By Adeola Badru
THE Alafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III, yesterday, decried what he called the “gradual extinction” of Yoruba customs and traditions.
He said this at the presentation and launch of the Yoruba World Centre, held at the International Centre for Yoruba Arts and Culture, University of Ibadan.
The Yoruba monarch also noted that with the extinction of language, man loses access to local understanding of plants, animals, and the ecosystems, some of which have important medicinal value, and many of which remain undocumented by science.
Oba Adeyemi, who spoke in Yoruba language, said: “Considering the rate at things move these days, it will be disastrous allowing our traditions go into oblivion in the face of permissiveness.
“It is frightening that our own language is dangling on the pit of extinction while preference is accorded foreign language, which is English. Languages often hold the record of a people’s history, including their songs, stories, praise, poetry and ancient traditions.”
Also speaking at the event, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo said that one of the tasks before scholars, enthusiasts and citizens interested in understanding the Yoruba heritage is to use culture as a tool for helping people to discern their place in the world and to rekindle their visionary capabilities.
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Osinbajo said: “Consequently, progress is not merely determined by fidelity to tradition but by our capacity for invention and reinvention. And this point is more relevant now than ever before as the world itself and our nation stand at cross roads.
“The future of mankind is at an inflexion point with COVID-19 and climate change already disrupting life as we know it; while the Fourth Industrial Revolution requires us to adapt to technological innovation changing at lightning speed.
“To cope well, we must draw strength from our cultural capital – the wealth of tangible and intangible knowledge that emanates from a society’s core and enables it to cope with change.
“One of the tasks of scholars, enthusiasts and citizens interested in understanding the Yoruba heritage is to use culture as a tool for helping us discern our place in the world and to rekindle our visionary capabilities.”
Besides, the VP said: “This World Centre will, therefore, serve not just as a place of memory but as a place that inspires us and fires our collective imagination, even within the dynamic contexts of advances in technology, ideas and thought.
“But perhaps more importantly, today, the work of this Centre should offer a base from which and sanctuary in which to reflect on how Yoruba culture can contribute to the tools of nation building.”
Osinbajo, however, commended the initiator of the project, Alagba Alao Adebayo, the publisher of indigenous newspaper, Alaroye, for his boldness and ambition of his enterprise.
In his address, Governor ‘Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, who was represented by his deputy, Rauf Olaniyan, warned Yoruba people against allowing the distortion of the history of their race, saying it is causing colossal damage to the people’s cultural values.
Notable Nigerians present at the event included the Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams; the Group Managing Director of Odua Investment, Raji Adebayo; Director-General of the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria, DAWN Commission, Mr. Seye Oyeleye; Mr. Muyiwa Ige, deputy governors of Ogun and Ondo States and other notable Yoruba leaders and groups.