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Aare Ona Kakanfo: Gani Adams as a metaphor by Jesse Bay

Gani Adams

Ile Kaaro Ojiire.

A place where intelligence built a system and an empire. There were many civilisations members the old Africa. And a few empires. They all had a system of belief and gods.

Perhaps the best of them all was Kemet. The crowning glory strangers have loved and despised and have been occupying forever. The Mohammedans who currently occupy the place can’t give up on the treasure trove of knowledge and wisdom its archeology is still throwing up.

But that’s by the way.

My point today is about the Yoruba. Since Kemet, there’s no other civilisation with a more robust pantheon of gods and a religious system which is unmistakably Yoruba but also have global worship and devotion.

Yemaja, Oshun, Sango, Ogun, are stories which the classic Greeks can’t touch. And these are the results of an intelligent people.

If ever there were to be a global religious renaissance of the African type, it will certainly come from the Yoruba system of divinatory knowledge.

As we write, over 100 million practitioners exist in South America alone. Santeria, Lukumi, Voodoists and much more are a proof of my assertion. (And Haiti has proven that a Yoruba religious construct could be used to create the faith system of a vibrant nation-state. But this is a discourse for another time).

This civilisation that is adored world over, has now gone to Gani Adams as a symbolic representation of a powerful semiotic figure. Aare Ona Kakanfo.

I admire the man’s rise from the base of society to some personal importance within it. Albeit in a way which was crude and opportunistic.

We know when Frederick Fasheun conceptualised the OPC as a cultural and intellectual response to the Yoruba deterministic clamour within the Nigerian nation-state.

There was a method to the organisation then. Along came a cruder band among the cohort, espousing violence some dark, primitive cult codes as their modus operandi.

Like cancer, they were able to eat up the more considered and intelligent approach to the organisation of culture, politics and the economy of the Yoruba, struggling to rediscover its ethos at the intersection of the Nigerian federal conundrum.

The virulent and anarchic manifestations of the Gani Adams faction of the OPC drew its lifeblood from the age-old enemy of African societies – reigns of terror and intimidation.

It wasn’t long after their triumphant recognition by the Yoruba leaders, who also had selfish interests in endorsing the group, came the issues I feared.

Reports came from Sango Otta, where a sub-group within the organisation had been involved in extra-judicial killings for over a period of time. When some were eventually caught by the law enforcement officers and shown on TV screens, I recognised a face amongst the culprits.

He was an alcoholic ‘gateman’ (guards) in one of the block of flats at Odukoya Estate in Akowonjo. He was known to be inebriated early in the mornings and would go often buy the alcohol on credit. His salary was mostly on a one way trip to the ‘paraga purveyor’.

He would forgo food to feed his drink problem.

His types, a motley crowd caught in the throes of failed governments, perpetually low wages, poor self image, and no real skills fit for the modern workplace, found solace in the sudden respectability and power that Gani Adams OPC brought to them.

It wasn’t out of place to use their pedestal to entrench their criminal inclinations. At a point, I lived in Meiran. That would be around 2006. A few of them were caught using their cover as ‘Vigilante groups’ to murder citizens and harvest their organs.

I had my encounters with a few of them who threatened to shoot me. I had to get the local ‘powers that be’ involved to checkmate them.

It took the threat of OBJ to proscribe them to call them to order. At some point, they were usurping police roles and were no better themselves. There are countless instances where they became ‘tax authorities’ to local Okada groups and wee used as alternative rent collectors. They were used to settle scores as well.

My assessment of the group was one of the numerous criminal gangs using the instruments of ‘culture’ and ‘self-determination’ to seize power for themselves.

I also know the dude was advised to get some education and seek to get out of that extra-legal loop. But can we reasonably expect him to dissociate from his army of criminally minded elements? These are the support base propping him up among the dodgy elite.

And politically, my fears about him were realised when he broke ranks with The Jagaban to get in bed with the GEJ government which was decidedly anti-Yoruba.

But in a society where the exigencies of the ‘stomach infrastructure’ pursuits have overtaken the collective ability for group intelligence, these things aren’t so obvious.

These deprived underclass, making up the core of the OPC groups under Gani, are ironically, the creation of the self-serving, opportunistic, sadistic and thieving upper class. When the other Ooni was busy conniving with the IBB regime to thwart the Yoruba interests, the resources that should go to the people went to him.

And the political elite would send their kids to the best universities in the West while relying on the kids of the deliberately deprived to fight their savage and barbaric battles at the bottom of the pyramid.

The same classicism, of which these poor gangs are the victims, is what their leaders aspire to. It’s like Ponzi schemes, only the fools and horses work by staying at the base of the ladder.

And the Alaafin? His choice of the Aare Ona Kakanfo, which is largely symbolic in the modern era, gives us an insight into how low ambitions have become in the cultural, political, and social spheres of the Yoruba.

Some have pointed to the visits of Gani Adams to various ‘Yoruba’ peoples across the world. Hmmmm. I have also seen the jamboree of the latest Ooni.

May I submit to you that you need to get beyond the optics and the illusions of it?

Nigerian/Yoruba scholars and the faithful adherents of the Yoruba culture have for decades, expanded the intellectual and cultural discourse with the millions of Yoruba affiliated groups in the US and all across the South American continent.

This is a market of at least 100 million people under the influence of the Yoruba spiritual worldview.

We only need a percentage of those to build a vibrant allied cultural economy in Yoruba land.

So, when we talk about the person and calibre of someone who must be pivotal to knitting together the many threads needed to access this fantastic tapestry of connections, we understand what could be done.

This was why the late billionaire Abiola was apt for the role. The role does not anymore lend itself to the frame of a fire-eating warrior. That is fit for the Nollywood /Hollywood, sorry, YoruWood movies.

We are talking about personalities able to grasp the complexities of the modern world, it’s discourses and associations. (The Yoruba empire crumbled because of the lack of this understanding of the wider discourses of the globalising world. First with the Afonja debacle, and then with the slave trade. May I submit to you that the Kiriji war, was no display of valour? It was ignorance on display, albeit a gargantuan and destructive one. Self-destruct button which fed the slavers with a constant supply of slaves).

We have Yoruba professors in the intersections cultural, business and design in the global institutions.

We have Yoruba business men of global repute. One is a massive influence in the oil business, in Nigeria and the US. We have one controlling Gatwick Airport. There are several others.

What these people want to see, to honour the Yoruba call, is ORGANISATION and STRATEGY for the next 20 years of Yoruba land development. And a subscription to it along with all the party lines in the land, and strategic institutions.

In this context of redefining the Yoruba worldview, the symbolism of the Aare Ona Kakanfo should be the influencer and coordinator of Yoruba assets to project our interests and connect the dots.

I have had to explain the 100 million market idea of the Yoruba diaspora and how we could tap into it to an associate of a political heavyweight with his ears who couldn’t grasp it.

That got me wondering, In a world where the Yoruba need to look to the future, develop educational intelligence and global business nous, we are diving back to 1435.

Have we no respect for the concept of evolution?

If you cared enough to read up till this point, ask yourself, where global strategies, strategic foresight, design thinking, philosophy, and projections are being discussed and developed…..

Would a Gani Adams serve your purpose?

Jesse Bay can be reached on Facebook


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