Asalaye academy: Making pan-Africanists out of traditionalists
Government’s failure to recognise the powers and function of traditional leaders is causing African languages and heritage to face extinction,
The world keeps evolving everyday leading to dramatic changes in, sometimes things that are very dear to the society or a people.
Language, culture and tradition have remained the greatest victims of the fast changing world.
In fact, it is very difficult for linguists, historians and anthropologists to account for how much of languages, traditions; conventions and cultures have gone with time.
According to UNESCO, out of the approximately 6,000 existing languages in the world, more than 200 have become extinct in the last three generations, 538 are critically endangered, 502 severely endangered, 632 definitely endangered and 607 unsafe.
Interestingly, over half of the 6,000 are spoken by only 0.2 per cent of all the earth’s inhabitants; in other words, approximately 80 per cent of the world’s population speaks just 83 languages.
The proportion is expected to grow even further, as globalisation and urbanisation encourage migrants and rural areas to learn the dominant tongue instead of their own.
UNESCO adds that about 199 languages have fewer than ten speakers and 178 others have 10 to 50.
This dangerous developments have continued to pose serious challenges to culture nationalists and Pan-Africanists who are not only seeking a halt to this trend but a cultural rebirth and a return to Black man’s glorious cultural past, especially the emancipation of the relegated traditional religion.
The preservation of cultural ethos and the desecration of traditional belief systems is now a major source of concern for those in the conventional African traditional society.
Sadly, the stereotypes by non-believers of the traditional religion has made it difficult for proponents to access opportunities usually provided by missions of the Abrahamic faiths who more often than not, associate traditional religion with evil, hatred, backwardness, and retrogression.
This has also not being helped by the Nigerian entertainment industry.
In 2005, the Osun Grove in Osogbo, Nigeria was designated a world heritage site by UNESCO.
Neither the Osun Grove nor the huge festival that has brought Osogbo so much fame would be possible without the tireless devotion of hundreds of traditionalist families in Osogbo.
The children of these families are the future of traditional Yoruba culture in Osogbo.
Asalaye Academy, a project of the Dunia Fore Foundation, is one of the few cultural institutions seeking to change this oppressive cultural narrative and bridge the gap by creating a platform for young children of traditional worshipers to become Pan-Africanists, educated and be proud of their belief without being segregated from their peers.
Since the last two years, the Foundation, which is the brainchild of a Sierra Leonean cum African-American Anthropologist, Nzinga Oyaniyi Olabisi Metzger, has been organising an all-round summer school and other programmes for children of traditional worshipers in Nigeria.