As published in nigeriaworld.com – August 22, 2006 – by Dr. Femi Ajayi
From the just concluded 14th Annual Convention of ‘Egbe Omo Yoruba’, the National Association of Yoruba Descendants in North America USA and Canada, in Tampa Florida, it is obvious that Yoruba group in North America has finally realized that UNITY is a non-compromising tool for a meaningful development in Nigeria. Such Unity could be attained through Visionary Leadership, the Team Spirit, and a Goal-Oriented Followership. In any organizational set up, it is important to have Good Leadership, Progressive Followership, and the spirit of Trust, Faith and Loyalty on the leadership. Chief Adeola Odusanya, the current President, Egbe Omo Yoruba, has a vision of promoting Unity, not only among factions within Yoruba people, but in Nigeria as a whole, if only there is a committed and well focused leadership and very understanding Followership.
When I got an invitation from Chief Odusanya, to attend its 14th annual convention, my first reaction was what the need for my attendance was. I bombarded him with bullets of questions for inviting me. In the first place, I am not a member of Egbe Omo Yoruba, locally or at the national level. I do not attend their meetings. Secondly, was my conceived notion of another gathering of OWAMBE party. I could call my friends together, under my roof for OWAMBE style of gathering, not traveling all the way to Tampa, Florida for it, if that was the reason.
Thirdly, I suffered some embarrassment with a Yoruba Group in Atlanta sometimes in 2001. Someone tricked me to show me something on our way from one of our meetings and I ended up in the Yoruba Organization’s social gatherings. There was a very prominent Senator at that gathering. I was invited to the high table. Everyone on that table dressed gorgeously except me on my casual dress, which was presentable anyway. The group wanted all members of the High Table to speak about Yoruba people, starting with me, according to their coup plan.
They wanted to know where I came from, my association with Igbo, Hausa and not with Yoruba, behaving like Hausa, and not sure of my blood relations with the Igbo community, while working with the Igbos as if both Hausa and Igbo are not human beings. What a coup of the century. Some people failed to realize that I am ethnically or religiously blind, and I work with any group that decides to work with me.
Those factors were my concerns when Chief Odusanya invited me to come to Tampa for the convention. At the Yoruba Convention in Tampa, Florida, I was proved wrong, that things among Yoruba group, are changing for good.
At the first day of the convention, Friday, August 11, 2006, I found myself totally and completely lost. Not that I do not understand or speak Yoruba, it was like another world for me. I did not remember the last time I attended a gathering where Yoruba was used as the medium of conducting business. The comfort within me was blank. Not that, what they were doing were not reasonable. The fact that the business was conducted in Yoruba threw me off my balance, at least for most of the time. The whole of Friday was like, Femi, what are you doing here.
It beckoned on me what my good friend, Adisa Lambe, has been telling me that I am out of touch with Yoruba culture, minus my regular food and dress that I put on all the time. If Lambe did not know my mom, he would have said that I am an Igbo origin who ‘stole’ Yoruba name to claim to be a Yoruba man. He sometimes wonders and doubts my root. This similar thing would be echoed by my wife who would tell me that I behave like Hausa man. All I do tell both Lambe and my wife is that, look at me, especially my wife, you know my mom, and dad, I am not only a Nigerian, I am a human being. The only difference between other individuals and me is my size, and color. That not withstanding, I have all human parts, as a man, which made up a human being.