The Okeho Exodus: A Review
By Akeem Akinniyi
Playwright: Olutayo Irantiola
Publisher: Peo Davies Communications
Year of Publication: 2022
Reviewer: Akeem Akinniyi
Olutayo Irantiola’s The Okeho Exodus is a historical play set in 1916 but written in a modern-day language and filled with elements that will not alienate a reader in these present times. The play revisits the past of the descendants of Okeho, who resettled among the hills along with ten villages to stem the tide of invasion by the Dahomey and Fulanis. What follows are intrigues of betrayal and bastardisation of culture by colonialists, which eventually leads to the tragic end of not only the king but the loss of the town’s sovereignty to the colonial masters.
The theme of betrayal dominates the play, and the only character who survives it is Oba Arilesire, who built a harmonious home of settlers which sets the tone for successive kings before the turn of Onjo Olukitibi.
The emergence of Captain Ross and his fellow conquerors in Okeho with their laws and subjugation of the people leads to distrust among the chiefs and sets the plot to oust the king, Onjo Olukitibi.
A wave of betrayal rises among the chiefs who think Onjo Olukintibi has sold them out to the colonialists referred to as ‘Ajele’ (a Yoruba word for usurpers). The internecine fighting grows beyond the borders of Okeho and extends to other towns as Balogun Olele seeks allies from far and within against the king.
In the end, the king is captured and annihilated along with his family. Captain Ross avenges the death of the king, and attacks and arrests the unerring chiefs to bring law and order to Okeho, thereby establishing the sovereignty of the colonial masters.
The play deploys antithesis effectively to strike a balance in the events as well as the lives of the characters and the passing of the years. Oba Arilesire’s reign is filled with harmonious living and unity among the people. He would go on to die peacefully in his sleep. This is contrasting to the reign of Onjo Olukintibi whose reign ends in disarray with mistrust in the air and would later die agonizingly in the hands of his own people.
Another is the replacement of invaders; at first, it is the Fulanis and Dahomeys whose aggression make the people of Okeho flee to the new place. Little had they settled down when the colonialists invaded their space, and sadly, it will result in their return to the place they left earlier.
The challenges of colonialism to traditional laws and customs are symbolized by the emergence of Captain Ross whose influence and power conflicted with Onjo Olukintibi, thereby reducing his relevance before the people. His authority is challenged, and as Captain Ross’ influence grows, Olukitibi’s stature shrinks.
The people of Okeho begin to see him as the puppet of the white man. An example is the statement of Oladunni (41) “The reign of Olukitibi is already disheartening. We have never experienced this in Okeho Ahoro, I have been watching with keen interest, and I am getting to lose hope in his leadership abilities. People have been saying that Olukitibi was not the right person to be crowned, he was imposed on us by the colonial masters. But will the kingmakers and the oracle lie?”
The theme of betrayal echoes throughout the book, and it is expressed in many ways. Jinjin represents the modern, inquisitive, and courageous woman who believes in equality. She also represents the Biblical Eve, whose inquisitiveness led to the fall of man through her desire to partake in the Oro traditions. A Yoruba cult tradition that forbids the participation of women. She never hides her intent to break all patriarchal foundations (25):
Jinjin: My right to social equality, freedom of association and speech. I want to know more about Oro. If it was an entirely sacred thing, men should also stay out of the rituals.
To achieve her husband, Olojomo’s commitment to making her participate, she weaponises sex, and the poor man submits to her guiles: “Yes, my mind is at rest now. I am sure that I would soon partake of the ritual, and we would break all the limitations that have been set by many generations” ” (63). Olojomo would go on to get her involved in the ritual, a flaw that ridicules his legacy in the Oro cult leading to his disgrace from the group by fellow initiates who considered his actions a betrayal of trust.
Another female character of note is Oladunni, who challenges the status quo of the submissive housewife who must accept everything that her husband dishes out to her. She broke patriarchal norms by talking back at her husband Oga Akooda (37) who in a state of excitement and drunkenness about the Oro festival insults her father which she replied accordingly and disrespectfully. The husband chases her with the intent to beat her and, instead of being apologetic, tries to give reasons for his uncouth behaviour. (38)
Oga Akioda: She has to swallow those words if not, there won’t be peace any longer in this house. She thought I was tipsy and could not reason well.
Oladunni: I will go to the court of Ross. You will learn lessons. I cannot tolerate you any longer. You are a violent man. (He wants to chase her again, but Akoda holds him).
The court of Ross is the court of the white man which allows room for divorce. This can be seen as a breakaway from the cultural norm of family and community elders settling marital conflicts. It reflects a subjugation of traditional authority. Some of the little cracks that, bit by bit collapse the wall of traditions and customs.
The playwright makes use of songs to communicate and express the mood. The language, though direct, is sometimes riddled with too much Yoruba aided by code-mixing and translations that somehow belabour the point. Some scenes appear intrusive, as we have during the choice of kingship. Above all, the playwright achieves his aim of telling an ancient story to a modern audience by reflecting on the effects of colonialism and its attendant evils of erosion of cultures and abuse of power.
Akinniyi Akeem is an advertising copywriter with one of the leading PR agencies in Nigeria. He enjoys the art of writing, and in his spare time, he loves to delight the blank page with poetry and short stories.
