A socio-cultural Yoruba group under the aegis of ‘Idande Omo O’dua, at the weekend, celebrated 2023 Yoruba National Day in commemoration of its ancestral history regarding the famous ‘Kiriji war fought among the Yoruba race.
This was as the group called on a deliberate and sustainable action plan by the Yoruba, particularly the elites to strengthen the region in unity, peace, and harmony to avoid what was described as future marginalization of the Yoruba nation.
Convener of the event, Architect Opeoluwa Akinola, who spoke with journalists at the event held at Ibadan House, Yemetu, Ibadan on this year’s theme tagged: ‘Peace And Unity In Yorubaland’ said, the gathering was to celebrate Yoruba unity after 137 year of post ‘Kiriji war.
According to him, the ‘Kiriji war which lasted 16 years, between 1877 and 1886, remains symbolic part of the Yoruba history as it explains an intra racial war among the Yoruba ethnic stock from the south western part of Nigeria and the importance of unity and peace.
Going memory lane, he added that there were several recorded histories of wars in Yorubaland due to internal disaffection but the ‘Kiriji war which was adjudged the longest in Yorubaland was the most notable of all the other wars due to many factors that applied during the era.
“The story of the war was massive, big, and engulfed all the Yoruba races, both from the left, and from the right. The Oyo and Ibadan on the right, and the Egba, Ijebu, Ondo, Ekiti, Igbonna and so on on the left.”
“So, it took sixteen years before that war came to an end, it’s the longest civil war in our history. It took 16 year before the war was stopped and it was thought out of arms tests by the British in 1886. That’s why we’re celebrating today. And we have been having 137 year of enduring peace among all Yoruba people.”
“You also know Yoruba is not only here in Nigeria, Yoruba is in Ghana, Republic of Benin, Togo, and in Europe and America we have them in Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago, Cuba, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Colombia and so on. So, we’re all over the world, that’s why we’re celebrating worldwide, here and in diaspora,” Arch. Akinola said.
Asked what the celebration symbolises in the history of the Yoruba, Arch. Akinola said, it represents national day of unity and peace among the Yoruba race.
While responding to the perceived disaffection and disunity among the Yoruba race and what would be his advise as regards putting an end to intra racial conflict and disharmony, Akinola said: “this particular celebrations today is my own statement, it is Idande Omo O’dua’s statement, it’s the Yoruba statement saying no more disaffection, and no more war.”
“If you go inside (the venue), you would see people from ‘Okun that’s in Kogi state, ‘Oya from Kwara, Ondo, Ekiti, Oyo, Osun, Lagos, and so on.”
“All of us are here ably represented and we’re happy doing this, we’re celebrating peace, and the lesson to learn from today is that Yoruba is now together and will continue to emphasize and develop on that unity.”
He stressed that the efforts of Yoruba heroes and heroines who fought for the peace and unity being enjoyed currently in Yorubaland would continually be remembered and celebrated.
While also expressing concerns as to the continuous unity of Nigeria amid several allegations of marginalisation, lack of resource control, uneven distribution of the nation’s commonwealth, Arch. Akinola disclosed that even though President Bola Tinubu is of the Yoruba ethnic stock, he only has eight years to rule if allowed by Nigerians for a second term.
“President Bola Tinubu has his job cut out for him and that is to make sure Nigeria works. We don’t believe Nigeria can work but we want to ensure that the Yorubas are united, and we wish him (President Tinubu) well and good luck. But we have the mandate to keep the Yoruba race united and peaceful.”
Asked if his statement was a call in support for those agitating for Yoruba nation secession, Arch. Akinola said, well, my antecedents speaks volume, I’m not for Nigeria per se, and I’ve said it at many fora that Nigeria has outlived her usefulness, it doesn’t mean that because Tinubu is there we would not give him our cooperation, we will give him our support but at the same time, what we want is a united Yoruba nation for ourselves, that’s not a crime.”
Others who spoke at the event emphasised the need for Yoruba to be united in brotherhood regardless of religious or political affiliations, maintaining that a house divided against itself was destined to fall.