Nigeria: Ifes, Modakekes Find Unity in Talkshop

By Remi Adefulu, 2 May 2003

Lagos — For ages, the neighbouring communities of Ife and Modakeke in Osun State have been sworn enemies.

The crisis goes beyond mere quarrels, having severally seen them in violent clashes that have claimed hundreds of lives and properties in the two communities.

Of course, judging from past experiences, it was not surprising that the authorities listed Osun State among states that may witness political violence during the just held elections.

Beyond the concern shown by government on the issue, the need to enlighten the people on the gains of peaceful co-existence, especially at this period of the nation’s history, had made a private group, Alternative to Violence Project (AVP), a non-governmental organisation (NGO), to organise a seminar for the people of the communities.

Curiously, the two communities and the state in general, had known little peace since the murder of former Attorney-General of the Federation, Chief Bola Ige and a member of the State House of Assembly, Hon. Odunayo Olagbaju.

That an Ife son, Chief Iyiola Omisore, was one of the major actors in the imbroglio all the more made the situation worrisome, with feelers indicating that the Modakekes could be recruited to fight their long-time adversaries in the event of the unexpected.

Borne out of this fear, the AVP had elected to organise in the enclave a workshop to enlighten the people on the need to live as brothers and sisters to the relief of many.

On the motive of the workshop, which held April 8-10, 2003, AVP helmsman, Mr Ike Chiemeka, said the age-long intermittent clashes between the two communities, which had claimed the lives of many and property valued at several millions,influenced the idea.

Though there was peace before the workshop, the organisers felt the group and its collaborators, the Nigeria Red Cross Society, considered it timely to sensitise both communities against violence in case of any disagreement.

With arrangements concluded on how best to organise a worthwhile event in line with the set objectives, Ifes and Modakekes were now concerned with the yardstick to be employed in the selection of participants. They elcted to do it themselves and persuaded the AVP and the Red Cross to allow them handle that aspect themselves.

The organisers conceded that to them, but requested that they included in their delegation from both sides six chiefs, three Christian organisations,three Moslem groups, six transport workers, three professionals, three students and two other ethnic groups.

On the D-day, signs that people were eager to witness the turn of events was not in doubt as the Oshogbo Presidential Hotel, venue of the workshop, became a mecca of sort, with the invited and uninvited, taking over all available space.

The organisers had to take extra measures to be able to accomodate everybody, particularly as the uninvited were found to have come from long distances.

AVP boss, Chiemaka, who was overwhelmed by the attendance at the seminar, thanked the people for warmly embracing the programme in his opening address.

He specially thanked the chiefs and other leaders of the communities for setting aside their various assignments to attend the workshop.

He implored them to shun selfish politicians, who may want to use this period to open old wounds in order to derail the elelctions in the area.

On their part, the Red Cross, through their Chairman, Osun State, Pastor Awopetu, who used the medium to explain the objectives of the group, said the society recognises secularity and urged all and sundry to join them to promote peace and save lives.

For effect, proceedings at the workshop were translated into Yoruba to enable participants, who did not understand English to follow the proceedings.

Most of the participants, who had arrived the venue of the exercise with doubts about how the whole thing would turn out, had such impression removed from their minds at the end of the second session.

An Ife chief could not hold back his emotions about the appropriateness and relevance of the workshop, declaring that “this is what we need, the Ooni must hear this.”

On the last day of the workshop when the “forgiveness exercise” was done, a sober atmosphere was created for the healing exercise to be carried out.

It covered such topics as “What is Forgiveness?” “What Helps Forgiveness?” and “Steps to Forgiveness.” Participants were divided into groups while it lasted.

The gains of the all-important programme started manifesting, even at the workshop, as participants began to interact freely, just as they also acted roles together.

To demonstrate that the new bond has actually been cemented, participants from bothe communities embraced themselves after the workshop in a manner that looked like a truce had been struck and reconciliation attained.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

ChatClick here to chat!+