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Okeho: Clarion call to community service

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Title: Okeho in History

Author: Segun Gbadegesin

Publisher: Harvest Day Publications, Michellvill, Maryland, USA, 2017

Pages: 232

Reviewer: Jare Ajayi

 

In the Humanities, the phrase ‘the part is a mirror of the whole’ is a very popular maxim. Okeho, in very many respects mirrors what is going on in Nigeria and in many other countries in Africa. What has just been stated is not a hyperbole but a fact as would be demonstrated very shortly.

As stated in the blurb and Preface of the book under review, Okeho in History ‘was commissioned to celebrate the centenary of the relocation of Okeho back to its original site in 1917’.  Besides educating everyone about the background of the town, the underlining motive of the book is to call the attention of the indigenes to the hopes and developmental challenges of their community.

The book is divided into four parts. Part One is appropriately titled ‘In the Beginning’. Part Two contains items that deal with ‘Governance Institutions’. In Part Three, issues treated come under the collective title: ‘Religion and Spirituality’. Issues pertaining to Education are treated in Part Four while Parts Five and Six respectively deal with The Economy and Health. Communal Life makes up Part Seven.

The final part which carries the title ‘Conclusion’ discusses the various ways by which Okeho can be ‘taken to greater heights’. There are ten Appendixes.

Special pages are also devoted to Bibiliography, Picture Gallery and Index.

Let me state from the onset that the author of this book, Professor Segun Gbadegesin, although a philosopher by training and vocation, demonstrates a good knowledge of historical ethos. This should not be surprising since no one can be a good philosophy scholar without having a good knowledge of some historical figures and ideas. Beyond the call of duty as a philosophy scholar, the author is also an individual with veritable interest in historiography/history. An accomplished scholar, Prof Gbadegesin is also exemplary in community service. No wonder, he was bestowed with the title of Asiwaju of Okeholand. He has certainly been living up to the demands of this office as attested to, among others, the publication of this book.

The book appropriately opens with the location of the subject-matter: Okeho. The town is found in the heartland of the Yoruba nation. Research carried out established a notion that has always been in the public domain to wit: Okeho is an amalgamation of eleven villages. The villages voluntarily decided to come together for protection and self-survival; a very smart move indeed.

The villages that came together are Isia, Olele, Isemi, Imoba, Gbonje, Oke-Ogun, Ogan, Bode, Pamo, Alubo and Ijo.

The Baale of Ijo whose domain is more strategically located was the one that invited others at different times. For this reason, it was conceded that he assumed the overall leadership of the new settlement. Two points are important to be made at this juncture. The first is the mindset of the then Onjo – an insight into the temperament of the people of yore. For the fear of possible challenge to his leadership position, someone else might demur in having others come near him – especially equally powerful personalities. It is natural for one to want to be protective of one’s ‘privileged’ position. Thus, it was not impossible that such a fear was entertained by the then head of Ijo, Arilesire.

The second point relates to what I mentioned earlier – how Okeho mirrors Nigeria. We are aware that Nigeria is an amalgamation of several nations. But while Okeho was able to forge a town out of several hitherto separate settlements within a short time, the more the years advanced, the more Nigeria is falling apart. As stated in the Preface of the book under review, ‘in the voluntary merger and preservation of the heritage of each of the constituents, Okeho also taught us a great lesson in the management of diversity’ Page xvii.

As stated on Page 95, the economy of the community was built on communalism in which people co-operated with a view to advancing the interest of the individual and that of the community as a whole.

What kept this system thriving then was the honesty and trust that abounded. On page 101 for instance, it was stated that traders used to go to markets in many towns outside Okeho in those days. “Those who could not go gave their products to the market delegates with the confidence that their interest would be well-represented. This was the precursor to the cooperative movement of later years”. (P101).

At the beginning of this short Review, I talked about how Okeho is a microcosm of Nigeria, especially in regard to the plurality of religious faiths, historical background, politically-motivated violence as well as failure to properly exploit available potentials for the good of all. The only major area of difference between Okeho and the Nigeria nation was in how the two were respectively amalgamated and how there is no known religious-induced violence in Okeho – thank God! While the coming together of Okeho was voluntary, the coming together of Nigeria was forced. The Nigeria nation has something to learn in how Okeho elders, more than a century ago, forged unity among disparate communities. Nigeria leaders also have something to learn from how the present Okeho leadership and the elites are trying to overcome their shortcomings and build a new society that will continue to serve the best interest of its people. They are doing this by re-examining their past, learn from their mistakes and enhance their areas of strength. Nigeria should take a cue by listening to the agitators of Restructuring so that components of the country can, just as Okeho Eleven did over one hundred years ago, sit down to discuss the terms of staying together.

