A renowned Yoruba Language scholar, playwright and actor, Professor Akinwunmi Ishola, has called for the promotion of the language, saying that people are better known by their languages and culture.
Ishola, who made this known while delivering a lecture at a Yoruba Summit, organised by the Lagos State House of Assembly with the theme, ‘Making the Teaching of Yoruba Compulsory in Public and Private Schools in Lagos State’, said the essence of speaking one’s language cannot be over-emphasised.
Ishola, who was represented by Professor Duro Adeleke of the University of Ibadan, stated that India and some Arab countries that were colonised by the British did not neglect their local languages and that they have liberated themselves.
“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 among languages in the world.
“If you lose your language, you will lose your culture. The language of a people has to do with their culture, dresses, hairstyle and some other things.”
Ishola explained that Yoruba is rich in greetings and that it has greetings for all occasions, saying that ‘Ifa’ Oracle was sent to UNESCO in 2004 and it was recognised as being rich in culture in 2005.
He suggested that the Yoruba Language should 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, adding that books written in foreign languages should be interpreted into Yoruba Language.
In his remarks at the well-attended ceremony, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi commended the organisers, saying that obas in Yorubaland would support any move to promote the Yoruba Language.
He said the first person to conduct a research on the impact of languages to development was the late Professor Babs Fafunwa.
“The first African Bishop, Ajayi Crowther translated Hebrew and English bibles into Yoruba Language and about 11 other languages, while emphasising that our language is our culture.
Also speaking, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi, urged Yorubas to see themselves as leaders, while stressing that God has blessed them in many ways.
The monarch regretted said Yorubas are not promoting their culture and language as a result of in-fighting and disunity, which he said is causing a lot of setbacks to the language.
He wondered why the Yorubas neglect the Ifa Oracle, saying that it is 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.”
The Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, advised that the programme should be replicated in all states in the south west and urged everyone to pray for the success of President Muhammadu Buhari.