May I humbly and respectfully call on His Highness, Oba Ewuare II, of Benin Kingdom, to please deliver a powerful curse on all corrupt and irresponsible leaders and politicians who have used their office to steal public funds and deprive our people of the comfortable we all deserve?
The King has already cursed those responsible for the trafficking of youths from Edo State to Europe and enslaving them within the obnoxious business of prostitution.
The oaths of secrecy taken by all these modern day slaves which was protecting their captors and masters have been nullified and the victims are now set free to expose their traffickers.
The curse is working. Many victims have since renounced allegiance to their traffickers and set themselves free, according to my very reliable source.
Meanwhile, the Edo State House of Assembly has been dragging its feet on the passage of relevant bills to tackle this nefarious trade.
A friend told me a story about a man who leased his land in the suburbs of Lagos to a church. Upon the expiration of the lease, the man asked the church to vacate his land. The church refused.
Every week, they prayed fervently that God should make the land theirs. After waiting patiently to no avail, the man devised a plan.
He bought a small black pot and filled it with chicken feathers. He poured some palm oil into it and added some dry sticks.
On Sunday morning when the congregation had gathered for service, he lit a fire inside the pot and dressed in a white robe, he walked into the church with the pot which at this time was giving off a smelly thick smoke!
As he walked into the church he chanted some inaudible incantations.
On seeing him, the church members took to their heels. Some even escaped through the window! That was the last church service held on his land.
Having foolishly abandoned our traditional institutions and lost our cultural identity, we are now in a constant state of desperation and confusion.
We have the largest concentration of churches than you may find anywhere else in the world, yet we have one of the most disorderly and corrupt systems in the developing world.
If you put a thousand naira next to a bible and place it conspicuously in a deserted church, chances are the money will be gone by the next day. But put the same amount of money in a shrine and leave it. By the next day, the money is most probably untouched. The reason is simple.
Christianity preaches forgiveness. No matter your crime, you are promised forgiveness if you repent. This is why the churches are full of all shades of crooked characters.
Our treasury looters also go there to cover up their evil deeds, sponsor church projects in the vain hope that they can buy their way into the Kingdom of Heaven.
Many criminals even go to the extent of actually setting up their own churches as a way to perpetrate their heinous activities.
When we neglect our traditions and cultural assets, we become a nation without identity. We are dressed in borrowed robes which when unveiled reveals a different entity.
Our most important core values are eroded and our younger generations are directionless.
Our cultural assets need to be branded so that our people can proudly identify with them and preserve them.
This is what gives us value as a people and makes other people respect us. But when we blindly copy other people's identities, such people will never have any respect for us.
Many of us think our forefathers were stupid to mix herbs and use them to treat malaria and infections. But these same people had a much longer life expectancy than we (who depend on tablets and injections) have.
As kids, many of us were misled into believing that traditional medicine was fetish, primitive and poisonous.
But today, this same practice is being embraced and preferred by many to Western Medicine. It has even proved to be more effective in the treatment of certain ailments.
Meanwhile, not too long ago, we stupidly derided our traditional medicine practitioners as 'witch doctors and juju worshippers', because the white man said so! The Chinese never abandoned their traditional medicine and today, it is a major foreign exchange earner for them.
Many of our parents were wise enough to retain their traditional ways even though they embraced Christianity and Western Medicine.
Although we lost immeasurable grounds in terms of branding and packaging our traditional medicine, I am happy that it is now happening. As the say, it is better late than never.
Until it was rebranded and repositioned by Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, the Eyo Festival was given a bad image by the area boys and touts of Lagos Island.
Decent people didn't want to attend the festival. Ladies were routinely harassed by the area boys and even some of the masquerades. But Fashola saw in this festival a potential tourist attraction. He rebranded and repositioned it. He restored sanity and discipline.
Erring area boys were promptly arrested and tried in mobile courts. The Festival became a major international event, attracting the diplomatic community and other dignitaries.
It can get even better. We must elevate and brand our cultural assets because this is what gives us our brand identity as a people.
As our elders would say, 'no matter how long a frog stays in water, it will never become fish'. No matter how much we copy foreign cultures, we will never become those we copy.
I know how magnificent and iconic the palace of the Emir of Bauchi is. But even though I have been to Aso Villa, I do not recall any vivid image of any iconic building.
Our presidential residence is like a hermitage, hidden away within the nooks of the Aso Villa grounds.
We have no image in our minds of where our President lives! My idea of a Presidential Palace is one that will aggregate our multi -cultural identity and indigenous architecture into one magnificent and iconic edifice. Perhaps, a brief should go out to Nigerian architectural firms on this.
The neglect of our traditional values and our cultural assets has robbed us of all that is inherently good in our people, and created a chaotic society with absolute disregard for norms. Whatever you do not brand, will be given a bad image.
This is true of our nation as a whole.
We are given a bad image by a few bad people among us and the outside world because we have not been able to brand our nation and project a strong identity.
By the same token, a few bad people have given our traditional and cultural assets a bad image because we have not elevated them with proper brand identity.
Therefore, let no one scoff at the Oba, but rather, let us implore him and others like him, to hurl the most potent curses on those destroying our nation.
- Muyiwa Kayode is CEO at USP Brand Management and author, The Seven Dimensions of Branding. Brand Nation is a platform for promoting national development based on the universal principles of branding.