Wole Soyinka urges creative writers to promote indigenous language

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Soyinka Leah sharibu

Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka, and a professor of African Studies at the University of Lagos, Oladele Orimoogunje, have lent their voices to the cultural renaissance being championed by ‘Yoruba Lakotun’.

‘Yoruba Lakotun’ is a cultural show which began four years ago and has been at the forefront of celebrating exceptional literary and cultural icons in Yoruba language.

The dons shared their thoughts at the special edition of Yorùbá Lakotun dedicated to the late Yoruba octogenarian novelist, Oladejo Okediji.

The colloquium held at the Lagos Books and Arts Festival (LABAF).

In his remarks, Mr Soyinka said, “We were raised in our indigenous culture and we should not give up on it. We need to keep encouraging speaking and writing in our indigenous languages.”

Also, Mr Orimoogunje spoke glowingly about the detective works written by celebrated Yoruba writer, Oladejo Okediji, who died in April.

Some of his classics include Aja lo leru (1969), Agbalagba Akan (1971), Oga Ni Bukola (1972), Rere Run (1973), Imura Idanwo Yoruba (1978), Atoto Arere (1981), Sango (1987), Opa Agbeleka (1989) and Binu ti ri (1989).

Others are Aajo Aje (1997), Running after Riches (1999), Karin Kapo (2007), Aaro Olomoge (2014) and Ohun Enu Agba (2018).

Mr Orimoogunje said, “the current crop of writers need to continually expand the frontiers of Yoruba literature after the death of Okediji because there are opportunities for writers interested in oral and fictive literature.”

Other highlights at the event were a panel discussion moderated by Damilare Igbayiloye of Akonilede Yoruba.

It fielded panelists like Clement Odoje of the University of Ibadan; Ayodele Oyewale of the University of Lagos; Folake Benson of Scholars Runnel and Ayobami Oyedele of ‘Yoruba Di Wura’.

The panelists unanimously agreed that Yoruba scholars and enthusiasts need to be more strategic in order to gain more global relevance.

Mr Odoje said, “The Nigerian government needs to support the teaching, learning and research on our languages because various countries of the world are deliberate about learning our languages and engaging those who are vast in the knowledge of Nigerian languages.

“The value of Nigerian languages is currently being appreciated by the international community and as a nation, we need to latch onto this as well.”

Other segments of the colloquium included the extensive teaching on greetings by Gbemisoye Ayano and a book reading from the last anthology of poetry by Okediji, 2018 titled, Ohun Enu Agba.

There were performances by JojoBody Beat and Amulegbajo and award presentations to Mr Orimoogunje, Mama Iyabode Aboaba, Gbemisoye Ayano and Yemi Shodimu.

The programme has celebrated many Yoruba creative icons such as Tunde Kelani, Nike Okundaye, Olusesan Ajewole, Taiwo Olunlade, Nike Adesanya, Kehinde Adepegba , Ayo Okedokun among others.