I like to end this Review by echoing His Royal Highness, Oba Rafiu Osuolale Mustapha Adeitan II in his Foreword to this book. He commends the book to all sons and daughters of Okeholand because “There is a wealth of information there for everyone to cherish” pxiv. Except that the book is recommended not just to indigenes of Okeholand but to all Nigerians and several others across the world due to the universal messages contained therein.

Ajayi, a poet, novelist and playwright is a journalist and social worker dedicated to community service among others. 

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Arts & Entertainments

Values, morality as panacea for unity, development

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Title: Music of the Muezzin
Author: R. Adebayo Lawal
Publisher: Kraftgriots
Year of Publication: 2014
Pages: 60
Reviewer: Mahfouz A. Adedimeji

 

Against the sorry state of our world that has lost its moorings, resulting in the Hobbesian conception of life as being “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short,” Adebayo Lawal in his second collection of poems, Music of the Muezzin, offers us a way out of the miasma. Through a blending of soulful sounds, delicious lines of pure poetry that offer us sense from the pervading nonsense beclouding our global horizons, the poet draws our attention to the need to uphold morality and promote character in our lives.

 

Basically, Music of the Muezzin is a collection of 38 poems divided into six unequal parts: “Pro-Song: Symphony of the Lonesome Lark”, “Invocation: the Cock’s Mystical Music,” “Smiles of Sorrow,” “Exhortation: Cryptic Clauses of Counsel”, “The Snail’s Courage” and “Epi-Songs: True Time is but Timelessness”. As common to most works of poetry, the themes are as diverse as the poems artistically woven in the compelling collection, but one thesis that reverberates across the work is the need for values and morality in our society. This the author does by distilling messages that tantalize or religious, moral, cultural and ethical sensibilities.

 

The first poem in the collection is the “eponymous” poem (i.e. the poem that gives the collection its title) where the poet explains the impact of the muezzin’s call to prayer on him. The rationale for putting the poem first is most likely informed by the fact that when a baby is born in Islam, the first thing he hears is the adhan or call to prayer. We then have the poet’s interpretation of the magnificence of His Creator, Whose majesty he celebrates in “The paradox of your presence” (p.12).

 

However, the first two parts are not about Islam and faith alone. There is a striking poem, “Lines for a don”, dedicated to his teacher, Prof. David William, with which the poet decries the decline in the academics, which is of interest to every lecturer or don. In his usual inter-lock of sense with sound, a major stylistic feature of the collection, our poet takes a swipe at academic shoddiness and intellectual laziness, a cankerworm that seems to have seeped, or sneaked like a thief in the night, into our ivory towers. The sense is compelling in describing various types of dons in lovely lines and repetitive sonority before upholding the standard as symbolised by the teacher: “There are dunces / And there are dons. / Dons by distinction, / Dons by connection / Dons by compassion / Dons by constipation. / The mafia don, / Done by cruel connection, / Is the Don Juan / Thriving on a code of terror.” … (p.20)

 

There are interesting poems in Part Three, which begins with “The multinational tycoon’s theory”, a witty and humorless poem that ascribes the black man’s tragedy to the accident of creation. He lampoons the archetypal politician in our era of politics without principle describing him in powerful imagery using the bat metaphor: “Bird by day/ Rat by night/ The bat vies with the vulture/ And races with the rodent.” (p.25).

In “Damsel of the ivory tower” (p.31) and “City damsel” (p.32), Lawal has urgent and pungent messages for the students who waste their present and future on illicit sexual adventures.

 

For the latter poem (i.e. “City damsel”) that exploits the computer imagery, the warning to men is that the city damsel is not more than a lovely laptop with a caveat: when you “insert a randy flash-drive / You end up with a vicious virus” (p.31).

 

The third part under consideration contains the longest poem in the collection, “Smiles of sorrow” (p.34), which drives home the need for character and morality in our society.

