Archbishop Bolanle Gbonigi is the David after my heart. Here is an inferno of intellect, courage and determination with a wonderful talent for understating difficulty. Among columnists, historians, pundits, provocateurs, historiographers, documentarians, cultural connoisseurs, and other Yoruba writers, Omoluwabi is the scream at the moment. It is the new cultural shift brilliantly brokered by Gbonigi and exported free of charge into public domain.
In Omoluwabi, Gbonigi disinterred Yoruba buried heritage and reconnect it in order to offer liberating illumination into the lightless cesspit of Yoruba’s social and cultural annihilation. At present, Yoruba cultural climate is anti-history, anti-memory and thus, always difficult to make historical connection to events that unfolded 100 years ago. In the pantheon of our rich cultural heritage are some fossilised value systems that worked well for our progenitors. These moral values ushered in peaceful co-existence, social and cultural cohesion and moral stamina and material contentment.
In those days, modernity and its hyper search for elusive wealth were unknown. There were group-oriented and cultural markers for the entire Yoruba nation. Old traditional rulers and Obas, untainted by 21st century arch villain of money, still cherish these values in their various domains and palaces. There is strong adherence to the tenets of Omoluwabi in every Yoruba kingdom. Paralysed and perplexed by the retreating and disappearing Omoluwabi values of the old Yoruba world, its elders, ideologues, cultural formulators, historians and pundits have put forward a new radical and comforting cultural tradition of Omoluwabi.
Foremost purveyors of this ambitious cultural utopia especially privately and in the public domain is the elder, Bishop Gbonigi and lately Akogun Tola Adeniyi whose neutral embrace of the new concept of Omoluwabi is attracting parlour debates and public discourse. Omoluwabi as a concept and cultural value can be identified as Yoruba’s urgent need to create a space for self-recreation and cultural renaissance. As a dynamic race, the Yoruba nation believes in constant redescription and re-evaluation of itself among the comity of other nations. It believes in the intelligent assessment of its erosion of cultural supremacy and the regression of its traditional values. It believes in reversing centuries of cultural and traditional nihilism brought about by Western education, post-colonial modernity and man’s degenerating respect for cultural artifact and heritage.
Modern Yoruba nation is afflicted with severe cultural disabilities and the best way to shift this axis of cultural articulation is to embrace Omoluwabi as nexus of future Yoruba social, economic and political prosperity. Omoluwabi as a concept of cultural resurgence has strike a spark from the vestigial flints still buried in Yoruba’s embattled spirits. The intellectual foundation of Omoluwabi hangs on the need to rediscover the Yoruba psyche, its lost soul, its community, its cohesion and honour. Omoluwabi may resolve the conflictual issues of our disunity. Yoruba has to propagate this intellectual storm of self-discovery using familiar idiom and cadence. The values the Yoruba hold very dear in Omoluwabi-the archetypal, well-bred gentleman-is in this cascading order.
Wisdom: Omoluwabi must possess wisdom. The older generation of Yoruba elders value and cherish wisdom in a ma, first, before any consideration. Wisdom, my mother used to say, defies Western education. A farmer, fisherman, carpenter or a bricklayer may possess awesome interpersonal wisdom that will shame a proud possessor of PhD in Psychology.
Integrity: The second attribute of a model Omoluwabi is integrity. The Yoruba culture values a man of integrity who will not sell his conscience for a pot of rice. It is a self-protecting value that confers respect, trust and dependability of the community.
Industry: In the cultural universe of the Yoruba nation, a man of industry is highly regarded and respected. Without necessarily placing the Yoruba in any levitating and proud pedestal, we are Nigeria’s natural business moguls. The Yoruba race have the largest industrialists in the late 70’s until early 80’s before the decay set in and the Igbo took control.
Valour: In the pantheon of our history, Yoruba values a man of valour. We cherish the people’s hero who will go to the wilds and like David kill a lion with bare knuckles. Valour is part of the characteristics of Omoluwabi, our archetypal Yoruba gentleman.
Money: The last cherished value in Omoluwabi is money. Money may answer to all things but in Yoruba culture of Omoluwabi, it takes a humiliating last position in what we cherish in an average Yoruba. This new radical orthodoxy of Omoluwabi has given the Yoruba nation a chance to re-examine itself, rearrange the furniture of our myths, monuments, symbols, iconography, legends and arts to reflect on the contribution of our great, great, great grandfathers who evolved sound cultural precepts of Omoluwabi which provided collective good of the race.