What, shall one say Nigeria has fared any better with the neglect of her people, her natural resources and her monumental structures? I dare to say the least. We all need to remove our attention from the streets to the forests, where the likelihood is high of the presence of lost, forgotten or neglected heritage. Several breathtaking achievements, even in terms of physical and immaterial constructions abound and dot the landscape called Nigeria. Unknown to many, these rot away while the chances of their discovery remain elusive. Although, chances are, they would be found out one day, if we all wake up to the clarion and redefine our distorted history.
Of anything, I reserve no opinion of my own. Consequent upon this, I consistently seek the public for hers. Though divergent, they usually possess an essence of commonality on issues. This is reflective of the general dissatisfaction of the people; either due to government misadministration and mediocrity or the followership complacency. Lately however, I have observed that the attention of public discourses has shifted from the translation of proactive individual and collective participation into communal growth to mere blatant blathering; particularly the ascension of political throne and perpetuation in the corridors of power. This situation fats itself on a vicious circle. Who then shall sacrifice time and resources to this quest of the redefinition of the African people?
I have been hoping for a flourishing period, a better tomorrow, which is however fast becoming a mirage, a tint in the sky that clears up soonest. I hoped for a time when we all shall stop walking on our heads and seeing things turned upside down. Rather “things” keep to “fall apart”; or more aptly, we fall apart from things.
I am beginning to have the ennui, an exhaustion of my in-depth energy and zeal for community works; now I find myself readily inertial. In all, no one cares! The government is deaf to it, the community looks away; the family feigns ignorance. They all leave me and my likes to the attractive, unavoidable hands of community vices, for which modern means and technology have been adequately provided. Yet, they all give out mere blithe frowns from the convenience of their palaces.
As if the divine being was a Nigerian, sometimes, those who should have become threats to the nation and to the individual stockpiles of corruptibly acquired riches or otherwise, turn around and again attempt to contribute to the reassembling of the runs.
Recently, I came back home westward to Ijebu land, my place of origin, birth and growth. Unlike many other Nigerian communities, Ijebu-Ode is not sprawling; it is more structured according to clans and had remained so for long. But like others, it is a perfect blend of savage living, parody of western ways and traditional festivals ‘as they were’. Such communities imbue in their protégé the need to remember their values in the face of challenges and temptation, and return to the status quo while moving ahead in life. This is what saves many from taking a nosedive, even when circumstances are not favourable.
It has now become apparent the need to identify the missing link in our identity; to figure out at what point we veered off our predestined route as a people. In this regard, oral tradition, historical structures, folklores and festivals, as important tools of guidance, cannot be overstated. This had particularly led to the current wave of interest amongst circles to redefine our history and project our development through a common ideology.
This is particularly in favour of Frantz Fanon’s idea, who believed that those who are able to hold their destiny in their hands would be said to have assimilated the most modern of technologies. This is important in considering the opinions of many, who believe that black history is total darkness; and that there was nothing as black history but European history.
In my bizarre idleness, I had chanced upon a tourism researcher who was proliferating an invitation to a newly opened tourism attraction, which has been constructed over a thousand years ago. In my usual manner however, I immediately took interest and promised to be at the ‘opening’ ceremony of the center.
I had trailed the company of people to the place without them shrugging me aside, even though I was not invited. It was the D-day! There were professors, traditional rulers and Royal fathers, and there were other ‘common’ men and women. Besides the children of the researcher, the absence was obvious of children, Youth and Government representatives. Even though, all these were invited, they must have been very much uninterested.
The company was gathered to lunch at the Sungbo Eredo site at Ijebu-Ode, and it was somewhere between a formal and an informal gathering. I was able to identify all those present while still ignorant of what Sungbo Eredo is.
The entrance to the spot reads SUNGBO EREDO and the map of the Eredo was also printed boldly on a signboard. The discussion there went well and I understood that Eredo means Ditch or Trough. The Ditch runs to a length of about 160km around Ijebu land, se3rving as a community defensive structure against possible enemy invasion and intrusion of elephants; and probably as a monumental piece for Bilikisu Sungbo, who is said to have masterminded the construction of the Ditch. The Ditch is as deep as 20m at some spots, running through Epe, Odogbolu and back to Ijebu-Ode.
This Lunch at Sungbo Eredo had afforded the people in attendance the opportunity to appreciate on a first-hand basis the sophistication of the people’s thinking at the time the Eredo was constructed. Even the locals testify to this.
The quintessence of this article squares on the attitudinal contempt of the people themselves. We despise our history, our colour, our background, our heritage and everything associated with our source. We rather scamper for costly other cultures and materials at the expense of what we have cheaply.
All that I consulted, even in the Ijeby-Ode township, are either ignorant of the Sungbo Eredo or merely discard it with a wave of the hand. Unknown to them, foreigners tell the world our story and add to it, the fact of our ignorance of what obtains around us. It is ridiculous and embarrassing. For facts, the BBC, UNESCO and other relevant sites could be consulted.
Back home, the State and Federal Governments momentarily engaged each other in a tussle over the management of the Bilikisu Sungbo site, the burial ground of the acclaimed Queen of Sheba (at Oke-Eiri, Ijebu) who had constructed the massive Eredo, described in impressive tones by BBC, UNESCO and others. The tussle was only peripheral as a means only of campaigning for a recapture of power. They do nothing than give lip service to it. The site is overgrown with weeds, despite its international recognition.
The situation only serves to discourage Nigerian youths from community service, as even the greatest discoveries and participation are ignored if not even condemned, probably after much time, effort and money must have been expended on such projects, individually.
Some youth are however wiser than some of us, if I am permitted to see it that way. They foresee the nonchalant attitudes and condemnation of the government and the community. They have therefore made a nosedive into vices they see appropriate to their status; not minding how the society sees it. Who cares anyway?
How can any Government boast of employment creation without creating a system that is self-nourishing? A system that recreates itself. How can we even talk of instituting a national government in the first place that cares less of the good international image of the country? Shall we abandon our human resources and monumental structures and rather focus on perpetuation in power and the likes? How about tourism, the central theme of this piece; shall we leave it all to be discovered and maintained by foreigners, like the Osun Osogbo in Osun State? And this time, the Sungbo Eredo?
It is alarming the rate at which people turn into unwholesome acts to support themselves; acts that tend to discredit the nation. Yet, it is more saddening the government and community that should create a favourable condition for them to thrive in good deeds, only look on in negligence and connivance. Sometimes, such are caught laundering stolen money and jumping bails; in general giving a bad name to the country.
It is high time we retraced our steps, redefined our history and took pride in what we have. We need to tell our own stories to correct the impression that “black history is total darkness”.So much information on this can be located on the internet, but you will not be as astonished as visiting and having LUNCH AT THE SUNGBO EREDO.