In 2018, Olukanni et al, carried out a research, titled: “Genetic variations among three major ethnic groups in Nigeria using RAPD.” These group of scientists were trying to find out if any differences exist between Hausas, Igbos, and Yorubas using just the DNA. They limited their sample collections to these three major ethnic groups because previous findings had found out that most ethnic minorities in Nigeria broke out of the major ones.
What was their conclusion? Did they find any differences? They found nothing. These brilliant scientists came to the conclusions that by DNA and genetic components, Nigerians are not differentiable safe for common individual differences. They further remarked that ‘there is no statistically significant variation among the ethnic groups’. Wow!
If by genetic components, Nigerians are the same, then why do we hate one another so much? Why do we fight so much? Why do we give room for a lot of infightings? If over 500 tribes live in Nigeria and they speak more than 300 languages, why don’t we see our diverse languages and cultures as a beautiful thing? Why can’t we all see that we are related?
It has been proven that the Yoruba tribe of Nigeria is related to the Igbo tribe up to 97 per cent and still related to the Hausa-Fulanis by as high as 90 per cent. How could you be related to someone by 97 per cent similarities and not call such a person brother? Why allow the insignificant differences in language, culture and food separate you. Or worse still why allow the temporary challenges of bandits to destroy our combined future. If we stick together we stand a better chance to overcome our problems faster. Fulani herders problem is a relatively recent evil, we can put it behind us in no time. If we insist to go our separate ways though, we would soon discover that banditry, rape, and kidnapping don’t have a nationality stamp. These same evil will go with us to our various nations, only this time we will quickly discover that our own people are as evil as the so called Fulani herders. Crime exists in every nation, tribe and nationality without exceptions. If we don’t learn to deal with them today while we are all together, it’ll even become worse when we are face to face with these challenges on our own.
We are one people as seen in the scientific experiment above. I have met some Fulani and Igbo people in Lagos who speak more fluent Yoruba than I do and have a higher understanding of the Yoruba way of life than me. Recently, I came across the story of an Igbo high-life singer who is well known among the Yoruba circles in their parties etc. Until he mentions his names, no one can differentiate him from the rest of us.
The Ooni of Ife, Enitan Ogunwusi, gave credence to this narration going as far as calling Igbos and Yorubas, ‘blood brothers’. According to the Ooni, artefacts, and ancient customs in his palace all attests to the detail that both Igbos and Yorubas were once one and same. Same can be said about every tribe and ethnic group in Nigeria.
If Yorubas, Igbos and Hausas were once this close historically, I will not even bother to write of how close the Benins, Idomas, Tiv, Ijaws, Itshekiris were all once were.
The little differences in our culture and language should not be our point of emphasis. We should not place a magnifying glass on little things that separate us. Even within one household, there are differences. In fact, identical twins are not often identical because they share differences. Yet, that does not negate the fact that they share same blood.
For example, I am a Yoruba man of the Ijebu extraction. As an Ijebu man, I could choose to say that I am different from Ekiti, Oyo, Ife or even our very close neighbours, the Egbas and Remos. Yes, there are those people who emphasize those little differences and those differences are all that they see. Now, do those differences mean that we are not all Yoruba? Will that not be quite unfortunate?
Well, here is my response to those agitating for Oduduwa Republic. Today, you think that you are very different from the Hausas, Igbos and Fulanis. You do not see how under God’s good heaven you could be related to a Fulani man. Well, that is not a problem. Always remember this, eyes that see division will always see division. Tomorrow, if you are given the Oduduwa state, you will see how different you are from the rest of the Yorubas. Your eyes will continue to see division. If you are of the Oyo extraction, you will see how obviously different you are from the Ijebus. Ijebus will now clearly have the time and space to see how Egbas are thorns in their flesh. Egbas will wage war against Remos. Ife will not want to have anything to do with Modadake and Osogbo. Osogbo may go to war against Ede. Ede will see no good in Gbongan and Ikire. The lingering crises between Ibadan and Oyo will be the hotline topic. Oyo will not see Ogbomosho as brothers. Ogbomosho will declare eternal hatred against Ilorin. Thus, the crises will continue to fester.