 

In Parts Four and Five, the author offers antidotes to our troubled and troubling times while canvassing the virtues of love (i.e. “True love”(p.38); “We are all one” (p.39)) reason (“Who are you? (p.40); “Rat race or human race? (p.41)), religious tolerance and righteousness (i.e. “The cannibals” (p.42), “The bubble shall burst” (p.48), “Blessed are they” (p.52)) and other poems of similar thematic concerns. There are also well-crafted poems in this section like “Ilorin” (p.45) which offers a food-for-thought that everyone would like to relish and “In the long run” (p.47) which gives poetic expression to the maxim, “Justice delayed is justice denied.”

 

Generally, this collection is “larger than its frame” in terms of the profundity of the timeless messages that make good sense for our troubled season in a world that is going amok. It is a call to action to eschew what is morally bad, religiously sinful and ethically repugnant in our day-to-day interactions.

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Literature

Sam Dede supports PHLS Poetry Slam

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The PHLS Poetry Slam has received a major boost from acclaimed and award-winning actor, Dr. Sam Dede, with the institution of the Sam Dede Prize for Best Spoken Word Artist.

 

Dede made the announcement in Port Harcourt when he spoke with the Resident Poet of the Port Harcourt Literary Society, Chijioke Amu-Nnadi. He commended the Society for energizing literature in Port Harcourt.

 

“What you guys are doing is quite remarkable and deserves the support of every well-meaning artist and sponsor of the arts,” Dede said.

 

The actor, whose inspiring performance in Isakaba earned him Africa’s top acting honours, stated that the Prize comes with cash and a plaque.

The Sam Dede Prize is in addition to the N100,000 already set aside by the Society for the winner of the PHLS Poetry Slam. Other prizes are N75,000 for first runner-up and N50,000 for the second runner-up. A fourth prize of N25,000 will go to the best Spoken Word poet from one of the secondary schools which have benefited from the Society’s monthly PHLS Literature for Teens programme.

 

The PHLS Poetry Slam, already described as Nigeria’s biggest Poetry Slam, will be judged by award-winning poets, Efe Paul Azino, Andrew Patience, Obii Ifejika and Graciano Enwerem.

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Literature

Bwl agency awarded best public relation in Western Africa at Sabre awards

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Agency, founded by 30-year-old Ronke BamIsedun have surfaced as winners of The Gold SABRE Award for Public Relations campaigns in
Western Africa and have been awarded two certificates of excellence in two categories.

They were also shortlisted alongside some of the largest brands and agencies in the world for The Platinum SABRE Award for Best in show, the highest category of the award.

BWL is a strategic brand development company composed of a team of young, hard-working, bold communication consultants who build brands and help them deliver compelling campaigns that cut through the noise. An exclusive affiliate of top global communications
agency GRAYLING.

Their unique disruptive campaign for Jameson Connects Nigeria secured them The Gold SABRE Awards and The Platinum SABRE Award shortlist, whilst the fun curiosity led FOLLOW THE SWIFT campaign for Martell Cognac earned them certificates of excellence in the practice area categories: Marketing to consumers (new product) and Food and beverage.

The SABRE (Superior Achievement in Branding, Reputation & Engagement) Awards is the world’s biggest Public Relations Awards Program, dedicated to benchmarking the best PR work from across the globe. The award ceremony took place on Thursday, May 10 th in Gaborone, Botswana. The gala dinner was part of the African Public Relations Association’s annual conference.

Present to receive the award and certificates of Excellence at the gala dinner, was Ronke Bamisedun Founder of BWL and a member of the elite 2018 class of Forbes 30 Most Promising Young Entrepreneurs in Africa under 30 says “We are ecstatic and humbled with our Gold SABRE Award and Excellence Certificates.

This amazing accomplishment has been a great positive reinforcement for my team and I, further emphasizing BWL as a company, albeit small, that can transcend borders, disciplines and compete with the largest PR firms in the world”.

BWL have also been shortlisted as finalists for the Upcoming SABRE EMEA, nominated for The Gold SABRE AWARD under the geographical category of Africa. The 2018 EMEA SABRE Awards shortlist was selected from over 2,500 global entries. The competition recognizes “Superior Achievement in Branding, Reputation and Engagement”.

The winner of this award will be announced on Saturday May 23 rd at the annual awards dinner in Amsterdam.

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