Yoruba Language, Culture, Traditions Declining, Eroded by Western Hegemony – Akintoye, Other Yoruba Leaders raise Alarm

…says being Part of Nigeria does not Mean Yoruba People would surrender to Poverty, Material Retrogression, Rampant Insecurity

…as YWC Hosts Yoruba Ethnic Groups, Ifa Practitioners from United States, Mexico, Venezuela, Togo, Benin Republic

Leaders, they say must not be in the market and watches an infant’s head go astray. This was what transpired over the weekend in Lagos, the commercial headquarters of the Nation of Nigeria as Prominent Yoruba Leaders and Leaders of Thought raises alarm over what they described as the alarming rate at which the Yoruba Culture, Language, Norms and Traditions are declining and being eroded by western hegemony, stressing that relevant stakeholders must rise up to ensure that the traditions of the Yoruba people within and beyond Nigeria does not go into extinction.

The Leaders also opined that the Yoruba People, under no circumstance, will never surrender to the hopeless poverty, hunger, starvation, material retrogression, rampant insecurity, mind-blogging looting and corruption that currently pervade the whims and caprices of the Nigerian polity.

Led by the Yoruba Leader and the President-General of Yoruba World Congress (YWC), Emeritus Professor Senator Banji Akintoye, the Leaders declared that the Yoruba Nations, with about 300 million population people worldwide, are the largest homogeneous ethnic group in the world thus her traditions, culture, norms and languages must be jealously preserved and protected against western erosion and moral decadence.

Speaking at the 1st General Assembly of the Yoruba Nations beyond the Nigerian Borders held at the International Secretariat of YWC, an umbrella body of all Yoruba Socio-cultural and Self-Determination Groups within and beyond Nigeria situated at Magodo, Lagos on Saturday 29th February 2020 with the theme: Oduduwa Land: Networking the Yoruba Nations for Prosperity and Development, Akintoye declared that the time for Yoruba Nations all over the world to unite for Prosperity, Progress and Development is now.

The Conference, attended by delegates of the Yoruba People from the United States, Mexico, Venezuela, Togo and Republic, including a Professor of African Studies from California State University, United States, Fakolade Jahonson Edmonds and his wife, Taylor Gentry, both Yoruba’s of American Descent, was attended by Prominent Yoruba Leaders including Afenifere Chieftain, Amos Akingba, Ace Journalist and ex-Chief Executive Officer of Daily Times Conglomerates, Akogun Tola Sdeniyi, Renowned Columnist, Dr. Femi Orebe, and a former Director, Institute of African Studies, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Prof. Wale Adeniran.

Other Yoruba dignitaries at the event are Diplomat, Babafemi Badejo, a University of Lagos Professor of Philosophy, Kolawole Ogundowole, Igbinedon University Professor of Arts, Femi Olufunmilade, Ace Author, Comrade Victor Taiwo, Princess Tanimowo Okusaga, Otunba Folashade Olukoya, amongst others.

According to a prepared statement read on behalf of the Yoruba leaders present at the event, Akintoye, an Emeritus Professor of History, appealed to parents to teach their children Yoruba Language, Virtues, Values, Culture, Norms, Characters and Beliefs, warning that the language stand a chance of possible extinction in the next two decades if all hands are not on desk to curtail the rate at which western culture is eroding the cultures and languages of developing nations in the world.

“Today, as our Yoruba Nation is growing, we are concerned that the culture, language, norms, tradition, beliefs and the virtues which the Yoruba people are known for are being unguardedly eroded by the togas of western hegemony and the monopolistic tendencies of the imperial powers.

“Our Parents should stop beating their children for speaking Yoruba Language. Today, many schools do not teach Yoruba Language and they are operating in Yoruba Land. Speaking Yoruba in schools today attracts corporal punishment from teachers. The teaching of history has been abrogated. In the interest of the future of Yoruba Nation, we reject this in totality.”   

History of Yoruba Nations across the world

Akintoye said “We Yoruba Nation are spread out widely and powerfully across the world. Our indigenous homeland covers the Southwestern Region of Nigeria, plus most of Southeastern and Middle Belt of the Republics of Benin and Togo, and a small slice of territory in southeastern Ghana.

“Beyond this homeland, because we have always been a great trading and civilizing people, we have for many centuries planted various sizes of Yoruba Diaspora all over Africa – in Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Mali, Liberia and Gambia in West Africa, and in Sudan, South Sudan, and Central African Republic in East and Central Africa.

“But our Yoruba Diaspora is not limited to the African continent. Members of our nation who were taken to South America, North America, Central America, the islands of the West Indies and some countries of Europe in the course of the 16th century to the 19th century, today constitute a large and highly influential Yoruba Diaspora beyond Africa.

“They are sizeable populations in the New World and Europe, in countries such as Brazil, Cuba, Colombia, Suriname, Puerto Rico, Haiti, Jamaica, Grenada, Barbados, St. Kitts, St. Vincent, the Dominican Republic, Uruguay, Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago, Panama, Bahamas, and the United States in the New World, and in Britain and some countries of Southern Europe.

“Our Yoruba nation’s population is very large in the world today. To mention only a few countries where we are found, we are about 56 million in Nigeria, about 6 million in Benin and Togo Republics together, about 3 million in Sudan and South Sudan together, about 60 million in Brazil, about 7 million in the United States, about 8 million in Haiti,  about 4 million in Cuba, about 5 million in Mexico, and about 8 million in Britain and other countries of Europe together.

