Brotherliness brings Ekiti elders to Afao
From Wole Balogun, Ado-Ekiti
Recently, elders and senior citizens in Ekiti gathered in Afao-Ekiti, country home of Chief Deji Fasuan (MON), in Irepodun/Ifelogun Local Government Area, to strengthen the ties of brotherliness and cultural norms, to achieve unity, peace and progress.
Tagged: “Buffet in the jungle”, the get-together was a sweet reunion of old classmates, civil service colleagues and childhood friends. It took place amid pomp at the residence of Fasuan in his country home. Governor Ayodele Fayose also hails from the community.
The about 300 elders who made the occasion memorable included former Governor of old Ondo State, Evangelist Bamidele Olomilua, Dr. Kunle Olajide, Bishop Micheal Igbinmoye, Bishop Christopher Omotunde and Chief Jimi Oke .
Adding colour to the gathering was the refreshment, which came in the form of traditional cuisine of pounded yam, palm wine and vegetable soup typical of Ekiti land. As the elders relished the local cuisine with nostalgic ecstasy, the premises of Fasuan’s house, where rich plantation of cocoa crops, provided a cool, refreshing environment further made the buffet more memorable and exciting.
Fasuan explained that a dire need to revisit and relive virtues typical of a Yoruba man and particularly Ekiti man, which to him are integrity simplicity, commitment and humility among others, inspired the convening of the get-together:
“The philosophy really is that we as Ekiti people, as a sub-ethnic group of the Yoruba nation; we have a culture a background and were raised in an environment, a rural area in Yorubaland, to be simple, honest, committed and reliable. These are traits that are no more in vogue in Nigeria.
“The fundamentals of our life are being prostituted by the political terrain. This is why about four years ago, I thought of creating a forum for Ekiti people to meet, completely relax, look back and see what was happening in the past, for example in agriculture, all of us were raised in rural communities. We ask questions: how did we do agriculture? What was the nature of our agriculture?
“In my own case, it was a tradition that when you have a senior brother, your son would not go to farm with you, he would go to farm with your senior brother. We were doing that and agricultural products were plenty. Nobody was stealing another’s cocoa. You cut your plantain and put it on the road, nobody would touch it, these are cultures that we inherited.
“All of us struggled to go to school. Our fathers toiled harvesting cocoa plantation to put us in schools. I always like to relive my past. Education was very difficult then but our parents were determined to let us have what they didn’t have.
“These are values that are no more in vogue or that have been prostituted. I thought about bringing all Ekiti elders together regardless of our political leanings. I invited about 200, but over 300 people have turned out today. Fortunately, I made provisions for about 350 people.
“Successfully, every year like that, there has always been an improvement on the programme and on its purposes. See the resolutions we passed today that this idea of a buffet in the jungle, which is a meeting point for all senior and committed citizens in Ekiti, should be institutionalized. It would hold every year and with that even when I would have passed away, they would still be doing it.
“That is exactly my purpose, bring Ekiti together in a relaxed atmosphere and relive our glorious past and to be able to adopt our norms to what our fathers thought us.
“I am satisfied with what has happened today. The programme was more successful beyond my expectation. This is a voluntary service we are rendering for our people. Although, we seek government’s support so that it could be sustained.
“I have gotten assistance from three sources to sponsor this outing. The Governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose, Aare Afe Babalola (SAN) and former national President of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), who hails from Oke-Ayedun in Ikole LG, Obembe.
“We are all happy. We sit on the basis of our ages. I am 85 plus and my colleagues are sitting with me. Our younger ones who are over 70 are also sitting on their own. I am the happiest because this is what I have conceived and it has blossomed into this and my prayer is after I might have gone, it will even be better.
“ My advice for the youths is that they should open their eyes and see what is happening around us. They should ignore the peripherals of life. Things that are not tangible, not deep and things that don’t go with our culture, ephemeral things that only pay off immediately but in the long run becomes disastrous.”
Retired Bishop of Akure Anglican Diocese, Ondo State, Micheal Igbinmoye, who hails from Ijelu-Ekiti, said: “The gathering of we elders of Ekiti today is fantastic. I have attended it three times now and I love it.
“I saw that what we are here for has been accomplished because we have spoken out the truth to ourselves as true sons and daughters of Ekiti. We got to realize those things that are destabilizing and eroding the integrity and unity and love that Ekiti people used to have before. I am okay with all that.
“Some of those pertinent to me are among others, unity of Ekiti, which to me we have always been an indivisible one. We are closely knitted in Ekiti and very close to one another. God has carved us here and made us homogeneous. Education was the primary of anybody in Ekiti in the days we were growing up. There was a graduate in every household.
“I went to modern school at Ikole in 1958 to 60. I was trekking from my village in Ijelu to Ikole with my box on my head. It used to be a compettiton among parents then on ensuring that they educate their children. I didn’t have much financial support from my parents but with much determination I caught up with my colleagues. That kind of spirit is no longer in Ekiti of today and we must go back to it. That is the essence of this gathering.
“Also, looking for quick money through politics should be discarded. Politics must be demonetized in Nigeria. Today, we have reunited after many years of attending same primary and secondary and tertiary schools together and that is also heartwarming.”
Dr. Jimi Oke, a community leader from Oye-Ekiti: “Today’s gathering is that of Ekiti indigenes who are dedicated and have one single goal of the continued unity of Ekiti. It is an annual prpgramme being hosted by one of Ekiti’s greatest sons, Chief Deji Fasuan.
“Having grown up in this kind of environment, it gives me joy to relive that humble rural and agrarian past where we were around cocoa farm, ate roasted yam and drank palm wine.
“You can se the quality of discussions by many who have been here today. Former deputy governor, heads of government parastatals and many who have reached the zenith of their careers.
I have gained that there is need to maintain the virtues that Ekiti and Yoruba man stand for, integrity, dedication, and resilience. I supplied the calabashes which we used to drink the palm wine.”
Olomilua said: “This is to further strengthen our ties as Ekiti people and to sustain our traits honesty, sincerity and integrity. Also the need to preserve our cultural heritage, particularly our language.Personally I have benefited from the programme as I have met many people I haven’t seen for a very long time. We have also been able to discuss on where we are now, how was our past and where are we going. We are also appealing to our people abroad to come join hands together to develop our state.”
Dr. Kunle Ajibade said: “This gathering today has helped tremendously our advocacy for the unity of the Yoruba race. Ekiti is of Yoruba race and the woe that has befallen the Yoruba race is shared by Ekiti and this Yourba renaissance that we are advocating affects us here.
“I am satisfied that this gathering reawakened the true Ekiti in us and now we have that sense of solidarity and oneness. We are working towards attracting the brightest and best Ekiti indigenes who have left home. Once they know that there is security, stability and progress, they will come home. We have agreed to establish the branches of this buffet in the jungle in each local government of the state.”