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OOU Introduces Work-Study Programme to Reduce Attrition
By Adedapo Adesanya
To boost employment numbers and reduce the alarming attrition of students, Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Ago Iwoye, Ogun State, has announced the commencement of a work-study programme for skilled students to earn while still attending classes.
The university said in a statement issued by its Registrar, Mr Femi Ogunwomoju, that the initiative would help ease the financial burden on parents and guardians and reduce the rate at which students drop out of school due to financial constraints.
Mr Ogunwomoju said the programme, through the directorate of entrepreneurship studies, “will enable students with demonstrable and proven vocational skills to work in the university and earn some stipends and still attend classes.”
Nigeria has the second highest number of unemployed youths in the world, with 53 per cent of the youth population without jobs. This country is second to only South Africa, which has 61 per cent youth unemployment.
OOU said it launched the work-study programme during its 40th anniversary in February to checkmate the increasing rate of dropouts in the institution.
“When we noticed the rate at which students were dropping out, we did the SWOT analysis of what happened to them,” said the university’s Vice-Chancellor, Mr Ayodeji Agboola, was quoted as saying in the statement.
“We came to realise that the major problem there is funding. So, we instituted immediate funding, but of course, it cannot take care of all of them,” the professor said.
He said the university, therefore, resolved to cater for 500 students under the work-study programme.
“With work studies, we are sure that the majority of them will be accommodated, and that will also solve the problem,” he said.
Students of the university who are interested and qualified to be part of the programme are requested to fill out a form.
The university management, therefore, urged interested qualified students should register through the Directorate of Entrepreneurship Studies within two weeks beginning from May 25.
200 Undergraduates to Enjoy Stanbic IBTC N80m University Scholarship Scheme
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
No fewer than 200 undergraduates who performed well in the University Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) will enjoy N80 million worth of educational support from Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc.
The funds would be disbursed to the beneficiaries under the Stanbic IBTC 2023 University Scholarship Award Scheme.
The selection process for the scholarships was rigorous and fair, with beneficiaries chosen from each of the six geo-political zones in Nigeria. The candidates were carefully evaluated based on merit, taking into account their exceptional academic performance, the organisation said.
The 200 scholarship recipients will be able to pursue their dreams with financial confidence, knowing that Stanbic IBTC will stand firmly by their side.
The company disclosed that the money would be given to the students in annual instalments over the course of four academic years. It would provide recipients with the essential financial assistance required to meet their educational expenses.
Subsequent disbursements will be contingent upon the beneficiaries fulfilling certain criteria. These criteria include maintaining their enrolment in the universities and degree programs to which they were admitted, as well as adhering to the academic and administrative policies set forth by their respective institutions, the firm stated.
By ensuring compliance with these requirements, the recipients can continue to receive the scholarship throughout their academic journey, facilitating their uninterrupted pursuit of higher education, it added.
“At Stanbic IBTC, we recognize the importance of education and its role in shaping the future of our great nation, Nigeria.
“Our principal objective for this scholarship is to provide unlimited opportunities for bright, young Nigerians who have demonstrated academic merit,” the chief executive of Stanbic IBTC, Mr Demola Sogunle, said.
He noted that the number of annual scholarship recipients was increased from 100 to 200, as education should not be a luxury reserved for a select few but accessible to all.
By investing in the academic journeys of these exceptional students, the leading end-to-end financial institution will not only make a difference in their lives but also contribute to the development and prosperity of the nation as a whole.
Wema Bank Employees Donate Items to Isale Eko Grammar School
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
It was an exciting moment for students of Isalẹ Eko Grammar School, Lagos and a fulfilling time for employees of Wema Bank Plc when they delivered some tables and chairs to the institution last Friday.
The items were donated to the school as part of the financial institution’s corporate social investment (CSI) initiative aimed to contribute to the development of education in the country, especially in its host communities.
It was gathered that Wema Bank employees purchased the items for the school by contributing the salaries under the Salary for Love campaign of the lender.
The bank expressed optimism that the items would undoubtedly transform the learning environment, creating a haven of comfort and inspiration for the students as they embark on their academic journeys.
Apart from the furniture donation, Wema Bank extended its support even further by bestowing scholarships upon two students of Isalẹ Eko Grammar School.
These scholarships, provides invaluable financial assistance and will serve as stepping stones for these exceptional students as they unlock their full potential and courageously chase their dreams.
At the presentation of the items to the school, the Head of Credit Risk Management at Wema Bank, Mr Uchenna Obazeh, emphasized the bank’s firm belief in the transformative power of education.
He commended the unwavering dedication of Wema Bank’s staff members and their resolute commitment to supporting education within the community.
“Through the ‘Salary for Love’ initiative, our employees have showcased their exceptional devotion to shaping a brighter future through education. We are humbled to contribute to the growth and development of Isale Eko Grammar School, as we remain steadfast in our mission of corporate citizenship,” he said.
In his remarks, the Principal of Isalẹ Eko Grammar School, Mr Mukaila Olatoye, expressed deep gratitude on behalf of the institution, recognizing the profound influence this generous donation will have on the students’ educational pursuits.
Also, the students thanked Wema Bank for the donation.
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