@ Lekki British School
This speech was delivered by HRH Oba Saheed Ademola Elegushi on October 1, 2017
Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my esteemed honour to be part of your annual Independence Day celebration as the guest of honour.
I must confess; I am highly honoured.
My work is somewhat cut out for me, probably because I am viewed as a custodian of culture or maybe I automatically equate culture due to my station as a traditional ruler.
Nonetheless, I will stay true to service and try to do justice to what culture is.
Of course, any scrutiny of the word “culture” would naturally begin with the definition of the subject matter.
Culture is the ideas, customs, and social behavior of a particular people or society.
Which simply means: culture differs from society to society; from people to people. We can also argue that culture is diverse within the smallest unit of a community – the family.
We may all agree with me that every family unit has its own culture, some family dine as a unit while others dine individually.
In some families, morning prayers is a collective culture while in other families, prayer time is an individual orientation.
Therefore, it can be argued that culture evolves through practice; convention; needs; necessity and even convenience.
For the sake of knowledge and ease, I’ll focus my emphasis on Yoruba traditional culture.
The Yoruba culture is arguable the most revered beauty in the Yoruba nation.
Since record began, a substantial part of the Yoruba culture is sacred and jealously guided.
No other nation state prostrate in obeisance to “elders”, the Yoruba feminine gender kisses the earth with her knees as a sign of elderly respect and polished parental inculcated manners.
The culture of the Yoruba race is sacrosanct to the existence of the Yoruba nation.
Flagrant violation of a revered and sacred aspect of the Yoruba culture may result in banishment from a given community; especially when such act is against a Yoruba monarch.
For this reason, the Yoruba King is highly revered and regarded as next in authority and decree-issuance to the Almighty God.
To individuals who are not knowledgeable in the Yoruba culture, observing and respecting the fundamentals of this culture may tantamount to oppression or lack of enlightenment.
Others see the Yoruba culture as morally repugnant in comparison to foreign religion/culture, forgetting that early western explorers were fascinated by the order our culture invented.
To individuals who are knowledgeable in the Yoruba culture, they are of the strong opinion that colonization and post independence western imposed order eroded and tainted the beauty of the Yoruba culture – and in recent time reintroduced by the military colonization of our polity.
Since colonization, the Yoruba culture has been gradually and systematically polluted through the inculcation of alien orientation from across the western world; most particularly through academic exchange; commerce and trade and recently, intermarriage.
On the contrary, the philosophy underpinning the western culture has remained unaltered. Western culture did not succumb to the great depression of the 30s; it did not succumb to any of the world wars, neither did it cave in to terrorism and its attendant fears.
On the other side of the globe, western established pre-colonization order was usurping the influence and supremacy of our traditional rulers; till date, our cultural and traditional way of life is yet to disengage itself from this super-imposition.
The biggest casualty of this systematic western erosion of our culture is our traditional medicine.
The Yoruba medicine, well tapped, can become a great source of economic empowerment; economic liberation; economic independence and economic security.
Our biological construction is without doubt different from the biological metabolism of an Oyinbo person, hence, the adverse effects most of us experience after the application of western orthodox medicine.
In comparison to western medicine, the Yoruba traditional medicine when prepared in consonance with the Yoruba culture, do not have any adverse after-use.
Then this should take us to the question: what is lacking or present in our DNA that easily convinces or confuses us to sacrifice our culture on the alter of western enlightenment?
There is no single or uniform or universally agreed answer to this question. I do not have a generic answer anyway.
Historical concrete evidence shows that the colonial masters met in place a well-structured; orderly and peaceful system of political governance. It worked for thousands of years until western enlightenment was forced on Nigeria.
Please do not misconstrue my argument, I’m not of the opinion that everything western is bad or evil: NO, far from it. In fact, western education rejuvenated our communities and society.
Nonetheless, western education successfully threw away our baby with the bath water; it relegated everything prominent and great in our diverse culture in other to birth the country called Nigeria, the reason for today’s celebration.
We will all agree with me that Nigeria is a western creation underpinned by western philosophies; this has remained till this day. In other words, Nigeria is a country primarily devoid of the cultures of its constituents.
So then, what or where is the Nigeria culture?
In recent years, sports – especially football – Nollywood; comedians and music have played a critical role in uniting us around our stagnated culture. This is where the fatherly impact of government should come to the fore.
The government must promote the natural strength –culture – of Nigerians in order for citizens to be stakeholders in a peaceful Nigeria.
This country has been defined for us and we have chosen to accept and embrace this definition; the onus depends on us citizens of Nigeria to coexist peaceful and harmoniously.
We have no other country except this one we opted for.
Our individual cultures albeit diverse, should unite us all the same. Our cultures should be a commodity of exchange, education and commerce.
Culture has never caused impasse in Nigeria by the way, the Nigeria civil war was a consequence of religion and ethnic bigotry.
Culture is peaceful and tolerant when respected.
We must ensure that we do not lose or discard our cultures because of the needless need to satisfy western conformity.
Our culture is rich in respect; obedience; culinary skills; marriages; trade and commerce; not forgetting entertainments.
Culture is the biggest generator of self-employment in Nigeria today.
Even westerners asserted that we are the most culturally wealthy people on earth; why then do we deliberately bankrupt our historically engineered social inclusion only to evolve into an unsustainable and expensive alien based dictatorship.
There is no better time to look inwards than now.
Finally, culture is paramount to the continued existence of every given society, because to lose ones culture is to lose ones character; behavior and identity over time, such monumental loss can only be self-inflicted; an infliction that transmutes into the gradual depreciation towards extinction.
God forbids we become extinct as a race!
Few things are more important than promoting our culture and cultural heritage; our culture is our historical bank, the identifier of our collective uniformity.
In our culture we must bask, celebrate and jubilate our nationhood.
Thank you all for listening.