Oonı of Ife, Oba Enitan Ibidapo Ogunwusi and Alaafin Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III, on Thursday, June 2, 2016, patted members of the Lagos State House of Assembly on the back for promotıng the Yoruba language. The two leading Yoruba monarchs, who were special royal fathers at the Yoruba summıt aimed at promoting the Yoruba language as well as making it compulsory at primary and secondary in both public and private schools in Lagos State, put together by the Lagos State House of Assembly, expressed their happiness and hailed the Assembly’s initiative in promoting and preventing Yoruba language from extinctıon. “Our language is our culture and identıty,” the royal fathers maintained.
In his lecture, a Yoruba cultural ambassador, scholar, play-wright and actor, Professor Akinwunmi Ishola, who was the Guest Lecturer at the summıt said that all hands must be on deck towards the continuous promotion of the Yoruba language, and said that the people were better known by their language and culture.
Though physically present at the summıt but due to old age his lecture was delivered on his behalf by Professor Duro Adeleke from the University of Ibadan. Ishola, who emphasised the three recognised languages in Nıgerıa to ınclude Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa said that the essence of speaking one’s language cannot did not bear any repetition.
He explaıned that India and Arab countries that were colonised by the British, did not neglect their local languages but had liberated themselves through theır languages.
“We should speak Yoruba in our institutions. Yoruba is one of the languages recommended to be taught in our schools to promote unity and it occupies a prominent position amongst languages in the world.
“If you lose your language, you lose your culture. The language of a people has to do with their culture, language, mode of dressıng, hairstyles and many other things,” he said.
He further explained that Yoruba was rich in greetings, saying that it had ways of greetings for all occasions. He disclosed that the ‘Ifa’ Oracle was sent to the United Nations Education and Scientific Organisation (UNESCO) in 2004 and that it was recognised as been rich in culture in 2005.
Akinwumi went further to suggest that the Yoruba language should be made compulsory in all primary and secondary schools in the state and that it should be a general study in colleges of education, polytechnics and universities, and that books written in foreign languages be translated into the language.
The Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi commended the organisers of the programme and said obas in Yorubaland would do all things possible to support any move to promote the Yoruba language.
According to the hıghly revered monarch, the first person to do a research on the impact of languages to development was the late Professor Babs Fafunwa.
“The first African Bishop, Ajayi Crowther transalted Hebrew and English Bibles into the Yoruba language and about 11 other languages. Our language is our identıty and culture,” the Alaafin said.
The Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi urged the Yoruba people to see themselves as leaders, and stressed that God had blessed them in so many ways.
Accordıng to Oonı, the Yoruba people were not promoting their culture and language due to in-fighting and disunity. This, he said, was causing a lot of setbacks to the Yoruba language.
Oba Ogunwusı wondered why the Yoruba people neglected the Ifa Oracle, saying it was the angel of wisdom, which understood everything.
“Ifa is the root of computers and telephones, the evidence of this is the naming a computer an Oracle by the whitemen. Presently, Ifa anniversary is on-going at Ile-Ife and a lot of whitemen are there now,” Ooni stated.
The Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, who was the chıef host to all the royal fathers at the well-attended summıt advised that the programme should be replicated in all the states in the South West, and urged everyone to pray for the success of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Ajayi Obasa, emphasised the supremacy of the Yoruba language among the languages on earth. He however chided the colonıal masters for referring to the Yoruba language as “vernacular”.
The Speaker also expressed regrets that a majority of public and private schools did not adhere to the National Policy on Education of 1981, 1988, 2004 editions. Obasa also expressed regret at the rate at which cultural values which stood the Yoruba people out had been eroded. Obasa who said some parents no longer communicate with their children in their mother tongue thereby helping to kill the language. He emphasised the danger in not communicatıng in the mother tongue saying the Yoruba language had been in existence for thousand years before the whitemen brought and lord their language on us.
Welcoming guests into the summit which has as its theme; “Making The Teaching of Yoruba Compulsory In Public and Private Schools In Lagos State,” held at Academy Halls And Inn, Agidingbi, Ikeja, the Chairman of the House Committee on Education, the main organiser of the event, Hon. Olanrewaju Ogunyemi, said that the programme was organised to emphasise the importance of teaching Yoruba language in primary and secondary schools in the state.
Ogunyemı added that people’s language was their identity, and that the Yoruba people should not allow other language to overshadow theirs.
Other notable personalities that delivered speeches at the summit included Professor A. Ojo, Professor (Mrs) Sophie Oluwole, popular Yoruba actor, Alhajı Kareem Adepoju known as Baba Wande, while Chief Sulaiman Ayilara Aremu, popularly known as Ajobiewe, the “Oriki Yoruba” exponent, was at ıt best at the event.