“Those who have no sense of posterity or any concern for future generations are the ones who are really dead. I mean, they are dead now. Walking zombies,” these were the words of American author, Edward Abbey, in his work Postcards from Ed: Dispatches and Salvos from an American Iconoclast. But they were made more vivid on May 27, 2018, a day specially set apart for celebrating children across the world, at the Iseyin Town Hall in Iseyin Local Government Area of Oyo State, where Chief Fashola Olusoji Adeyemi, the Oluwo Ifa Agbaye, gave a special charge to government and well-meaning Nigerians, especially the Yoruba-speaking people of the South-West geopolitical zone, to take more than a passing interest in the development of children.
The Children’s Day, an annual jamboree across the country, might have come and gone, but the words of Fashola and, indeed, many other dignitaries who attended the event, including the officials of the All Nigerian Conference of Principals of Secondary Schools (ANCOPSS) in Oke Ogun as well as Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) officials from Iseyin Local Government, will remain valid for some time to come, as they expressed the belief that the government, religious organisations and the society would need to do more to ensure the all-round development of the children.
Chief Fashola, who is the founder of the Fashola Oyinbo Ifa (FOI) Foundation, an organisation with the objectives of preaching religious tolerance and assisting the underprivileged in the society, clearly stated that May 27 should not be reduced to a one-day fanfare, urging government, religious societies and individuals to pay more attention to the children in the areas of education, health and cultural rebirth.
According to him, “it has become more important for the society to go beyond the ordinary in training and developing the children, because child development is the basis for national development. And to ensure a robust development for our children, it is my view that our rich cultural heritage would be of great importance. This is why we have organised this culture-based programme to celebrate our children. The Yoruba culture is rich enough to train our children to be Omoluabi instead of Omo Science Students or Omo Shaku Shaku.”
As part of activities marking the day, the foundation organised Yoruba cultural fashion parade, songs and dance as well as poetry competitions, giving different prizes to winning schools and individuals who performed well, just as others were given consolation prizes for participating, with encouragement to the children to cherish their culture and training.
The event, however, didn’t go without a fanfare of its own, as hundreds of children from across Iseyin Local Government Area of Oyo State would continue to relish the fun provided by their peers from primary and secondary schools, who participated in the dance and songs.