By Prof R. A. Ipinyomi, University of Ilorin, Nigeria
When a Yoruba, man or woman, greets the Ooni of Ife, any Ooni of Ile-Ife, and you see them flat on the ground prostrating or kneeling, note that it is not the particular man in the mask they are respecting or greeting. It is the Yoruba diety they are prostrating to and that is the very big problem than meets the eyes. For example, take the mask away from the present man and install another, then you see him prostrating too. President Obasanjo did that on a number of occasions already to the previous and present Ooni?the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi; whereas many of his children are close to 50 years in age. That is, some of President Obasanjo ‘s children are older than the present Oba Enitan Ogunwusi, the Ooni of Ile-Ife.
When a seating Yoruba president, governor, Senator, any politician, refuses to pay homage to these paramount obas you will see the number of votes and favour they will be losing. It is between cultural heritage, respect, Yoruba value ethnic, and our votes & favour. For me I would prefer to avoid meeting them rather than failing to greet and respect them properly as I should. If you hate greeting them in the traditional way avoid meeting them. But they may still send for you if they know that you are attempting to avoid them. Obas are supposed to be clever and all knowing in those days. My father was the Oba of Ilaro, Olle – Bunu of Kogi State, a local Oba of some sort. He was old at the time he was installed.
The new problem that is growing on campus right now, and may have got to the market places, has a religious colouration where some sects believe greeting a Prof bowing is “serving another god”. Remember the “Thou shall not have another god?”. These sects believe that they can greet their professors, shake hands, even assist him carry some stuffs from the car to his office but never going to bow let alone prostrate. Bowing or even going down on your knees to them becomes “a serving another god”. This new trend is coming from an Islamic sect spreading on campus and may spread to other faiths amongst the youths especially.
This is where we need mature interpreters of our different religious books. In Nigeria two of the three Abraham ‘ s versions of worships are here predominantly, Christianity and Islam. Judaism is silent here but there are many Jews in every country including here in Nigeria practicing Judaism. Each of these three believe that our God is a jealous God and He won’t tolerate a rival. Hence we can’t bow to any other God!!!
Religious leaders need to help their followers to understand what constitutes another God, how to give Ceaser his dues and God His, how to keep our traditional beliefs and our religious beliefs.
But governor Fayose of Ekiti is not thinking of any of these, it seems to us that he simply wishes to be seen as a thorough bred Yoruba man who will continue to need our votes and favour.