Friday, June 13, 2008


Their names read like ancient chieftains , OLOLU, ATIPAKO, ALAPASHANPA, AFIDI-ELEGE. They are prominent Ibadan masquerades whose role is critical to the divinities of the right. They are the embodiment of the lessons our ancestors want to impart and they play a key role in entrenching the body of theatre that carries historical memory. So when the ancients say ‘Ki a se bi won tin se, ki ole ba ri bi oti ri’ i.e. it reads, lets do it as it is done so we can get the results that we have always had. It has nothing to do with a slavish repeat of tradition. On the contrary it is a challenge that if you want the same results you should continue to do the same things. So it is with the death of Alhaji Lamidi Ariyibi Adedibu. Lets open this evolving parable.

You see to my engorged brain the only book a Nigerian must read is Africa in Ebullition by Right Honourable Adegoke Adelabu the subtitle is “A handbook of Freedom for a Nigerian Nationalist”. It captures the root cause of the life and times of Late Lamidi Adedibu and holds our feet to the fire for the errant intellectual and spiritual fast food that has become the norm of our society. In Chapter Three titled Self Government ( it was first published in 1952) there is an analysis that makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up and sends a chill through my spine in its incredible certitude and logical eloquence. He divides up the Nationalist front into three different camps of which only two have survived, they are:

The one which he believes gets most prominence but he wrongly asserts is the most vulnerable, the Materialistic camp. He describes them as a ‘motley crew of self seeking careerists’. They will be the primary focus in this post.
The camp he regards as most influential being the Intellectual camp. They still stand today as he saw them crying foul on the touchline, rarely risking limb and bone or if so incapable of understanding or accepting the self-serving, self-justifying nature of human beings they continue in their basic assumption. This wrong assumption he says (and I agree with every ounce of my being) “ .. is that the white man who wrote his book will be much impressed by arguments you lift from their pages. .......” I agree that this is the assumption behind our blind and pathetic penchant for borrowing western ways. Like the late and dear Alhaji I accept that the same white man whose, “... passion for domination has blinded and biased his judgement. His vested interest in your continued slavery has choked and suffocated his conscience.” So many things have changed and fundamentally are the same. We wave western standards in the face of a uniquely African hunger for improvements which should be fit for purpose and sustainable in our own environment. Now we have many prisoners of Phds and masters degrees throwing their discipline signs in no better ways than the Bloods and Crips gangs of Los Angeles with little or no transformative intervention.
The Camp he regards as the higher order which i will argue is now wiped in the Nigerian project are the spiritualistic segment. They are the People I call the warriors of light (term borrowed from Paulo Coehlo) . In Hon Adelabu’s words they are seers and prophets , heroes and saints. He reasons “ They abjure leisure, they embrace poverty, they quit castles, they adorn jailyards, they scorn the transient, they are loving. They are sublime, divine and immortal. His praise of this camp is unreserved and romantic but mine is not probably because i know of only one , the late Abami Eda , Eleniyan, Baba 70, Fela Anikulapo Kuti.

If you are bored and tired by this introduction take a break, make a cup of tea and put on some music but come back to this because I suspect you will want a dose of my madness having bothered to read this far.

You see the same late Adegoke Adelabu ‘ Penkelemese’ is often put forward as a role model for Adedibu or even Busari Adelakun before him . In some way associating him with the stereotype of career thuggery and unprincipled politics that the latter two have been bound in the public imagination. In fact their mentor who is treated as a deity and has won the public lottery of iconised leadership as well as standard of the best we can do was the Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo. He is rarely mentioned in the reduction and deduction that these individuals are an entirely Ibadan creation. In a piece of genius postulations the late Penkelemese who if he had lived would have given Awo a much needed run for his money foretold the coming of the type of person that Chief Adedibu had come to represent. On page 18 he puts to the sword what we have now come to call ‘amala politicts’ he says

“These heterogenous crowds confuse material comfort with political freedom.They demand freedom only because they hope it will bring increased prosperity in its train.In freedom for its own sake they are not interested. They are ever ready to sell out, being offered big chunks of booty. Commonplace careerists that they are, they are pleased with their own cunning, cleverness and shrewdness when they have successfully bargained for a higher rung in a doomed hierarchy. They mistake contemptible positions of profit for the height of noble ambition. They are just as wise as beasts and birds who foray daily bread, take care of their young, and die vegetatively in their due season, unsung and unwept.They flower for a while and fade away at the appointed hour because they lack the stamina of moral rectitude.”

