Essay of the Week



By Uthman Shodipe

They were once at the foremost edge of enterprise and power. They cherished  service and the truth. They cultivated the best and the brightest regardless of its provenance

They once charted the tentative horizon of scholarship, pioneered the vast immensities of legislative orderliness,   prowled the bounds and the vistas of self-actualization, instinctively rebelled against the ravages of despotic venom.

They celebrated the virtues of industry and the tenets of hard work. They were often relentless, dogged, unbending in the pursuit of equity and societal balance. They were unflinching in the great grapple between light and darkness, instinctively rallying their brethren to stand firm, to soldier on , to badger and harass with inexorable energy the cordon of tyranny until all the false ramparts are broken, until all the deceits and all the mendacities of the ephemeral gods are shattered and overthrown by the triumph of the righteous.

In the rich fundament of their culture, in the primeval fount of their ancestral beginning the inheritors  of Oduduwa had always demonstrated an assertive bearing and enlightenment, that impatient resolve to insist on clarity where there is a muddle, the resolute wisdom  to inquire and probe into the mystifying oddities , forcing lucidity from the abstruse and the vague, stripping the confusing veil from reality, opening the bowels of the hidden with unperturbed relentless will and determination.

It is in this ancestral fixity and primordial instinct that these inheritors of a proud assertive beginning defined a continuous identity of crusading promptness; alert and steady, engaging the twists and turns of the state with defined purpose and articulated vision.

In this constant tussle of enriching the corpus of the state, these inheritors of the enlightened fount had often aggregated their pursuit in a rallying leadership that was borne upon impeccable moral fiber, prodded by quick discerning judgement, enlivened by an heroic zeal  and intelligence , invigorated by a selfless truth and sacrifice.

Here such unifying stewardship of a people’s guidance and paramount shepherding could not be earned on the base altar of the acquisitive banner. Here the rallying honor and the centralized symbolism of a people’s defining purpose could not be subjected to some untidy mercantile bartering where the crude primitive creed of survival overturns the pivot of conscience and morality.

The sustaining banner of leadership then was invariably predicated on the vast moral sturdiness and the conscionable anchor that would never bend to serve the hour nor withdraw into the odious conspiratorial refuge to enhance personal interest at the vain forfeiture of the collective fortune.

Such was the defining spectacle in the halcyon days when the summative purpose of a people would shake the ramparts of a nation to the very root; when the wretched temples of tyranny would quake and wobble amid the sustaining defiance at the disciplined and unyielding barricades.

Alas, that was yesterday. The glory and the ringing ardor of the defining past has been stripped and eroded, yielding to a dark, sickening present where a once proud and enlightened heritage is now reduced to a despairing aimless contest among a filthy squad of low-life, mentally unbalanced pretenders, ethically challenged touts, brazen convicts and a shameless variegation of opportunistic crooks, notorious drug barons and treasury looters.

The sobering pivoting value that once insisted on probity and the truth is now discarded. The enduring charm of the Omoluabi moral signpost is flung into the wind.

The sore thumb of illegality and the gripping odium of the unethical do not offend again. Our gaze is now averted even before the most noisome reprobative theater. We just look away with indifferent contentment, unchallenged by the prevailing aberrations.

Alas, in this abandonment and cultural mockery, petty men of odious imputations grow in confidence and temerity, thus hoisting their depraved ensemble into more brazen podium of dubious relevance and acceptability.

And thus in twists and turns, we would surrender our moral fiber when we would allow a common felon and a declared fugitive to purloin the democratic process and elevate himself to the highest legislative chamber. We are not shocked. We are not bothered. We merely acquiesce in the screaming aberration with unreflective silence.

And perceiving that all is well, knowing that no strident query is raised, the fugitive felon is emboldened in certitudes and widening aspirations. His vision is no longer restricted. He now aims higher, graduating in motives, raising his focus to an higher latitude of nationalistic reckoning.

The felon now pushes forward in bold stampede, implying   the shepherding guidance of a now docile and prostrated people whose conscience is no longer stirred in vigorous alert, whose purpose is no longer defined in higher moral approbation.

Now a thousand years of sterling heritage of conscionable crusade and disciplined adherence to the righteous path is thus being dragged in the tarnishing mud of escapist survivalism where servile men mortgage the truth to serve the hour, where the ethical root of an heritage is easily traded on the altar of venal little gods, where nothing is reproached in traditional sanctioning, where all odious illustrations are embraced  in sickening rationalization.

In this triumph of the Visigothic emblems, in this deepening enlargement of the field of stirring savages, the little oases of conscience  withdraw in silent defeat and perplexed acquiescence incapable of overturning the aberrant present.

In a larger sense, this frightening spectacle is emblematic of the universal national ills where sophomoric characters loom everywhere in leadership pretensions, where honor is disowned and merit is orphaned, where petty cronyism displaces equitable balance, where the crass acquisitive emblems are elevated as the sacred totem of national worship.
In the end, in this thronging perversity, in this fury and the storm of the untoward, we are all imperiled, susceptible to a vanquishing distortion of all cherished verities and all summative defining tenets of our ancestral beginning.


About the author

Uthman Shodipe

Uthman Ademilade Shodipe, a descendant of King Ado, the first King of Lagos, is from the Dosunmu Royal House. A student of Classical Antiquity and History of Political Thought, he studied Comparative Literature and Intellectual History of Europe 18th Century at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).