My Cradle, Akungba Akoko: The Essence Of Unity In Human Affairs

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By Jide Okeowo

Societies are formed on the basis of mutual understanding and agreement among its inhabitants, since the principle of isolation in human interaction is already defeated. The coming together of people can therefore be said to be a conscious effort in pursuing and achieving a cause of actions beneficial to the collective aspiration and wellbeing of the people.
Empirically speaking, the gials of the Social Contract that binds mankind together cannot be met, if unity is not treasured and built over time to defeat sabotage, treachery and betrayal. The Social Contract of collective responsibility over individuality is the difference between dictatorship and democracy. For it mends the fault lines in society.
It was on the basis of this established fact that our forebears who had migrated from their different and isolated original settlements consciously agreed to finally settle and live together peacefully in the present location of Akungba Akoko, a community that now hosts a 21st century citadel of learning, Adekunle Ajasin University.
However, the age long togetherness anchored on love and unity is fast being threatened by belligerence and bellicose conducts of some new-found generation of leaders, whose do or die attitudes are nailing the casket of development in our community.
The promotion of hatred, acrimony and division are clear cut catalysts for negative growth and retrogression. The consequences of such are too huge to ignore. The absence of unity in our land has no doubt hampered the much desired progress and development it ought to have recorded.
Therefore, it is needless to count our many losses over the years, as a community ravaged by avoidable intra fraticidal conflicts championed by some irreconcilable stakeholders.
The fact is that Akungba Akoko, our cradle is mighty in name but slim in substance. For so many years now, no single community project has been completed. The idea of an ultra modern community hall for Akungba was initiated so many years ago. The efforts and commitment put into the execution of the project initially was laudable, but unfortunately, the scourge of division and acrimony have halted further desirable progress.
It is therefore sad that for close to two decades now, the initiated ultra modern community hall project has not been completed. We are all guilty as charged!

As a young lad, I grew up to know about Akungba Development Union as a vibrant community platform where sons and daughters of Akungba converge to deliberate on issues that promote unity and progress of the community.
The founding fathers notably late Pa. Folarin, Late Ade Adefarati, former Governor of Ondo State and late Mr. Akinmuwagun were convinced in their strong decision that a platform was needed to negotiate and propagate the interest of Akungba towards progress and development. They truly deserve our applause. However, the vibrant union of the old is now redundant as ego greasing and self-opinionation seem to have overwhelmed its crop of recent leaders. It was so bad that the two heads of the ADU still have pending court case against folks from same clan. Battling for what?
Polarity and division have crippled the functionality of the Union and succeeded in making a mockery of the collective public perception of Akungba -as an entity without social coercion and integrity.

