…if we don’t have the right people ― Omoluabi, as a symbol of our Yorubaness ― then it is only natural that we will begin to fall apart. It is common sense really. Having said this, there are many ways to skin a cat. Perhaps Amotekun may just be the starting point for the right conversations. Only time will tell.


The idea of a security outfit to serve as our watchdog isn’t a bad idea. In fact, it is welcome, especially when one goes back to the events of only a few years ago, in Ondo State where criminal elements had the audacity to kidnap a Yoruba leader. At that time, and every time such terrible events have occurred after, we look to our South-West governors to re-assure us that we are safe. So, if “Amotekun” is their response, then we must applaud them, even as we wait for this outfit to begin to create the impact we so desperately hope for.

However, no matter the intent behind this security outfit, it is necessary to ensure that whilst we go about trying to ward off criminally-minded “outsiders” from creating havoc in our land, we do not allow “insiders” to unleash mayhem too. After all, all insecurity is insecurity. That it is committed by an insider doesn’t really make it any less manageable. Though I don’t know too many Yoruba proverbs (shameful really, especially as my father often used these proverbs to teach and reprimand), I know a popular one: “kokoro to nje efo, ninu efo lo wa”. The pathogen that ravages the vegetable patch dwells within it!

Whilst many associate a cheetah or leopard with Amotekun, the image that readily comes to my mind is that of “Abijawara Bi Ekun” ― a Yoruba warlock made popular in the movie Opa Aje. This war-cum-sorcerer protected his land from evil from outside and within. Abija was also a metaphor for restitution. He returned what the wicked stole and gave same back to the owners. Abija was respected, because he respected and lived by the norms of the land.

Growing up, the descriptive, “Omo-lu-abi”, was a common reference. It invariably means a well brought up son of the soil. It is used to describe an indigenous person, who represents the Yoruba race such that all are proud. This person adheres strictly to the mores of the Yoruba culture and never infringes the rules of society’s organisation.

Whilst it is necessary to protect our land from “outsiders”, we must, just as important, do the same internally, so that so-called “insiders” do not by their acts also destroy our culture. There is a lot to preserve in Yoruba land and these must not be papered over even unconsciously.


Omoluabis often receive prayers and blessings from elders and all. They are custodians of the culture in the sense that they are of exemplary behaviour and remain a reference point for emulation. Abijawara was an Omo-lu-abi. I don’t often hear the use of this descriptive as much nowadays as I did when I was a little girl. But I think that we need to begin to bring back its moral coordinates to the table. We need many Omoluabis in the land.

A friend who used to work with an NGO, in one of the Yoruba states that supports rape victims, once related a horrible story. She said they once had to support a 78-year old woman who was raped by a young local man who lived next door. The man must have been in his 30s. She went on to tell me of other horrific tales that involved the rape of children and teenagers.

Perhaps globalisation and technology are forcing a reset of our dress sense, manner of speaking, etc. But these should not tamper with acceptable behaviour and norms associated with a culture. Flashing my mind back to the Yoruba movies that featured the likes of Chief Tajudeen Oyewole (aka Abijawara), Ola Omonitan, Baba Wande etc., persons who committed such atrocities were dealt with severely. These ones were referred to as Omo Ales (bastards) and not in the sense that they did not have fathers, but rather that no child of the land could commit such atrocities. These people were banished from the land.

I am no historian or subject-matter expert in Yoruba matters, but at least I know we used to have a clear distinction between Omoluabis and Omo Ales. Even the Yoruba movies make this clear. Evil always loses out. I am not sure this line remains clear. Whilst it is necessary to protect our land from “outsiders”, we must, just as important, do the same internally, so that so-called “insiders” do not by their acts also destroy our culture. There is a lot to preserve in Yoruba land and these must not be papered over even unconsciously.

…it helps to remember that the surest way to kill any culture is to put the wrong persons/values as symbols of that culture. There are some things that we ought to protect from money and politics and maybe even technology. Culture is on top of my list. In order to secure our culture, we need many more Omoluabis too.


I do not believe that we have done enough to immortalise some of our Yoruba greats ― Herbert Olayinka Macaulay, Obafemi Awolowo, Samuel Akintola, Gani Fawehinmi, Hubert Ogunde, etc. And this may be the reason why we are currently struggling to promote the Omoluabi culture. Today, the people that have access to the spotlight, whether intentionally or just by the existence of social media, are not our Omoluabis. Every time a person is pushed forward as a representative of the Yoruba people, we need to ask if that person represents us well.

Right or wrong, cultures have been stereotyped in Nigeria. Ours was “best in class” and that was because we ran things in a meritocratic fashion, often choosing the best, even as warlords ― our forefathers who fought and won wars were respected. Forefathers who came top of the class, forefathers who served the nation diligently were. Looking around today, I don’t think we have maintained the bragging rights the Yoruba once had.

So, if we don’t have the right people ― Omoluabi, as a symbol of our Yorubaness ― then it is only natural that we will begin to fall apart. It is common sense really. Having said this, there are many ways to skin a cat. Perhaps Amotekun may just be the starting point for the right conversations. Only time will tell.

Until then, it helps to remember that the surest way to kill any culture is to put the wrong persons/values as symbols of that culture. There are some things that we ought to protect from money and politics and maybe even technology. Culture is on top of my list. In order to secure our culture, we need many more Omoluabis too.

‘Lande Atere is a lawyer and everyday girl.