Why The Yoruba Are Successful Wherever They Go


By Reno Omokri

Today, the most influential Nigerians on Earth are not President Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo. They are Wally Adeyemo, who is Deputy Secretary of the Treasury in the cabinet of President Joe Biden, and Kemi Badenoch, who was almost Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and now is that country’s Secretary of State for International Trade.

Both in Nigeria and abroad, people of Yoruba descent are the most successful Nigerians. For example, since 1999 to date, a Yoruba man has either been President or Vice President, except for the five years between 2010 and 2015. And outside Nigeria, the highest ranked diaspora Nigerian politicians have been of Yoruba origin (Wally Adeyemo and Kemi Badenoch).

In business and industry, four out of the ten wealthiest Nigerians within Nigeria are of Yoruba origin. Outside Nigeria, the top two wealthiest diaspora Nigerians are Yoruba, in the persons of Tope Awotona and Adebayo Ogunlesi.

Not only do they have the highest adult literacy in Nigeria, they have also produced The first African military ruler to have successfully and voluntarily handed over to civilians: Olusegun Obasanjo, the first African Nobel laureate: Professor Wole Soyinka, the first Nigerian Pulitzer winner: Dele Olojede, and Nigeria’s first four Grammy Awards winners, including, Sade Adu (1986), Babatunde Olatunji (1991), Sikiru Adepoju (1991) and Seal (1996).

So, if you want upward mobility in life, you are well advised to study the Yoruba. What are those unique cultural markers that set them apart and ahead of other Black Africans?

I am extremely well-travelled and Black Africans are the only people I know, who take pride in speaking a foreign language with a perfect accent, even when they can’t speak their native languages.

But the Yoruba are different. Very different.  The Yoruba in Nigeria and the diaspora tend to be more tied to their language and culture than to any European languages or cultures. And they do this in a very in-your-face way.

It is not that they cannot speak English in that crisp British accent, or in the twang of an American accent. They can. But they will rather choose to enter a London bus loaded with people, get a phone call, and answer it speaking in Yoruba as loudly as they can. I have travelled to every continent on Earth. And the Yoruba are the only Black African people I know who do this.

Can you imagine the level of confidence in your culture it takes to do that? Imagine the guts it takes to contest for power within the UK Conservative party with a name like Kemi. In my opinion, and I could be wrong, most other Black African females would have changed Kemi to Kiki, or some other nonsensical, but aesthetically pleasant name.

I was shocked out of my reverie when I watched Sade Adu correct an interviewer, telling him that her name is Sade (pronounced Shá-dè) and not Sade (pronounced like the word made). That is such a quintessentially Yoruba thing to do.

 The Yoruba have kept their culture, and their culture has kept and is keeping them.

The Yoruba will never feel too big to use sir, or ma, to address someone older than them, or even someone younger than them, who is in a position of power, or authority. And that is why authorities usually prefer them. Because they stoop to conquer. Whereas, some others may meet an older person in authority and approach them with a request using only their first names. Such an abrasive culture!

And when such people see the Yoruba succeed easily, where they failed forcefully, they often start to call these Omoluabi sycophants. Many people mistake courtesy for sycophancy. Courtesy is the application of good social skills, etiquette, and politeness to lubricate social interactions.

For example, amongst the British people, you are considered ill-bred and rude if you use a person’s first name to address them in a situation where there is no intimacy between the two of you, and when you have not been given that privilege by the person.

As a people, the Yoruba naturally honour this concept. It is second nature to them. Just like the nature of not starting a conversation with anyone, younger or older, except you have first greeted them.

For example, a Yoruba man may be seriously pressed to use the bathroom to urinate, but no matter how pressed he is, he is unlikely to meet a stranger, and say ‘where is the toilet’.

They will still greet you with a ‘good morning’, or afternoon, or evening, before asking you where the conveniences are.

And it is such social graces that make them such upwardly mobile people that you just want to get along with and honour them.

