Yoruba Lakotun… Heralding Renaissance In Indigenous Language Literacy
The Yoruba language got a boost, as it was expressively highlighted two Sundays ago at the maiden edition of Yoruba Lakotun held at Ethnic Heritage Centre (EHC), Ikoyi, Lagos. It was a celebration of Yoruba literacy campaign effort in poetry and book reading in Yoruba. From the artistic decorations of the event centre with adire materials, calabashes and talking drums, down to the beautifully dressed individuals and book reading session, it was a splendid occasion designed to exhibit Yoruba language and culture.
The reading session had renowned Yoruba writer Omo Oba Olusesan Ajewole, who read excerpts from his books Igbeyin La Layo Nta (The Player at the End) and True Nigerian Child. He expressed the need for Yoruba literature to be promoted and appreciated among its speakers. He further tasked parents to encourage their children to get acquainted with such Yoruba language books as Igbeyin La Layo Nta, which he said he co-wrote with his mother who inspired him to appreciate Yoruba language.
Coordinator of Yoruba Lakotun Olutayo Irantiola stated that it was important to promote Yoruba, as it would get to a where many would not understand Yoruba language and culture and cling to foreign ones, as was currently the case in many homes, adding, “Majority of Nigerians no longer speak their indigenous languages; we should be open enough to allow and accommodate our languages, even as we adopt foreign cultures. The first generation writers, the likes of D.O. Fagunwa, Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, etc, also partly wrote in our indigenous languages, but wrote more in English, which helped them attain prominence in the world of literature.
“We need to open our hearts and mind to ensure that our language still remains a reference point for what we do in other languages”.
He indicated that the event was a renaissance one, and a cultural revival whose essence was to reach out to all Nigerians, with the aim of encouraging them to embrace literature written in indigenous languages.
Also in attendance were respected and prominent individuals like President of Nigerian Bar Association Mr. Augustine Oyarekhua Alegeh, former NNPC Company Secretary Mr. Anthony Madichie and a host of others.
Alegeh expressed delight at the event and urged everyone to look inward, adding, “The effort being made here today is remarkable and very important because it is an event that brings families together to try and get them back to their roots. All efforts aimed at establishing our identity and letting people know that we are a people of our own is very important. It has also given the children present a clear impression that they are from a country with its own values and languages and that everything read in foreign languages can also be read in indigenous languages. I hope and pray that the efforts made here today can be translated and elevated into other areas so that as a people, we can celebrate our best values and put out our best foot all the time”.
Alegeh further said that indigenous literature would thrive if efforts like this were sustained because one could not live in isolation in an increasingly globalised world.
While speaking on the significance of the centre, a language resource person at the centre, Mr. Adekunle Asimiyu, noted that Ethnic Heritage Centre was established for the purpose of promoting culture and Nigeria’s three major indigenous languages – Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa – and that the programme Yoruba Lakotun was aimed at showcasing Yoruba writers and acquainting readers with their works and achievements.
Asimiyu noted, “This event is to show Yoruba culture in respect to literature because any nation without a language culture is not a nation. If one does not know how to speak his language, then the culture has eluded him”.
While expressing appreciation for the centre’s effort in promoting indigenous languages, Ajewole and Irantiola presented books to the founder of the centre, Mrs. Nwaamaka Adichie.
The event turned out a success, as excited guests expressed happiness at the event designed as a cultural reminder, with many indigenous languages facing extinction. A Kenyan Josephine Adhiamba was excited at Nigerian culture, saying, “I love the way Nigerians portray their culture. I am excited to have witnessed first-hand a glimpse of what Yoruba culture is all about”.
Another guest Dr. (Mrs.) Chichi Amangbo stated that the event brought back nice memories of Nigeria’s unadulterated culture and gave opportunity for those who have no experience of it to learn it. Amangbo further stated that the programme was a beautiful way for people from all walks of life to taste what Nigerian Culture is all about.