I was born into a conglomerate of three neighbouring communities: Ife, Ijesa and Osun in the year Nineteen hundred and ninety-one. My location is between longitude 04 00E and latitude 05 558N and bounded by Ogun in the South, Kwara in the North, Oyo in the West, and Ondo in the east.
It covers an area of approximately 14,875 square kilometers.
From conception to birth, I was nurtured with a promising vision of stardom, self- sustenance and virility. Since my birth, I have been struggling under the guardianship and governorship of various soldiers and civilians to fulfill the basic dreams and reasons of my being procreated.
Like a ‘gigolo’ on American streets, who dances publicly for the reward of a peanut or dime, I am being made to dance on international streets global show-biz. Unlike an American gigolo, who is free to take the lean reward of his absurd display, I’ve been under continuous tutelage of my guardians, who obtain whatever accrues as stipend.
My guardians have been playing the role of brokers in most cases; I do the dancing and they collect the pay. The amount they sift down to me have always not been enough to keep me healthy and strong to match my expectations.
The result of this shortchanging manifests as protein-deficiency kwashiorkor, vitamins deficiency beri-beri and scurvy. This physical depletion is obvious in the stunted growth of mine. Is this not an advanced form of child labour?
On the occasion of each outing, I’m being clad in gorgeous attire which is resplendent of our culturally rich costume. Underneath this façade, is a rickety-framed pauper who is famous, well advertised to woo investors from various continents of the world. My brothers and sisters, I am shedding tears to say: I am hungry!
What more! my masters parade me as a benefactor of their largesse, informing the foreigners how well taken care of I am until they come here, see me inside out and the intelligent ones among them shake their heads in dismay.
There are so many luxurious vehicles influx that the masters point to the outside world as an index of my good living. Though, the reality is that the vehicles are only used to glamorize me when indeed, they are not my own.
How I desire that these vehicles are sold and the proceeds from their sales used to fend for my balanced daily meal, and healthy living basics. Afterall, our sages traditionally posit that “health is wealth”, but I tend to be experiencing its reverse: the erroneous “wealth is health.”
Gargantuan, white elephant projects have been promised from time to time. An example is the much publicized free trade zones, for industrial leap. Heavy money and resources are going into it on medium-long term basis of return, but I desire to live well from now till I’m mature and have saved enough to plough into my future. My intellect seems to fathom that they have turned my future to their future.
Rather than me allowed to design my future according to my pace, yearnings, skills and desire, the masters are imposing on me a future and vision that do not reflect my humane nature, endowment and dexterity.
In spite of these, I’ve been exposed internationally and therefore have friends in China, Australia and United Kingdom. Whilst my guardians are busy marketeering, I choose to learn a lot from my international friends, who an ideal seventeen year-old should be like.
My foreign peers hide nothing from me about their mental-intellect state. Their own seventeen years old is most likely a sophomore that is, a second year student of a university or its equivalent, who has gone beyond the ordinary basic of his academic career, and is into the indepth exposition and analysis of his chosen course of study.
Their other seventeen-year olds who may not be in strict academics would be high-school graduates who have discerned their area of skills and are engrossed in it, building a future for themselves consciously, healthily, willingly and happily.
In case of the old, when the jobless are found among the comity of my friends in Europe, China and Australia, their social security guarantee them some amount for the basic necessities of life among which daily meal ranks top in priority. Suffice to say, my friends yonder are not hungry, they are sound in their state of mind, having the pride of being alive and belonging to their nationality.
Whenever I am interacting with my foreign friends, I feel some inferiority complex. Why? I can not bring them into my people’s home because of the fear of embarrassment which may be generated due to social and infrastructural backwardness that is conspicuous in my home.
Therefore, I’d always take them to hotels, take them to golf course and parks and sites which are the havens for the few capital opportunists, in a bid for them to experience the pleasure that they are used to which can’t be obtained in my people’s natural or traditional homes. I am sorry.
In my supplication to God, a divine injection called ‘Raufism’ which means an ideology of the people for the people, as being midwifed by Rauf Aregbesola for the people” was given for my economic healing.
This was hindered. I sought the face of God, and I was told to read from the holy bible, the book of Daniel, Chapter Ten, verse thirteen, how a prince hindered Daniel’s answer to his prayer and the intervention of Archangel Michael to release Daniel’s fulfillment.
I was told in my own case, too, that one prince of a kingdom is struggling to obstruct the enthronement of the will of the majority of my people but the good news is, a divine help has been sent to puncture the obstructive plight of the prince of that kingdom. Praise God.
Do I need to tell you my name? I think you have known that I am Osun State of Nigeria. I am celebrating my seventeenth year birthday amidst mixed feelings. Please, pray for me as though it is a birthday gift.
• OJO–ISRAEL is the President, IFS.