Archive for the ‘AFRICAN LANGUAGES’ Category


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April 28, 2013

Nigeria is a better place than its image outside


on April 27, 2013

in Saturday Magazine

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Dr. Paula Gomes is the only white face in the palace of the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi 111. Fast-pacing, quick-talking Gomes first visited Oyo 20 years ago; and ever since, she has been going and coming to the ancient town. Recently, the Alaafin of Oyo noticed her interest in the culture of Yoruba people and the monarch honoured her by making her his Cultural Ambassador. In this interview with GBENGA ADERANTI, this Portuguese shares her experience in Oyo in the last 20 years and why she has embarked on a crusade to preserve Yoruba culture. Excerpts:


What do you really do for Alaafin?

I’m the Culture Ambassador for Alaafin.

How did you meet Alaafin?

My first contact with Alaafin actually was the beginning of last year, but I have been in Oyo already for a while, coming and going.

What were you doing in Oyo before now?

I came to Oyo because of the culture. I used to come to Nigeria while I was a student of History about 20 years ago. I know Yoruba land though I cannot say very well but quite well; 20 years ago was the first time I came to Oyo and I thought there was no more culture in Oyo. When you talk about culture, culture is in everything, food, literature, the way you dress. All this time while I was a student, I always shuttled between Osogbo and Oyo. With time and mixing together with people, I saw that a lot of cultures came from the ancient town of Oyo Ile. That is why I actually came to Oyo to make more research on it.

Does that mean you are leaving Oyo after the completion of your research?

No, I’m not going to leave, I’m just telling you that while I was a student, I used to come to do research and after that I came to Oyo not on my private interest to know more but because Oyo had nothing to offer more about their own culture. If you go back to the history, you will know that Oyo Empire dominated all the kingdoms in Yorubaland and you as well know that it was when Alaafin Sango was a very strong king ruling, actually during the 7th or 8th century, that the influence of Oyo Empire in Yorubaland was massive. And much of the culture in our day not only in Yorubaland but also in the Diaspora, everything was connected to Sango. That was why I came here to know more about him and like I said, I have been around for four years. There is a lot here to be preserved because that is the history of a ethnic group that has survived outside and is really appreciated.

In Europe nowadays, we are looking for the ancient culture that has something to give to the humanity because what we are expecting from life is to live long and to live long with quality, you can have a good car, you can have lots of money but if your body is not in the equilibrium, if you die young, what is the essence of life? Life is long life with quality and quality means first of all, your body has to be strong, has to be healthy and the philosophy and the knowledge of the Yoruba is like the philosophy and culture from India and China.

Acupuncture from India is based on lots of ancient culture, they are very similar to Yoruba culture. What we are looking for is that deep knowledge of Yoruba which they have about the nature, that you can find the equilibrium between the body and the spirit, because Yoruba believe that there is one God who is called Olodumare. Then this Creator has created, and when He created the earth, He sent the energies to the earth which are divided into four elements and these are known all over the world: water, you cannot live without water; air, you cannot live without air, that is oxygen; fire and earth.

These are the four elements that the Yoruba people believe and if you go to other ancient cultures, all of them are the same. They are all talking the same language. So the Yoruba people like to personify those energies like other ancient cultures and they believe that if the body, which is the aye; the material life which is also aye and the spiritual life, which is orisa. Orisa is not God; orisa is what you cannot see, it is invisible. You have the visible world which is aye and the invisible world which is orisa, people used to think that orisa is another God, it is not. It is not the correct translation because when you say orisa sango, orisa osun, all the 401 orisa are the invisible power of the nature. They are everywhere in the world. You cannot live without water, you cannot live without air, so people should be very careful when they translate.

We don’t say Olodumare Sango, Olodumare Osun . When you have the equilibrium of the invisible world, aye and not visible world, orisa, you have what you need to live, you have ase, you have power; it is very simple. These people have philosophy, these people have a very strong knowledge which is given through Ifa. It is an oral history coming from very ancient times like all the other ancient cultures, and these need to be preserved. That is why I’m here, to try in my own capacity to show the Yoruba people that they are very valuable.

How vast are you in Yoruba language?

Mo ti gbo die die, sugbon Yoruba ko rorun (I understand smattering Yoruba, but it is not easy).

How old are you now?

Normally you should not ask a lady how old she is.

You should be…..

(Cuts in) I will not tell you.

What about your family?

I have my family, like I said, I go and come back but I have been here for two years without going home.

I’m talking about your husband and children?

Well, I will not like to go to my private life; you know that is very private. I will just like to talk generally; I will not like to say anything about my private life.

Some people spell your name Gomez why is yours Gomes?