The Yoruba have embraced both Christianity and Islam, but unlike others who have allowed Jewish or Arabic culture to overwhelm their own culture as a result of accepting those Abrahamic faiths, they retained their culture.

A Yoruba Christian or Muslim is more likely to be baptised or settled in Islam with his Yoruba name. And even if he or she embraced a Hebrew or Arabic name, such names will be given a Yoruba slant.

For example, Bashir becomes a Yorubised Bashiru, while Abraham and Ibrahim become Braimoh.

And another major misconception in Nigeria is the false belief that the Hausa-Fulani are at the top of the power pyramid in Nigeria. This is not true at all, and it is easy to dismantle this myth using facts. In fact, I do not know why the fallacy has persisted this long.

Let us look at the facts. In the last 23 years, two Northerners have been President. They are Umaru Musa Yar’adua, of Tuareg origin, and Muhammadu Buhari of Fulani-Kanuri origin.

The fact is that both of them only became President through the efforts of individual Yoruba men.

President Yar’adua did not have the clout to even emerge as a leader in Northern Nigeria, let alone the whole nation. At the time he was Governor, both Waziri Atiku Abubakar and Muhammadu Buhari had stronger claims to Northern preeminence than he did.

He rose to power only because God used a sitting President Olusegun Obasanjo to almost force him on Nigerians. Yes, he was a nice man. But he was rather anodyne. He did not have the alpha male abilities needed to dominate the Nigerian political sphere.

His weakness in that regard was compensated for by President Obasanjo, who has enough testosterone for three men.

In fact, it was even hard to know who was really contesting in 2007 between Obasanjo and Yar’adua.

And then there is the incumbent. Instead of trying to analyse how he rose to power, let me quote the words of Emilokan. Of course, I would be translating from Yoruba to English.

“If not me that led the war front, Buhari would not have emerged. He contested first, second and third times, but lost. He even said on television that he would not contest again.

But I went to his home in Katsina, I told him you would contest and win, but ‘you would not joke with Yoruba matters.”

From the above, it is very clear that whereas the Hausa-Fulani-Kanuri dominated in the 16 years of military rule between 1983 and 1999, the Yoruba have risen to the top post 1999.

Some of my readers may point to former President Goodluck Jonathan. But I tell you that God used former President Obasanjo to smoothen his way to power. And the same President Obasanjo was part of the gang up that led to the exit of that greatest of Nigerian Presidents from power.

And that is why I laugh when people say that we cannot go from 8-year tenure of one Fulani President to another Fulani President. Or that the Southeast is the most marginalised part of Nigeria.

Not true at all. The most marginalised part of Nigeria, and resultantly the poorest part, is the Northeast. The Northeast has been shut out of power longer than any other region.

By January 15, 2023, the Northeast would have been out of power for exactly 57 years. While the Southeast would have been out of power for 56 years. If we are talking about equity, justice and fair play, then the time for the Northeast is 2023.

Just as the Jonathan Presidency placated the Niger-Delta, a Northeast Presidency will pacify the region and bring peace to Nigeria.

And to those who argue that one Fulani cannot hand over to another Fulani, I am not sure that argument is factually and historically accurate.

Tinubu himself boasted that he is the power behind the throne. The last eight years have not been just a Buhari affair. By Tinubu’s admission, it has been a joint project. Tinubu brought the Vice President, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, and many ministers.

Reno’s Nuggets

Harry Kane took two penalties for England. He scored one. He missed the other. But all people remember is the penalty he missed. Very little or no reference is made to the one he scored. In life, you can do 99 good things for people. But all they will remember is the one you did not do. Therefore, stop pleasing people. Please God. Then please yourself. Because no matter how much you try to please people, they will find one thing to be displeased about with you. If Yeshua, who was a perfect Man, could not please everybody, what makes you think, you, an imperfect man, can?

#RenosNuggets #FreeLeahSharibu

Related Articles