A veteran trade unionist, Pa Jacob Adio Mosanya, a diehard Awoist, gives a first-hand insight into the politics of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo in a new book.
Many books and commentaries on the life, times and, especially, the politics of the late elder statesman, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, have been released to the reading public in the past years, the latest, on the late Premier of Western Region, is a book, entitled Post-Independence Political Evolution of Western Nigeria (The Obafemi Awolowo Factor), written by Pa Jacob Adio Mosanya, a veteran trade unionist.
The foreword to the new book was written by Idowu Akinlotan and the book can convert a non-believer in the politics of the late sage into his greatest fan. The setting is the immediate post independent Nigeria era. It highlights how the late sage was misrepresented by the Tafawa Balewa government and became a subject of persecution.
Divided into five books, with each having many chapters, the book opens with a few exclusive correspondence between the author and Awolowo, they mirror the greatness and empathy of Awolowo.
Book One, which, has 11 chapters, is devoted to Awolowo’s persona, politics and privations, such as the loss of one of his sons, Barrister Olusegun Awolowo. It contains musings on philosophy, history and politics, as well as a general discourse on psychology. Every page turns up a surprise revelation, a small nugget, and half-bit priceless information.
The style of writing, coupled with various quotes makes the reader wonder whether the author lived in the same apartment with Awolowo.
Book Two is a more historical exposition on the nuances of the Yoruba, their, sometimes, tragic inclination for self-flagellation, and their divisiveness, both historical and contemporary.
Mosanya is not sure whether the Yoruba will ever get it right, given the way they reacted to Awolowo’s politics and leadership, and the unenviable way they contributed, immensely, to undermining him. He uses very strong words to capture the consequences of such tendencies.
For instance, he sees the Yoruba as individualistic, but, in the midst of all the confusion, he also sees the Yoruba people as being courageous when the occasion demands it.
Book Three should, probably, be the high point of Mosanya’s collection, since the book was in part, originally, written as a pamphlet to mark Awolowo’s birthday, it is not surprising that it contains an examination of the Action Group (AG); the development orchestrated by the party in the region; the role played by the workers ; the party ideology, and crucially, Awolowo’s credentials as a true democrat. Mosanya, in fact, quoted a former British Prime Minister then, asserting that the democracy planted in Nigeria could only grow and be sustained with Awolowo in the saddle of leadership.
Book Four, was, actually, done in Yoruba, which the author later translated into English to accommodate non-Yoruba readers and with the same simplicity and expertise the author deployed in presenting his work. The four chapters in Book Four contain only poetry, eulogy and songs.
Book Five, is, probably, the most evocative in the literary work. Although, it’s a collection of writings and columns by him and others, the subject remains the charismatic Awolowo. It reminds the reader of the difficult relationship between the mercurial Awolowo and the Yoruba race that he led, but, who were not quite as responsive to his vigorous politics and visions as the purity of the great man’s ideas and force of his personality demanded and deserved. The chapter also draws the attention of the reader to the historicity of Yoruba disunity.
The disunity is not a recent thing, according to the author, it is rooted in the race’s history, culture and worldview. This may, perhaps, account for why they thrive in opposition, for it is a part of their being, and why other ethnic groups in Nigeria are irritated by the intensity of such luxuriant opposition.
Written in simple and free flowing English, the book may not be the best on the shelf, but, it opens a veritable opportunity of understanding Awolowo’s politics and vexed issues in post-independent Nigeria. Apart from some grammatical and punctuation errors, there is no doubt that it is a good material for students who would like to dig into the Awo enigma.
The book is a good companion to any person who wishes to know what, actually, transpired during the crisis days of post-independent Nigeria.