Omoluwabi is the deodorized and comforting cultural renaissance being courageously embraced by Yoruba men and women of ideas as conduit of heritage renewal among brave and valorous race of people presently torn apart by ugly dichotomies, petty jealousies and intractable disunity. The intellectual foundation of this noble concept hangs on the cultural need to rediscover Yoruba psyche, its lost soul, its lost community, its loosening cohesion and retreating honour.
The biggest headache among the Yoruba is unity. Realising the need to cohere together, many Yoruba cultural formulators have dredged deep into the fossilized remains of old Yoruba values and arrived with Omoluwabi as the gemstone that will benefit both the present and future generation of the Yoruba people. Omoluwabi is a value-driven concept that shines out from a dark molehill. Its power rests on its ability to remould character, reform attitude and energise our fading humanity as members of the Yoruba race. This comforting, reformist streak is cheaply altruistic when placed side by side with a complex hyper modern world where normative values are self-destructing under the crushing weight of survival and material prosperity.
In my last portraiture of a quintessential Omoluwabi, that archetypal wholesome Yoruba gentleman, I painted a softening and warming character of a man gifted with wisdom, integrity, industry, valour and money. In the days of my great, great, great grand dad these noble traits were the gold standard well respected and rewarded by community elders, traditional chiefs and Obas. This was the days of Omoboriowo.
Omoluwabi as a cultural renaissance is in the throes of a sadistic phase. Optimism of its synergistic ability as is being touted in the public domain may not produce that universal behavioural renewal among the Yoruba as expected. Why? The Yoruba cannot live in a desert island outside the world of Owoboriomo. We not only live in a rich man’s world but also in a world where money answers to all things. Money devalues our traditional and cultural values. Money has made a mess of the synergy of Omoluwabi as cultural renaissance. Money has changed our normative cultural values to the eternal shame of all Yoruba.
The Omoluwabi, which the Yoruba of this generation hold in high esteem is the Omoluwabi who has money. The old gold standard of wisdom, integrity, industry and valour are distant echoes hardly heard anymore in the Yoruba nation. Money has re-arranged the furniture of our customs, ethos, values, myths, symbols and iconography so powerfully that an average Oba is incomplete without a modern jeep. An average Yoruba Baale has a weakening passion for Mercedes V boot and his senior prefect, the average Oba, covets his gleaming jeep. Our Obas are no longer interested in being seen as custodians of our rich cultural heritage but as deal-making, contract-seeking and paid acolytes of their state Governors for soothing favour and privilege.
Omoluwabi may offer us a sustaining renewal but such renewal is corralled and burnt at the altar of money. Owo has truly bori omo! Now it is far more common to meet the Yanperuwa of Iperu Remo on a shopping stroll along Knightsbridge than meet this septuagenarian in his dusty, rural domain of Iperu. Omoluwabi has gone through a re-birthing fantasy!
The new Omoluwabi is the closet and abrasive villain who could pamper his traditional Oba with a gift of jeep or a house. That is the easiest route to land the much-coveted title of Otunba in today’s Yoruba kingdom. Archetypal Omoluwabi may be a man of such awesome wisdom as Solomon, he may be a man of such integrity as Moses, a man of such a high valour as Samson, a man of such a high industry as Nehemiah but without money such near-perfect soul is an irritating non-entity in today’s Yoruba universe.
Again, this is the sadistic phase of Omoluwabi. Omoluwabi is the fantasist orgasm that ends in O God after five meaningless minutes. It is another Yoruba attempt to self-flagellate and over-reach selves as arrogant race. Omoluwabi cannot stand and survive alone as a cultural renaissance among the Yoruba without first dismantling the degenerating values of the larger Nigerian society. Since Yoruba belong to a sovereign nation called Nigeria, we are fated to regenerate or degenerate together with other competing nationalities that make up Nigeria.
Yoruba are not alone and as such Omoluwabi cannot stand in isolation of other disintegrating values that had convulsed Nigeria. Omoluwabi is a cultural renaissance for tomorrow’s nation of Republic of Oduduwa. Then an average Yoruba man will be proud of his own separate nation with its own self-creating ideology of Omoluwabi as intellectual foundation of a prosperous nation.