My name is a Portuguese name, it ends with an ‘s’ it is Portuguese but if it is ‘z’, it is Spanish.

Have you read anything about Suzanne Wenger?

Yes, I know her very well. Like I said, I’ve been coming for 20 years, I used to be in Osogbo, so I knew Suzan Wenger very well. Actually I can say that she was and she is an inspiration for me because she really tried for Osogbo and Osun State, especially Osogbo. Today, what is there, people should be very grateful because if not for her who fought for it, it would have gone long time ago. She really preserved what people who said were the bush, the history of Osun Osogbo. Every people has its own history. People are crazy to travel abroad to go and see our culture, let me tell you, you have to appreciate your culture as well because we preserve our culture, so you have to preserve your culture as well. That is what I’m trying to do. I know Suzanne very well.

Don’t you sometimes feel you are going Suzanne Wenger’s line?

Look, I’m not Suzanne, I don’t want to follow Suzanne’s line, I want to follow my inside. I want to follow what my inside says. Suzanne did what her inside said; me, I’m doing what my inside tells me. So I can never be Suzanne because each individual is unique and special, so I don’t want to imitate Suzanne and I don’t want to be Suzanne. Do you understand me? Suzanne is Suzanne. She was a great person that I have in my heart; I only follow what my inside tells me, so I can never be Suzanne because if I try to be Suzanne, I’m not myself. I’m just doing what I feel is correct to do. I’m not an artist, Suzanne was an artist so I can never try to be an artist but I have passion for this culture because I believe it can give a lot to humanity; the way India people and Chinese people are, they are already giving to the humanity.

I believe that Yoruba people can give as well but for that to happen, Yoruba must be proud of themselves and they are not, they are losing their own identity, the Indian people are not like that, they preserve their culture and they are proud of it. Chinese people, they are proud of their culture. They teach their own children to continue and today, if you go to Europe, if you’re a VIP, instead of you to go to hospital, you go for alternative medicine. Because we got to a point that we realised that all the chemical medicine you take will cure one part and destroy the other part.

Actually what you want in life is to live long, it is through the natural thing that your body can stay longer, do you understand? People want to go to Europe, people want to go to America, what kind of life do we live? A lot of people are dying too young through heart attack; the life we live is to go to work and come back home. You know we are an old continent but now we are turning the thing around. We want to go back to what we don’t have anymore; we want to eat bio-ecological, we are tired of plastic food because of cancer.

If you put a Yoruba child who has nothing inside one compound and you put a white child, which one is stronger? Why do you think Europeans live longer? It is because we have access to medicine for free because the society is organised, but if we don’t have access to medicine and the hospital to maintain us alive, we cannot live the way you people live because you are too close to nature.

I know you are not in the Niger Delta area, but foreigners are constantly being warned to be wary of Nigeria, do you sometimes get scared that you could be kidnapped too?

Look, let me talk about myself, I do go to Delta State, I’m not afraid to go. I think that the image which is given to the outside world about Nigeria is different from actually what is happening in Nigeria. I’m not saying that it is not dangerous but Nigerian people are very nice. I think the government should rebrand. For example, when you think about Brazil, you think about football and carnival, but there are people who are still eating from the garbage. There are people when you go outside they will steal your things.

But when you talk about Brazil, people think about football and carnival, people don’t talk about those who eat in the garbage or people robbing people. I’m in Oyo, nobody robs me, I travel, I don’t have any trouble with anybody. But when you talk about Nigeria, you think about 419; they tell you it is a bad place, why don’t you rebrand it? Nigeria has many things to offer the people outside. People love your culture, people really appreciate your culture but they are afraid because of the image that have been created. If government rebrands the country, I believe that bit by bit, people will start coming because of culture. So there is need to rebrand.

People go to America; me I don’t have anything to do in America. I studied in America, I went back to Europe because if you go to America, you have to be careful, if you are not careful, somebody may follow his gang and they will shoot you. You train your children to shoot because they can just come and kill you. Do you understand? Everything has to have an equilibrium, Nigeria needs to be rebranded because it has a lot to give to people. I cannot talk about Hausa and Ibo, I can only talk about Yoruba, that is what I know. Yoruba people are beautiful, the culture is beautiful, people are friendly and they should not lose their identity because if they lose their identity, they will never find it. They can never be white, I cannot be black. I have to accept who I’m and people should be free and be proud of what they have.

The introduction of foreign religion has eroded the belief system of the Yoruba people, what do you think will happen in the nearest future?

