Why Brazilians Are In Love With Yoruba Culture…By Kabir Alabi Garba
SINCE his coronation, on December 7, 2015, as the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja 11 has become a famed subject people, within and outside the country, desire to associate with, thereby turning the royal stead and the sprawling city of Ile –Ife, Osun State into a Mecca of some sorts with the latest visitors being the Brazilian team led by the country’s Consul – General to Nigeria, Maria A. Figueiredo.
This visit was like no other as it had the trappings of a historical and cultural renaissance of sort, spiced with the reconnection of the historical and religious affinity between the Yoruba race and Brazilians and rich cultural and musical performance by Otunba Wanle Akinboboye’s Atunda Entertainment.
Figueiredo disclosed how delighted she was to be at the palace of the Ooni and describing her coming as home coming. “I am happy to be here. In Ile–Ife, the cradle of civilization and the source of Black nations which Brazil is harbouring the largest concentration of blacks in the world apart from Nigeria. My coming here is not accidental. It is a home coming. Which I sincerely believe has been destined by the Lord Almighty.’’
Then she went down memory lane: ‘It will interest you all to note that Brazil was colonised by Portugal which forced on us its religion which is Catholicism. Apart from this, the other major religion which we practiced in Brazil is African-traditional Belief which emanated and was traced to Ile-Ife. Majority of us are Catholics, but all of us still have our traditional identity. For me, I am an Osun worshipper. And I am in Ile – Ife, the source of the world in State of Osun.”
Although she used the occasion to render profuse apology to the Ooni and his people for the evil of the slave trade, she, however directed attention to the positive side of it. “I have to apologise for the fact that it was the slave trade perpetrated by our people that led to the dislocation and turned some of the Yoruba into citizens of another land. However sad this story is, but it has turned to another positive advantage to the history of the world in terms of race interaction, networking and spread of cultural heritage and values.
“Were it not for the evil of the slave trade, my presence here today may not have acquired the weight, import and relevance. The Yoruba race might have no cause to celebrate with pride the domination of a large portion of the cultural map of the world.”
The envoy further disclosed that the cultural affinity between Brazil and Nigeria is rooted in Ile-Ife, the source of the Yoruba race, a race which she declared “is wonderfully blessed with the most unique and morally culture, tradition, history and mores in the world. “The Yoruba culture, the Yoruba people and the African descents which constitute about 78 per cent of the population of Brazil have made Brazil the Siamese twins of Nigeria and a country where the children of Oduduwa hold sway,” she said.
She congratulated Ooni Ojaja 11 not only for ascending the throne of his forefathers with acclaimed glory , pomp and celebration but for his vision at revitalising the tradition , culture and values of the Yoruba race for economic and sustainable development of the Yoruba.
Ambassador Figueiredo assured the Ooni and the Yoruba that “I have to assure his Imperial Majesty of the unflinching support and collaboration of the Brazilian Embassy in Nigeria in any mutually beneficial project and venture. We hold this nation and particularly the Yoruba race the duty of facilitating and contributing to whatever will promote and enhance our cultures and tradition for the benefit of our citizens.”
Oba Ojaja 11 in his response applauded the sense of duty and brilliant display and appreciation of the history of Yoruba and it’s trans–Atlantic tribulation by the Consul –General of Brazil in Nigeria.
“You are warmly welcome to the source. I must however commend you for your rare brilliance and display of thoughtful reflection of the slave trade and the siblings and scions of Oduduwa. Your identification and views are not only apt, but instructive of the fact that the Yoruba culture is not only unique but of no peer in the world.”
The Ooni then called the attention of his people to the high regard people have for the Yoruba, it influence and rating: “You can now realise that it is only in his home stead where a prophet is without any iota of honour. You all listened to the postulation and analysis of the Ambassador about our culture, We have all listened to the fact that despite being Catholics, majority of Brazilians still cherish, embrace and celebrate their tradition, culture, belief and norms which is not the case here.”
He, therefore, assured his people that the time to revive, renew, rejuvenate, reactivate and re launch the Yoruba tradition, culture, custom as the paragon of peace, harmony, orderliness, cooperation and epitome of morality in the world has come and that he was leading the vanguard for this renaissance.
I am happy having as a partner in this mission, the Brazilian Government as represented here today by the Consul–General, Ambassador Maria Figueiredo who has spoken brilliantly on collaborative endeavour and cooperation with the palace,” said the Ooni even as he revealed that “my vision is to employ tourism and culture in empowering the youth of Yoruba land, generate employment and facilitate wealth. We have started on this note as 20,000 widows have been employed in cleaning up the city. I am also particular about exploring sport to engage and empower my people. The World Cup is around the corner. Brazil is it and I assure you our youths will not only be there, but will gainfully participate in its positives.”
The day saw a sampling of the rich cultural elements of the people with the Olorin agba, the palace cultural group, setting the tone for the avalanche of performances that were to follow with their high tempo dancing and singing session.
Then came the turn of Atunda Entertainment to set the palace aglow with their rich, exhilarating and electrifying display with the duo of Olo Omidan Bata, who is Nigeria’s acclaimed first female bata potter (drummer) and Anu, the lady Ekwe, also the first Nigeria female noted Ekwe percussionist, rendering good account of the rave rating with what many described as imitable performances.