Clement Adeyi, Osogbo
Yoruba culture received a boost recently when veteran artistes converged on Iragbiji in Osun State to share evergreen success experiences in the arts and culture industry, showcasing their talents through Yoruba movies and diverse works of arts. Venue was Abeni Visual and Performing Arts Institute (AVAPAI).
Scores of legendary Yoruba movie artistes such as film makers, actors, actresses, dancers, singers, painters and story tellers congregated to tell stories of their journeys into the Yoruba movie industry, successes and their contributions to its development.
Chief Muraina Oyelami, founder of the institute told Daily Sun that it was intended to offer the upcoming artistes the opportunity to listen to the experiences of the veterans to boost their morale in building careers in the Yoruba movie industry and excel in any area of their choice. It was also intended to make case for Yoruba cultures and traditions not only to preserve but to also redeem them from extinction and continue to derive values for sociocultural and economic development: “The need to document the experiences of the veteran artistes and their works for the upcoming ones to be able to advance the cause of Yoruba cultures and traditions also necessitated the programme.”
Hundreds of emerging Yoruba artistes from different genres of Yoruba works of arts were present at the event and listened with keen interests to the veterans who came from different parts of the country to share their experiences. They told tales of their odysseys in Yoruba movies and the arts industry, the inestimable values of the industry as well as its significance to the growth and development of the Yoruba cultures and traditions.
The veterans who shared experiences included Kola Oyewo, Tunde Kelani, Toyin Adegbola, Adedeji Aderemi, Lere Paimo, Alabi Ogundepo and Ojetunji Ojeyemi. Oyelami said: “We need to develop our places of artistic and cultural interests as monuments as it is done in advanced countries to advance their cultures and traditions.
“In England, there is a monument of the legendary playwright, William Shakespeare, where people queue to visit the small house just to know the birth place of the iconic playwright. There is a table and pen that he used to write unfinished manuscripts. People leave the place to design the souvenirs of what they see. They buy the souvenirs to keep record of such beautiful places. Every year, thousands of people also pay donations to visit Shakespeare Theatre. This is an avenue to generate revenue.
“In Nigeria, we need to put our hands on the deck with the support of government to develop our arts and culture, which are potential means of revenue generation, self sufficiency and job creation to boost our economy. For instance, the resting place of the folk opera, Duro Ladipo, in Osogbo and other such interesting places in Nigeria could be developed as a monument centre or a mausoleum where his works could be appreciated with payment of donations to visit it.
“This can serve as a means of job creation and self- sufficiency in the face of the unemployment challenge in the country. Also, artistes must intensify efforts in producing woven clothes, adire, local bags, aso-oke, beads among others and take them to a level where they could become export products.”
Kelani said: “Africans have failed to develop significantly because we have turned our backs on our cultures and traditions due to undue influence by cultural imperialism.
“The upcoming artistes must go back to the African cultures and traditions instead of running after American and European ones. Nigerian artistes should find a way of mentoring the youths a long the line of our cultural and tradition values for growth and development.”
Adegbola: “It takes patience. If it is in your blood, you can even showcase yourself in the church or in the market square. Take it from a humble beginning and you will get there instead of going for yahoo yahoo yahoo or cybercrime.”
Ogundepo: “Some of us studied Theatre Arts in hunger and earned N600 per month. Humble yourselves under a veteran’s tutelage to be able to succeed. There is a big future in the Yoruba movies.”
Ojeyemi: “When we were coming into Yoruba movies, we used to run after veteran artistes to watch their performances. Try to toe the paths of the veterans of your generation. There is a lot to learn from them. That was how we succeeded in our days.”
Oluwatosin Ogunleye spoke on behalf of the upcoming artistes: “We need more awareness to go back to our cultural heritage and rejuvenate it.
“The upcoming artistes need to read historical books written by culture and tradition legends and produce the contents as movies for people to go to film houses or cinemas to watch.
“We have to be humble enough and connect with veterans to learn from them and develop our cultural heritage through which we can contribute to nation building and also eke out a living.”
The guest speaker, Professor Gbemisola Adeoti from Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, called on veteran artistes to ensure documentation of their works for the upcoming artistes to be able to access them and succeed for posterity and to keep the Yoruba cultures and traditions in both local and global reckoning.
Coordinator of the institute, Lola Wey, said: “The unemployed youths need to think outside the box to see what the veterans have done and the areas where they can play a role and carve a niche for themselves instead of taking the option of cybercrime or any form of illicit practice for survival.”
Governor Adegboyega Oyetola who lauded the initiative pledged full support for AVAPAI to drive training programmes for youths who want to take career in Yoruba movies and performing art with a view to generating future leaders that would advance the cause of the Yoruba cultures and traditions:
“Our culture is being derided. We must not allow anything to erode our cultural and traditional values. We thank God for people like Chief Muraina Oyelami who God has used to preserve our cultures and tradition through this project. We will definitely support you in this highly beneficial project that you have started. I am particularly impressed that you have done something of this magnitude without asking us to bring money.
“We appreciate your good work. We will not wait until the foreigners come to show appreciation. You will be appreciated right from home. We shall mobilise and sponsor the vulnerable and interested indigents to attend this institute as you have requested.”
Other personalities including academics students, traditional rulers, tourists, arts and culture enthusiasts were also present. Yoruba cultural troupes thrilled the audience with theatrical performances to showcase the values of Yoruba culture and traditions.