The Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi, the Alaafin of Oyo, Lamidi Adeyemi, and Oba Rilwan Akiolu of Lagos state all gave their endorsement at a one-day stakeholders’ forum held in the state to deliberate on a bill to make the teaching and speaking of the language compulsory in all primary, secondary schools as well as tertiary institutions in the state.
The bill is currently before the state House of assembly which also organised the stakeholders’ meeting.
While Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun state was present, the governors of Ogun and Lagos states, Ibikunle Amosun and Akinwunmi Ambode were respectively represented
In a lecture presented by notable Yoruba scholar, playwright and actor, professor Akinwunmi Ishola, he said it was important for the people to promote the language since people are better recognised based on their language, culture and tradition.
Ishola, whose lecture was presented by Professor Duro Adeleke from the University of Ibadan, noted that Yoruba is one of the three languages recognised as the major languages in Nigeria, with the rest being Igbo and Hausa.
With the theme; ‘making the teaching of Yoruba compulsory in public and private schools in Lagos state,’ the scholar said India and Arabian countries that were colonised by the British, did not neglect their local languages, and that they have liberated themselves.
He said at the event covered by NAIJ.com that: “We should speak Yoruba in our institutions. Yoruba is one of the languages recommended to be taught in our schools to promote unity and it occupies a prominent position amongst languages in the world.
“If you lose your language, you would lose your culture. Language of a people has to do with their culture, language, dress, hairstyle and some other things.”
Ishola explained that Yoruba is rich in greetings and that they have greetings for all occasions.
He added that ‘Ifa’, the oracle which guides the Yoruba race, was sent to the United Nations Education and Scientific Organisation (UNESCO) in 2004 and that it was recognised as being rich in culture in 2005.
He suggested that Yoruba language be made compulsory in all primary and secondary schools in the state and that it should be a general study in colleges of education, polytechnics and universities, and that books written in foreign languages should be interpreted in the local language.
In his endorsement, Oba Adeyemi commended the organisers of the programme and said traditional rulers in Yorubaland would support any move to promote the language.
According to him, the first person to do a research on the impact of languages to development is the late Professor Babs Fafunwa, a former minister of education in Nigeria.
“The first African bishop, Ajayi Crowther, translated Hebrew and English bibles into Yoruba language and about 11 other languages,” he said while emphasising that language is culture.
In his contribution, Ooni Ogunwusi urged Yoruba people to see themselves as leaders, while stressing that God has blessed them in all ways possible.
The Oba lamented that the language was not being promoted as it should be due to in-fighting and disunity.
He added that this was causing a lot of setbacks for the race.
He wondered why the Yorubas neglect the Ifa oracle, which he called the angel of wisdom which understands everything.
“Ifa is the root of computers and telephones. The white men even named a computer ‘oracle’.
“Presently, we are doing Ifa anniversary in Ile-Ife and a lot of white men are there now,” he said.
On his part, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, advised that the programme should be replicated in all the states in the south-west.
He also urged everyone to pray for the success of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Addressing the guests, chairman of the House committee on education, Olanrewaju Ogunyemi, said that the forum was organised to emphasise the importance of teaching Yoruba language in primary and secondary schools in the state.