Promoting our History and Culture
To promote ‘Gods and heroes’ I recently went on a Book Tour of Yorubaland. I visited the ancient and storied towns of Ijebu-Ode, Oyo, Ile-Ife and Ibadan, all of which are featured in stories from ‘Gods and heroes’ and other books of the ‘Itan – legends of the golden age’ series.' My book and I received an enthusiastic reception from the people and monarchs of all these towns. And for me in particular, it was gratifying to know that our old Yoruba traditions such as oral poetry, ewi and the playing of the ganganor talking drum, are still alive and well in the heartland.
When I came back to Texas, it was to receive accolades in recognition of my efforts to promote our ancient African culture and traditions. I was a recipient of the 2018 O’odua Image Awardgiven out by the Yoruba Youth Corporation of America. With this award, I was named a CULTURAL AMBASSADOR of the Yoruba people in North America. I am greatly encouraged by this award which I consider not an honor just for myself but for all those who have nurtured my passion and interest in our history, mythology and culture. Therefore, I am resolved to redouble my efforts to promote the history and mythology of our people not just through my book ‘Gods and heroes’ and other books of the ITAN – LEGENDS OF THE GOLDEN AGE series, but by giving talks and lectures everywhere I can.
While in Nigeria, I gave an interview that was aired on SPLASH FM 105.5 in Ibadan on Saturday November 17. I was also interviewed by Mr. Bamidele Famuofo for a piece in THISDAY, one of the most prominent news and culture magazines in Lagos. In addition, the Media Center at the afinin Oyo has carried stories of my visit to the Alaafin during which the Alaafin himself gave me an autographed copy of his own book. I then presented his Imperial Majesty with a signed copy of ‘Gods and heroes’ as well as a framed original art work titled ‘Oyo Warriors at the Battle of Atakpame.’ This drawing by Dipo Alao, wo did all the illustrations for the book, is based on a story from the book ‘Gods and heroes’ when an Oyo army defeated the great Ashanti Empire at a town called Atakpame, now in the West African nation of Togo, in the year 1763. The Alaafin remembered this story and was happy that this part of our heroic history has been recorded for the enjoyment and edification of future generations of our people. As he spoke, shouts of ‘Iku, Baba Yeye!’split the air in the great reception hall in the palace at Oyo. For me, it was an historic visit to the center of the famed empire of the Yorubas.
We can all do our bit to encourage the study and promotion of our ancient history and culture. We don’t all have to write a book or give lectures. We can tell the stories of Oduduwa, Moremi and Oranmiyan to our children and grandchildren. And we can read more about these old heroes and heroines not only from ‘Gods and heroes’ but from other published works that can be purchased online. The one book I will recommend in this regard is ‘The history of the Yorubas from the earliest times to the beginning of the British Protectorate’ by Rev. Samuel Johnson. This classic book was originally published in England in 1921. After going out of print for several years, it has now been reissued by Forgotten Books Ltd www.forgottenbooks.org. It is available from Amazon and other online booksellers. For those in Nigeria, it is available at the C.M.S. (Nigeria) Bookshops, Lagos.
The U.S. Book Launching of ‘Gods and heroes’ is planned for Saturday December 8, 2018 at the
Charter Medical Center, Dallas. I and the organizers of this event are determined that it would be a full day of celebration of Yoruba art, music and tradition. There will be an Art Exhibition of original drawings and paintings by Dipo Alao and myself, depicting scenes from the book and the mythology of the Yoruba people. There will be Yoruba music, both old and contemporary as well as a cultural display of the talking drum and traditional Yoruba dances.
People like me are determined that our ancient language, culture and traditions will not perish from the earth! With this, I wish us all joy and peace this coming holiday season, which is an opportune time to give a friend or family member the gift of a book on our rich history, mythology and culture such as ‘Gods and heroes ‘.
Editor & Moderator: Dr Oladele Olusanya