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I just read the contribution of Professor Stephen Banji Akintoye , a notable and respected historian, to the burning debate about the origin and meaning of the word , Yoruba ! I scrutinised his arguments and I considered his sources.
I welcome his submissions but I respectfully disagree with his conclusions.
I maintain my original position and I stand by what I wrote in my essay : I am NOT a Yoruba but a son of Oduduwa .
There are two demeaning and insulting names and words that the Fulani gave and used to describe southerners .
Firstly came “ Nyamiri” (meaning ‘ fetcher of water’) in reference to the people of the South – East and secondly “ Yariba ” in reference to the people of the South -West .
The South – East rejected that name but the South – West accepted theirs .
The name “ Yoruba” derives from the word “Yariba ” and it means “ shady and unreliable ”.
I reject that strange name and label and I hope and pray that the good people of the South -Western Nigeria will see the wisdom in doing so too.
I am not a “ Yariba ” or “ Yoruba” but an “ Omo Karo Jire ” or an “ Ooduwan ” and my language is not “Yoruba ” but “ Anago”.
We are what we call ourselves . We are not “ shady and unreliable”( Yariba ) and we must not accept names that are given to us by our historical adversaries.
Any “ Omo Karo Jire” or “ Ooduwan ” who continues to call himself a “Yoruba ” is lost and does not know the implications of what he is doing to his own people .
He is simply affirming and confirming an insulting label which has deep sinister , mystical and spiritual connotations .
The word “ Yoruba ” did not even exist until the 18th century and even then most of the tribes of the South – West , including the Oyo ’ s, rejected it due to its origin and meaning .
The word “ Yoruba” is alien to our culture and not known in the Anago language .
Ooduwans please take note.
The first time the word “ Yoruba” was used as a generic term for ALL the people of the South – West Nigeria was in the 19th century by Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther .
He did us a great disservice there given the fact that it derives from the word “ Yariba ” , which the Fulani used to describe our people .
The meaning of the word “ Yariba ” is “ usurper, deceitful , shady , treacherous , cheating usurer and double – dealing bastard” . Once again , I reject that name .
The good people of the South -West Nigeria are “Anagos ” or “ Omo Karo Jires ” or “ Omo Oluabis ” or “ Ooduwans ” and we are NOT ‘ Yaribas’ or ‘ Yorubas ’ .
I, Femi Fani – Kayode , a proud Ife , an Anago, an Aku, an Omo Karo Jire , an Omoluabi, an Ooduwan and a son of Oduduwa , will NEVER answer to the name “Yoruba ” again or use it to describe my people . We are better than that.
The British named our nation “ Nigeria” meaning “ area of darkness ” and the Fulani named our ethnic nationality “ Yariba ”.
Put together, this means “a group of deceitful, shady , treacherous usurpers and bastards from an area of darkness ” .
Is it any wonder that we are still in servitude and bondage ?
What a terrible combination .
We have been snared by our names.
May God open our eyes , may He help us and may He deliver us ! We must start helping ourselves by rejecting these deeply demonic names , labels and terms .
We are FAR better than the baggage that those horrific names carry .
If the Lord can change the name of Jacob ( meaning ‘ shady character, rogue and trickster ’) to Israel (meaning ‘ God contends ’), then He can change ours too.
If Jabez ( meaning ‘ one who was born in sorrow’) can call on the Lord to break the chains and remove the limitations of his name , to enlarge his coast and to bless him abundantly , so can we.
Remember : We ARE what we call ourselves !
I read the contribution of a northerner by the name of Farouk Kperogi to this debate on Facebook and I marvelled at his attempt to befuddle the issues and misrepresent my assertions. Surely , even intellectual dishonesty and historical revisionism has its limits .
To the sons and daughters of Oduduwa and all other southerners , who are my primary concern , I say do not be fooled: the Fulani have been using the words “Yariba ” and “ Nyamiri” for over 200 years.
Quite apart from that , I would appreciate it if someone would please tell this Kperogi that it would be better for him to read what I wrote than to go out of his way to purposely and maliciously misrepresent me .
He claims that “ it was reported ” that I said “Yariba ” and “ Nyamiri” were FULANI words.
Needless to say I NEVER said or wrote that and if indeed it was reported in such a way in any medium , then that is nothing but a case of pernicious falsehood , perfidious misrepresentation and pre – meditated and specious mendacity.
What I wrote was that the Fulani GAVE and USED those words to describe the people of the South – West and South – East respectively .
Contrary to his assertion , I did not say they were Fulani or Hausa words . Giving or using a name or a word does not necessarily mean that that name or word is native to the language of the user and giver.
This appears to me to be obvious and basic logic .
The name could derive from another race or language entirely and you can still use it in yours as a term to describe others.
This is especially so when you seek to demean and malign them .
As regards the meaning of the words, I would suggest that Kperogi reads a little more widely and he will discover what those that coined them actually meant.
It is simply a question of historical and literary research.
If you disagree with me on an issue or we have divergent opinions , it is no big deal but at least quote me accurately and do not misrepresent or misconstrue what I wrote .
More importantly , if you insist on criticising me or disagreeing with me on an important matter like this , you would do well to actually read what I wrote yourself and not rely on what “ was reported ” or what others told you that I wrote or said .
This surely is a given when it comes to even the most basic , elementary and rudimentary form of intellectual discourse .
The truth is that in his post, Kperogi has confirmed virtually everything else that I wrote about this matter other than the mischievous and erroneous assertion that I claimed that the two words in question were from the Fulani or Hausa language.
I repeat , I never made that assertion .
He also dropped the ball when he said that “ Nyamiri ” was a word that was created during the Nigerian civil war .
This is not true.
The word has its origins in the Igbo language but its subsequent corruption , bastardisation , condecending connotation and insulting usage by the Fulani commenced as far back as the 18th century .
Needless to say I stand by every word that I wrote in my article titled , “We Are Sons And Daughters of Oduduwa And Not Yorubas ” .
I urge Kperogi and those that share his complex and inexplicable disposition to read it with a clear mind and actually learn something .
I wish him well .
Permit me to conclude with this .
One day, all truth , no matter how bitter or hard to accept , will no longer be hidden and ignored and men will no longer be blinded by their own ignorance, pride and folly .
To be concluded
Chief Fani – Kayode is a former Minister of Aviation
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