NOTICE: Yoruba Is NOT For SALE!
What is in a name that makes it powerful? It’s not just about how it sounds. It is the deliberate formation of such a name that forms the spiritual, socio-cultural, and psychological quintessence of any human, place, race, or anything that has life.
The essence of humans and humanity is not complete without the adequate declaration of a name on such an entity. The name carries that power of life that fully propels any human towards his or her destiny.
In Africa, Nigeria, a name is just more a word. It is the fundamental character that sharpens humanity or any ethnic race.
So what happens when a stranger lays claim to the ownership of your name?
The Yoruba tribes numbering more than 40 million people are the 2nd largest language group in Nigeria and one of the most populous and most welcoming tribes in Africa. The history of the Yoruba people goes way back to somewhere around 500 BC.
At that period traces of advanced technological use of ancient ironworks were discovered and recorded in places such as ile-Ife, Ibadan and Oyo, and other parts of the South-Western region of what would later become Nigeria.
Over the years the name ‘Yoruba’ which was originally pronounced as “Yaraba” which was what the people of the Oyo Empire were called by the Arabians and Hausa who crossed the Sub Saharan desert and came into Oyo for trade, and over the years the name becomes more than just a name but a cultural, spiritual and socio-cultural identity that binds and forms an entire race that has can be found in every country all around the world.
Like just any name of any race or tribe, or ethnic race around the world that has metamorphosed into its current state. The power of the name and ownership belongs to the land and the people that occupy the land.
Therefore for that name ‘Yoruba’ to be trademarked by a single individual or company is not only insulting to the entire 40 million people of the Yoruba race but also absurd, debasing, and a well-calculated attempt of re-colonization which should be refused and objected by every Yoruba, Nigerian and African all around the world.
According to Cyber Harvard.Edu “A Trademark is a word, symbol or phrase used to identify a particular manufacturer or sellers product and distinguish them from the products of another” Going by this definition, does that make the word ‘Yoruba’ a product for Timbuktu Limited an outerwear clothing retailer owned by two White-British people from North of England with their company based in Lancashire in the UK.
This insulting and atrocious attempt to lay claim to the name of a race of more than 40 million people is discourteous and evil not just to the Yorùbá people but to humanity at large.
This outlandish discovery was shared on Instagram by Culture Tree a platform on Instagram that creates diverse opportunities to learn and experience West African Languages who in the course of trying to trademark the same name discovered it has been trademarked by another company.
Ever since the outcry and social media outrage against Timbuktu, the company has come out with a statement to state their course and that they would transfer the name to Culture Tree or anyone and what they did was in good faith and not as supposed by the people.
But what if in the first instance, Culture Tree has succeeded in the Trademark of the name “Yoruba Stars” as they wanted to or even the word ‘Yoruba’ itself. There wouldn’t have been public outrage and this might have not been in the public. Say it business as usual.
The bone of contention, in this case, is that the trademark of that word doesn’t belong to Timbuktu or Culture Tree, or any other word that encapsulates the essence of any ethnic tribe or race.
If there is one lesson we need to take away from this incident, it is that moving forward, we need to take the importance of our history, culture, arts, and heritage very seriously.
In a country where history is not even taught in schools and historical landmarks are neglected and not appreciated.
As much as we are quick to anger on sensitive issues such as this case of cultural appropriation, we should also understand that we need to put our house in order to thwart issues such as this. For our history and heritage to stand the test of time, all hands have to be on deck.