From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
From historical perspective, Yoruba race has the potential to drive the contemporary problems of today. It is a blessed race with futurist leader like the sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, who for a very long time had a vision of true Yoruba nation.
This was the assertion of an erudite historian, Prof Tayo Adesina, Head, Department of History, University of Ibadan (UI), Oyo State. He described Yoruba as a people who speak common and related languages:
“Yoruba had for a very long time carved a niche for the race, especially, on food security, medicine, arts and culture. Our efforts to seek knowledge of contemporary civilization are a method of human progress.
“This, knowledge requires great energy and knowledge. Yoruba can reclaim the lost glory only if the race can go back to the roots and retrace our steps in advancing the cause of our race.”
Adesina spoke on Tuesday at the 50th anniversary of the Yoruba Studies Association of Nigeria (YOSAN), at the Otunba Subomi Balogun Conference Centre, UI.
Also present were Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III and Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams. The duo insisted that Nigeria must go back to regionalism. They said that is the only system of government to make Nigeria work so that the project would not collapse.
They warned that anything short of regionalism would make the country to be stagnant and seeming progress made would be a mirage.
Alaafin opined: “The military incursion in Nigeria’s political space in January 1966 remained the country’s albatross. The old West had before the coup, enjoyed great and tremendous progress in all sectors, including education, health and economy. Social security was also evident at the time.
“Nigeria’s narratives changed drastically with the intervention of the military. The nation has never remained the same with various security, political, economic, health and social challenges.
“Regionalism remains the urgent arrangement to guarantee the future of the country and save it from imminent collapse.
“The Yoruba remains the first race in Nigeria to have experienced tremendous progress and exposure among all the tribes. Such feats were made possible through quality education and transformation of the region in the 60s.”
Alaafin urged all the governors in South West to promote the use of Yoruba Language during plenaries in the state assemblies, as it is done in Lagos and Ondo states.
Adams re-emphasised his call for restructuring of Nigeria into a truly federal system. He said Yoruba has all its takes to achieve whatever the race is determined to achieve:
“Yoruba can re-establish the finest moments in its history, rise to the challenges and explore the beauty of our language, culture and tradition to achieve the positive potentials of the race
“The Yoruba history is very rich, our language remains the most potent tool that has kept us far above other races. Our culture, tradition and heritages are next to none. But even at that, there is urgent need for us as promoters of Yoruba culture and tradition to step up the values and champion the cause for the sustainance and rejuvenation of those rich language, culture, tradition, history and values.”
He applauded the efforts of YOSAN for spreading the gospel of cultural rejuvenation, stating that the roles of Yoruba language lecturers, and intellectuals in promoting the language cannot be over-emphasized:
“Part of the roles of all Yoruba Language advocates, educationists professors and erudite scholars gathered here today is to promote the language. What the organisers of today’s event have achieved with the event is majorly the ability to re-establish the rich contents in our language and culture and also rekindle our hope in the future that Yoruba language will never go into extinction. And we need to support them in sustaining this for future generations.”
President of the association, Prof Duro Adeleke, said the association was established about 50 years ago to address the deficit in the use of Yoruba language, adding that the gathering would come up with a positive policy programmes that that would help in advancing the cause of the Yoruba language across the world.