It’s in the late 1950s – 1958 or ’59, as I was told – when Sir. Ahmadu Bello (Sadauna) came to Ọffa, my hometown. He came on Official Inspection of his Father’s (Northern) land. And to commission the then biggest and modern mosque. (The mosque is now by Ọlọffa way, beside Sanni Aba’s House. You will first get to it when you coming from Station roads; there’s always Arabic class taken infront of it every evening.)
In unison my people welcomed him. People went out on the street en masse. Known for their hospitality and accommodation, they made Sadauna felt at home. Every joint preparation put in order happened in orderly and accordingly manner. Ọffa people showed him the very best showcase of our culture and heritage….I was told he was bubbling with joy wholeheartedly.
After he commissioned the mosque, the second reason he came for, he authoritatively turned to my people. The Great Sadauna himself. He and his Staff of Office, the symbol of Power. As a satisfied and elated guest, he wanted to bless his hosts. Sadauna was not an ingrate!
He reportedly said, “Ọffa, tell me what you want and it shall be done this very minute.” Ọffa were overjoyed.
This is a free ticket, from the one of the three most powerful men in the Nigerian government (the other two were Chief Obafẹmi Awolọwọ and Nnamdi Azikwe). This is a lifetime opportunity Ọffa were waiting for. One of the most rare of that generation. Almost unheard of.
King, chiefs, elders and the people jointly came together; they deliberated, they meditated, but obviously they already knew what to request for. As happy as lark, they came to Sadauna and made their request. A singular request . A taboo. A mistake in history. An abomination (as of then)……A blockage in progress like mountain of Gibraltar.
They voiced: “we want to move to Western region. We want nothing else.” Ka’asa! Sangba fọ! An insult to the Sadaunan Government! The words have been spoken….the ink has dried…Sadauna duly replied: “not an inch of my father’s land would go to the South West.” So, Sir. Alhaji Ahmadu Bello left, with his Staff of Office, the Power of the North, granting no request…..
Till his death in 1966 he granted the request not. Not even till now.
I was in the then-commissioned mosque sometimes last year (2016). To pray Solat Isha’i – if my brain still serves me alright. An elderly man, out of the three left in the mosque, including me made four, exclaimed: “this used to be the biggest, ‘most’ modern and sought-after mosque in the 1960s,70s even till few years in 80s…” another replied, “why wouldn’t it be when it’s Sadauna himself that commissioned it?” My heart missed some skips…Sadauna? Sadauna was once in my hometown?
Curiosity took better of me, I formed instant rapport with them. I turned to baby Jesus and they the three Magi; the trio told the story. With each word they grew sober, depressed, pensive…..It was a 30-minute encounter, when done, I was more pensive and depressed than the trio of them combined …….
My people are right. We are neither Hausa nor Fulani. We are not part of the North – we never were. Ogun Ijọba lo shi wa ko. We are the headquarters of Ibọlọ dialect of Ọyọ Empire – a dialect that’s spoken from Ajashẹ-Ippo to Iwo (Olodo Ọba). We are descendants of Prince Olulakun Olalọmi Ọlọfagangan, a prince from Ọyọ Alaafin, of Ọyọ Ile founded by Ọranmiyan. Oranmiyan, one of the sons of Oduduwa – gbaa juu ree!
- ( Ọyọ Empire’s land is divided into four parts. They are Eku Ọtun, Eku Osi, Epo and Ibọlọ. Ọffa heads Ibolo Kingdom.)
Desk Of Insanity,
Jimson Jaat Taofik,
The M.A.D Writer
(Making A Difference)
(This piece was first published on December 28, 2017, via Facebook by its writer Jimoh Taofik Adekunle (Jimson Jaat Taofik)