Book Launch: At ‘Afonja the Rise’ launch, literary experts make case for Yoruba culture rebirth

Guests and Panelists at the launch of the book Afonja – The Rise
Guests and Panelists at the launch of the book Afonja – The Rise

Nigerian literary experts and history enthusiasts have called on parents to promote Yoruba culture and history in their respective homes.

The experts include ace Nigerian filmmaker, Tunde Kelani; a former lecturer at the Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education, Ijanikin, Lagos, Elizabeth Ajayi and a former Attorney-General of Lagos state, Olusupo Shasore.

They said this at the launch of the book titled ‘Afonja the Rise’ in Lagos.

The book, which was written by Tunde Leye, tells the story of the interplay of politics in the old Oyo Empire.

The experts also lamented what they described as “the total disregard for the history of the Yoruba people before the advent of colonialism in Nigeria”.

Speaking during a panel discussion moderated by Oladimeji Ojo, Mr Kelani stated that the government alone should not be blamed for the nonchalant attitude of today’s generation towards Yoruba history and culture.

“I feel bad when people ascribe all the blame to the government. The government undoubtedly played a role but the larger part of the blame should be put on parents who discourage their wards from speaking their languages or learn about their history.

“In today’s Nigeria, some parents believe that their children’s ability to succeed depends on their proficiency in English Language, this inconsequentially belittling our local languages and it will take us nowhere,” he said.

Mrs Ajayi urged mothers to encourage their wards to learn Nigerian history.

“The argument of whether History should be restored in school was on for years but we are glad that the committee set up to look into it has finally reasoned with those of us who are making a case for it.

“It was initially erroneously believed that students could learn History in their Civic and Government classes but we gave them a superior argument that methodology of teaching history cannot be compared with teaching other subjects, hence the need to bring it back. Thank God it has been restored.”

Mr Shasore, who is the author of ‘A Platter of Gold’, said countries like China and India, developed because they believed in their language and culture.

Unanimously, the experts, including a former Arts and Culture Editor of the defunct Next Newspaper, Molara Wood, who reviewed the book commended the author’s writing style and presentation.

The panelists also urged Nigerian leaders to read the book and learn from the story of the lead characters, Afonja and Alaafin Aole.

During his remarks, the author said after years of studying western literature and history, he took a break recently to concentrate on African literature and history.

He said the move informed his decision to research the stories around Afonja, a one-time Aare Ona Kakanfo of the Oyo Empire, who clashed with the then Alaafin of Oyo – Aole Arogangan.

Asked what desired to achieve with the book, he said he hoped to change the attitude of his generation towards Yoruba history, culture and nuances.

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