ISE L’OGUN ISE. The Cultural concept of Hardwork and Dilligence.
Growing up in the south west of Nigeria. I came across this song when i was in the Primary school,its tuned in the Yoruba language and it goes
Ise l’ogun ise
Mu ra si ise ore mii
Bi a ko ba reni feyin tii,bi ole lan rii
Bi a ko ba reni gbe ke le a tera mo se eni
Iya re le lowo lo wo
Baba re le le shin le kan
To ba gbogju le won,o te tan ni mo so fun e.
Translation to all my non-Yoruba speaking friends,in summary its a song that speaks about being hardworking and diligent at one’s enterprise,no matter how rich your parents might be,never depend on them, Work out your own path to success.
The concept of hard-work,diligence and success like every path with thorns to glory possess more cultural point of view,or if i must say possess a meta-physical side to its story. One invisible to the ordinary eyes,one that must be brought to light by any elderly or enlightened one,someone the Yoruba’s will call an “Agba”.
Have you ever wondered how our great grand fathers and mothers succeed and become so wealthy and powerful in their times? Ever stopped to think how they managed to survive and succeed with little or no resources in their times,well it’s as a result of hard work and diligence. Well with contentment too.
Breaking down the words in small bits,there is a big difference between hard work and diligence,one talks about being pro-active and one speaks about the consistency and steadfastness at one’s enterprise.
Several hundred’s of years ago before computer,emails,social media and all we have today,our fore parents lived a nomadic life if i must say,all they had was the land(Farm),cattle and few enterprise and with these few they were able to feed families and provide enough for their household,not forgetting some of them even send their children to school with the proceeds they make from these little ventures,not also forgetting even some of these children went as far as the United Kingdom and other countries to further their education..All made possible from the money from the cocoa farm,or the cassava farm or the banana plantation. Hard work,diligence and contentment was the order of the day then.
A man will have 3 plots of farmland, and on this farm he will have his cocoa spot,corn,vegetables,pepper,okro and some other stakes..and with his 3 wives and 12 children all will be properly fed and even have enough to give friends,shouldn’t it be more better now that we have better technology and a means of life that makes every better,but now reverse is the case.
Where did we go wrong?
Growing in a strict family,where staying with your grand parents during the holiday was no excuse, I came across the meta-physical,cultural concept of hard work at a tender age of 12. Of course then it was more of a wicked and stressful act for me when my grand mom wakes me up as early as 5am in the morning to clean the house and do some other chores. The first time I had to do that,I asked her “Is any visitor coming to the house?” She replied,”Yes your parents are coming from Lagos”hurriedly like the small mind I was I quickly finished did all the chores,only for me to be disappointed when no one showed later that day. And as the night drew near,I asked my grand mother “Mama are my parents not coming again,she smiled and told me they will be coming the next day,and before I sleep that night she made me clean the kitchen,sweep the corridors,arrange the firewood for the next day,not forgetting filling the water pot with clean water,by the time I finished all that I was so exhausted I slept like a beaten thief,not for me again to wake up the next morning to do the same 5am cleaning ritual. I did this for two weeks without the parents showing up and angrily I asked my Grand mother to produce my parents or I wont wake up to do any chores again.
She smiled and said,”Its not like am punishing you or stressing you my son,your parents actually came,but it’s there spirits”..I was dazed and asked “But they are not dead now!!!” She smiled and said “I know”At this time I was looking at her and was like who is this woman,at this point sensing how disturbed I was she took me up on her laps and explain this to me.
Seeing the distress within my spirit,she started by first praising me with my Oriki (Appellation),this calmed me down a little,I smiled and now she explained this to me..In Yoruba land,its good to wake up early morning and clean your environment ,before doing this,you must greet your parents first,who will bless you with the “early morning blessing”(These words that come out from your parents mouth very early in the morning goes a long way in affecting one’s destiny in life) and after the blessing by the parents or any elder in the house,you can now go and clean the house..While doing this the spirits of your ancestors in the house seeing your doing this will also bless you and ensure that whatever you do with your hands later that day prospers. Then after doing this you go and have your bath(Cleaning off all evil and physical dirt off you that might have stained you during the cleaning) and then you can come back and sleep and later wake up to eat if its the weekends or prepare for with school or farm whichever the case is…And when you are done with the day’s activities,you must come and clean the house after your dinner,clean ever where,never leave any leftover un-covered,wash every plate or pot used and always make sure there is clean drinking water in the pot. Reason,the spirits of your ancestors always come to protect the house every night,fighting off evil attacks and all and when they are done,they will want to drink water and rest,if they find the house dirty and with no clean water to drink,they will be angry and that is the reason why we have nightmares most times…The diligent and hardworking hand that wakes up to clean his house will never suffer or lack. By the time she was done with this huge explanation,forgetting whether my parents are coming or not,cleaning the house every night and waking up first thing in the morning to clean up became a part of my DNA.
Whether the explanation she gave was true or not,but at that time it was good enough for me to stop the nightmares..lol..And as i grew up in life,this simple theory she coined out was a foundation that one needs to be hardworking and diligence at one’s endeavor,whatever you find your self doing in life.
All ancient societies succeeded by creating mythologies and folklore’s that helped drive home salient personal and social developmental paradigms that enhance collective goals. In Africa, the meta physical is often used as a means of driving home these building blocks that enhance the quality of life both at a personal and societal level. A hard working society is less likely to have as many thieves as one were indolence is condoned, by inference people would be more trustworthy and the cost of policing the state and adjudication will drastically reduce. On the other hand the chances of breeding top class, thriving and ever expanding enterprises will be on the rise.
The smallest act of diligence and discipline goes a long way in making your that great mogul or CEO you’ll be later on life.
I was lucky to go through some reports on the early life of Nobel laureate Professor Wole Soyinka, and i saw that he wasn’t born a genius or a hard working fellow,his father the Great Principal (Samuel Ayodele Soyinka ) made him write a page of essay everyday when he was growing up,plus reading some other books in history and other topics..This prepared WS for the great journey ahead of him and made him the Great man he later became in life.The Great Mogul,Politician and Philanthropist MKO Abiola,didn’t make all his money all in one night,accounts of his early life made him a very diligent and hardworking man,paying attention to every simple details as a young lad.
There is a story of hard-work,discipline and diligence to every story of every great man and woman that has ever walked on the face of this earth,some strange story of consistent practice,practice that made them the exceptional men and women they became in life.
Why is the story different today? Every one looking for that quick cash,no one wants to go through a level of apprenticeship, that period of fire that fires up that inner stone in us and turn it into the gold we will be tomorrow. The youths of today are said to be the leaders of tomorrow,what are those traits we are showing now in preparation for tomorrow’s leadership? Are we sure we are ready to take over the reins of leadership when its being passed down to us?
Behind every structure in life,there is always the cultural,religious,supernatural,scientific,moral back up to it. Believe it or not these guidelines are already there to help us become the great men and women of tomorrow. The success of our tomorrow depends on how quick we are to identify with our cultural fabric as a Nation. A Nation without its cultural identity is like a ship sailing without no compass. The earlier we go back to the study of those old days and see how we’ve missed it the better it is for us. What we have today is youth lost to western culture and civilization abandoning their roots,this is why there is so much woes in the world today,Nigeria with no exception.
Ise l’ogun ise.Lets go back and re-trace our steps back to greatness,its not too late..
GOD BLESS NIGERIA,GOD BLESS AFRICA.