Araba Ifayemi Osundagbonu Elebuibon is the Chief Priest of Osogbo, Osun State capital. The Yoruba culture icon spoke with KAYODE FALADE on Yoruba belief about suicide, causes and how it can be reduced. Excerpts:
There is an increase in suicide especially among the youths in the country today. What do you think is responsible for this?
Suicide, in the olden days, was usually caused by frustration and hopelessness. If an individual had lost faith in himself or concluded that their situation is hopeless. Cases like this include impotency and other health challenges. For instance, if a young man is impotent and he is about to get married. In those days, the young man might commit suicide to save himself the embarrassment and humiliation that he suspected might follow.
What is the take of the Yoruba on suicide?
Yoruba do not support suicide. Their belief is that if somebody commits suicide, they will be punished in the hereafter. They also believe that suicides would not be allowed passage into heaven rather, their souls would just be wondering until their naturally appointed time comes.
What is the Yoruba belief on the first person who encounters a suicide?
This varies from place to place. It is not compulsory that the individual strips naked before raising the alarm that so-so-so person has hanged himself. No. If there is sand where the act was done, he or she may just pick up some dirt, rub it on the head and throw it over the shoulders. It is just a sign to ward off evil especially such happening to him or becoming a recurring thing.
What do you think can be done to stem the tide of suicide among the youths in the country?
The parents have the most important task to perform in this matter. Charity begins at home. So many parents don’t have time for their children. What they do is to only run after money. Some parents are in Kafanchan while the child is in Lagos; while some are in Lagos and their kids are abroad.
So many children never lived with their parents or enjoyed quality time with them. They had been dragged to the kindergarten at the age of one and they would remain in school till they get to the university.
This does not enable the child to understand the culture, tradition, norms and values of his race or people. They do not enjoy the tutelage of their parents, hence they do not even understand the essence of life or how to behave responsibly as Africans.
The few times they even spend with their parents are not properly utilized. It is just school, school and school. That is what exposed them to questionable dangerous behaviours and habits like drugs, cultism and crime and other vices. They have been polluted by other cultures.
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