I don’t like to talk about religion because for me it is a private thing, religion is like politics, you are a Christian or Muslim, you are ACN or PDP or whatever. Religion is something that is private, but you know if you go back to the history, it was always a problem with religion, religion tries always to dominate and control and when you talk about Africa, especially West Africa, it has suffered a lot, through the slavery, families were destroyed, alot of blood in the name of money was shed. Religion for me, I respect everybody, I don’t look at people from their religion, I respect people because everybody is special and everybody is a creation of God. So, that is why I don’t want to go deep into religion.

Religion is a personal belief it is not only going to be today, it is yesterday and going to be tomorrow and the process that is going on now in Nigeria was in Europe before. Life is a mystery and because it is a mystery, people try to control people through religion. Me, I don’t believe in anything, I believe in what I feel because I’m a creation of God but I respect everybody and every belief, if you tell me now that this is what you believe, this chair, I will respect you.

You were talking about your support for nature and local herbs (agbo), Yoruba herbs are from nature, do you drink agbo?

Yes of course, it is not only Yoruba, we Europeans we use herbs, we have different herbs, different teas. Why do you eat efo (vegetables), why do you eat all these vegetables? Why? Because you need vitamins and minerals, so the herbs are here to help us but the new sicknesses that are in the world, they are killing people. They are sicknesses that you can cure or maintain but you destroy other parts of your body. This is not a belief, this is science, that is natural science not a belief, a belief is something you cannot prove, but 1+1=2, that is science. Yoruba herbs are science; they are natural science, not a belief. If you are feeling something, you take the herbs, like a natural tea, if you feel better, your body has eliminated what is not good.

It is not only the Yoruba people that use herbs, if you go to my country, we have alternative medicine which we are preserving, we use alternative medicine. We are no more going to doctors and Yoruba have big knowledge in this science and they are putting it as a belief because culture is part of everything, what you eat is part of your culture.

At times I wonder why people like you will leave your comfort zone for a place like this where you have to struggle to get things done. What was on your mind when you were coming here?

It depends on what you call comfort. What is comfort for you?

Light, good roads etc.

In life, we cannot have everything, if you have light 24 hours, if you have good roads, we have everything, we stay in AC office, and you leave for AC cars. Lots of people are getting sick because AC is provoking problems in the lungs. A lot of people in Europe are now putting the AC off and now open their windows. I do say we’ve given the experience to them and we want to go back to olden days. In the office we have the AC, we have the car, we don’t have to walk too much. We take the car, we go to the supermarket. We have everything we need from the supermarket, we go home, we have the TV, we get the quality of life. We human beings are meant to live up to 120 years, but at times we don’t live more than 50 and 60 because we need comfort of life, we have no exercise and we eat junk food. Lots of children are born already with diabetes and cancer because they want comfort of life.

In life, there are positive and negative sides. The individual is responsible for his own life . So we have to look the other way. Most people in our own generation in Europe, we want freedom, they want to live long. We are tired of all this imposing life style, we want freedom, we want relief, we want long life. Most people in Europe are isolated, they live alone, is it not better to live in community? We should live together. Are we meant to live alone inside houses?

A lot of people in Europe have problem with depression, they have neurotic problem because of the life they live. They are not living the life creature gave us. We are living a plastic life, we are staying alone isolating ourselves, in front of television 24 hours. No exercise, is that a good life? Can our bodies live long? It is not possible. Good life is fresh air, to breathe, to exercise. Good life depends on the concept of each individual. I love privacy, but I want to live long.

The last time I saw you, you were not wearing Yoruba attire, today, you are not still wearing Yoruba attire, why?

You know I have to be what I’m, I can never be a Yoruba. I don’t mind, sometimes I dress in batik an indigo or adire. I’m not Yoruba, the same way you are not from my culture. I have to be who I’m and I have to dress the way I feel comfortable. That is why I’m not putting on Yoruba dressing. You people are putting on Yoruba dress because it is beautiful in you, when you put on Yoruba dress, you look elegant. I used to say that and I’m not the only person, that you people have natural beauty; even if you don’t have anything when you dress, even if you go to the market, even if you go to clean something, the way your people dress, you look elegant and it looks magical. So I have to dress the way I feel comfortable with.

Do you sometimes feel home sick?

To tell you the truth, no, I don’t feel home sick. Nobody sent me here, I’m here because I want. I feel good, I feel healthy, I feel strong and I feel I’m doing what I like. I’m not the kind of person that wants to stay in the office; I don’t want to live that kind of life people call comfort, I don’t .

Do you know anything about Ifa (Oracle)?

