Another oriki dedicated to the Yoruba goddess of trade and wealth, Aje (see also Salute to Aje, Goddess of Wealth).

The poem makes reference to Adebisi…“Brother at Idikan”. This was Sanusi Adebisi Giwa (1882-1938) a highly successful entrepreneur who began as a weaver of Ofi cloth (a traditional Yoruba cloth worn at occasions such as marriages, funerals etc) and then expanded into large-scale farming. He was praised for his philanthropy and for paying the taxes of other farmers who were struggling.

The man who poverty makes a beggar among friends
Knows how the world dodges the needy.
Best friends are unreliable if there is no food.
When money flees a man, the world abuses him.
Poverty is no one’s relation.
But riches are claimed by everyone
Adebisi was called “Brother at Idikan” because of his money (1)
So everyone loves to be related to the man with money.
Your praises, Oh Aje!,
The one worshipped on awaking,
praised in the early morning like Olodumare. (2)
Who says ‘thy will should not be done’,
He must be mad.
“Brother” calls you, don’t you hear him?
That is the respect money bestows on its owner.
Money turns the slave into a king.
The white man who sailed across the sea to set up a tent
Is driven by the desire to make money
Like a deadly insect that bites people in the jungle.

Aje, benevolent provider of all human needs
Owner of a thousand ado
You turn the wise man into a fool.
And makes a fool a wise man
An elder who gives orders without being rich
Is like the barking dog nobody heeds.
For who may suddenly become deliverer of the community
A saviour of the townspeople
Unless it is money that made him so?
Aje, the great father of the secret places, and the great father of the open places.
He makes the diviner a liar and makes an intelligent person a dunce.
Good to have as a friend, but not as an enemy.
Aje, benevolent provider of all human needs
Husband of six hundred wives.

Collected by Bernard I. Belasco
From The Entrepreneur as Cultural Hero:
Preadaptations in Nigerian Economic Development

Praeger Publishers (1980)


Footnotes

  1. Refers to Sanusi Adebisi Giwa (1882-1938) a highly successful entrepreneur whose philosophy was the rich must help the poor.
  2. Olodumare: Supreme god of the Yoruba pantheon.