#Bring back our Yoruba childhood


In Yorubaland I have lived many times in Ibadan, Eko, Ikorodu, Ondo town, Ile-Ife and Ilorin and I can say that our habits as Yoruba people are basically the same. In fact, the impetus for this piece is an incident that happened four years ago. I had taken my youngest children to hospital in Ibadan for vaccinations when I overheard a teacher teaching what must have been a group of preschool/primary school children ‘four letter words’ in a building opposite the hospital. The voice bellowed out some four-letter words, and the excited learners took over his performance in chorus. Then suddenly I heard: “BABA Baba! and as the innocent children sang in chorus of this masquerade, I was aghast, momentarily pinned to one place as I held the car door open for my wife and an acquaintance to exit. How could “BABA” in English be Baba in Yoruba?

When I was a child, it was normal to speak Yoruba with ease and confidence. Today I saw children born in Yorubaland who have trouble speaking “Oruba”! Children born in Yorubaland call Yoruba “Oruba.” !! Moreover, at that time, the programs we heard on the radio had a strong moral and ethical content. Take, for example, this jingle warning barter trade merchants who combined theft with their trade to note their proximity to prison: “A n ra goolu an ra kupa o. An re kootu, an dari ewon o. A n kaso aloku lori waya o. (We buy gold, we buy copper. We go to court and retire to jail. We pack used clothes left to dry on the wire.”) ways: O fise e sile on le sisi ka. Ah mo roye, iwa ibaje o da o! Gloss: You quit your job, you sue young girls… corrupt behavior is bad! What are our children listening to on the radio today, if they listen to everything ?

As children, our songs and games taught morality, deploring gossip and theft, as in this one: “E ma weyin o, wenwe, E ma s’ofofo, ofofo o da, E ma jale mo, ole.” And like our street game, our books were great. Who can forget JF Odunjo’s Alawiye? Who can forget the folk song Ki ni ng o f’ole se laye ti mo wa? He says: “In this world of mine, rather than stealing, I would rather become a slave!” At the Savior Apostolic Primary School in Ibadan, they sang at the start of exams that only the child who did not pay attention to his studies failed. We sang, we danced, we learned.

When I was young, I read a lot of Yoruba literature. Today millions of Yoruba children and teenagers have never heard of such literary works as Ogboju Ode ninu Igbo Irunmale, Igbo Olodumare, Agbako Nile Tete, Kosegbe, Ekun Abijawara, Eruobodo, Agbalagba Akan, Aja Lo Leru, Oleku or Owo Eje. They don’t know anything about writers such as DO Fagunwa, Adebayo Faleti, Akinwumi Ishola, Oladejo Okediji and Afolabi Olabimtan etc. As I write, I remember Okedidi’s vivid picture of Atoto Arere’s underworld. As for Fagunwa, he was quite simply in a class apart, unequalled. My love for Yoruba literature helped me later when I took electives at the African Languages ​​Department of the OAU, where I was taught by phenomenal teachers such as Dr. Sola Ajibade and Dr. Bode Agbaje. An aside: while he was Governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko made reading of Fagunwa’s works compulsory in Ondo secondary schools. We need such good policies today.

Yoruba oral literature is remarkable; it is inherent in being Yoruba and acquired and learned from childhood. We must place it at the center of the formation of our children today. In Ikorodu, just by observing the omele and sakara drummers, I learned to handle these drums. On my street these days, I see drum makers teaching young people how to beat talking drums like a gangan. However, an essential part of what they really need – training in Yoruba do re mi tonal marking – is missing. I would advise anyone wanting to learn how to beat the sakara to first learn do re mi, what the Yoruba call ami ori oro. To say something like baba (father) via gangan or sakara, you beat the drum without pressing it for the sound “do”, then you press it to yield mi. Baba is do mi, while ‘amala’ is “do do do”. How I wish I could demonstrate it live or in a video.

Yoruba drums are actually Yoruba speech using skins. If you have listened to the musician K1 sing this funeral song: “A lo di fere, iku de, padi o ri padi e mo o…” (Death came suddenly, a friend no longer sees his friend), then you will have noticed that sakara’s drummer said something proverbial to back up the song. Here it is: “Latorun lo ti wa, efufulele to y’ewe agbagba, orun lo ti wa.” (It’s from heaven, the wind that uprooted the plantain leaf, it’s from heaven). The implication is that the deceased person the singer sang about died of natural causes; that is, according to the divine will. FYI, I don’t listen to Fuji. However, I am interested in Yoruba percussion. Years later, when I heard the same musician sing the Yoruba folk song (Ijesa): “Ma l’owo o, bi me lowo l’omode o, ma ni l’agba”, I only needed no one to interpret to me what the main vocals the drummer of sakara said: “Ma f’oro keyin mi, Olorun Oba, Olorun Oba, ma f’oro keyin mi.” (Do not deprive me of wealth, O God King (2ce), Do not deprive me of wealth). In Yoruba, singing and drumming go hand in hand, and we should start teaching these things to our children.

I will end this article by talking about food. Contrary to the hogwash a Yoruba hater said on social media, Yoruba people don’t suffer from a limited choice of soup. Yoruba soups are not limited to egusi that you eat at parties, which is even different from Ijebu egusi. There is apon, orunla, efo didin, efo riro, bokonisa, ila oloboro, ila asepo, abula, Marugbo, Isapa, etc.

If you like ewa aganyin, here is how to cook the stew: take bawa and tatase, take out the seeds from both and place these seeds on a plate. Grind the pepper with albosa, then boil the ground pepper to remove all traces of water. With the well-heated palm oil, add the minced albosa, then the ground pepper. While frying the pepper, add the seeds you removed earlier. Fry until it turns brown. See you next week!


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