It is the day after. Fogs are gradually clearing (or not clearing) from the face of the firmament. Though we may not see as clearly as American singer-songwriter, pop star and reggae musician, Johnny Nash, saw when he magisterially pronounced that “I can see clearly now,” we can at least see beyond the ridges of our noses.
Whichever way, there are consequences. In philosophizing consequences, Yoruba go into the thrills and frills of the Egungun festival to explain what was and what is. Masquerade festivals – E’gun Odun – are moments of plenty, wild frenzy and flexing of muscles. For the son of the village Masquerades Chief Priest – the Alagbaa – the masquerade festival season is particularly a momentous period. Aside the plenty that the period offers, it is also a period to ride roughshod over everyone and anyone in the village. His father has plenty of Egba Osunsun – cudgels carved out of Osunsun tree branches – which are kept inside a closet. Masquerades deploy the cudgels to terrorize inhabitants during the festival. So, the day after the Egungun festival, for the son of the Alagbaa, is consequential and sobering. He returns to status quo of want and, like every other person, scrounges for what to eat at the market square. From this narrative of the transit of the Alagbaa’s son, the Yoruba took their philosophy of consequences. They say that the E’gun Odun has its expiry and the son of Alagbaa will also go out to buy bean cake with which to eat his eko – solid pap – just like the rest of humanity. They sum this up to say, titan l’egun odun, omo Alagbaa nbo wa r’akara je’ko.
For Nigerian politicians, their hirelings, surrogates, and obsessive fanatics, the E’gun Odun has indeed just witnessed its expiry. And the reality has crept in. In a few hours time when the election results may be announced, we will all face the consequences of where we stood. Not only the politicians and their accomplices; those who sat on the fence, who refused to lend a voice, who saw evil and shrouded it in shawls of lies, as well as those who harangued those who stood where they were, will all face the nemesis of our respective choices.
So, who will be the next president of Nigeria? The political huffing and puffing have subsided. Anxiety and apprehension have taken over. Is it judgment day for political barons who over-estimate their relevance? Or Providence’s own way of saying all power belongs to Him? Is it time for this set of people to face the recompenses of their actions? Is it time for the light of truth to beam into darkness of vacuous grandstanding, muscle-flexing?
The period of the electioneering was indeed deeply harrowing, though with its own tinge of excitement as well. There were exaggerated presences which were pumped up by naïve party supporters. Science was relegated to the background and un-science took over postulations. Voodoo became the god to whom vain propitiations were made. Peter Obi, Atiku Abubakar and Bola Tinubu’s supporters went berserk in their partisanship.
Arrogant and perfunctory analyses, followed by belief in the sanctity and supremacy of where each person stood, reigned supreme. None of them was honest enough to acknowledge their failings. Or, their limitations. Yesterday however, the aisle of a farmland which the Yoruba say will surely demarcate the farmstead of the lazy farmer showed where the politicians stood. Atiku, Obi and Tinubu must by now have known where their political brawns could take them. We will however not forget the cheap propaganda, lame political prowess taken to unrealistic levels and puffed up political mileages by political hirelings.
For us all, as I said earlier, we must be getting ready to reap the consequences of where we stood. I will reap mine, you will yours. Each of the candidates we support, whether they win or lose, also have consequences to bear. This reminds me of an audio interview I listened to some days ago. Conducted in 2011, it was ace broadcaster, Dele Adeyanju of the Agbaletu fame’s encounter with the enfant terrible of Ijesa traditional African music, Chief Adedara Ar’unralojaoba. He was an Odofin, chief of Iperindo, a suburb of Ilesa. Ijesa are a sub-ethnicity of Yorubaland with Ilesa, in current Osun State, being its largest town and historic cultural capital. If you read British professor, J.D.Y. Peel’s Ijeshas and Nigerians: The Incorporation of a Yoruba Kingdom, 1890-1970s, you will know the worth of this kingdom.
By the time Ar’unralojaoba died in 2022, he was 92 years, having been born in 1930. He took Adamo music off from the pioneering efforts of Ojo Oluwasokedile, Leye, Ayandokun and Bisileko who sang Adamo music before him, as well as his contemporary. Ige Adubi’s. This Ijesa bard, Ar’unralojaoba, took the genre of music to a noticeable level in Ijesaland, popularizing it even beyond its shores, to Ekiti, a kingdom that bears tonal dialect similarities with Ijesa’s.
In the interview, Ar’unralojaoba narrated how he humbled another enfant terrible in the musical firmament, Ayinla Omowura, clearly making him suffer the consequences of his haughtiness. Talking about consequences, the Adamo musician, in trying to stave off allegations that he was highly steeped in traditional mysticism, said that, rather than traditional African medicine, what appeared like talisman was his Maker in action. “If anyone stands up to me today, in a week’s time, the person will see the wrath of my Maker.” Contrary to this however, self-effacing, self-underscoring and boastful Ar’unralojaoba was reputed to be a member of the Ogboni fraternity and was dreaded for the awesome powers of his traditional medicine. In one of his albums, after singing the panegyrics of Obeisun, a rich entrepreneur from Ijebu-Jesa, he heaped curses on whoever nursed evil against him. With their family, they will dash into and get lost in the forest – Abinu eni lo sekeji aroni pin/Eni binu mi laiese, \se la k’omo k’aya re a binu wo’gbo o.
