By Ibrahim Sheriff (Gold)
The name ‘Aiyekooto’ meaning ‘the world rejects the truth’ is a Yoruba name for Parrots, also known as Odidere. The name is indeed apt and a forthright notion of the worldly reality. The truth sayers in this clime and world over are usually abhorred, not because they are wrong by being truthful, but because truth have the capability of making even the beneficiaries of the truth uncomfortable with the truth, at times.
A brief search into the rationale behind the naming ‘Ayekooto’ shows that the Yoruba may have had a forgotten story behind the name of this beautiful bird, which I have found as a strong theoretical underpin for the truth and thus, should leave no one surprised by the growing scornful disposition of the present helmsmen in Kwara State for hard truths.
The story is told of a farmer, who encountered a lorikeet, an animal that speaks and understand the language of man. The farmer was enticed by this uncommon attribute of the animal and thus, brought in the bird to stay with him. The lorikeet goes and come back with the man each time of the day.
On a fateful day, a buffalo belonging to the neighbour of the farmer wandered to the farm of the lorikeet keeper. The farmer killed the buffalo, smoked some part and cooked some and kept what remains away in the farm. Not long after, the owner of the buffalo came to the farm and asked his neighbour if his buffalo had wandered to his farm. No was the answer.
Surprised by the lies told by her keeper, the lorikeet began to talk: “My master slay the buffalo, he cooked some and smoked the rest. He hid part away down there”. The owner of the buffalo summons the farmer to the king after part of the meat was found where the lorikeet described. The lorikeet argued that his master killed the buffalo still, and the farmer asked that he be given a grace to defend himself the next morning.
That night, the farmer did a spin. He took in the lorikeet and covered its cage whilst the bird was sleeping. He covered it with a shawl to make it look dark, and then he began to sprinkle water drip down on the lorikeet. He intermittently hit at the metal, giving the lorikeet an impression of rain and thunder. The lorikeet indeed woke up and observed its environment in the morning, the king was seated and all the community was with them.
They want to see how the case at hand ends, with the lorikeet being the principal witness. After the lorikeet had retwitted its line, the farmer said “People are you going to condemn me on the allegation of this unfortunate bird (eye oloriburuku yii) the farmer asked? If so, ask the bird what kind of night we had last night.” So the king asked likewise, and the response of the lorikeet was that the rain fell and the thunder struck all night. Then the farmer said, “Is it on the account of this unfortunate thing that you will condemn me?” At this, the judge set the farmer free and banished the lorikeet from living among men, lest it would sow discord capable of setting people apart.
As the bird flew into the forest, it came across parrot and found out that parrot too can speak the language of man. “Oh I see you too can speak the language of man”. The lorikeet says. “Man will find you and take you in, but never should you speak your own mind if you must co-habit with mankind, only mimic whatever he says.” And not many days afterwards, man found that the parrot too could talk.
They took home the bird just as the lorikeet had predicted. Also, they expected it to talk from its mind. But for as long as man has harbored the bird, it never says its mind, it only repeats few words that man says to it. When people asked why it never talked like the lorikeet, Odidere’s only words were ‘Aiyekooto’ .
The above is a parody of the Kwara of today, where, like the Yoruba adage, the truth sayers hardly have mats to sleep on. The lorikeet can be likened to Kwarans, the undisputed heroes of OTOGE, who courageously stood and raised their voices against misrule, political ineptitude and kleptomaniac leadership. Just for the political harvester of today to be playing a deceptive farmer, faking rainstorm on lorikeets to create fake perception of sainthood.
However, our own ‘Aiyekooto’ would never be discouraged by the lorikeet’s travail in ensuring the truth is dig out and made known to the people, who deserves to know. Like several other times when the government’s vuvuzelas had played on Kwarans intelligence and rubbed ridiculous lies on the people bare faces, we must be resolute, to resist the urge to merely play the role of an imitating parrot for the fear of persecution.
Just like those of yesteryears, who when criticized for corruption, political impunity, executive recklessness and ineptitude, resorts to name calling, harassment and unnecessary tagging to silence dissenting voices, the new political farmers in town are not also proving to be different. Rather than see constructive criticism and exposition of corrupt practices by its agents as a way to help it get better, they result to malignant stereotype, leaving the locust of the real issues. Perhaps, the misdoings are collective and administratively sanctioned.
From the scandalous tractorization project, to the COVID-19 front line workers’ allowances saga, to qualifications of SUBEB applicants issues and more recently, controversy over purported appointment of the SUBEB Chairman, minimum wage, among others, the political farmers in Kwara continue to fake rainy and stormy weather to deceive the general populace, but they are unfortunately dealing with braver and more intelligent Lorikeets, they have been unable to cow or blackmail all the parrots into silence or get them barnished.
Just on Sunday, the Kwara state government accused Elites Network for Sustainable Development (ENetSuD), an anti-corruption CSO in partnership with the State government to investigate government contracts under the novel social audit makeshift arrangement, of for being political. Same way the Governor was quoted to have accused labour movements in the State of being sponsored by political opposition.
While it is unsurprising, pathological liars tend to tell lies that seem to be geared at gaining admiration, sympathy, or acceptance by others, it is worrisome how a government instituted on a mantra of ‘CHANGE’ is so comfortable labelling everyone disagreeing with some of its positions.
Some of the people can be fooled some of the time, not all at all time. The former Governor of Kwara state, Abdulfatah Ahmed during his reign had praise singers, official and unofficial spokespersons clapping for him and throwing jibes at every critics while he held sway as Governor. Making a fool out of every person that alleged his government of wrongdoings but his invitation by the EFCC attracted defenseless applause, as his erstwhile vuvuzelas were no where to sustain their believe in Maigida’s infallibility.
It thus should serve as a lesson for the people of today, to know that some of the imitating parrots echoing their voices (truth and lies) are really not doing so because they so believe in the words, actions and inaction of theirs, but because of their cowardice believe in the worldly disdain for the truth and its sayers and fear of persecution by our political harvesters and more importantly, their loyalty to lucre and other pecks of office over the collective good of the electorate.