Ashiwaju! A tale of Yoruba betrayals..
In Yoruba language Ashiwaju means ‘the one in front’ The Yorubas throughout history have always had ‘the one in front that those behind rally round.
This was even how the Yorubas emerged as a tribe when they all rallied round Oduduwa the man in front. The first Ashiwaju of Yoruba land the one that United scattered settlement and effectively linked to the founding of a unique race.
This phenomenon started with kings and invariably ended up with politicians the Last ‘man in front’ being MKO Abiola. Before him it was Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Currently it is Ahmed Bola Tinubu. They all, have one thin thread running through them, stories of betrayal and these should be examined. Probably the Yoruba’s have the most troublesome followers ever. They cajole, prostrate, praise, blackmail, beg and some finally behaves in a manner akin to betrayal. There is nothing happening to Ashiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu today that has not been seen before. As he follows the same travails of those ‘men in front’ before him.
The most important issue now is how the ordinary Yoruba man perceives the current travails of Ashiwaju. Sometimes, to know the general thinking of the ordinary Yoruba man, strike up a conversation with a taxi driver anywhere in the southwest. They ferry the passengers, they feel the pulse of the people in their domain.
The general impression is that Ashiwaju is currently being betrayed both from the inside and on the outside. Once again it is turning into a very sad Yoruba tale!
The converse of betrayal is the demonstration of fierce loyalty. As some are quick to betray, most are equally quick to show fierce loyalty. It’s now a question of nobody, especially the political actors can sit on the fence. It’s either you are now for Ashiwaju or you are against him as the die is cast! No amount of disguised rhetoric of pretentious respect from leaders talking with forked tongues can now ameliorate the situation at least on the short term.
To the keen observer it’s obvious who is for and who is against Ashiwaju.
An example is the rally that occurred this Saturday in Akure when the President went to raise up Aketi’s hand as the APC flag bearers. The absence of some Yoruba leaders was noticeable. Even the crowd wore a sublime look for I can guarantee you that even if the outcome of the elections is not affected it is obvious that the Absence of Ashiwaju spoke volumes to their mind!
I have been in several rallies in the southwest during the Buhari campaign. The entrance of Ashiwaju into the campaign grounds injected a different feel. It amounted to the statement that the leader of current mainstream Yorubas had arrived. The ovation usually thunderous confirmed that a well loved and respected leader among the Yoruba populace had ‘landed’
The simple attitude of the Yoruba man is that what is being done to Ashiwaju is unfair and that no matter his faults he fought hard pulled out all the spots for Buhari to emerge and it now seems he has been used and dumped. On the inside the feeling is that Ashiwaju advanced the cause of some individuals, supported them to the hilt, help put them in high positions only for these individuals to betray him and collaborate with those outside that have now dumped him. To me it has become a periodic but usual Yoruba tale.
The most fascinating thing is that in times like this the fight to demonstrate loyalty can ultimately be hijacked by past adversaries. The Yorubas are good at that. An opportunity to tell the embattled leader ‘shey you see yourself now’ we were the ones you fought and attempted to sideline, while promoting those who have finally betrayed you. It gets the embattled leader reflecting wherever he is. It happened to Abiola. A big wig of the NPN who together with the military fought the southwest. But when it was time to fight the injustice done to him it was those Abiola fought, .those that were in the corner of chief Obafemi Awolowo ‘s thinking that were in the forefront.
Yoruba followers never leave their leaders in peace.
One of those now vocal in support of Ashiwaju somewhat of a strange bedfellow is Ayodele Fayose. It was instructive that he warned saying nothing should happen to Ashiwaju he said this in the presence of a direct decendant of Oduduwa the Ooni of Ife. Be very sure the situation is developing into an ethnic conflagration. In the meantime there are all sought of very disturbing whispers in fact some of us had predicted that at some time soon Ashiwaju was bound to leave the country. I compared Ashiwaju to ‘snowball’ of animal farm in one of my earlier post. Today Ashiwaju is out of the country. We are not quite sure whether he is even on exile or what awaits him if he decides to come back.
We are tired of our leaders been incarcerated. It’s enough and this Ashiwaju must be protected. It is a pity that the ambition of few suave ones among us have fueled this betrayal. There is a Yoruba saying that says if you don’t eat yam because of oil we will eat oil because of yam’. Those that have been tagged as been involved in this betrayal must have a rethink. One bright afternoon they would be thanked for their services and sent packing.
Some of us are now sad the way Ashiwaju is being treated and we feel for him. This feeling is very wide spread. A Yoruba chamber maid cleaning my hotel room, that you probably will not think was adept in politics was so livid and sad, a Keke Napep Yoruba driver was equally livid. All ordinary Yoruba people who strongly believes Ashiwaju will have the last laugh.
It now appears that anytime a Yoruba leader attempts to play national politics we get our fingers burnt. Some of us are beginning to think moving forward we can play a new approach by conduct.
Lagos is the fifth largest economy in Africa. In reality it possess the economy of a country. Why don’t we just get on with things and develop along regional lines. There is nothing stopping regional integration. My advice is for Ashiwaju to now momentarily go back to where he came from and troop the colors. A South West color. It is obvious his influence is being dismantled at the center as a campaign of demonization of him goes on. Nobody is perfect and Ashiwaju has his faults no doubt. But all in all the man has tried. Tried for his people tried for other people all over the country. Like another Yoruba saying goes. If you cannot move forward then you can at least go back to where you are coming from.
The Ashiwaju lesson is a bitter one and I hope future southwest leaders will learn from it. Although the question remains do Yoruba leaders ever learn?
By: Olu Aluko