Atelewo, a platform created to respond to the many challenges and threats facing the preservation and survival of the Yorùbá culture and language, on Sunday, held a private screening of a documentary on the life of Lawuyi Ogunniran.
The 37-minute documentary chronicled the contributions of the late author to the Yoruba literature.
The documentary also included a short interview with the late author. The interview, which was the last granted by the author, was held just two weeks before his demise.
Speaking at the premiere, one of the children of the late literary icon, Mr. Tunde Ogunniran lauded the organization for investing in the documentary.
He revealed that his late father authored over 20 books before his death.
He explained that the believe by some individuals that his late father had a rich academic background is wrong because his highest academic qualification was a standard school certificate.
“The Lawuyi Ogunniran people know is different from the Lawuyi Ogunnuran I know. He was born on November 1, 1935. He wrote various books. Some people even claim he is a professor.
“However, the late Lawuyi attended basic and standard school but could not proceed due to funds, Mr. Ogunniran said.
“He went to Lagos where he worked on a boat. After some time, he ran back to Ibadan and started working for a law firm and this was where he learned about law.
“He later joined People’s Press where he worked for years before the military took over in 1986.
“During this period, he sat for GCE and read books at home and had no further education yet he wrote about 21 books. Some of these books include family history, biography among others.
“However, despite his popularity, he was poor for various reasons like piracy among others. He wrote a book on the history of Ibadan but he could not publish for financial reasons.
“One vital correction I want to make is that a lot of people believe he must be from a Masquerade family to be able to write the book, Eegun Alare.
“However, this is far from the truth because he was born into a religious family. He wrote Eegun Alare based on his experience as a child.
“Lawuyi Ogunniran was a devout Christian who is passionate about culture. At the moment, there is a controversy regarding his burial over whether traditionalists will be allowed to perform rites over him.
“If you have read all or any of his book, Lawuyi Ogunniran despite his passion for culture, strongly believed there is an Almighty.
“Despite the number of books he wrote, he never won any award. The award from Atelewo was his first. It was like he was waiting for this organization to award him before saying goodbye.”
Earlier at the event, the co-founder of the literary group, Mr. Razak Malik Gbolahan lamented the absence of programmes and events that celebrate scholars and authors of Yoruba literature.
“About 3 years ago, I and Oredola Ibrahim observed that there is an absence of accolade for Yoruba literature in our community.
“As a result of this, we founded Atelewo. We settled for that name because we believe irrespective of the way any individual behaves, his hands won’t deceive him.
“While growing up we had access to various Yoruba literature text but today you hardly see new Yoruba literature texts.
“When we started, we compiled an anthology on Yoruba literature and presented it at the Kuti Hall, University of Ibadan.
“Similarly, we discovered that some very essential books on Yoruba literature written few years back are not available in the market anymore. So we compiled a list of these books and gather to read them once monthly at the University of Ibadan,” he said.
Speaking on why the organization decided to celebrate Mr. Ogunniran, he said: “This year due to the outbreak of COVID-19, we moved our book reading to zoom and it was held every night. After reading we discuss the contents of the book.
“So one day we read Eegun Alare, after that we now started asking ‘where is the author?’ Luckily a member of the group knows one of baba’s children and from there we were able to link up with him for an interview.
“As faith would have it, two weeks after we interviewed and awarded Baba, he left this world.”