Obas, lawmakers, others make case for Egba dialect
Hope came alive last Friday, inside the magnificent auditorium of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, when the rich dialect of the Egba people was promoted among secondary school students.
What used to be a thing of pride is fast becoming a thing of the past and effort to sustain it, especially the Egba dialect, was the focus of the lawmaker representing Ogun Central Senatorial District, Dr. Lanre Tejuoso, as it organised the first annual Egba Dialect Debate and Choral Competition for secondary schools in the six local government areas that constitute the district.
The programme was part of activities to mark the second year in office of Tejuoso, a prince of Oke Ona Egba and the scion of the Tejuoso dynasty.
It was well attended by the Alake and paramount ruler of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo, the Osile Oke Ona Egba, Oba (Dr) Adedapo Tejuoso, the Ogun State governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Hon. Suraj Ishola, the Executive Secretary, Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Mr. Segun Awolowo, community leaders among others.
Speaking at the event, Oba Gbadebo, commended the lawmaker for promoting the rich dialect of the Egba people by organising the competition, saying such move would further encourage the younger generation to develop interest in their local language.
The monarch noted that Yoruba language should not be allowed to go into extinction and thereby admonished parents to teach their wards the language for continuity.
The Alake who was represented by the Baaroyin of Egba land, Chief Lai Labode, said the effort of the lawmaker in preserving the cultural heritage of the Egba people was highly appreciated, thereby calling on other sons and daughters of Egba land to equally add value to issues that bind them together.
In his own brief remark, the Osile of Oke Ona Egba, Oba Tejuoso, also lent his voice to the position of Alake, that the rich cultural values of the Egba people should be preserved from generation to generation.
He submitted that language forms a major part of culture and a symbol of unity, while advising traditional rulers, village heads and community leaders to explore all avenues in ensuring that the younger ones developed interest in the Egba dialect.
Ishola, in his contribution, sought for the sustainability of the programme, insisting that the culture and tradition of the people should not be eroded on the name of civilization.
The speaker said that the Yoruba language is more informative than other languages in the country, urging the students to make the language a priority.
A nollywood actor, Dolapo Orisajobi, on her pep talk to the students told them not to be ashamed of speaking the Egba dialect to further showcase its richness and beauty, submitting that Yoruba people are the custodian of culture and tradition.
The event was spiced up with Ewi rendition by Azeez Ayilara Ajobiewe while the students of Oba High School, in Obafemi Owode Local Government Area of the state performed a unique cultural dance.
Awolowo in his own talk urged well meaning citizens of the state to borrow a leaf from what Senator Tejuoso was able to achieve from the programme.
He was of the opinion that the dialect of the people of the state in particular, and the Yoruba nation in general, must not be allowed to die.
Awolowo lamented his inability to speak Remo dialect as it were, saying dialect defines the beauty of Yoruba culture.
Governor Amosun who was represented by the state Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Mrs. Modupe Mujota, further said that one of the things that makes Yoruba language rich and interesting is the different dialects of the people.
He added that Yoruba language is a way of life and that the culture and tradition of the Yoruba people is their symbol of unity.
The governor said that Yoruba language should be taught in the home and that parents must be responsible to their children in this regard.
Amosun noted that part of the responsibility of parents is the organic transfer of culture.
The students who represented their schools across the six local government areas under the senatorial district, had before the grand finale of the competition engaged in preliminary stage, while the best among them were selected.
The schools that participated in the debate competition with the topic “Who deserves better nourishment. Mother or the child? which was purely based on Egba dialect were Ifo High School; Kobape Community High School; Methodist High School, Arigbajo; Abeokuta Girls Grammar School ;African Church Grammar School, Abeokuta and Orile Iporo Comprehensive High School, Odeda.
The debate which was keenly contested for saw Orile Iporo Comprehensive High, Odeda emerging the winner followed by African Church Grammar School, Ita Iyalode, Abeokuta, second position while Abeokuta Girls Grammar School clinched the third positions.
The winners were presented with cash prize and trophies.
In the choral competition category, Adeoye Lambo High School, Obada Oko came first, Asero High School went home with the second position and Nawairudeen Grammar School, Obantoko, Abeokuta came third. They schools were also given cash prizes and trophies.
Tejuoso while explaining the motive behind the programme told the audience that Yoruba language should be respected like the respect accorded the English language.
He said the students must understand the importance of dialect for them to be repository of knowlege.
Tejuoso who is the chairman Senate Committee on Health said this kind of programme would be introduced to the country at large for continuity in the culture and tradition of the people.
On the topic of the debate, the medical doctor turned politician said that the feeding of a pregnant woman is most important for healthy family and healthy nation.