I know what I can feel, what I can see; I can never know it well as the native people. Number one, language; for you to really know it very well, you have to start from small because it is a knowledge which is given orally, it is not a written knowledge. And there is something that is very powerful, people from generation to generation transfer this knowledge orally. See how powerful, look, we have to write them. We have to go back to religion which I don’t want to talk about, Christians and Muslims carry the Bible and Koran respectively, and do you see Yoruba carrying anything? Their brain is powerful, you know the level of capacity assimilation you are exercising with your brain but we if we don’t write it down, we forget. The question is why are you destroying all these?

How have you been coping with the food?

I don’t have any problem. I eat everything. But I don’t like snake or this kind of frog, I don’t know what they call it, I don’t like it and I don’t like bush meat but I like okete (bush rat) if it is well cooked but all the remaining, I eat everything, eba, amala, fufu, semo. I don’t like so much, but I eat eko (corn paste), moimoi , ekuru (beans paste), ewa (beans).

What do you really do for Alaafin?

I’m trying to preserve the Yoruba culture and trying to reeducate the people that they are very important, they are very valuable, that they have a lot of value and they should preserve the culture. I’m trying to promote what is ancient, what is history because without history, how can you tell your children that you are Yoruba? People without history don’t have direction. I’m trying to promote what is in existence because if Yoruba don’t want it, the international people will appreciate it. There is no problem because tomorrow, we are ready to teach your children Yoruba and we are ready to teach your children about your own culture.

How did you meet Alaafin?

As I said, I had been in Oyo already and I asked Bashorun (one of the Oyo high chiefs) to bring me to Alaafin because I wanted to meet him. For me, everybody is important, I’m not saying this king is important, this king is not important but relating to history, he (Alaafin) is the strongest king in Yorubaland. I wanted to see him and tell him that he has to preserve his culture and if he fails to preserve his culture, tomorrow, nothing will be there to show to the world. So these were the reasons I wanted to see him.

How much of support have you gotten on your crusade so far?

What kind of support?

Financial support

Nobody is helping me financially. I’m doing it by myself and now I have a foundation people can support because there is need to preserve the temple, preserve the palace. These monuments, these are culture heritage, there is need for preservation. Why do you want to go to England to see the queen and the palace? For what? Because it is history. So that is why people want to come to Nigeria and see the history of Alaafin, the history of Yoruba. This palace is the biggest and oldest palace in Yoruba land, it is falling apart. I’m trying to raise fund to repair this palace in its old originality so that Oyo children tomorrow will come and ‘say that my grandfather, my ancestors were living like this’ because I can take you to my country and tell you that my ancestors are like this.

Quite funny, why is it that it is foreigners or Yoruba people abroad that are interested in this project like this?

Go back to the history, we white people have colonised and have destroyed your culture. We brought our culture, we forced people to change inside and outside. You have lost your identity, you want to be what we are. That is why now people from outside come to support what still exists for you to appreciate.

If you go to the slavery time, look, all the slaves that went to America, if they did not practise Christianity, they would be killed. What is happening again? I believe what is happening today is that everything that our people destroyed, let’s rebuild it again, we should not be ashamed. The Europeans go to Kenya to see African culture, Africa is beautiful, African people are beautiful, why not Nigeria?


