The imperative of this piece should not be conceived as simply a response to Chief O.A Sangodeyimu’s tantrums against Prof. Isiaq Akintola in his piece; “THERE IS NO HIJAB, GELE OR CHOIR-HAT CRISIS IN UNIVERSITY OF IBADAN.” It is also an attempt to liberate many from the bondage of ignorance perpetuated by the likes of Sangodoyemu.
What actually caught my attention in the piece was the claim that there has not been any religious crisis in the South West of Nigeria, since the days of Oduduwa in Yoruba land.
Even if the Chief simply got the title perchance and not as old and experienced as one might think, he should have consulted properly before releasing such write-up to the public space. Even a brilliant secondary school student cannot be totally ignorant of the case of Apalara in Okobaba area of Ebute Metta in Lagos.
Before going into the matter of Alfa Bisiriyu Apalara as elaborated in the book; “Religion and Politics in Nigeria” published in 1993 (University of Virginia) by R. Derek Abubakre; R.A Akanmidu & Olusi E. Alana, among other books on the subject matter, at least to assist the sincere ignorant ones gain some knowledge, let me point out that I am an activist and I still receive complaints as I write this piece, of the oppression being daily faced from certain so called traditional religion fundamentalists. However, any attempt to resist such oppression would be automatically tagged as an attempt to promote crisis, just as Professor Akintola is being presently tagged.
If not oppression, what other name should be given to what is happening in Ikorodu area of Lagos State for that matter where some days are declared as compulsory stay at home for women, even in the daylight. It took a member of the Human Rights Monitoring Agenda (HURMA), Monsur Akinremi, to recently rescue a woman who was being taken to the hospital by her husband.
Also Oro festival is a regular thing where it is publicly declared that any female caught would be killed, yet it is the government and certain cult Chiefs that promote the illegalities.
Several times we have analyzed how such practice is unconstitutional and directly infringe on the fundamental human rights of Nigerians, all to no response. Even the infringement on people’s rights through the good intended “Environmental Sanitation” exercise, was challenged in court and subsequently abolished, against a governor’s desire.
Wearing of hijab was once a crime in some parts of Lagos, including Somolu, until it led to physical combat.
It is important to correct a wrong impression ignorantly spread that Professor Akintola is trying to promote crisis in his involvement in the U.I hijab issue. This is far from the truth. Rather the plain spirited man is simply trying to prevent the possibility of unexpected outburst of possible crisis.
It is important to know that wherever there is injustice, the oppressed would always regroup for possible retaliation.
This is what Professor Akintola is trying to prevent.
It has always been the trend in many societies that whoever choose to sacrifice his or her energies to liberate the people, such persons would always face persecution. Late Funmilayo Ransome Kuti; Gani Fawehinmi; Beko Ransome Kuti, Steve Biko; Malcom X (all late) among others were all victims. Such was the fate of Alfa Bisiriyu Apalara, who lived between 1918 – 1953.
To be brief, Apalara was born in Itoko, a town in the outskirts of Abeokuta in Ogun state. He had elementary education in his hometown before he went to Lagos to work as a carpenter. While in Lagos, he found himself in Mushin, a settlement that had a reputation as the home of street urchins.
While in Mushin, Apalara got initiated and was involved in negative aspects of life.
In 1945, he was imprisoned on charges of theft during which period his life got transformed and he decided to turn back on his past and anything related to his past in Mushin.
Apalara, a former member of the traditional cult group that were found of oppressing the people, especially those of other religious sect, now turn around and began campaign for people’s liberation. He chose Islam as a faith and insist that people should be free to practice religion of their choice with any form of persecution whatever. He received several threat to his life for this act from the cult group (masquerade and Oro).
In Jan 1953, Apalara was invited to come and preach in Okobaba, a neighborhood in Ebute Metta and stronghold of cultists. Apalara took the threats to his life seriously and paid for the service of police for his crusade in Okobaba. On January 3, 1953 during his sermon in Okobaba, Apalara was abducted by a group of cultists, the police and most of his congregation ran away. He was struck by an object and dragged into a nearby house where he was said to have been murdered in cold blood and his corpse also cut into pieces and later thrown into the sea.
To prevent full religious crisis, the state promptly intervened and in October 1953, a Jury delivered a verdict of death by hanging to 11 people who were found culpable in the murder.
Let me use this opportunity to call on Chief Sangodeyimu among others who feign that these are normal and no religious crisis in the cooking, to join Professor Akintola in his campaign for total freedom of people and that people should not be persecuted on the basis of his religious affiliation, otherwise your female relative may fall victim in the nearest future.
Finally for the purpose of mental liberation, ignorantly attaching the fundamentals of white cloth to the Obatala gods is just like attaching thunder and lightening to Sango. Please note that lightening had been existing before even the birth of Oduduwa talk less of Sango. The same applies to Obatala among other gods, with whom people myopically attached elements they are not naturally related with.