Sunday, March 3, 2019 6:06 pm
By Joel Nwokeoma
Let me begin from the end. Abimbola Akosile, I don’t even know your village, it was just later I knew you married my sister, Akosile Nkeiruka, but it was you whom when I hinted years ago I needed to change jobs who recommended me to that lovely Ijesha man friend of yours (I won’t mention his name because he doesn’t crave publicity), but my sister, Adeola, knows him well, who smoothened the road. And I got the life-changing job. Otunba of Waterside, as I used to call you because your former office was located at Apapa, you didn’t just help give me a job, you introduced me to someone who has become a soul mate, confidant, brother and loved one. I hate you both.
Before now, as a teenager, God routed my life journey to Emmanuel College, Owerri where he kept a big nosed, deep-accented baritone voiced boy, whom I later knew was a Yoruba boy. He was my first contact with the Yoruba tribe. The bond we developed lingers over 30 years. It was from him I learnt the first Yoruba expression, Torun Olorun! His name is Dare Taiwo. How I hate him.
On March 15, 2014, I was to bid my father farewell in his earthly journey after 73 years in my village in the rain forest region of Imo State called Ohaji. One of the mourners and burden bearers with me on that day was a 72-year-old agbalagba from Idanre, the rocky town in Ondo State called Prof Niyi Akinnaso, a former lecturer from Temple University in the USA. He spent three days with me alongside his convoy and security details provided by Governor Segun Mimiko. I hate him!
I had told the story of the Amazon of a woman, Iya Gbenga, mother of my sister, Omolola Emmanuel. Iya Gbenga, an Ijebu it was who when in 2002 I was looking for my first apartment after my grad school, and I was detailed to her husband’s house one Sunday afternoon, told her husband, Baba Ijebu from Igbogbo Ikorodu, that I was the only one to be given the room. My money was N5,000 short. Her husband insisted on collecting the whole rent, but Iya Gbenga came to my rescue again, gave the money to her husband promising I would refund her when I moved in. For her gesture, I followed her years later to Esa Oke in Osun State to bury her mother and accompanied her kids to Abeokuta in 2017 to bury her when she died. She was a great woman. And mother. And Yoruba. So I hate her.
Fola Ojo is from Imesi-Ile in Osun State but is based in Milwaukee in the US. He is a writer and pastor. He was introduced to me by another similarly kindred spirit, Muyiwa Akintunde. Pastor Fola smacks down on societal evil. I found myself in him. He echoes my thoughts. And I trumpet the beatings of his minds. How I hate him because he’s Yoruba.
Sesan Olufowobi, Francis Akinpelu Dada, Dayo Oketola Eriye, Seth Akintoye, Biodun Sonowo, Uncle P, Obafemi Obadare and countless others are ‘Yoruba demons’ I met in my workplace, punching side by side. Sisters Lara, Folake Ashley Gbemuotor (nwannem) and Bisola Dayo Ojo adopted Bubbles as their cherished daughter. And dote her. How did I forget I christened her Ore Oluwa? How I love to hate the Yoruba.
Bolaji Okusaga saw me in a banking hall recently and leapt into my arms and started singing Oriki. He is a Yoruba demon, I hate him.
How can I ever forget Dayo and Funmi Olaide, two Yoruba principalities I exiled from Lagos to Gwari land, Abuja? They offer me their home in Abuja with a just-pump-in-anytime-you-come-around order. I hate the beautiful couple and friends because they are Yoruba.
Or my friend and ideological partner, Jide Ojo, ah Yoruba people like the name, Ojo, too much. And I hate them for that. The list is inexhaustible.
If you are Yoruba, and you are my friend and I didn’t mention your name here, I hate you. Simple! I am in my house, come and beat me! Please, read this article well again.
As Lucky Dube sang years ago, Not every black man is my brother, Not every white man is my enemy. You are mad if you make enemies of some people because they are not from your tribe. Or village. Or community.
Don’t hate me because I’m Omo Igbo, I won’t hate you either because you are onye ofe mmanu (Ngbati Ngbati). We may differ in tongue and sex but we are one humanity. Oh, how I hate the Yoruba!