Why? Because eyes that see division will always see division. Have we not learnt anything from our fathers? Have we not learnt anything from the wars that our fathers fought? Our fathers, who lived in what could have been called a ‘Yoruba Nation’ spent most of their lives fighting one another till many of them perished in wars.
For almost one hundred years, between 1789 to 1880, our fathers fought what was called the Yoruba civil wars. The main reason is still the same, they saw and magnify their differences. They saw division instead of unity and oneness. Haven’t we learnt hundreds of years later? Are we not wiser now? Why should we repeat the same mistakes our forefathers made hundreds of years ago?
Have we forgotten so soon the Kiriji War, which claimed countless number of lives? The Kiriji War, an epic battle fought by the Yoruba for 16 years, is believed to be the World’s Longest Civil War by same ethnic group. The war, according to historians, was the fiercest tribal war among the Yoruba ethnic group of Southwest Nigeria. The Kiriji War, which ended about 130 years ago led to the signing of a Peace Treaty on September 23, 1886. Can we no longer remember how the Ibadans and Ijebus declared war on Ekiti and Ijesha leading to unsurmountable problems? Have we not learnt anything from the separation of the Yoruba Eastern and Western states? I’m afraid that once we get our dreamed Yoruba Republic then we will simply continue where our fathers stopped. We will turn against one another. There won’t be Fulani or Igbo to hate on any longer. So we will turn on our fellow Yorubas by magnifying our differences.
The relative peace in Yoruba land is barely a century old, yet we are in haste to destroy it.
During the wars, Yorubas (not Igbos or Hausas) sold thousands of their kinsmen into slavery, creating a lucrative line of business for the local Chiefs and kings. Wars were started for the flimsiest of excuses, as a means of getting slaves (other Yoruba sons and daughters) and amassing personal wealth. The series of wars fought in Yoruba land was what paved way for the eventual colonization of Yoruba land. Because of the constant wars and inability to agree, the ancient Yoruba elders often invited the British to wade in, creating an excuse to eventually take over the entire Yoruba states.
If the agitators of Oduduwa Republic are to be truthful to themselves, they need to admit that as a nation the Yorubas have faced worse challenges than the Fulani herdsmen. Rape, banditry and kidnapping that took place in Yoruba land by the Yorubas themselves against one another is a hundred times worse than what we are experiencing today. We shouldn’t allow bandits to determine our destiny through a hasty decision to break away from Nigeria. A decision like that should not come out of pain and weeping caused by bandits, that way we are only acting on reflexes rather than from deep analysis.
Again, please do not ever forget this; if you want to see differences, you will always see differences. You will always see a reason not to agree with your brother or kinsmen. You will always have a reason to wage war or go to war against others. You will always have a reason to see dissimilarities. You will always have a reason to disagree with people and be disappointed with them. It is often not about the other person, it more about who you are. We don’t see reality as they are but as we are. Our decisions only reveal our content. So if because of Fulani herdsmen banditry we are now taking a decision to break a country, then it only points to our strength of character or lack of it. What is the guarantee that we won’t begin to resolve future differences in the Yoruba Republic by breaking away too.
In the same vein, if you want to work along with others, you will always see a reason to do so. You will always have the heart to overlook differences and embrace similarities. You will always have a reason to embrace others, embrace peace, embrace dialogue and find a solution. It all comes to the strength of character inside a man. Challenges come to expose us and reveal our inner content. Let’s prove to ourselves and the world that we Yorubas are not impulsive animals, but that we are a thoughtful and analytical people. If we sit down to analyze the pros and cons of Nigeria, we will all realize that it’s unwise to break away from Nigeria. The Yorubas have invested too much into this Union to simply walk away like that. Our forefathers who fought and gave their lives for this country called Nigeria won’t take the same decision. Let me end this part two of my article by quoting our respected sage Chief Obafemi Awolowo “Violence never settles anything right: apart from injuring your own soul, it injures the best cause. It lingers on long after the object of hate has disappeared from the scene to plague the lives of those who have employed it against their foes.”
I appeal therefore to all Yorubas everywhere to reflect… Yoruba Ronu.