is that he depicts a scenario that graduates from a bad situation (Omo Eran) and then moves on to a worse situation (Omo Eshin and eventually, to the worst possible scenario (Omo Garawa).
To ease our understanding, let us compartmentalise our analytical scenarios into three periods 1960-1966, 1966-1999; 1999-2020. Great Britain, the Real owners of Nigeria from 1914 to 1960 … (and sadly, uptill today) who forcibly, selfishly and mischievously merged hundreds of incompatible tribes, cultures and religions into an unholy and unworkable whole from 1914 to 1960 knew what they wanted. The Northern Peoples Congress was deliberately arranged to dominate Nigeria, so Britain could continue to influence resource control and commercial decisions after 1960 made no pretension about their long-term intentions to impose their culture, religion and model administration over every other tribes and religion. That probably explains why, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the leader of the Action Group and the leader of opposition in the House of Parliament was invited to the Eve of Independence Handover Ceremony at Tafawa Balewa Square but was not allocated a seat! A well wisher had to look for a seat for him in an area allocated to ex-service man! What a shame!
Looking back now, Tafawa Balewa Government seemed to have made the decimation of the Action Group and showing the leader, Chief Awolowo, the gravity of his political smallness and irrelevance in a future Nigeria.
If we are not going to be economical with the truth, most of Prime Minister Balewa and his NPC/NCNC coalition were directed against Awolowo and his Action Group. Let us recall the sponsored crisis inside of the Western House of Assembly? Remember the mischievous appointment of Dr. Koye Majekodunmi as Sole Administrator of Western Region? Remember the Restrictions of Action Group Leading Lights? Remember to Coker Commission of Enquiry? Remember the alleged coup by Awolowo and Enahoro and their subsequent imprisonment? Remember the outrageous rigging of the Western Regional Elections of 1964, which resulted in a deliberate onslaught against common sense by defiantly imposing Chief S. L. Akintola’s NNDP on the Western Region.
Remember the sensible but badly timed creation of the Midwest out of the Western Region? How much more sensible would it have been if the Northern behemoth had been broken into those components crying for separation from the suffocating hold of the Caliphate.
Simply put, the first six years of independence, 1960-1966, were mainly devoted to cutting Awolowo to size and showing him the gravity of his smallness in their own vision of a future Nigeria. It can be argued that the January coup and the July counter coups were manifest consequences of mischief in high places.
If we hold on to the Yussuf Olatunji’s Narrative, the 2nd phase, 1966-1999, was worse than what the rulers and owners of Nigeria could offer to the people of Nigeria between1960-1966. Let us take a look. The January coup, the July counter coup, the killing fields in most northern Nigerian cities, the ill-fated Aburi Accord, which, if the truth most be told was the most sensible and most intelligently crafted summary of the way out into a future Nigeria. But it was dead on arrival. The war against Ojukwu and Biafra, the end of the Civil War and the famous Gowon’s declaration of “No Victor, No Vanquished”.
Of course, there was a Victor. The Federal Forces were the Victors. Who were those in the Federal Forces? Who were those in the Officer Corps and in the top echelon of the various Armed Forces? If we take a very close look, they were members of what the erudite Patrick Utomi refers to as “The Class of 66”. From 1966 to date, they have ruled Nigeria, either directly or through proxies. All their laws, all their rules, all their regulations, all their constitutions, all their state creations have all been imposed on all of us with an I BEFORE OTHER mindset.
1966-1999 were largely dominated by General Yakubu Gowon, General Murtala Mohammed, General Olusegun Obasanjo, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, the NPN, UPN and GNPP. It was the era of General Muhammadu Buhari, President Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, the infamous and self-serving entry into Organisation of Islamic Countries, of Commercialisation and Privatisation, of massive devaluation of the value of the naira against major currencies of the world. 1996 – 1999 was the Era of Infamous Gideon Orka Coup and his ill-advised plan to extricate the Fulani States from the Map of Nigeria. The Bible says, “there is an appropriatement of God’s Timing”!
1966-199 were years of General Sani Abacha’s, sadistic and horrendous assault on our collective psyche.
1966-1999 were the years General Babangida lured and encouraged all presidential aspirants into an all-commers market, funded them and assured everyone of becoming President but at the last minute, disappointed and disqualified them all.
The most famous date since Independence. June 12th, 1993 and its sour consequences was a part of this era. The infamous emergence of Chief Earnest Shonekan as the Interim President and the subsequent but predicative entry of General Abacha and his agonising, suffocating and Cruel Military Rule over us, and sometimes extending his make-believe Empire to Liberia and Sierra Leone. The arrest imprisonment and shocking death of Chief M.K.O. Abiola, sequel to that of Abacha who had died a month earlier were vital contributions to the shape and content of the 3rd phase and the mindsets that galvanished together to dictate what the future should be and would be. The owners of Nigeria were at work!
Welcome to the 1999-2020. After enduring all the shocks and embarrassments of 1960 -1999 Nigerians had justifiable reasons to be optimistic about the future of peace, progress, in fact, if possible, “plus, including National Unity. The emergence of General Olusegun Obasanjo and the PDP 1999, in a nutshell a benefit of the doubt by Nigerians.
However, things began to fall apart as soon as the new democratic government started to wade through the troubled waters of governance. The “Made-In-Kano” 1999 Constitution, seems to be a deliberate brick wall, specially constructed by the owners of Nigeria against the manifest destiny of 200 to divide tribes against tribes, cultures against cultures and worst of all, Islamic worshippers against Christian worshippers. That 1999 Constitution was a major reason Obasanjo could not perform more than 30 per cent of his potential. It is the reason all the armed and uniformed agencies of government have been so structured to favour only the owners of Nigeria. It is the reason why the Army and the Police are made to determine who wins any Presidential or Governorship and National Assembly Elections. Nigeria is the only country where President Umaru Yar’adua would stand on the podium of inauguration and declare that he knew that the election that brought him to office was rigged and was still allowed to continue in office. 1999-2020 was the era of “Doctrine of Necessity” whereby a Vice President to be manipulated out of reckoning, so that a real and unadulterated member of the shareholders in the Nigerian Project, could emerge as President.
1999 – 2020 was the era of the Niger Delta Presidency! What did Dr. Goodluck Jonathan make of it? Hmmmm!… No Comments! 1999 – 2020 marked the various attempts and the eventual emergence of “Baba Himself”, Major General and President Muhammadu Buhari. What has he and his people done with? Hmmm…also no Comment! Let is conveniently hide under the canopy of Fela’s hit song, “oro se humnn, oro p’esi je o, oro she hunmmm’’ (the issues at hand are so glaringly obvious that it has swallowed whatever questions that would arise).
If the truth must be brutally exposed, the future of Nigeria will depend on Buhari’s definition and perception of how he wants History and History Books to record his Life and Times. Sunny Okosun has said his own and asked, Which Way Nigeria?
Yussuf Olatunji’s heavy duty Proverbial exposition should be enough Food for Thought for our leaders to reflect on the past and decide if doing the same things the same way can produce different results as we step into the future.
Runsewe wrote from Ibadan.