| Print | E-mail
Written by Adewale Oshodi Tuesday, 22 February 2011
Yeye Akilimali Funua Olade, a Black American, left the United States in 1978 for Nigeria to embrace the Yoruba way of life. In this interview with Adewale Oshodi, the Chief Librarian of African Heritage Research Library (AHRC) at Adeyipo village, Ibadan, speaks on what made her to leave the United States, why she embraced the Yoruba culture, and why she has not visited America since she left 33 years ago. Excerpts:
[Yeye Akilimali Funua Olade]
Yeye Akilimali Funua Olade
You are a Black American who relocated to Nigeria in 1978, but don’t you think that it is rather ironic that you chose to come to Africa, when Africans themselves are struggling to migrate to America?
Any black person who is in the white man’s country is a slave to white people, and by the time I was 19, I said my children would never be slaves to white people, because in reality, we were their slaves, and that is how they still treat black people till today. There is no freedom for black people, and the way they treat us is just so bad, and I decided that my children would grow up in Africa. So, by 19, I had decided that I was coming to Yorubaland because I was told by Black Americans who were practising Yoruba religion that Yoruba is the best culture in the world, as well as the best language. So that was when I decided that my children were going to grow up with the culture and speak the language, and they would never be slaves to white people.
So, in 1978, I arrived in Nigeria. Then, my children were very young and I told them they must stop speaking English in the house and speak only the Yoruba language. So they spoke Yoruba. They call me Iya mi (my mother) because I told them I didn’t want to hear any word of English in the house, like mummy, and all other words that Yorubas are using to mix and destroy the language. I didn’t allow it. Now, my children are grateful for being brought up in the Yoruba culture. Even though they are back in America, they said the culture has really helped them. It has given them a sense of belonging. Now, I am confident that one day, they will also return to Yorubaland.
You are in Nigeria now, but how often do you visit America?
I have not gone back for once because I don’t want to be anybody’s slave. I just want to be me. I love my freedom here. The racism is still very strong in the white man’s country, especially in America. So, since 1978, I have been here. I have been enjoying Yorubaland. I have never suffered for once here like I suffered while in America. I am respected by the people around me.
You speak the Yoruba language fairly well..
I don’t speak it fairly well; I must tell you the truth, and that is the only problem I have with Yoruba people. If you don’t learn to speak the languagequickly,they stop trying to teach you,say you never can learn it and speak to you in english! So in that regards, they are yet to cooperate with me but I am pledging to speak only Yoruba by
Now, one of the problems we are having with the language is that Yoruba parents encourage their children to speak only the English language. What do you have to say to this?
That is how they are destroying the language, and they will be slave to English and white people forever. Once you take up another man’s language, you will become a slave to the real owners of the language.
What do you find interesting in the Yoruba culture?
Yoruba culture is the best in the world. Yorubas were in Egypt. The culture is the most developed in Africa, and that means it is the best in the world; I must tell you that the white culture is not developed. The Asian culture is also developed, but nothing compares with the African culture.
Do you still maintain contacts with your friends in America despite leaving there 33 years ago?
Of course, we are still very much in contact. I tell them everyday why they should return home to Africa. Africa is home to blacks all over the world. I tell them I am ready to help get them settled, and a lot of them are ready to come now because the racism is just so bad, and because I have coped really well here for 33 years, they say it means the place is not that terrible.
Since you came, was there a day you regretted your decision to relocate to Africa?
Not even once. The black man should be in the black man’s land. There is no way a black person can be happy in a white country. No matter how rich the black man is; no matter how successful he is, he is still not respected. They can pick him up anytime and say he robbed a bank, and then get him jailed without any evidence of him committing any crime. Those Nigerians who are abroad, majority of them are only working for the money, so after a while, they will raise some money, put up a structure back at home and then return when they feel they have achieved a degree of financial success.
And you were not discouraged by the lack of infrastructure, the lack of electricity, among other things, coming from a country that has everything?
First of all, freedom is the most important thing in life. If you have never been free, like the blacks in America, and you come to a place where you are free, will you be talking about electricity? Although there are some Black Americans who come here, and they dwell on the lack of infrastructure, but that is not for me. I want my children to be free. Everything is here for me. I cherish the culture, the language, and the respect people give me. Everywhere I go, I am respected. A black is not respected in America. Some people even wonder how I can be living in the village. But for me, freedom comes first.
Tags: AFRICA, African Americans, BLACK CHILDREN, BLACK MEN, BLACK PEOPLE, Black woman, BLACK WOMEN, LANGUAGES, LEARN YORUBA LANGUAGE-THE MOST BEAUTIFUL LANGUAGE IN THE WORLD!, NIGERIA, SAVE YORUBA LANGUAGE, YORUBA LANGUAGE, YORUBA LANGUAGE IS DYING, YORUBAS