Since the mother of Anthony Oluwafemi Joshua is Yoruba from Shagamu in the Remo area of Ogun State, his prostrating in London at the weekend for President Muhammadu Buhari, a Fulani from Katsina State, has generated for and against reactions from the Yoruba people in the South – West, Kwara and Kogi States and their kith and kin in Edo and Delta States. Male Yoruba prostrate for their parents and those old enough to be their father or mother, or who are about ten years older than them and non – members of the ethnic group chose to their parents or older brothers and sisters.
Although an Igbo, Yoruba boys prostrated for Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe while girls knelt down for him because he lived part of his adult life in Lagos and spoke Yoruba fluently. I believe Yoruba boys also prostrated for Sir Louis Philip Odumegwu Ojukwu, the father of Ikemba Chukwuemeka Ojukwu, who lived on Lagos Island for some years before moving to Ikoyi.
Yoruba boys in Isale Eko near the Oba’s palace in what one can call northerners’ colony and in the Epetedo area of Lagos Island and Obalende also prostrate for much elder Hausa – Fulani men and women who live in those areas with them. I am sure, many Yoruba boys whose parents were close for General Murtala Muhammed, Nigeria’s Head of State from July 30, 1975 – February 13, 1976, would have been prostrating for him because not only was the married to a Yoruba woman from Abeokuta, I understand that he also spoke Yoruba.
But Yoruba boys are not likely to prostrate for other southern, eastern, south – south and northern elders who do not speak Yoruba or are not close to their parents. To the Yoruba of my generation, that is those who are seventy years and above, it was abominable in the 1950s through the 60s for a member of the ethnic group to prostrate for a Gambari (that is a northerner from either the Hausa or Fulani ethnic groups). At the time people even used to say that it was better for a Yoruba boy or man to die than prostrate for any member of the two tribes.
But I guess that was because of the rivalry between Chief Obafemi Awolowo and national leader of the Action Group (AG) and of the Yoruba and the leaders of the Northern Peoples Congress (NPC), Alhaji Ahmadu and Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. The former was Premier of Northern Region while the latter was the Prime Minister of Nigeria whose government arrested Awo in 1962 who was eventually jailed ten years for treasonable felony in 1963.
Ideally, since Anthony Joshua’s parents are not close to President Buhari, what he should have done to show respect for him, who is old enough to be his father, was to have greeted him the way younger Fulani and Hausa salute their elders. That is clenching the fingers of his right – hand and thrusting it forward and bowing his head saying “Rankah Dede.” But I see nothing wrong in his prostrating for the president. It was his choice and he is entitled to it.
Even if he had not greeted the Nigerian First Citizen in the humble manner he did I would still have recommended that as the World Heavyweight Champion he should honour Joshua with a national award. And my recommendation is that the President gives him the highest honour of the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR). That is what Anthony Joshua as the Heavyweight Champion of the world deserves. Especially for the way he has identified himself as Nigerian even though he was brought up in England. Another person in his position may not have gone to visit the President.
The Federal Government should also name a major road in a conspicuous place in Abuja after Anthony Joshua. While His Royal Majesty Adeyeye Ogunwusi, the Ooni of Ife, should honour him with a Yoruba chieftaincy title at a ceremony to which many a Yoruba leader, that is state governors, traditional rulers, politicians and businessmen and women would be invited.
As a citizen of Sagamu, the Akarigbo of Ijebu – Remo should also bestow him with a chieftaincy title.
Next week: How Christmas got linked with idolatry because of a late third century Pope who worshipped an idol.