In the case of Omowura, however, the wrath of Ar’unralojaoba’s “Maker” was instant. While singing praises of King Sunny Ade for how he treated him with humility and respect, as well as Haruna Ishola, who he said related to him with affectionately, he narrated how he once had a spat with Omowura. Ar’unralojaoba said his contact with the Apala lord was by reason of the spat. A burial ceremony which held in the Ikoti area of Ilesa had him and Omowura as musicians contracted for the afternoon and night sessions respectively. While the elder child of the deceased invited Ar’unralojaoba, Ayinla’s invitation was from the younger brother and both were programmed for afternoon and evening sessions. He said in the interview that he had however been forewarned that Ayinla was combative and pugnacious but he had prepared for him “with prayers.”
So after he finished his show by around 10pm, Ar’unralojaoba waited Omowura’s arrival. Then at about 10.30pm, Omowura entered with so much uproar and storm. Bouncers, with brawns and deadly gaits, took over the whole place. In his words, Ayinla walked in with huge self confidence and looked down on everyone else. He was clutching a huge pipe of marijuana which Ar’unralojaoba nicknamed Kelebu, that he smoked with a terrifying relish. The Apala music petrel had always been a harbinger of strife. In one of his tracks, he had boasted that any musician who underrated him on the bandstand had signed his death warrant. Virtually all the crowd in Ar’unralojaoba’s show then migrated to Ayinla’s bandstand. The Adamo musician was clinically prepared and parceled for shame in his own Ijesa kingdom. So, according to him, he looked up to the sky and had a dialogue with “God.” When asked to go and do obeisance to Ar’unralojaoba, the Adamo musician said Ayinla retorted, “Aree! Who is so called!” So, Ar’unralojaoba said he murmured to himself, “they said so and you did exactly what they said about you!” Then, in what he called a conversation, he looked up to God again, and in his Ijesa dialect, said “Iwo Olorun Olodumare, o mo hii me gbon, o a dami lare be e?” God, you know I lack wisdom; will you vindicate me, please?
Then, “God” began to avenge for Ar’unralojaoba instantly. In subsequence, four of Ayinla’s Gangan drums got torn as his lead drummer hit them with the drum stick. Bowed and bruised, said Ar’unralojaoba, Ayinla then crawled up to him to do obeisance. Not only did he prostrate to the Adamo lord, he gave him the sum of N500 and drinks. “I gave him two Gangan drums and assured him they will not get torn again,” Ar’unralojaoba concluded, still insisting that it was not the power of mysticism but God’s intervention – Me l’ogun sughon mo l’Olorun – he said in Ijesa dialect.
In the elections conducted on Saturday, there will be consequences, both for us and the candidates themselves. For the latter, the aisle is about now showing the farmstead of the lazy farmer who sold dud worth to the world. The brawns and the sinews of their muscles must have headed for recess now, after the real measurement of their political worth was determined. For Ayinla, who thought he approximated the beginning and ending of traditional African power and brawns, prefacing his haughtiness on his fame, wealth and brawns of traditional African medicine, the consequence for him was being humbled by a person he thought was a provincial musician, who he grossly underrated. He faced the consequences of his arrogance; an arrogance not matched by what was on ground.
For us too as Nigerians, there are consequences for our last Saturday’s decision or indecision. We will either begin our sessions of national tribulations all over again or enter the phase of national redemption. This latter rationalization doesn’t look plausible on account of what is on ground. Nigeria and Nigerians do not seem to possess that innate mechanism for self-redemption. We are like Sisyphus, the mythic Greek god who, for his punishment in the underworld, was condemned to roll a rock up to the top of a mountain; roll the rock backwards again, down to the bottom every time it reaches the top, all the days of his life. We are always engaged in an eternity of futile efforts at choosing good leaders, perhaps a hideous retribution from God for some infractions we committed against Him.
There is virtually nothing in human behavior that has no consequences. This was what consequentialism, an ethical school of theory, is about. It judges whether an action is right or wrong by what its consequences are. There is no way the elections of last Saturday won’t have consequences. The consequences can either be good or bad. While the utilitarianism school judges an action by its consequences of whether it is for the “greatest good for the greatest number” standard, the hedonism school sees an action as good or bad if its consequence produces pleasure or avoids pain in the life of man. The tragedy of consequentialism is however that it is always post-mortem and not ante-mortem. It occurs only after the action has been committed and not before it.
We had the votes in our hands to vote otherwise than we voted last Saturday. We chose this path that we took. In rationalizing where they stood, some even biblicize what was not a problematic situation. They said they voted for the thief on either the right or left hand of Jesus. Let’s then begin to stew in the broth of those votes. No one should complain. There was no consequence of our choices that was not adequately laid on the table. Let’s live with it.
(Published in the Sunday Tribune of February 26, 2023)