Prince Justice Jadesola Faloye
A worrying development being observed across Yorubaland since the 2023 elections is the spike in tribal rhetoric and hatred. Yoruba’s Southwest region is going the way of other regions that ignored the rise of hatred against other tribes and Nigeria as a whole, only to be engulfed by it. A few Yorubas are not learning from the experience of others that hate can only give birth to hate, and not love. A Yoruba proverb states that when a banana tree lifts an arm, it only uses it to beat itself – Owo ti Ogede ba si, ara e lon fi na!
In the oil-rich South-South region, we had some elders inspire talk of Fulanis and others stealing their ‘Oyel money’. Some politicians also built groups of thugs for political campaign and intimidation purposes. Eventually when the fracas broke out, the youths killed more of their own people who they believed conspired with outsiders to rob and share their commonwealth. At the end of the day, hundred times more Deltans were killed than the Fulani.
In the Northeast, when President Obasanjo came to power some Northern politicians and religious leaders incited their peoples against the infidel president and Southern Nigerians in general. They pushed Sharia law and Boko Haram was born with seemingly reasonable demands until the ‘moderate’ leadership was killed to give way to extremists that killed a hundred times more of their own people than Southerners.
In the Southeast, when Buhari came into power a previously obscure Nnamidi Kanu gained prominence with his hate speech against the North, their percieved Yoruba collaborators and Igbos labelled efulefu. The end result was killing of more Igbos than Fulani and Yorubas, as every Igbo suffered the SE economy arrested with draconian sit at home protests.
This is not solely a Nigerian thing but universal karma. The hatred pushed against Blacks eventually resulted in two world wars and others that killed hundred million Whites. From the US Civil War to Nazism to the Nigerian regions, what happens is that a small extremist minority verbally and sometimes physically bullies the conscientious majority into silence. Once the sensible elite yield the public discourse to avoid being called sellouts, Omoale, Efulefu, the minority begin to speak and dictate the collective aspirations for the slienced majority.
Though we have been desensitized to the recurring tribal baiting and rivalry during elections, it is alarming that even after the elections, the anti-Igbo rhetoric has not abated. It appears that it is becoming a long term strategy to distract attention away from government economic mismanagement and rising poverty levels, knowing Igbos with high literacy rates are bound to be one of the most vociferous opposition, unlike Northerners. Some authors have long claimed that politicians have only two stimuli to control their followers – hope or fear – promises of turning Earth to paradise with new infrastructure or fear of being overwhelmed by outsiders. The USA and other Western Powers used the fear of Russians to keep their people in check, while Islamic regimes use the fear of infidels coming to derail their path to heaven.
Everyday we now see articles trending on some Yoruba social media groups going back to the Sixities to poison Yoruba minds and blame Igbos for Nigeria’s faults. It is ridiculous but not surprising in a country with low illiteracy rates, while those educated are mentally enslaved with coloniality of knowledge sources that inspire tribal exceptionalism and divisiveness, so the tribal distraction ploy is working. The British actually intentionally created the balkanization of the Original African civilization to create tribal sibling rivalry, especially with the breakup of the Southern Protectorate into West and East regions, which first worked to split the pro-independence movement that started in Lagos, and now the youth Endsars Obidient movement.
The striking contrast is normally you would expect Igbos and Deltans to pick the bait, like when Nnamidi Kanu rose to Adeyinka Grandson hate mongering, but having gone through the cycle of tribal hatred and self destructive tribal terrorists, they mostly ignore the taunts. Igbos realize that rather follow hatemongers that turn around to destroy them, Peter Obi has provided a more positive and loving approach, just like many Northerners are tied of religious hatemongers that turn around to kidnap them for money.
Some Igbos and Northerners have turned around to accuse others of carrying out the dastardly terrorist acts, claiming their agitation for justice was legit but usurped by outsiders. This can’t be completely discarded because foreign powers usually takeover the movements, kill the initial leaders and use it for their own selfish destabilization agenda. So yes, a collective could have legit demands for Justice but once it involves hatred against other peoples as scapegoats for institutional fallings, it is easy to hijack.
We briefly witnessed how an agitation against killer herdsmen and push for Odua Republic swiftly became an attack on our Obas and cultural stakeholders. Now we have those pushing the anti-Igbo rhetoric born out of the political competition between Tinubu and Obi, labelling other Yorubas as Omoale for supporting Obi or is against Tinubu for any reason. This brings back memories of the Rwanda Genocide where Hutus labelled other moderate Hutus as cockroaches that deserved to die, and eventually killed more Hutu than the Tutsi that were their initial object of hate.
It is pertinent that Yoruba Obas, cultural and opinion leaders take proactive steps to stop the increasing tide of tribal hatred, otherwise Yorubas will be the greatest losers. Normally, the targeted tribe will flee enmass when trouble breaks out while Yorubas fight and kill themselves. To make it worse, the investors of other tribes and nationals that make Yorubaland the most prosperous in Black Africa will flee for life.
While most Yorubas have the creative, intellectual and financial resources to contribute to Yoruba development, some believe that the only way they can prove their Yorubaness is to push Yoruba tribal exceptionalism and hatred of others. Instead of blaming other tribes, we must switch our mindset from tribal to civilizational before we can gain global racial parity. Our people need to understand that what Nigeria needs to grow is the drastic cut in the cost of governance and the building of railways that can launch our industrial takeoff starting by relinking our civilizational economies with three West to East railways – Lagos-Calabar, Ilorin-Yola and Sokoto-Maiduguri.
Separatism is also not the answer but a continuation of coloniality since 26 tribal nations can work in Europe with 200 languages compared to Nigeria’s 500 languages, 2240 languages across Subsaharan Africa, which will translate into at least 50 nations in Nigeria alone. So fringe politicians pushing these rhetorics are ignorant and self serving either by distracting their people from their clueless government or trying to create new spheres where they can be the Vagabonds in power selling out their people to foreign powers.
Let be known that Yoruba politicians and their future generations, pushing this hateful anti-Igbo rhetoric will forever be held accountable for the end result which would be Yoruba terrorism and destruction of the Yoruba economic sphere. This demonization of any group for Yoruba political gains is not done in the name of the Yoruba collective but for their selfish ambitions and partisan political gains, and they shall pay for it. ASHE