Language, politics and historical cleavages in Yoruba’s continued search for unity – Niyi Akinnaso

June 13, 2017


The subject of Yoruba unity – actually, the lack of, and need for it – came up again at a recent public lecture given by a social commentator, Professor Niyi Akinnaso, as one of the events to mark the 90th birthday of Samuel Agboola Akintan, a traditional title holder of Idanre, the Ojomu of Idanreland.

The Yoruba, a long-urbanized people in Southwestern Nigeria, have long worried about not being “united” which, in the context of Nigeria where most live – there are millions of Yoruba along the coast of West Africa where they form parts of the populations including Dahomey (modern-day Benin Republic), Togo and Sierra Leone. Yoruba Language is spoken in pure and adulterated forms in those countries. In an open market in Freetown over 40 years ago, this blogger saw a whole section of plastic ware sellers speaking in Yoruba to each other without realizing that my spouse and I understood what they were saying.

While the Yoruba of Dahomey have historically always been in Porto Novo area, migration from historical times to the modern era has seen heavy relocations, especially from present-day Osun State to Togo.

If truth be told, with perhaps the exception of the monolithic North – that is, Northern Nigeria MINUS its ethnic minorities in recent years, other ethnic groups in the country suffer from an elusive “unity” that seems to seek that all people belonging to the same ethnic group share the same political views and/or see political and social issues along same lines!

The basis is the sharing of the so-called “national cake” that has every area seeking to gain political advantage; only the North has been able to do that and not because of “unity” but because the political shenanigan by the Brits as colonial masters ensured that the game of numbers that means getting an equitable share of the “cake” for every component of the union would never happen; population was skewed from the morning of the union in favor of “the North”.

As Akinnaso makes clear in his brief lecture, it’s been an elusive search that has met and will continue to meet obstacles.

Read his interesting paper through the link below.


Unity among Yoruba Leaders

Being text of a lecture delivered by Professor Niyi Akinnaso to mark the 90th birthday of Samuel Agboola Akintan, the Ojomu of Idanreland in Ondo State, Southwestern Nigeria on June 6, 2017.

TUESDAY, JUNE 13, 2017. 2:35 p.m. [GMT]

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2 Comments on “Language, politics and historical cleavages in Yoruba’s continued search for unity – Niyi Akinnaso”

  1. emotan77 Says:


    Depo Adenle
    3:35 PM (20 hours ago)

    to me

    Akinnaso canvasses for integration as a requisite for Yoruba unity.

    He likens integration to the foundation and walls of a building, while unity is the roof.

    A house equipped with the best roof money can buy without solid foundation cannot stand the test of time. In rudimentary building technology, different site conditions call for different types of foundations. The foundation is also a factor of the type and size of a building – shallow strip foundation for the most simple structure, spread footing, raft footing, piled foundation, etc., as the nature and size of the building and site conditions demand.
    In the scriptures, Christians are advised to build on solid foundation. Figuratively, what are the pre-requisites of having a solid foundation for Yoruba unity?

    Yorubas seem to have always worked against the fundamentals of a solid foundation through arrogance and the opportunistic nature of the politicians among the ethnic group who tend to arrogate to themselves superior character which the ethnic group traditionally values above all things, while casting aspersions on their political opponents.

    Integration which can only be achieved once a solid foundation is in place – respect for others’ views and opinions, having the central interest of the group at heart, etc. integration can then be achieved if we recognize that diverse opinions can only be resolved when we abstain from foul and unwholesome references to our political adversaries.

    There was a time in the recent past when a ‘respectable’ older politician referred to those in an opposing camp as bastards. Such a disparaging description while not endearing those abused to the supposedly right camp, would harm any and all effort to bring about unity



  2. emotan77 Says:

    folakemiodoaje Says:
    June 14, 2017 at 9:29 pm e
    Reading through Professor Niyi Akinnaso’s speech I am glad to read pg 16.

    Governments don’t have to “reinvent the wheel”, they only have to retrace steps to schools that were established before independence, refurbished and staffed with quality teachers.

    On monarchs – it is hard for monarchs to unite when most want to live off the state. If elders genuinely care for the future, there is need for serious consolidation, too many of them at the expense of the masses.

    On politics, I am glad Yorubas are involved in all major parties – in the end, those that deliver as promised will prevail.




    emotan77 Says:
    June 23, 2017 at 4:38 pm e
    Dear Fola,

    Thanks very much for weighing in and for the useful suggestions.

    It makes a lot of sense that leaders in Yorubaland need only look within and they will discover that maintaining and improving existing infrastructure as well as political institutions is all they need to do and things would improve.

    It is very true that attempting to re-invent the wheel won’t get us anywhere; in fact, it often ends in backward slide which would then take several years of serious effort to get to the previous positions.

    Sincere regards,



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