Why we want Yoruba Culture entrenched in the Nigerian constitution —Traditional leaders

CHUWKUMA OPARAOCHA was at the convention of Yoruba traditionalists where different resolutions and recommendations concerning the culture and tradition of the South-west were taken. His report.


“For Nigeria to join the league of progressive nations like India, China, and Brazil, among others, it must do what those nations have also done by giving adequate cognisance to its culture and tradition which are its identity.”

This was the view of a traditional ruler in Ogun State, Oba Ifarotimi Adifagbola Balogun, during a one-day convention to herald this year’s “Isese Day,” (Culture and Tradition Day) slated for August 26 in Abeokuta, Ogun State.

Virtually all regions in Nigeria have been touted to have lost a large chunk of their cultural heritage to foreign cultures and values, but the Yoruba culture in South-West Nigeria has been touted as the worst affected in this regard. This was also confirmed by seasoned traditonalists at the convention in Ogun State, where it was also noted that holding tight to one’s culture and tradition could pay off in the long run, as citizens of countries from other parts of the world often travel far and wide to study and learn more about the cultures of other climes through processes such as tourism. This, according to the traditionalists, means culture and tradition can serve as a means of revenue generation for the entire states of the South-west.

While not attempting to denigrate Nigeria’s two main religions, Christianity and Islam, which both have their own cultural values and identities, the two religions have, over time, been identified to have played a key role in the sharp decline of the core values of the tradition and culture of the south-

West Nigeria.

But determined to end this trend, Ifarotimi Balogun, who is also the Oba Ise of Ogun State, said that it was high time people, especially the government, went back to recognising the richness of the wisdom embedded in deities such as Sango, Orunmila, Obatala, and Ogun, among others.

“Inasmuch as the head of Muslims and Christians come for advice from us, it is necessary for the government to recognise traditional rulership in the country which has been in existence for a very long time,” said Oba Ifarotimi, whose views were also echoed by another traditional ruler and the Oba Odua Ijo Olorisa Parapo ati Asa Worldwide, Chief Adewale Jamiu Eletu.

The two traditional Yoruba rulers therefore called for the recognition of “Isese (Culture and Tradition) Day,” in the nation’s constitution, in a way that will give certain rights and privileges to traditionalists as currently enjoyed by the two main religions in the country.

While calling attention to the need for Nigeria to celebrate customs and tradition, the two traditional leaders also urged the federal government to equally give adequate recognition to traditional religions and institutions by declaring a day, preferably August 20, the “Isese (Culture and Tradition) Day.”

According to them this has become necessary given the fact that followers of the two main religions in the country – Christianity and Islam – are often given enough room and opportunity to celebrate festivities surrounding their religions.

Oba Ifarotimi also called on the government to assist the growth of tradition and culture in the country by providing adequate funding for traditionalists to enable them enjoy from the government what their counterparts in Islam and Christianity have been enjoying, especially through various avenues such as pilgrims boards and commissions for both religions, as well as the existence of national mosques and churches built with public funds.

Meanwhile, the two traditional leaders have also called for a law that would make politicians in the country to take the oath of office by swearing through two key Yoruba gods (Ogun and Sango) the gods of iron and thunder respectively.

According to them, if done, this would go a long way in instilling fear and moral discipline in those seeking public offices, which he said the current swearing arrangement had largely failed to achieve.

They also advised Nigerians to revive forgotten tradition, where it was a common practice for people to consult the Ifa Orunmila oracle, saying doing this could help prevent all the tragedies befalling the nation from different directions.