March 11, 2013

ROM afrikannames.comAFRICAN WORDS FOR MOTHER”A mother cannot die.” -Democratic Republic of the CONGOEnjoy this list of African names.AKA (AH-kah). Mother. Nigeria (Eleme) FEKA (EH-kah). Mother earth. West Africa FINE -(EE-neh). Mother. Nigeria (Ishan) FIYA – YORUBA- MOTHERJIBOO (jee-boh). New mother. Gambia (Mandinka) FMAMAWA (MAHM-wah). Small mother. Liberia FMANYI (mahn-yee). The mother of twins. Cameroon (Mungaka) FMASALA (mah-SAH-lah). The great mother. Sudan FNAHWALLA (nah-WAHL-lah). The mother of the family. Cameroon (Mubako) FNANA (NAH-nah). Mother of the earth. Ghana FNANJAMBA (nahn-JAHM-bah). Mother of twins. Angola (Ovimbundu)NINA (NEE-nah). Mother. East Africa (Kiswahili) FNNENMA (n-NEHN-mah). Mother of beauty. Nigeria (Igbo) FNNEORA (n-neh-OH-rah). Mother loved by all. Nigeria (Igbo) FNOBANTU (noh-BAHN-too). Mother of nations. Azania (Xhosa) FNOBUNTU (noh-BOON-too). Mother of humanity. Azania (Xhosa) FNOLUNDI (noh-LOON-dee). Mother of horizons. Azania (Xhosa) FNOMALI (NOH-MAH-lee). Mother of riches. Azania (Xhosa) FNOMANDE noh-MOHN-deh). Mother of patience. Azania (Xhosa) FNOMPI (nohm-PEE). Mother of war. Azania (Xhosa) FNOMSA (NOHM-sah). Mother of kindness. Azania (Xhosa) FNONDYEBO (non-dyeh-boh). Mother of plenty. Azania (Xhosa) FNOZIZWE (noh-ZEEZ-weh). Mother of nations. Azania (Nguni)NOZUKO (noh-ZOO-koh). Mother of glory. Azania (Xhosa) FUMAYMA (o-MAH-ee-mah). Little mother. North Africa (Arabic) FUMI (OO-mee). My mother. Kiswahili FUMM (oom). Mother. North Africa (Arabic) FYENYO (yehn-yoh). Mother is rejoicing. Nigeria (Yoruba) FYEYO (yeh-YOH). Mother. Tanzania FYETUNDE (yeh-TOON-deh). The mother comes back. Nigeria (Yoruba) FYINGI (YEEN-gee). My beloved mother. NigeriaSent from my BlackBerry wireless device from MTN”Mama”(and Papa) were introduced into Yoruba language early by Yorubas who wanted to show they were educated, according Ojogbon Akinwunmi Isola.. So long ago that many think it is a Yoruba word! Now it has replaced -IYA almost completely! SO we must start using IYA instead and correct those who use it because word by word Yoruba is being replaced by english words killing the Yoruba Language! So do your part from today! We can and will SAVE Yoruba! Olodumare ase!
All Nigerian/­AFRICAN Languages must learn from the mistake of educated Yorubas! DO NOT mix your Language! Reclaim your word for mother first for it is the most important word in any language!
“MAMA” must be replaced with the African word in your Language?


February 24, 2013


December 25, 2011

Mrs.Yeye Akilimali Funua Olade Alao Adedayo-Founder/savior of Yoruba Language thru his GREAT newspaper Alaroye! Do Your own part and BUY it every week, get your children to read it- FIGHT TO SAVE Yoruba Language. FROM DYING!

I stumbled four times to make Alaroye a success story – Alao Adedayo

July 8, 2011

Musa Alao Adedayo, a.k.a Agbedegbeyo, is the Publisher/Chief Executive Officer, World Information Agents Limited, the publishing company of the popular Yoruba newspaper, ALAROYE. He spoke to BASHIR ADEFAKA about himself and how he stumbled four times to get it right with the vernacular paper that has today become a success story in the newspaper industry in Nigeria. Excerpt

How did you start out in life?

I am a Muslim but I am not a biased person because God Himself never loved a biased person.  But those who know me from the beginning used to call me Alao Agbedegbeyo.  When I talk of people who know me from the beginning, they are people from the  70s, early 80s and so on.

I came from Abeokuta to Lagos in 1980 doing Ewi (lyrics) artist.  In those days as an Ewi person, you must be attached to a particular musician and I was with Dele Abiodun, who was like my master.  Ewi was like side-attraction at a show and it would come on stage while the musician and his band members were taking a rest.

I had also participated in some dramas through the likes of Jide Kosoko, Ishola Ogunsola, (Dr. I. Show Pepper) and Adebayo Salami (Oga Bello).  It was because of the Ewi that I used to present in those days that Jide Kosoko would always come to Dele Abiodun’s shows.  He would say to me, “Alao, we are having an outing somewhere and I want you to perform your Ewi there,” and I would say no problem.

How did Ewi correlated with the broadcaster that you were?

By and large as God would have it, through that channel, as I have mentioned before, I became a broadcaster.  Sometime in 1979, Radio Lagos started a programme called, Kebuyeri, which was mainly for the Awada Kerikeri group that was then run by Adebayo Salami popularly called Oga Bello.  We went to a show at Ebute Metta and Adebayo Salami and his group members had also come to that show.

It was there he saw me and said, “Ah, Alao! Radio Lagos has just given us a programme and we want you to be in it” and I said no problem.  We didn’t even discuss money because what was more important to us at that time was the job.  That was how we started the programme and it became overwhelmingly popular turning me into a celebrity.

Behind that programme, a plan was going on by the management of Radio Lagos and the producer of the programme, Adebayo Tijani, communicated to me that management was talking about me and that was how I became a newscaster with Radio Lagos reading Yoruba news at that time.

I left Radio Lagos in 1981, which was a real year of politicking in the country.  Then, Radio Nigeria Ikeja which was established within that time was located in Ikoyi and in fact when we were there, we were always abusing and calling them, “Agberekusu f’ohun Ikeja” that is, people who were on the Island claiming to be speaking from Ikeja (laughs).  I eventually found myself at the Radio Nigeria Ikeja and later NTA but I did not stay long before I left.

