FROM VOICE OF YORUBA.ORG
ORIGINAL ONE FROM THE NIGERIAN TRIBUNE NEWSPAPER
ORIGINAL ONE FROM THE NIGERIAN TRIBUNE NEWSPAPER
Survival of the Yoruba Language
“Yorubas must ensure the survival of their language”
Written by Adewale Oshodi Tuesday, Nigerian Tribune, 22 February 2011
Yeye Akilimali Funua Olade, a Black American, left
the United States in 1978 for Nigeria to embrace the
Yoruba way of life. In this interv
iew with Adewale Oshodi, the Chief Libr
arian of African Heritage Research
Library (AHRC) at Adeyipo village,
Ibadan, speaks on what made her to leave the United States, why she
embraced the Yoruba culture, and why she has not vis
ited America since she left 33 years ago. Excerpts:
Yeye Akilimali Funua Olade
You are a Black American who relocated to Nigeria in 1978, but don’t you
think that it is rather ironic that you chose to come to Africa, when Africans
themselves are struggling to migrate to America?
Any black person who is in the white
man’s country is a slave to white
people, and by the time I was 19, I said my
children would never be slaves to
white people, because in reality, we were
their slaves, and that is how they
still treat black people till today. There is
no freedom for black people, and the
way they treat us is just so bad, and I decided that my children would grow up
in Africa. So, by 19, I had decided that
I was coming to Yorubaland because I
was told by Black Americans who were practising Yoruba religion that
Yoruba is the best culture in the world, as well as th
e best language. So that was when I decided that my
children were going to grow up with
the culture and speak the language, and they would never be slaves to
white people. So, in 1978, I arrived in Nigeria. Then,
my children were very young and I told them they must
stop speaking English in the house and speak only the Yo
ruba language. So they spoke Yoruba. They call me
Iya mi (my mother) because I told them I didn’t want
to hear any word of English in the house, like mummy,
and all other words that Yorubas are using to mix a
nd destroy the language. I
didn’t allow it. Now, my
children are grateful for being brought up in the Yoruba
culture. Even though they are back in America, they
said the culture has really helped them. It has given them a sense of belonging. Now, I am confident that one
day, they will also return to Yorubaland.
You are in Nigeria now, but how often do you visit America?
I have not gone back for once because I don’t want to be
anybody’s slave. I just want to be me. I love my
freedom here. The racism is still very strong in the wh
ite man’s country, especially in America. So, since
1978, I have been here. I have been enjoying Yorubala
nd. I have never suffered for once here like I suffered
while in America. I am respected by the people around me.
You speak the Yoruba language fairly well.
I don’t speak it fairly well; I must tell you the truth, and that
is the only problem I have
with Yoruba people. If
you don’t speak the language fluently, then there will be
a kind of gap between you and the people; so in that
regards, they are yet to cooperate with me.
Now, one of the problems we are having with the lang
uage is that Yoruba parents encourage their children
to speak only the English language. What do you have to say to this?
That is how they are destroying the language, and they
will be slave to English and white people forever.
Once you take up another man’s language, you will become a slave to the real owners of the language.
What do you find interesting in the Yoruba culture?
Yoruba culture is the best in the world. Yorubas were
in Egypt. The culture is the most developed in Africa,
and that means it is the best in the world; I must te
ll you that the white culture is not developed. The Asian
culture is also developed, but nothing compares with the African culture.
Do you still maintain contacts with your friends in America despite leaving there 33 years ago?
Of course, we are still very much in contact. I tell
them everyday why they should return home to Africa.
Africa is home to blacks all over the world. I tell them I
am ready to help get them settled, and a lot of them
are ready to come now because the racism is just so
bad, and because I have coped really well here for 33
years, they say it means the place is not that terrible.
Since you came, was there a day you regretted your decision to relocate to Africa?
Not even once. The black man should be in the black
man’s land. There is no way a black person can be
happy in a white country. No matter how rich the black
man is; no matter how successful he is, he is still not
respected. They can pick him up anytime and say he robbed a bank, and then get him jailed without any
evidence of him committing any crime. Those Nigerians
who are abroad, majority of them are only working
for the money, so after a while, they will raise some m
oney, put up a structure back at home and then return
when they feel they have achieved a degree of financial success.
And you were not discouraged by the lack of infrastr
ucture, the lack of electricity, among other things,
coming from a country that has everything?
First of all, freedom is the most impor
tant thing in life. If you have never been free, like the blacks in America,
and you come to a place where you are
free, will you be talking about electricity? Although there are some
Black Americans who come here, and they dwell on the lack
of infrastructure, but th
at is not for me. I want
my children to be free. Everything is here for me. I cherish the culture, the language, and the respect people
give me. Everywhere I go, I am respect
ed. A black is not respected in America. Some people even wonder
how I can be living in the village. But for me, freedom comes first.
--- Excerpt from “Yoruba Names & Their Meanings Plus Proverbs With English
and Revised Edition by Dr. Isaiah O. Adegbile
“Fìlà kò dùn bí kí á m
n dé, ki ám
n dé kó tó bi k’ó y