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33 Chapter 3 Africa and the Future of Colonial Past ‘Layo Ògunlola Introduction There is no gainsaying, the fact that every society the world over has its own philosophy and cultural heritage (the universal unconscious), African nations inclusive. This philosophy though may be unscripted, does a lot to determine the circumstances of their lives. It is supposed to guide the behaviour of members of each society. This chapter examines the pre-colonial cultural heritage of African nations using the Yorùbá of Southwestern Nigeria as a case study. It examines causes of marginalization and the way forward to bring African cultural values back to limelight. Looking at the African cultural heritage from the perspective of post-colonial discourse, it is evident that colonialism has adversely affected African cultural heritage as a whole. For instance, looking at it from the Yorùbá cultural heritage perspective, there are disturbing evidences of serious cultural proliferation in the contemporary African society. There has been a negative attitude towards the observation and preservation of African cultural values which has precipitated a downward degeneration of the cultural values hitherto esteemed. A lot of changes were brought into the lives of the African people as a result of the emergence of colonialism and the attendant civilization. For instance, the Yorùbá political philosophy stipulates that the head of each community (the King or the Baálè޿ as the case may be), should be respected by all. In addition to his religious functions, he is regarded as the law-giver, the chief executive, the ‘supreme’ judge, the commander-in-chief of the army of his community Ògúns޿ínà (1995: 297). This principle, no doubt, controls and determines how people behave to their community leader. Anyone who acts contrary is seen as a saboteur and such 34 action is seen as immoral. The title of the King, Kábíyèsí, expressed in full as ká bi ó޿ ò síwhich literally means “no one dares to query you or your authority”, puts the oɋba (King) or Baálèɋ(the village head where there is no O޿ba), in the highest position in his domain. He is the number one citizen of his community. The morality of the society is always jealously guarded by the king who is answerable to the cult of the Ancestors. Today, however, the situation has changed. For instance, the neglect of the importance of the O޿ba (King) or traditional heads of communities by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which people are now clamouring for its entrenchment is a confirmation of this claim. In Nigeria today, the governor appoints and disposes a king at will. Ògúnsɋínà (1995:299), using Ládélé’sÌgbàlódé, explains how the introduction of the colonial rule had eroded the powers of the king. He writes that: The colonial masters have seized power from him and he lived in morbid fear of the “Ajéɋlèɋ” (High Commissioner). He is often filled with a deep sense of uncertainty and insecurity. Whenever the “Ajéɋlèɋ” visits “Ògbojò”, there is always one problem or the other (Ògbojòis used hyperbolically to represent a town in Yorùbáland). Adéyeɋmí (2008:118) also agrees that there has been a conspicuous drift from moral accountability to moral degeneration in the Yorùbá society traceable to colonialism, modernization, Westernization and life-style. Similarly, Akínjógbìn, (2009) asserts that the influx of foreigners from different parts of the world to Yorùbá land punctured her ethical principles. New religions, new systems of education and politics, new trade and professions different from those of the precolonial era have emerged. This implies that the advent of European Colonialists marks the beginning of a new orientation not only in politics, economic and social life, but also in the ethical principles of the people. These experiences and the reasons that 35 emanate from them have made the resuscitation of the classic social life of African people imperative. The negative incursion of colonialism has thrown the entire African traditional politics into disrepute. Experiences have revealed that African cultural heritage in general has been relegated to the periphery. Political appointments are based on how big your ‘kola’ (money or material bribe) is. The choice of a king or baálè޿ is no more based on the voice of the oracle but on the size of the candidate’s “kola” or the extent of his influence in the society. These account for...


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