When you left service, where did you go?

When we joined broadcasting, most of us did not get the job because of our educational qualifications and so, when I left the NTA, it was an opportunity for me to now go and improve myself, which then took me to the Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ) and then the universities for my first and later second degrees.

How did Alaroye come into the show?

It was in May 1985 when I was 25 and while I was still working as a Yoruba newsreader with the NTA that I decided to try my hands in publishing, which brought about the Alaroye.  Between May and October of 1985, I was only able to publish four editions of the tabloid that was meant to be weekly.  I was doing it alone because I had no such money to hire people.   It thus became a staggered publication because it was a one-man’s idea and as a result, no prospective partner was willing to support or invest in the business.  It was also like that because Yoruba newspaper business at that time was seen as a barren land.  So, naturally, it died.

Further effort was made at resuscitating the paper in 1990 but it couldn’t get to the vendors,  though it was being published. It was to be launched that year so that some funds could be raised. On the day of the launching, a prominent member of the community who was a friend of both the chief launcher and chairman, Lai Balogun, died. So it was a wrong day for the Alaroye’s show as the whole community was thrown into mourning and no one remembered the launch.

In 1994 when I made the third attempt at the publication, I was convinced that Alaroye would one day emerge a success story because, for four weeks, I was able to publish the weekly paper consecutively and throughtout the period,  it was well circulated and generally accepted.

And because I had acquired more knowledge about all it required to make a successful print media, Alaroye was able to stand and  able to meet the standard of a newspaper. Yet, it couldn’t go far because I could not raise the required fund to keep it going.  And for two years, it remained like that until July 2, 1996, when we were able to revisit it and tried our best to make it what it is today.  That was the fourth attempt and it has now come to stay.

I thank God that today, Alaroye is seen not as a happenstance, but a planned revolution in the newspaper industry in Nigeria.  And it is so because, no Yoruba newspaper has been so successful because most of the earlier issues, people have said, were translataion of English newspapers or repetition of news items already carried on radio and television.

Alaroye is original for its thorough analysis, research works and investigative journalism that many have appreciated as having put the newspaper on a very high pedestal. It informs, educates, entertains and analyses events as they unfold through the Yoruba culture. For this, it circulates in Nigeria, wherever Yoruba domicile, with the print run sometimes as high as 150,000 copies per week.  I have the reason to really thank God today because, in Nigeria, particularly among the Yorubas, Alaroye is a language. It is the culture.

The Conference of Yoruba Leaders showcased by your newspaper, which debuted in 2002, hasn’t seemed to produce any result considering the fact that Yorubas are still intolerably disunited.  What is the problem?

The problem we have in Yorubaland is the way we play our own politics.  What Alaroye is trying to do is to serve as a bridge to bring all the leaders together.  There is need for a connecting point, which will connect all Yoruba people with one another.  We have very, very intelligent, well exposed and highly patriotic sons and daughters of Yorubaland.  We cannot run away from the fact that we are Yorubas; we had been Yoruba people before Nigeria and we will remain Yoruba people within Nigeria.

Yes, political party differences are there but we should be able to know that there is difference between politics and governance.  So, during election, you can abuse and criticize yourselves but once election is over, issue of governance becomes the central point while politicking is set aside for another election season.  And if you are the governor, you should see yourself as the father of all, as the head of government and people should see the governor beyond his party but as the leader that all of us should relate well with as one of our own.

In the year 2002, I went to Papa Abraham Adesanya and I said to him, “E ma bawon se oselu.  Ema bawon da si oro oselu.  Asiwaju Yoruba ni ki’e je” (That Papa should not be part of politics other Yorubas played but that he should be okay with himself as Leader of the Yoruba Nation).

He asked me why.  We talked a lot about it and he agreed with me.  Not only that I went to discuss it with him, we made it a critical editorial issue, which some of the Afenifere members then responded to.



March 3, 2011



Where is Tunde Adegbola? Our linguistic heritage is dying!