Our source of strength as a community has been rendered inefficient and ineffective. Funny enough, we all still vainly mouth Akun ma wo no, ero eero!
As a kid and later in my adult life, I looked up to the annual AKUNGBA DAY in July to joyfully mark the new yam season and reunite with my loved ones who must travel down home mostly from Lagos. The events of years past took away the salt of the much desired moment. The Akungba day I grew up to witness used to be hosted at Holy Trinity Primary School playing field, but the events of past years maliciously uttered the status quo.
In all these years, cabals were formed with different agitations that ultimately led to division within the community. Different groups hosted Akungba day in different venues as against the age long practice. The oneness of cause was lost and the community became shattered in celebration.
Many thanks to the Alale in Council for its initiatives in rebranding the annual community event. We are receptive to the idea of AKUN-DAY FESTIVAL, a cultural celebration of ancestral heritage of new yam feast, for unity, peace, development and sustainable stability.
For us to therefore better appreciate the essence of unity in the affairs of our community, please permit me to share the Oka Akoko instance and my personal experience during Oka Day celebration in 2018 which was also attended by Kabiyesi, the Alale of Akungba kingdom. My close relationship with Chief. Alaba Yusuf as a mentor put me in a privileged position to know the happenings within a social club my mentor belongs to. Okarufe Leadership Association (OLA), a vibrant social club that parades illustrious sons and daughters of Oka origin as members. An association that was formed about (5) years ago has been making waves in the Oka community solely on account of its humanitarian interventions within the community. The association initiated a bursary programme to support the education of (30) less privileged undergraduate students from the 15 quarters of Oka kingdom. In the 2018 edition of the scholarship programme, (30) undergraduate students of Oka origin were unbiasedly selected and awarded as appropriate. A cheque of (#50,000) was given to each of the beneficiaries at the Oba’s palace during the 2018 Oka day annual anniversary. Needless to say the joy that greeted this laudable initiatives (OLA) by the Oka people, including the beneficiaries when it was announced that the bursary programme would be sustained by making it a yearly programme to be sponsored by the association during Oka day anniversary.
The education empowerment initiative I learnt is the first in the history of the kingdom by a group. The first one was in 2017. Of course this could not have been possible if oneness and unity of purpose were lacking. A clear example of strength in unity! The elite of Akungba cannot afford to be disunited.
Needless to say again that no society is immune to crisis, but the swiftness in peace negotiations by stakeholders brings the difference to bear.
Many communities in our clime, including Oka Akoko had suffered and still working at resilving their conflict axis.
These communities are now on the fast lane to progress and development.
Thus it gladdens my heart that the Ultimate Club of Akungba, a union of top notch Akungba elite, has risen to the challenge of charting a new and positive course for our community. The Akungba based social club under the coordination of Chief Alaba Yusuf I learnt will be giving educational support to some undergraduates of Akungba origin from low income homes, through a bursary scheme, that will be unveiled during the rebranded 2019 Akun-Day Festival.
May I have the pleasure to commend the vision of the
Ultimate Club members (Chief Alaba Yusuf, Mr. Tolu Oriyomi, Bamidele Yakubu, Prof. Binjo Adeofun, Barristers Sam Ologunorisa SAN, Oluduro Adonis and Victor Olatoyegun, Gbenga Mise, Chief Elkanah Ijelu, Mr. Jacob Ogidigbo, Otunba Gboyega Adefarati, Otunba Bode Iwaro, Elder Emmanuel Alonge, Mr. Foluso Adeola, etc.) These great and successful guys are from the various quarters in Akungba, yet they surrender themselves to the ideal of working together as a team to achieve a common communal dream: development for dear homeland.
Of course we can underestimate the import of this educational empowerment initiative by the Ultimate club. The frontier of human capital development is being pushed to justify the noble assertion that “education is a veritable tool for national development”, but operationally, Akungba community development. The rest of us should take a cue from the Ultimate example.
Further lesson for Akungba people is that compromise and cooperation works for our common interests.

I am aware that the reconciliation committee constituted under the leadership of Chief Gbolahan Ayodele had submitted its report to the Alale in Council and the fence-mending recommendations have been duly adopted. We doff our hats to the peacemakers.
The onus of reconciliation now lies with the aggrieved factions of ADU to accept unconditionally the liberal report of the reconciliation committee and allow peace to reign henceforth.
We need unity to pursue the collective goals that will impart Akungba progressively.
There is much we can achieve and attain as a community if we can collectively embrace unity as it was embraced in the beginning by our forebears. Needless to say that our deeds and actions are being monitored and noted by the younger generation, the story which shall be told forever.
The feat of unity will be achieved only when we subsume and relegate our personal and parochial interests for communal accomplishments to strive. Only then will the labour of our heroes’ past won’t be in vain.
It is high time we all herald the new era of revival of Ijesu Tuntun, Akungba New Yam Feast, as registered and repositioned in the now Federal Government recognised Annual AKUN DAY FESTIVAL. We need to jointly celebrate this national feat and jointly work towards consolidating and expanding the achievement.
A properly packaged festival is a revenue avenue to its host community and a breeding ground for joy, integration and mutually beneficial collaboration.
Akun ma a wono, ero e ero!

‘JIDE OKEOWO MNIM, is an Akure based public commentator and a stakeholder in the Akungba project.
jideokeowo1984@gmail.com.

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