“At close to 300 million in population worldwide, our Yoruba nation is one of the largest single ethnic nations in the world. And we are one of the most widely spread ethnic nations across the world. A website of the University of Pennsylvania in the United States offers the following information, “The Yoruba people from West Africa are one of the most travelled nations on this planet. Their language and blood type show up almost everywhere”.

Objective of the 1st General Assembly of Yoruba Nations Beyond the Nigerian Borders

On the reason for the Conference, Akintoye said “Another major reality among us Yoruba is that, in spite of our being scattered into countries across the world, we are always striving for close reconnections. For us, separation is never final, no matter its distance or time length.

“In the 1950s, Chief Obafemi Awolowo as Premier of the Nigerian Western Region established close and long-lasting contacts with Yoruba political leaders of Benin Republic. Later, the Ooni of Ife and the Alaafin of Oyo made it a duty to visit Benin Republic frequently, to visit the Yoruba Diaspora in the Americas almost annually, and to invite leaders of the Yoruba Diaspora to the Yoruba homeland in Nigeria. Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, as President of Nigeria, established close relations with the Yoruba of Benin Republic.

“Now, from all parts of the world, a greater surge of Yoruba consciousness and connectedness is growing. The Yoruba Nation worldwide seems to be stepping into an era of Yoruba resurgence, Yoruba importance, Yoruba influence, Yoruba intellectual power, Yoruba technological and investment explosion, Yoruba business power, and Yoruba prosperity, in the world.

“The trend is manifesting from various directions. From the Yoruba region in Nigeria, the Ooni and the Alaafin are intensely engaged in contacts with the Yoruba family worldwide. Many pan-Yoruba patriotic organizations have been springing up, each offering its own kind of response to the multiple challenges facing Yoruba people in the context of Nigeria.

Strategies for Networking for Prosperity and Development

On the strategies for networking of Yoruba Nations for Prosperity and Development, Akintoye, a Second Republic Senator, said  “responding to all this growing upsurge of Yoruba consciousness, solidarity, power and influence in the world, some among the Yoruba elite from various countries embarked on creating a worldwide Yoruba national movement – the Yoruba World Congress – through which the collective energy of the Yoruba Nation will be crystallized into dynamic power, prosperity and influence in the world.

“The modalities planned for the Yoruba World Congress are regular contacts, periodic world conferences, mutual exchange programs, cross-country investments, cross-country tourism, ready help to Yoruba groups in need in any part of the world, and the establishment of a Yoruba World Fund. A leading Yoruba intellectual from Benin Republic calls the new movement “an idea whose time has come”.

“The goal of the Yoruba World Congress is that Yoruba intellectuals, professionals, business leaders, political leaders, government leaders, religious leaders, scientists, artists and others, will arise together and greatly advance the power, influence and image of the Yoruba nation  in the world. Historically, the Yoruba nation has always been a nation of civilization builders. Now, the Yoruba nation is reawakening to its cherished task of civilization building by advancing its own unity, progress, greatness, self-reliance, and culture, and its significance and dignity, among the nations of the world.

“Yoruba leaders of Nigeria and Benin Republic met in Lagos in September 2019 and started off the Yoruba World Congress. Since then, Chapters of the Yoruba World Congress have been founded in these two countries and are being founded in many other countries.

“The message of the Nigerian Chapter of the Yoruba World Congress to the Yoruba people of Nigeria is a message of bold self-reliance. It is that being part of Nigeria does not make it incumbent on the Yoruba people to keep surrendering themselves to Nigeria’s abysmally low standards of politics and governance, to Nigeria’s chosen moral and material retrogression and decline, to Nigeria’s horrid unemployment and hopeless poverty, to Nigeria’s all-pervading culture of corruption, and to Nigeria’s descent into rampant insecurity and near anarchy.

“It is that we Yoruba people command the cultural assets, the education, and the human and management capabilities to raise ourselves and our nation up to any height in the word, even in the context of Nigeria. It is a call to Yoruba people to wake up and strike boldly forward to revive their true destiny as a civilization-building nation in the world. It is an assurance that the large and prestigious world-wide Yoruba nation is already beginning to pull itself together, and that help therein will be available to the Yoruba of any country in the world,” he concluded.

Responding, one of the delegates from America, Fakolade said he is a Yoruba Man who found himself in America, that he read history and found out that Yoruba People are very intelligent. He said he was in Nigeria to learn more about the Yoruba Nation and Ifa.

“Yoruba people from what we read are intellectually loaded and grounded. I am a Yoruba Man but found myself in America. My great grand fathers gave birth to my grand-father in America. My surname is Fakolade. I am in Nigeria to attend this General Congress and to use the opportunity to learn more about Yoruba People, Ifa and other heritage of our people.

Fakolade, a professor of African Studies from California State University, United States said the Yoruba People are spread in all over the world including Cuba, Brazil, stressing that the Yoruba Heritage in Nigeria should network everyone for the development and prosperity of Yoruba people.

Others among the Yoruba Diaspora who attended the event are Olowonla Amos Dyson from Mexico, Lilia Jimenex Lopez from Venezuela, Jhovany Toresss from United States, Agbola Rodriguez from Mexico, Olayemi Arbelez from Venezuela, Jacquline Baity from United States and Atesha Jones  from Mexico.

The representatives of the Yoruba groups from Benin Republic and Togo also attended the congress.

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