Comments on “OLOWO of Owo Sir Olateru-Olagbegi at Igogo Festival (1960s)

The story on IGOGO was posted in the very early hours of yesterday and has actually already attracted readers, although those on the e-list are just being notified.  I’m posting Fatai Bakare’s comments which I believe touch some very important points; my response is also below.  TOLA, Saturday, April 13, 2013.


Fatai Bakare Says:
April 12, 2013 at 6:41 pm e

It is a pity that some important aspects of the culture of the Yoruba are incidentally going into extinction just like the language itself. I mentioned in one forum that to stem Yoruba language going into extinction, every home should place emphasis in the speaking of the language at home with our children. And this includes those of us living abroad. We have passed the era when brilliance adjudged by the amount of grammar one can blow. All over the world, there are top class scientists, psychologists, medical doctors etc. who are trained in their mother tongues and can’t speak a word of English. E je ka gbe ede wa l’aruge–let’s us make our language important and something to be cherished. The South West governors have a big role in this by making the offering Yoruba language as a subject compulsory at both the primary and secondary school levels.

Now, I have some few questions to ask on the Igogo festival. Did Orensen (the beautiful goddess) bear the king any child? If yes, what happened to him or her when the goddess was leaving in annoyance? The king during the celebration of the festival should plait the hair, is it still done till today looking at the way balding in men is so common even at 30′s and 40′s? Since drums should not roll during the period, does that mean no parties and merriment like weddings and burials of one’s parents? I hope extreme religious adherents do not disturb the festival. Thanks.



emotan77 Says:
April 13, 2013 at 5:43 am e

Thanks for this, Fatai.

The problem of the lack of Yoruba language being spoken widely, especially in middle-class and other homes which could lead to its disappearance has been a subject of many discussions in the Southwest in the last few years. I have personally been interested and involved not just in writing about “Yoruba and other disappearing languages” or such titles in the last decade but was involved with a group, Egbe Ede Yoruba” which came up with several suggestions, including the governments in the southwest making the subject compulsory at elementary & secondary school levels – private schools, included just as you’ve suggested.

Politics in Nigeria has destroyed everything, including the fiber of society. The governors in the region were the problem because the ruling PDP that wangled in (rigged) their candidates had men most of whom were not interested in anything of such nature and stood in the way of the only non-PDP state, Lagos. I knew one was very cooperative and interested.

There are market women in southwest Nigeria whose grasp of the English Language is, at best, worse(!) than a primary school graduate BELIEVE they speak English to their kids in the market! Countless times, I’ve engaged these young women in amiable chats of the usefulness of allowing the kids to grow up speaking Yoruba. I would even speak my dialect so that they realize I had to LEARN to speak “proper Yoruba” and then I would say something in English to let them also realize the dialect & Yoruba have not stood in the way of my mastering the English Language.

I believe we have to fight the battle from all angles: frown on “Say ‘hi’ to Uncle” – in the words of Late Professor Sola Oke’s lecture delivered at the Iju Public Affairs Forum some years ago in which – as a language specialist – suggested that the educated class’ tendency to speak English in their homes even in Nigeria – cannot and will not drive Yoruba into extinction.

As for Igogo, the first and only attendance I had was the one in the 60s. I’m also in support of the point you raised about religious adherents disturbing the festival as it seems to be a trend now for Christian and Muslim extremism to see the celebrations of our heritage as “paganism”.

This, too, is an area that should be one of the areas of engagement for a “Southwest Integration” when – and if – politics of the region does not get in the way of such a laudable proposal.

Sincere regards,

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