Last Saturday, seventy Black Americans traced their ancestral lineage to the ancient town of Oyo. Bode Durojaiye reports
At a civic reception organised for the visitors, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi 111 urged the Federal, States Governments and other individuals to, as a matter of utmost concern, embark on re-integrating Yorubas across the globe back to their ancestral roots, in order to save their souls from continued trauma.
He also stressed urgent need for world leaders to conserve Oyo Yoruba traditions as international heritage of exceptional value.
According to him, ‘’concerted efforts must be intensified at increasing inspiration to become national or to recognise nationhood. So with that, we see the Yoruba in the diaspora, as it is popularly called, to be the Yoruba that will greatly guide and influence the Yoruba in the ancient homeland, who for the most part are tending to move away from a sense of preservation of their own culture and tradition, particularly religion’’.
“As a people, our culture, politics and religious experience have been extremely unfulfilled. The Yorubas are now falling in the same condition through which the African Americans had allowed themselves to be seduced by preachers of a foreign gospel. We know that the universalist inspiration which has come to the Yoruba through Christianity and Islam has reduced their concern or allegiance to their own god and by extension to their own nationality. The Yoruba will be very much reduced in their political, cultural and spiritual development by their seduction into these alien religions,” he said.
He pointed out that today, the Alaafin is duty bound to stand for and in defence of every Yoruba soul either on the continent of Africa or in the Diaspora in a globalized world.
People, the monarch, noted, carry in their veins the rich, strong, virile Yoruba blood that has refused to be polluted or diluted by many years of contact with the outside world, adding that they are not only devoted, courageous but devotional in preserving the sacred intellectual property and the foundation of the Yoruba knowledge system, despite the orchestrated condemnation of its relevance.
‘’Oyo Empire was in possession of all the land. Oyo was very fast in expansion and became one of the earliest states with a central authority system. This makes Oyo, probably the greatest of the forest states in West Africa. At the highest of its existence, having fully developed a sophisticated internal system of government, Oyo dominated all other Yoruba kingdoms namely; Ife, Ekiti, Ijesa, Egba, Ijebu, Ondo,Sabe and Owu. It stretched into Dahomey, Togo and parts of the Ashanti in Ghana.
‘’This achievement marked a new phase in the history of the Yoruba; for it witnessed the effective transfer of power from Ile-ife to Oyo which became the Centre of a new powerful empire with far flung cultural, political and linguistic influences.. Oyo soon became the seat of government of the Yoruba people. Interestingly, the new identity of Oyo was diffused to all parts of Yoruba land with overwhelming adoption’’.
Lamenting on how scores and scores of Africans, particularly the Yorubas are being encouraged to disrespect ,dishonour and abandon anything African by the Western world, Oba Adeyemi said African religious beliefs are demonized and discarded to the extent that some misguided Africans now abandon their family names in preference to names without bearing to their backgrounds.
Oba Adeyemi took a swipe of European colonisation and their hegemony, saying that the colonization of Africa was indeed a cultural project, while the hegemonic cultures of Europe actually set out to destroy other cultures and super-impose their own cultures and values on the people, in order to perpetuate the relationship of inequality and inequity.
‘’In spite of the assaults, African culture ha demonstrated its resilience and beyond that relevance in a troubled and confused world. Yoruba culture is today spreading and attracting many studies. It has been said that Yoruba is the best studied African civilization and has attracted the attention of the largest number of scholars, leading to the production of impressive number of publications.
‘’Without doubt, we can find strength in unity. This has become imperative so that whenever our brothers and sisters in Diaspora come home, they won’t be complainers about how things are not working, but rather, they would see themselves as partners and partakers in the overall development for a better future of their home land. Partnership is a voluntary collaborative agreement between two or more parties in which all participants agree to work together to achieve a common purpose. Partnerships, he explained, share interest, concerns and create visions for the future’’.
In his address, Co-ordinator of the visit tagged as ‘ancestral homage ’, Segun Olaleye, said the Yorubas from the United States under the aegis of THE NIGERIA BLACKOUT is a yearly trip during which hundreds of Black Americans travel to Nigeria to experience the Economic and Cultural Powerhouse of West Africa.
‘’The Nigeria Blackout Mission is to encourage Black Americans to trace their roots, and to regularly visit and embrace the culture of West Africa’’.
According to him,’’African Americans attempting to find their own roots will be better served by adopting the Yoruba tradition which for over 30 years, we have been able to introduce into the U.S. We see the African Americans have a profound desire to re-identify with their ancestors and with an ancestral tradition. We know that among vast numbers of African American intellectuals, there is a lack of fulfillment in their development and advancement in the Yoruba-American economic world. They found also that Christianity is unfulfilling and that Islam is misleading. So in consequence, African Americans are better served by a knowledge of the custom and tradition of their Yoruba ancestry’’.
Convener of the programme and Founder of Arewa House of Culture, Princess Folasade Adeyemi, who described the visit of the Black Americans as ‘’ historic and identification with their roots’’, charged Younger Yoruba generation ‘’to advance to the extent that they increase the knowledge or institution among African Americans, who will serve the need for knowledge improvement through television and resurrection and introduction of stories and background images that established a sense of celebration of their African ancestry’’.
Glamour was added to the colourful event with Oba Adeyemi’s unique dance steps, as the visitors were elated and could not hold back their excitements.
The event which coincided with the Children’s Day has in attendance members of the Oyo Traditional Council [Oyo Mesi], Baales [village heads], and selected secondary schools’ pupils.
Highlight of the event were cultural dances and display of Yoruba metaphysical powers.