By Tunji Olaopa
One of the few delights of accessible abstraction is such an befalling as this to braid acutely disparate account and contest calm into articular patterns of tughts and accomplishments that always augment into my advancing ameliorate pion. And above connected absorption on the civilian service, cultural affairs and accurately Yoruba ability fascinates me a abundant deal. I accept accounting about the catlic and accommodationist circle of the amateur heritage, a la Mazrui, which my growing up at Aáwé absolute in me. I was accordingly in my elements back I listened to four absurd expositions in one week: the aboriginal three speakers addressed the Yoruba Academy Ibadan Conference that apparent the September 23, 1886 end of Kiriji war. Two of them were actual sclars, Professors Banji Akintoye and Olutayo Adeshina, and the third, a Premium Times columnist, Ms. Bamidele Ademola-Olateju, presented an acutely auious anecdotal that revised the localised apperception of ‘aiye’ or the cosmos in Yoruba cosmology in a -to-be appearance of the Yoruba of the approaching that we suld aspire to build, which I abiding will reflect on some added time.
I met the fourth apostle at the contempo 9th anniversary address in nour of Professor Bolanle Awe, an icon, wm I accept had aen to bless in commentaries. Prof. Awe is not alone a Yoruba bookish but her discourses on gender reforms barb with cultural insights. I bare no additional anion to be at any accident in her nour. But I had added than I bargained for at the occasion. My alternation of anion was set on blaze by the presentation of a adolescent and ablaze sclar, Dr. Sharon Omotoso of the Insute of African Studies, University of Ibadan. The appellation of her address was “The Philosophy and Backroom of Hair.” This arresting appellation was the lecturer’s way of amid in the ytical issues of animal rights, bread-and-er crisis as able-bodied as orted ancestors issues. Of course, abounding in the baronial audience, including me, were accurately intrigued. What has beard got to do with anything?
But as the address best up, I was reminded of Chimamanda Adichie’s Americanah, and the acceptation of crew in that ablaze novel. She sums up this acceptation in an account she accepted Channel 4 account in August. According to her, if Michele Obama had beat her actomed beard in the run off to the presidential election, her husband, the again Senator Barack Obama, would accept absent the presidential election. Why? This is because, according to her, “hair is political.” Michele Obama’s actomed hair, for Adichie, would accept conveyed a frightening, anti-establishment allegory of active Atramentous ability wse academic apologue would accept been ing. The beard of a developed up, atramentous American woman projects able political animosity about political definiteness or incorrectness.
For me, beard is added than political; beard is cultural. Indeed, as I sat and listened to the bedfellow academician at the Bolanle Awe event, it was not too difficult to see w the avant-garde agreement of beard styles and hair-dos accept become appropriate of about aggregate that is culturally amiss with us as a people. Above the backroom of cutting ertive beard styles; above the economics of w abundant of adopted barter goes into beard importation; I see beard as a allegorical ambience for black all that is fast abbreviating in what we can alarm our ability of being. Animal ability plays a cogent allotment in defining w we are and what we can anytime achievement to become. Culture, in added words, is a connected dynamics of actuality and becoming.
Yorùbá consutes my own ability of being, aloof as Igbo or Hausa or Nupe or Itshekiri or Edo consutes the ability of actuality for others too in Nigeria. But anywhere we attending today, we see a advancing abatement of what is cultural, and appropriately cogent in our cultures. Take beard for instance. It is not difficult to accident the empiric affirmation that over 90 per cent of changeable youths in Nigeria now beautify their hairs with European appearance wigs and Asian weave-on. The canicule of acceptable hairstyles accept been swallowed by the change of fashion! That would absolutely not aggregate a huge axiological botheration if the wigs were to be about a businesslike action in fashion. What is absolutely ambiguous is that European change brings with it the bounce and abrrence of all things that enables culturally. Thus, any woman with the acceptable appearance of beard is, by that actual fact, unfashionable; addition w has absent blow with modernity. To become avant-garde therefore, we pay the cher amount of character dislocation. “People w alive on adopted culture,” says Varindra Vittachi, the Sri Lankan writer, “often go to extremes that their models and advisers had never intended.” On the contrary, colonialism advised aloof this cultural amnesia, and we are all still arena out the script.
In the final ysis, the absolute affair boils bottomward to that of a 18-carat absorption on w we are and what we appee to be. The amusing anomie which Wole Soyinka lamented as one of the axiological roots of Nigeria’s underdevelopment, it seems to me, arises out of a afflicting cultural break which prevents a acquainted retrieval and anniversary of all that is best in one’s culture. And in the gap in between, we are witnessing today all that is abrrent in our youths’ compionate of the modern: dishabille and all forms of crazy appearance sense, the alarming accident of the mother argot (which has become “vernacular” in the attendance of candied English language!), the abrrent dismissal, until few canicule ago, of History from the academy cl (and appropriately the blockage of a activating retrieval of the accessible past), and uredly there is a abundant and alveolate absence of moral ethics and norms which augment the achievability of amusing accord in Nigeria. There is accordingly little admiration that Nigeria’s bread-and-er and development woes accept become a burnable asperity back boxlike with cultural anomie amidst the adolescence and anybody else.
A the Yorùbá, a cultural adage, paraphrased, says: Rather than steal, I will become a servant. This aprism projects the cogent amount placed on the candor that defines w a actuality is as an Omolúàbí. All these and more, which aggregate axiological cultural capital, ume to accept gone with the wind. Africa seems to accept been swept into the addled and ambagious amphitheater of all-around cultural fusion. And it seems we are the affliction for it. Attending all over Africa; attending alarmingly at Nigeria: we accept not alone been larboard abashed in agreement of development; our cultural beingness is unhinged at its actual centre. We accept banned to arena our advance in the ambience of our centralized cultural dynamics; we accept banned to chase entering aural our all-inclusive cultural frameworks for development insights that can drive civic development in Nigeria. Advisers accept talked about the able tie amid cultural atudes and development. But we accept not taken advised notice. For instance, the Washington Consensus still lds us in its bread-and-er ancr while added culturally wiser nations are ytic and burglary their cultural basic for centralized apparatus that will drive their future.
Recently, Nigeria’s bread-and-er alterity has affected us all into a abysmal amend of the dynamics of development and progress. One of such amend is the “Made-in-Nigeria” acute which the Buhari administering has boarded upon. This is a appropriate move in the appropriate administration if Nigeria’s abridgement would become afloat abundant to sustain the change byword as able-bodied as the civic project. I accept accounting abundant about reforming Nigeria’s insutional framework to apperceive w change would not construe into any appalling transformation if affliction is not taken. Nigeria’s bid for an bread-and-er ameliorate that targets the centralized framework of development becomes anon askew adjoin the countless of socio-cultural anomie already emasculating our amusing fabric. For example, it looks absolutely trivial, but it is absolutely a cogent affair that beard has become allotment of the “essentials” that Nigeria has to import. And this credibility not at the abdication of bread-and-er abeyant which the country can crop alike in agreement of centralized creativity. Rather, this cr access of beard credibility at a abysmal faculty of cultural loss. The continued European beard types are, in the eyes of all and orted now, abundant bigger than the actomed beard which could be fabricated up into several aesthetically ambrosial styles accordant with our cultural being.
.Dr. Olaopa, Executive Vice Chairman Ibadan Academy of Government and Accessible Policy
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