Yoruba History: Intriguing conversations around Ogundiran’s new book

by Gani Kayode Balogun

Last Saturday May 8th at the Page Bookshop in the heart of Ikeja, Lagos State, Prof. Akinwunmi Ogundiran, a world- renowned archeologist of Ibadan descent, read from his 500-page seminal book, THE YORUBA: A NEW HISTORY.

Prof. Ogundiran, who is The Chancellor’s Professor of African Studies, Anthropology and History at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte, N-C. USA, was led in the conversation by another renowned culture aficionado, and Publisher of the Culture Newspaper (TCN), the award-winning author, editor, newspaper administrator, Mr. Steve Ayorinde.

Mr. Ayorinde, a former Culture and Tourism, as well as Information and Strategy Commissioner in Lagos State, led the professor through four hours of sumptuous banquet of fascinating historical buffet, devoid of embellishment and sub ethnic grandstanding, based exclusively on archeological research and carbon dating analysis.

It was a session in which members of the audience, including a literary critic, Dr. Olayinka Oyegbile, President of All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA), Barrister Michael Dada; former Lagos Finance Commissioner, Mr. Akinyemi Ashade; former Chief Press Secretary in Lagos State, Mr. Habib Aruna, and of course, yours truly, were forced to learn, unlearn and relearn the very core of our ethnic identity, jettisoning old myths and embracing new data-based facts.

It was an afternoon well spent.
I enjoyed myself thoroughly. Not only because intellectual discourse on the Yoruba nation, past, present and future of this nature falls under my office as the Osi Aare, but I was in the presence of two great Ibadan sons, who are sitting pretty on top of their fields.

Prof. Ogundiran has done his bit in situating our Yoruba heritage, and Ayorinde has done his bit in exposing and projecting it to the elite few, it is now left to us to found a way to get it into all multimedia platforms to help propagate the facts.

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It will not be easy. There will be resistance, especially from a section of the Yoruba elite who are quick in degrading their own, while embracing other cultures, and others whose minds are set, and do not want to be confused with facts that came out of data- based research.

I highly recommend this book to every culturally- inclined Yoruba men and women. It does not have all the answers, and therefore not the end of the conversation.
But it is a start in the journey towards understanding our past to guide our present and project into our future.

*Gani Kayode Balogun jnr, a public affairs analyst and marketing communications expert is the Osi Aare to the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland.

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