In my humble opinion so it was with the late Ashipa of Ibadan Chief Adedibu but who could blame him? His political mentors in the Action Group of Old had iconised and rewarded the crossing of carpets by members of the Ibadan Peoples Party rewarding political treachery and cowardice as well as institutionalised tribalism and errant regionalism of Egbe Omo Oduduwa. Unfortunately the passing of Penkelemese meant there never was any real competition for the worst of the excesses of the Action Group in the South West. It entrenched the cult of personality into the standard of Nigerian politics to the extent that today here is still none of the Political parties that have the three attributes that the late Adelabu ‘Penkelemese’ uses to define a true political party. They are idea, ideal and ideology. It is this that gave rise Alhaji Adelakun and Adedibu’s style of poltics. They who genuinely mastered the politics of those times and were amply rewarded for it and in due course applied with skill of artisans from their period of apprenticeship.

Adedibu was a father, Grandfather and possibly a great grandfather. He extended his largesse to many and Nigerians being who we are complicit in everything we blame him for doing. This true not just in Ibadan but across the nation. I thank God that he has now gone to the Ancestral home to explain his choices. My people reason that ‘ Oba mewa , igba mewa , nile Aiye’ that life is like ten kings, with ten reigns . The Ashipa of Ibadan’s time has come and gone, dwelling on the Abacha for life campaign, the Ladoja impeachment, Election machine kidnapping or the many lives lost to political violence and just sheer lawlessness we will find in him a perfect scapegoat. It does not absolve us of our roles in co-creating the society that we live in within the hills of Ibadan ‘mesiogo’ , ile Oluyole or this great human adventure that is Nigeria. Our complicity does not stop at passive observance but active experimentation with the same pursuit of power, reckless competitiveness and absence of principles in our choices.

I predicted two weeks before the death of the Late Sani Abacha to my friends in the democracy movement of the time that he would soon pass but then we will be confronting the fact that he is not the problem. Our problem was and still is the Abacha in each and everyone of us. I predicted similarly that Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu will vacate the scene to the greater stage but then what role will we play going forward. What happens when we perfect a similar role for someone else because we assign this roles by but omission and commission. ‘Awa ni a nda, awa na ni a npa’ we are the ones that create and also the ones that kills our creation. So like the lesser masquerades that in Ibadan are called Tombolo we are participants in this drama.

It is time to take responsibility and make new choices. It is time to take seriously the challenge of turning this great land into the beacon of possibilities that it can become. It is time for everyone who stands by the sidelines commenting and criticising to take risks for their dreams. It is time to start movements and fight for dreams that we cannot afford to let past. It is once again time for the warriors of light who would defer their gratification for the coming generation. It is time for a majestic dawn for my generation and those to follow. Oke Ibadan a gbe wa O.

I play myself out of this post with first reciting a little of the Oriki of Ibadan , Mesiogo nile Oluyole, omo a je igbin , je ikaraun omo afi ikiaraun fo ori mu. Ibadan maja, maja bi ose ko ara iwaju leru. Singing my new anthem , Ojumo ti mo, Ojumo ti mo mi nile yi O, ojumo ti mo , mo rire O! sing along if you know Asa’s exquisite tearjerker. Ire O!


omidanbellafricaine said...

Great analogy. You know you just voiced my fears after the excitement of the whole thing i realized there is nothing to be happy about. The man did way too much damage already, ten years ago his death might have been relevant.
Plus things are not going to change either, another tyrant might rise in his place because people are always looking up to other people to take the lead.

Sadly I am one of those people you see I don't want to vacate my comfy abode. Selfish maybe....

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Anonymous said...

Your analysis is succunict. I am Ekiti by origin, Ibadan by birth and I just love the city and its people. Hopefully, it will have better days ahead with the demise of Baba Adedibu. Ibadan deserves better than to the Nigerian poster boy for thuggery. Ire O.