Prof. Toyin Omoyeni Falola, a Nigerian Historian, Professor of African Studies and Chairman, Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker, University of Texas, Houston, United States has said that the Yoruba consciousness and philosophies have led to the present day developments.
He made this assertion during the recently held Spalsh FM 9th anniversary and 77th birthday celebration of Chief Adebayo Akande Public Lecture held at the Trenchard Hall of the University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Oyo State State, Nigeria.
In explaining the relevance of Yoruba to the present day world developments, Prof. Falola affirmed, “Yoruba isn’t defined by just those who speak the language or in the south-western part of Nigeria alone. Yoruba is a consciousness of being: a philosophy, which is adopted by numerous people all over the world. This is why in some parts of the globe, even though they don’t speak the language, they knowingly identify with the Yoruba culture in other ways like observing her festivals, using her naming system and many more. This broadens our scope of the view of the Yoruba around the globe.”
He further asserted that Yoruba was taken to other parts of the globe as a result of the 17th -18th century slave trade where lots of Yoruba slaves were sold around the globe reason for which we have people today those who trace their ancestry down to the south-western part of Nigeria. Many of these slaves carried on this culture in their various locations which led to the spread of Yoruba.
He submitted that, “The translocation of the Yoruba people in the 19th century showed the Yorubas to be long distance traders seeking markets in the far north and further into countries like Gambia and Togo. Research shows the total exports as far back as the 17’s and 18’s to be around N1.12 million. Many of the jobless youths, seeking for greener pastures in other countries are also part of the emigrating Yorubas. Intermarriage between Yoruba’s and the rest of the world is also a major contributor to this global spread.”
Prof. Falola submitted that the spread of the Yoruba factors in the world have their root in different forms, “Representation of various aspects of Yoruba philosophy and lifestyle in different geographical locations; the grounds Yoruba has gained around the globe making the city of Ibadan a central study which in turn led to her becoming one of the intellectual capitals of the world today; the formation of the distinctive Yoruba Orisa tradition in the United States of America, amassing close to 200 million followers worldwide; the integration of Yoruba studies has acquired legitimacy in the world making Yoruba one of the foremost studied groups in the world today. In fact, groups from the United States of America inserted their students in Nigerian Universities just to study Yoruba.”
He further stated that the Yoruba factors could be as well seen in the existence of Yoruba groups or associations in other parts of today’s world e.g. Egbe Omo Ibadan in present day Chicago; the global recognition of Yoruba medical system; its being perceived as very effective.
In Brazil, “ewuro”- the bitter leave, has been confirmed to be medicinal and researches are ongoing in parts of the world on how to integrate both the foreign and the Yoruba traditional medicine; the Nigerian movie industry (Nollywood) now identified as the best from Nigeria down to South Africa have ideas drawn significantly from the Yorubas and many further Yoruba practiced ideas have been used to trace history into the pre-colonial era; the creation of Oyotunji African village in South Carolina, USA; the celebration of Egungun festival in Gambia; the presence of lots of Yoruba herbalists in Brazil and Cuba today are important Yoruba factors.
Prof. Falola however decried the wrong disposition of some Yorubas to the Yoruba Language saying that, “The present day problems in moral decadence and the likes could be traced to the messy state of Nigeria’s national politics in which some Yorubas are contributors, thus making children born of Yoruba parents not to neither understand their culture and traditions nor speak the language.”
He therefore advised that all ties must be connected with the Yorubas in the diaspora with a view to maintaining the age-old “omoluabi”- (gentle, humane and refined) culture, noting that without language, culture would die naturally while cultural projects must be created with rich cultural resources being transformed into tourist centers to attract global attention.