I had my first child in 1999. The little boy was growing up in an English speaking Yoruba family. My elder brother one day said to me: e je ki omo yin gbo Yoruba a. His message was quite clear, but the vogue then in Lagos was (and still is) English language and it was a pride even if your child cannot say a word in Yoruba or any other mother tongue. I did not see anything wrong in that until sometimes back around 2003 (I do not remember precisely), a fine gentleman, Tunde Adegbola, was at the Science Lecture Theatre of our university (of Ilorin) with a campaign for the resurgence of African languages and their integration into modern ICTs. I cannot recall from his talk but have culled from his webpage that the “core objectives of the African Languages Technology Initiative (Alt-i) encompass the need to make modern ICTs relevant to African Languages. As we go further into the information age, more and more human communication will be mediated by machines, and this will raise the demand, not only for humans to communicate through machines but also to communicate with machines. There is no reason whatsoever why we should be made to do this in English. In order to achieve these modes of communication in African languages however, there is a need to supplement the present objectives of the study of linguistics in African universities. Within the contexts of the linguistics of African languages, we need to develop frameworks and theories that can be passed on to and used by practitioners in Human Language Technology (HLT). To this end, Alt-i is involved in developing the relevant human and other intellectual resources to facilitate this process.”
I however recall that Tunde noted that regrettably many African languages are creeping into extinction and are being replaced by the Oyinbo language of the poorest and most disgusting standards. While appreciating Tunde’s efforts and initiatives on the ICT issues, it is the possibility of the African languages going into extinction that is of great concern in this piece. Let me be particular about the Yoruba elites of today. These are a people gradually consigning their language to dustbin of history. Many homes, even at home in Nigeria, no longer know Yoruba as a medium of communication. In fact they do not feel anything wrong with saying “my son does not speak Yoruba”. Some of them will say “he understands but cannot speak it”. They pride not only in speaking English language but in not being able to speak Yoruba. Sad and indeed very sad! Pathetic and too damn shameful! I have patiently studied issues about this unwholesome trend. I have asked questions: why the drift towards English language (and consequent abandonment of the local language even at homes) and what gains there are (if any) in the drift. The objective is not to advocate a change of our lingua franca, but to call attention to issues needing awareness: the fact that our local languages must necessarily be preserved and valued.
I have discovered that the people’s thinking is that since English is our official language as a nation and that it must be passed at credit level at the WASCE/SSCE before admission into any higher institution in the country, then the better if parents begin to speak it to their children right from home, nay right from birth. I do not know and have not found any better justification for the trend. Maybe some others may think speaking English language makes you fashionable, I do not know. But the thinking that speaking a language affords an opportunity for a pass in an examination is too damn shallow, only driven by zeal and never by knowledge. Think about it: a language spoken to a growing child is acquired by the child as indigenous language. He does not understand the technicalities of the language – just like our forefathers speak their various dialects and were unable to even read their “i” if stood before them like the (Nigerian) electric pole. It is for this reason that village school children who never heard English language spoken in their homes but have the rare opportunity of being well trained in its structures, may often do well and better than their city counterparts, whose adopted first language is the Queen’s. And needless to say there is not any good result from this approach to learning our national language. And how can there be? When, unspeakably laughable, the English language being spoken in many Yoruba homes today is not the type that can pass anyone in any examination, not even the school leaving certificate examination as it is evident in our nation’s educational system today.
I remember Tunde seized the audience when he started reeling out versions of English language of his own tribe – the Yoruba people of Nigeria. The large theatre was rent with crackling laughter as he mentioned something like (I do not remember precisely): “go and open the door down”, “don’t play rough play o”, “it is two, two naira”, “be going o” and “go and work your work”. Even the uneducated are convinced they have to try. They are encouraged not to feel shy, to just try and speak English language even if heavens will fall. What about the half-educated? Ha! It is real drama if you have an opportunity to listen. Isn’t it funny how our people think? Should you have a chance to see the written English language of our students in the tertiary institutions, you would definitely wonder if anything has been achieved via this approach to learning, nay if more harm than good has not been done. Many can no longer write formal letters or what used to be known as “application letters”. In fact asking them to write a report is close to asking them to climb up the firmaments. This is in spite of the fact some of them speak the Queen’s language almost naturally, having been nurtured in an elite home.
That everyone is in so much romance with a foreign language (or English, in particular) has its connotations. One, we are losing our native language and, two; we may not be gaining any as a people. Maybe we are inventing a new English language is the best that can be said of us. And there shall be no thanks for that – not from the Queen, whose language is being bastardized by a people ashamed of their identity, nor the identity-conscious people of Yoruba origin. Even if perfection is attained in a foreign language, it shall not suffice for us to reduce our mother tongue to mere figments of history. So where is Tunde Adegbola? Let him speak out loud against this drift. Let him seize every opportunity to tell the people to identify with their own. Let him make use of all media and concerned individuals to carry on the campaign for the renaissance of the Yoruba language. Let the government support this cause. Let individuals also lend their hands in their little ways – speaking the language and encouraging it at least. I have joined in the cause. I talk to people about it. I speak it except when otherwise necessary – maybe officially. I remember particularly mentioning it in a mosque class, emphasizing that there should not be so much preference for a language over the other to the extent of almost strangulating one. The Qur’an mentions that difference in tongues of humankind is a sign from their Lord. So let no one language submerge or consume the other. A people whose language is lost is a people whose identity is lost.
