By Bamidele Johnson

At the peak of the Sunday Igboho-headlined secessionist project, Oduduwa, the presumed progenitor of the Yoruba nationality, was a fixture in the discussions/debates. Unsurprisingly.

Supporters of the project invoked his name liberally, seeking to enlist him as a hit man against those opposed to or with tepid interest in it. There was, it appeared, some belief that his name could get things going. It has not. I don’t think it will. Beyond giving the people something emotional to rally round, I do not see any other value in that name. I suspect that given how big we are on our ancestors, this is not going to earn me marks, but no problem.

Over the weekend, the Alaafin of Oyo who, by his office should be big on ancestors, decided to summon them to support the Tinubu presidential project. His call was not made exclusively to Oduduwa, so I guess the list of ancestors, which could be a mile-long, would include Lamurudu, Oranmiyan et al. “All the ancestors of Yorubaland, get up and assist your son,” the monarch commanded or pleaded.

In what role? Electoral umpires, monitors, grassroots mobilizers or providers of war chest? I wish I knew. I have always found the invocation of our ancestors’ names (I believe they’re referred to as Alale) and belief in their powers to affect situations pointless. Utter guff, actually. If those chaps have any power, they have been derelict in its deployment.

They watched the white people piss over us during the slave trade and colonial eras as well as the modern age when indigenous colonialists have been busy hoovering up our resources for themselves. While I have no problem with syncretism, I think that  promoting belief in ancestral powers by adherents of monotheistic faiths is religious transvestism.

There is a big hint of that on our church landscape where ancestral/generational/hereditary curses are a big article of trade via, in some cases, conflation of genetic predispositions with curses. This makes the church, adept at fusing indigenous beliefs with Christianity, a strong promoter of the belief that ancestors, who have proven themselves impotent for centuries, are still capable of running the show in the modern age. I refuse to accept that.


•Johnson, a Journalist and Marketing Communications Executive Lives in Lagos


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