By Uthman Shodipe
IN the mystifying expanse of the Yoruba cosmology the contents of nature are often shrouded in enigmatic challenge. The wheels of fate are unseen, the rhythms of heaven hidden from ratiocinative clarity. Nothing is certain. Nothing is susceptible to metronomic simplification. Everything is a blur, an intricate confounding vastness of ancestral puzzle.
But there is no alienation in the conundrum of nature. The Yorubas are not impaired by the vague designs of heaven. They do not relapse into an enfeebled quiescent blindness, helpless in a supplicatory grovelling before the arbitrary sway of fortune. No. The Yorubas provoke discernment even in the perplexing immensity of their confrontation, questing for certitude in the swamp of the unknown, defiant before the mysterious.
It is this unrelenting probe for personal mastery and enlightenment that actualizes the Yoruba cosmology in unceasing philosophical provocations. The Yorubas do not arrive at some declarative grasp of omniscient contentment. Their grapple with nature is stripped of the hubris of finitude. Their conquest is never regaled in terminal affirmation. There is always a new hurdle; a dramatic conflict stirring movement, baffling old assertions, demanding new resolutions.
It is in the undaunting faithfulness to the fathoming of the veiled significations that the Yorubas achieve an eternal evaluative primacy; the constant remoulding of thought, the deepening in interpretative reflex, the decisive hearkening towards paradisal exactitude.
While the Yorubas may be latched to progressive compulsion, perpetually seeking liberative luminescence, the amplification of clarity is not a personal chore. Lucidity is pursued through the mediatory fillip of the ancestral Oracle.
Confronted with affrightening spectacle, harassed by some cruel severity of fortune, the Yorubas hurry to the protective bosom of their gods, seeking guidance in the bewildering entanglement of life. Since the gods cannot be accessed in some physical conclave, the Yorubas invariably take refuge in the intervening arbitration of the divining deity, the sacred interpreter of the gods. For the Oracle is the symbolical purity of the ancestral presence, the untarnished innocence of the primeval provenance, the disembodied vocalisation of the traditional arcana. It is a link to the eternal profundity of the Source, the riveting exemplification of the cultural totality. It is a reminder of the constituents of yesterday, the diviner of the cloudy moment, the splendid illumination of the normative continuity. It is the revelatory plumbing of who we are.
Thus, in the unerring deciphering of the nebulous, the bold shepherding of the truth, the Oracle constructs an imperishable refuge of hope, the redemptive sanctification of the traumatized supplicant; the cleansing renewal of the hobbled throng.
The Oracle therefore inhabits a benevolent salvage. Its predication is the magnification of relief, the unburdening of those who trust in its arbitrational effectiveness. In its cultivation the fetters are broken, the path enhanced in emancipatory gleanings.
The Oracle thrives in instinctive spiritual awe because of its latitudinal liberty. It lacks the abstract restrictiveness of a constrained mediumistic agent. Its presence is not limited to the sacredness of the divination tools. The Oracle is perceived everywhere in the hallowed manifestations of the Yoruba universe. It is seen in the conciliar summation of a communal resolve, astir in the aggregated values that nurture the spirit of the land. It is apparent in the potent proclamation of elders, the revered revelation all must embrace. And it is obvious in the maverick majesty of a cultural icon, the symbolic representation of traditional unity.
Often, it is in the solitary embodiment of the unifying leadership that the oracular graces are brightened in awesome attestations. In the radiant summative glory of the icon, we witness the rectifying illustrations. We observe the truth defined in limpid moralistic enlargement. We see the constituents of testimonial resilience, the paramount enduring measure of heroic eminence. In this, we see a deathless, invincible authority; the permanent instructive reference girdling the beleaguered, those buffeted by the annoyances of fate.
There is this oracular imprimatur in the aged, solitary warrior who still speaks truth to power. Woven in the sturdy preciousness of antiquity, toughened by the travails of old, unbowed by contemporaneous adversity, the warrior still gleams in the justness of the light. In the consistency of his valour, in the sternness of his crucible, in the fixity of his purpose amid the desertion at the barricades — we contend with the Oracle in lustrous repose. We engage the light that cannot dim.
In the fulfilled eloquence of his own summation our failings are examined, our wavering frame strengthened by the instructive heritage. In the summitry of his perspicacious sermon the wise is enhanced. Truly, the Ashiwaju of Democracy, Michael Adekunle Ajasin, is the only Shepherd with the true vision. In contending with this Oracle, we dispute with the ancestral wisdom, therefore deepening still in a grim morass. Ajasin has become a name, an illustrative guidance to the beatific destiny. This Oracle cannot be eclipsed or voided by the whim of power. He should be embraced. He challenges us still in his effulgent moral.
First Published December 3, 1996.