WORLD FESTIVAL ON YORUBA ARTS AND CULTURE (WOFEYAC),JUNE,2008 IPADE, ILE-IFE-FROM NEWSWATCHNGR.COM

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Crucial Talks Over Yoruba Unity

By Demola Abimboye
Sunday, June 15, 2008

Yoruba leaders discuss problems of disunity at a well-attended one-day meeting in Ile-Ife

It was the biggest gathering of Yoruba traditional rulers and elders from Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ondo, Ekiti and Kwara states in Ile Ife, the ancestral home of the ethnic group, since Oba Okunade Sijuwade, Olubuse II, became the Ooni of the ancient town in 1980. All the monarchs radiated happiness for coming to ‘The Source,’ as the town is often referred to. The gathering was for the formal endorsement of the World Festival of Yoruba Arts and Culture, WOFEYAC, at the palace of the king on Friday, June 6, 2008. The main festival comes up in November. The traditional rulers hugged, backslapped and shook hands, as drummers repeatedly drummed it into their ears: “Orirun wa l’awa yi o,” that is, “we are at our origin.”

Lateef Adegbite, secretary-general, Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs in Nigeria, SCIAN, and chairman of the occasion, was equally ecstatic about the spirit of unity that pervaded that day. “This is the hallmark of your reign as Ooni; it is epochal,” he declared. Although it was a cultural event, the leaders used the occasion to address the lack of unity among prominent sons and daughters of Yorubaland. Adegbite first called attention to what he called “the growing signs of discord in the house of Oduduwa.” He said that due to political differences, governors of the six Yoruba states could hardly meet on a purely Yoruba platform while the principal royal fathers, whom he said, should lead by example would not attend the same ceremony or event, unless at Abuja on federal government’s invitation because of the lingering supremacy tussle among them.

The SCIAN scribe bemoaned the erosion of his people’s commanding position in the economic sphere largely because the customary cooperation and collaboration which gave the group a head-start in the Nigerian economic race have declined. He noted that the ongoing WEMA Bank crisis would not have endured if the Yoruba had invoked the economic solidarity of old to deal with the mess. “Nor can we talk of socio-cultural leadership of the Yoruba when we are yet to create a neutral platform in which all shades of political opinions and tendencies would co-habit and feel at ease,” he said.

Adegbite said that WOFEYAC could stimulate unity and restore the sense of belonging among the Yoruba. But he enjoined the people to ensure that WOFEYAC was devoid of fetish displays or any form of idolatry in order to carry Christians and Muslims along. “Everyone must be actively involved and contribute to the success of the fiesta. There should be no impediments whatsoever. Every Yoruba state government should participate fully in the planning, execution and funding of the festival since the project must be seen as a major plank in the development endeavour of the South-West region,” he said. He added that “it is the abiding obligation of every Yoruba man and woman to promote and preserve Yoruba culture, the cornerstone of his or her identity.”

Due to the large turn out by the royal fathers, each state selected an oba to speak on behalf of the others. All of them praised the Ooni for his efforts at uniting the region’s monarchs. Olojudo of Ido Osun and Abdullahi Akamo, Olu of Itori spoke on behalf of Osun and Ogun traditional rulers, respectively. The duo employed Ifa, Yoruba divination culture, extensively in praying for the ethnic group. The former prayed that Oyere which symbolised cohesion would ensure unity in Yorubaland. “If all of us stay together, no group in Nigeria can denigrate the Yoruba,” he said. Akamo prayed that Obaraka, the antidote against evil will remove envy and hatred from among descendants of Oduduwa.

Alaaye of Efon Alaaye, Oniru of Iruland and Amapetu of Mahin kingdom spoke on behalf of Ekiti, Lagos and Ondo states’ obas respectively. They expressed joy at the calibre of those in attendance and wished there would be regular meetings of such magnitude to engender unity in the land. The Lagos obas donated three million Naira towards the November event while their Ondo counterparts promised a heftier sum.

Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Osun State governor, charged the traditional rulers to work towards peace, cohesion and good leadership. “We must come together to be able to speak with one voice and ask for our dues in the larger Nigerian society,” he said. He enjoined the leaders to bring into their fold their kit and kin in Kwara, Kogi, Edo and Delta states as well as promote the Yoruba language as no language is inferior to the other. “No nation develops while underplaying its culture and adopting foreign ones,” he said, adding “How many of us converse with our children in Yoruba? There must be a rebirth of our language, culture and tradition.”

Obateru Akinruntan, chairman, Obat Oil, who was openly hailed as the king-in-waiting for the stool of Olugbo of Ugbo kingdom in Ondo State donated two million Naira towards the November 2008 grand celebration of Yoruba culture.

Oba Sijuwade, who was elated at the endorsement of WOFEYAC, said it might be necessary to set up a committee of eminent leaders which would include at least 10 monarchs to resolve all differences among Yoruba sons and daughters. “The team will work towards a final settlement that will bring all of us together as one family. Such a committee can have a period of between three to six months to carry out this assignment,” he said.

Given this royal declaration, many eagerly hope the trio of Oba Sijuwade Olubuse II, Ooni of Ife, Lamidi Adeyemi III, Alaafin of Oyo and Sikiru Adetona, Ogbagba II, Awujale of Ijebuland will sit beside one another discussing Yoruba unity on or before November this year.

© 2007 Newswatch Communications

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One Response to “WORLD FESTIVAL ON YORUBA ARTS AND CULTURE (WOFEYAC),JUNE,2008 IPADE, ILE-IFE-FROM NEWSWATCHNGR.COM”

  1. Posts about All About Arts as of March 14, 2009 Says:

    […] singing, performing arts, group singing and individual voice performances. The talents behind WORLD FESTIVAL ON YORUBA ARTS AND CULTURE (WOFEYAC),JUNE,2008 IPADE, ILE-IFE-FROM NEWSWATCHNGR.COM – yeyeolade.wordpress.com 03/14/2009 from newswatchngr.com Crucial Talks Over Yoruba Unity By […]

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