The Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, and Professor Oladele Orimoogunje have lent their voices to the advocacy of cultural renaissance championed by Yoruba Lakotun in the last four years. This was reiterated during the special edition of Yorùbá Lakotun dedicated to the late author, Oladejo Okediji, held at the Lagos Books and Arts Festival.
According to Professor Wole Soyinka, “We were raised in our indigenous culture, and we should not give up on it. We need to keep encouraging the speaking and writing in our indigenous languages.”
In his keynote presentation, Professor Oladele Orimoogunje said that current writers had to continually expand the frontiers of Yoruba literature after the death of Oladejo Okediji because of the abundance of opportunities for writers interested in oral and fictive literature.
Orimoogunje gave glowing tributes on the detective works written by Oladejo Okediji, including Aja lo leru (1969), Agbalagba Akan (1971), Oga ni Bukola (1972), Rere Run (1973), Imura Idanwo Yoruba (1978), Atoto Arere (1981), Sango (1987), Opa Agbeleka (1989), Binu ti ri (1989), Aajo Aje (1997), Running after Riches (1999), Karin Kapo (2007), Aaro Olomoge (2014) and Ohun Enu Agba (2018).
There was also a panel discussion moderated by Damilare Igbayiloye of Akonilede Yoruba, while the panelists included Dr. Clement Odoje of the University of Ibadan, Dr Ayodele Oyewale of the University of Lagos, Mrs Folake Benson of Scholars Runnel and Mr Ayobami Oyedele of Yoruba Di Wura. They agreed that Yoruba scholars and enthusiasts should be more strategic in order to gain more global relevance.
According to Dr Odoje, “The Nigerian government needs to support the teaching, learning and research on our languages, because various countries of the world are deliberate about learning our languages and engaging those who are vast in the knowledge of Nigerian languages. The value of Nigerian languages is currently being appreciated by the international community and as a nation, we need to latch onto this as well.”
Other segments of the colloquium included the extensive teaching on greetings by Chief Gbemisoye Ayano, a book reading from the last anthology of poetry by Oladejo Okediji in 2018 entitled Ohun Enu Agba.
There were performances by JojoBody Beat and Amulegbajo and award presentations to Prof Oladele Orimoogunje, Mama Iyabode Aboaba, Chief Gbemisoye Ayano and Mr. Yemi Shodimu.
The first colloquium of Yoruba Lakotun was facilitated by Olutayo Irantiola, in partnership with Committee for Relevant Arts, the organizers of LABAF. Guests were drawn from corporate and social Nigeria.