For the sake of information, we must know that the mother-tongue preservation campaign transcends any race. Peoples of the world are becoming conscious of the danger of losing a heritage as important as the tongue. I had a privilege of visiting the Republic of Ireland and found the Irish complaining of losing their Irish language to the English during the colonial era – I never knew the Irish were also colonized by the English. They are also making serious effort at bringing back to life their lost heritage. We must also know that the many nations of the world which pass on knowledge by the medium of the native languages are not made backward by that. Or what can anyone say of China, Germany, Japan, Korea, Russia and others, who do scientific researches and communicate their results in their languages. These nations have not lagged a bit due to their choice of medium of communication. Rather, doing this has facilitated their processes of learning. We can do same if given proper consideration. I had a rare opportunity of seeing that there are scripts (the Japanese for example) that run vertically, top to down, simply because they are not lost. The diversity enables much more appreciation of our make as humans and the nature. I must repeat, however, that changing our national language is not what is being advocated in this article. Rather the advocacy is that, at the least, our local tongues must not be allowed to give way. We must encourage learning them in every way we can. I have however heard people complain about the content of Yoruba language as a discipline in our tertiary institutions – that those fetishes of the Yoruba culture are being taught as part of language training! I have seen students rejecting studies in Yoruba language for this singular reason. I think this should be discouraged to enable more and more individuals to pick interest in learning the language. Our policy makers should leave fetish to the its people and allow our language to be studied by all interested.
The Hausa people of northern Nigeria here deserve a commendation for their tenacity with their linguistic heritage. They demonstrate real affection for their language every place and every time.  How marvelous a people! They go even a step further, extending love and affection to aliens who speak their language. I am not sure, but I am disposed to believing the Hausa people will speak their native tongue, at least, in their homes even in foreign lands. This is an attitude that is commendable and preserving of the Hausa culture and tradition. It is in sharp contrast with the attitude of the Yoruba people to their own. They show grave disdain to tribesman who chooses to communicate with them in Yoruba! Sometimes they bully: “speak in English, please!” Sometimes you don’t need to be told you have to speak English language before them, their countenances tell you straight you have to change your language to English especially when you visit their offices. I remember a school friend said to me he cannot marry a woman whose English is not sound. Why? Everyone in his family speak English, even the grandparents, so could not imagine his woman not being able to communicate with family members (who are Yoruba) in fine English! What a people!
I should mention on the last note that the day Tunde gave his talk, I got home and said to my wife: “kosi oyinbo siso ninu ile yi mo”. She thought I was joking until I told her about Tunde’s campaign and reminded her of her own “don’t play rough play o”. She then surrendered. I made it a point of duty not to speak English language except officially so much so that people ordinarily assume, with my choice of language and cultural appearance, I am not likely to be educated. I am happy with that and I feel fulfilled, rather than wearing the emblem of a different people. Unfortunately, I must confess, I have not fully recovered from the loss of many years (until 2003) as I still struggle to find the choice words in my rich Yoruba language. As for “owe” (proverbs) and “asayan oro”, the creams of the Yoruba language, many would really need deliverance as the Pentecostals would say. This is the extent of the damage to our linguistic heritage! Yoruba ro o nu o.
Luqmaan K. O. Babalola teaches Pure Mathematics at the University of Ilorin, Ilorin, Nigeria. <!– document.write( '‘ ); //–> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it <!– document.write( '’ ); //–> , <!– document.write( '‘ ); //–> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it <!– document.write( '’ ); //–>
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posted on 01-07-2011, 11:58:39 AM
Prof penkelemess
Re: Where is Tunde Adegbola? Our linguistic heritage is dying!


I hope we get a lively debate going on this.

will try to contribute my little bit later.


gerd meuer

posted on 01-07-2011, 22:38:05 PM
Nigeria on my mind
Re: Where is Tunde Adegbola? Our linguistic heritage is dying!
The fact that English is a mandatory requirement for admission into institutions of higher learning is a travesty in our academic philosophy. I remember a school mate who was an engineering major in my school days decades ago, before the explosion of cultism, before the degradation of scholastic standards, whose inadequate score in English prevented him from securing admission to a University. His situation was noteworthy because he had passed the subjects most pertinent to his major (physics, chemistry and maths) with flying colors. Many other brilliant scholars of the time were equally victimized.

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February 28, 2011




By Yeye Akilimali Funua Olade
Arts & Review
‘Yorubas must ensure the survival of their language’
| 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 Dec.!
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.

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