A YORÙBÁ POEM: ISÉ NI ÒÒGÙN ÌSÉ (WORK IS THE ANTIDOTE FOR POVERTY)
Ise ni Ogun ise (Work is the antidote for poverty) is a very popular poem by J. F Odunjo. It’s very classical and extremely motivational, challenging you to embrace hard work to become successful in life.
The poem goes thus:
Isé ni òògùn ìsé [Work is the antidote for poverty]
Múra sí ‘sé òré mi [Work hard my friend]
Isé l’afí ń deni gíga [Work is what elevates one in respect and importance (Aspiring to higher height is fully dependant on hard work)]
Bí akò bá réno fèhìntì [If we do not have anyone to lean on]
Bí òle là á rí [we appear indolent]
Bí a kò bá réni gbékèlé [If we do not have anyone to trust (we can depend on)]
À tera mósé eni [We simply work harder]
Ìyá re le lówó lówó [Your mother may be wealthy]
Bàbá re sì le lé’sin lé è kàn [Your father may have a ranch full of horses]
Bí o bá gbó jú lé won [If you rely on them]
O té tán ni mo so fún o [You may end up in disgrace, I tell you]
Ohun tí a kò bá jìyà fún [Whatever we gain without working hard]
Sé kìí tójó [Usually does not last]
Ohun tó a bá fara sisé fún [Whatever gain one works hard to earn]
Nií pé lówó eni [Is the one that lasts in ones hands (while in ones possession)]
Apá lará [The arm is a relative]
Ìgúnpá ni ìyekan eni [the elbow is one’s sibling]
Bí ayé bá ń fé o loni [You may be blessed and loved by all today]
Tí o bá lówó [It is when you have money]
Won á ma fé o lola [That they will love you tomorrow]
Jékó o wà ní ipò àtàtà [Or you are in a high position]
Ayé á ma ye o sí tèrín-tèrín [All will honor you with cheers and smiles]
Jé k’o deni ń rágó [Wait till you become poor or are struggling to get by]
Kó ‘rí bí ayé ti n yínmú sí o [See how they’ll turn their back on you]
Èkó sí tún ń seni d’ògá [Education can still place one in a high position]
Múra kí o ko dára-dára [Work hard to master it very well]
Ìyà ń bò f’ómo tí kò gbón [There is suffering for the foolish child]
Ekún ń be f’ómo tí ń sá kiri [Weeping awaits the vagabond child]
Má f’òwúrò seré òré mi [Do not play with the days of your youth, my friend]
Múra sí isé ojó nlo [Be committed to your work; time is ticking]
– A poem by J.F Odunjo
A SHORT BIOGRAPHY OF J.F ODUNJO
Chief Joseph Folahan Odunjo (1904–1980) was a Nigerian writer, educator and politician best known for his works in Yoruba children’s literature.
Odunjo was born in Ibara, Abeokuta in 1904. He was educated at St Augustine’s Primary School, Abeokuta, the Catholic Higher Elementary Training School and the London Institute of Education.
Odunjo commenced his teaching career as the schoolmaster of the Catholic Training College, Ibadan from 1924 till 1927 and was later the headmaster of his alma mater, St Augustine’s, Abeokuta.
As a teacher, he formed the Federal Association of Catholic Teachers to negotiate with the Catholic missions on behalf of mission teachers. Odunjo was a teacher and headmaster of various Catholic Schools from the 1940s to the 1950s.
His printed work in 1958 was one of the early written works of the language. He wrote several novels, plays, poems and texts in the Yoruba language.
His published works later became a source of inspiration for future writers. He was an active member of the Yoruba Orthography Committees of 1966 and 1969. He was also affiliated with the Nigeria Union of Teachers for a number of years.
In 1951, he won a seat to the Western House of assembly and later became the region’s first minister of Land and Labour. He was a president of the Egbado Union. He was also awarded the chieftaincy title of the Asiwaju of Egbaland.
Chief Odunjo died in 1980.