Text of the Keynote Address by
The Chief of Staff to the Governor, Ekiti State, Nigeria
Hon. Biodun OMOLEYE
on the occasion of the
Celebration of Ooni of Ife/Award of Honour Presentation
With the theme:
Enculturation of the Yoruba Culture among our youth; Implications on Social Re-engineering and Good Governance
Friday, March 29, 2019
Protocols and Introduction
His Imperial Majesty, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Babatunde Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, Eminent Personalities here present, Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I consider it a privilege for me to be here today to speak on this auspicious occasion of the celebration of His Imperial Majesty, the Ooni of Ife. I will be speaking on the theme “Enculturation of Yoruba Culture Among Youth: Implications of Social Re-Engineering and Good Governance”.
I must commend the Yoruba Youth Council for organizing this event; again, you have raised our consciousness to this salient topical issue. It is important to note that as a people, we cannot forgo the conversation on the need for the youth to fully adopt our culture in the process to entrenching good governance and revitalizing our social values.
The purpose of this discourse is to establish the link between the adoption of the Yoruba culture among the youth and its essence on good governance and social advancement in our society. It has become pertinent especially in the wake of the gross abandonment of our culture by the youth and the adverse effect it has had in the society in recent years. The adoption and acceptance of the values embedded in our culture as Yoruba nation are of utmost importance in the struggle for social and political advancement of our nation.
The tripod on which this address stands are: Enculturation, Social Re-Engineering and Good Governance.
Enculturation is the process by which people learn the dynamics of their surrounding culture and acquire values and norms appropriate or necessary in that culture and worldviews. If successful, enculturation results in competence in the language, values and rituals of the culture. We can thus see enculturation in the light of socialization.
Social Engineering is a discipline in social science that refers to efforts to influence particular attitudes and social behavior on a large scale, whether by governments, media or private groups in order to produce desired characteristics in a target population.
The third leg of the tripod, Good Governance, is a subjective term that describes how public institutions conduct public affairs and manage public resources in the preferred way. Governance is the process of decision making and the process by which decisions are implemented. (or not implemented.)
The adulteration of our values is one major reason our society is witnessing the unprecedented debasement of our moral standards, the degradation in our taste of what good leadership is, culminating to a state of comatose in our governance and the continuous bastardization of our cultural heritage.
The youth embodies the future of any nation. Therefore, the need to take seriously, issues that affect this category of people seriously cannot be overstated. People in the age bracket of 18-35 years go through several physical and mental changes. Research has proven that they are more receptive to both negative and positive teachings. It therefore becomes an obligation for all of us to advocate for the Yoruba cultural heritage and its adoption among our youth.
The Yoruba Nation and its Culture
Geographically, the Yoruba Ethnic group is found in the South Western Nigeria and other parts of Africa. The group constitutes approximately 35 percent of Nigeria’s total population, and around 40 million individuals throughout the region of West Africa. Yorubaland, the western part of Nigeria spreads across Oyo, Ogun, Ondo, Ekiti, Osun and Lagos states. Kwara and Kogi states, though zoned to the North Central of the Country, still have a good part of it dominated by the Yorubas.
Culture is the totality of a people’s way of life, which is expressed in their history, language, art, philosophy, religion, politics, economics, music, food and dressing. Culture involves knowledge, beliefs, values, customs, arrangements and skills that are available to members of a society. Culture is the summation of the way of life of a particular group of people. It is the totality of a group behavior derived from the whole range of human activity (Dons Eze, 2014: 140-147).
As distinct from mere social organization, culture is the “shared ways of thinking, perceiving and evaluation” (Broom and Selznich, 1977: 55-57). Fanon describes culture “…as a combination of motor and mental behavior patterns arising from the encounter of man with nature and with his fellow man” (Fanon, 1967:32). Culture is what makes a people unique or distinct from others. It is what distinguishes one group of people from other groups.
Since no two distinct groups of people are exactly the same, so also are no two cultures the same. Culture acquires the meaning of a tradition. It creates frontiers and boundaries. Through cultural practices, one human society differs from others and insists on its unique identity and autonomy over and against others. Culture is therefore not static. It is dynamic.
In addition to the above stipulations, culture can be seen as the way of life of people and their identity which is accepted by the people and are transmitted socially, not biologically, through formal and informal education. This is because a child is introduced into the culture of his people through socialization, which could be formal or informal. Culture is learned and also socially shared because every cultural practice must receive societal approval before it could be accepted as the people’s way of life and identity.
Culture has two focal dimensions. These are enculturation and acculturation.
Enculturation, as earlier posited, is the process by which a person is introduced into the culture of his birth. It is a process by which the values, norms, beliefs and attitudes shared by members of one’s society are transmitted from one person to another and from one generation to another.
Acculturation, on the other hand, is the coming into contact of different cultures. It is the process by which cultural elements pass over from one culture to another and which gives rise to new cultural traits in the cultures that meet. The coming into contact of European cultural values with traditional African cultures during the colonial era, for example, had led to the emergence of new cultural behavior in the erstwhile colonial territories.
The relationship between language and culture cannot be ignored in the history of the Yoruba. Language is a divine benevolence to man, and it is tied to the effective existence of man in society, for any meaningful discussion of man must begin with it. The purpose of language is to enhance communication. If culture is seen as the sum total of man, then language is the tool for the Expression of culture, the depository of culture and crucial mode of culture transmission.
It can therefore be deduced that existence and development of the Yoruba race depends largely on the existence and development of language communication. Language is not just significantly fundamental to the existence of the Yoruba people, but it also encapsulates every aspect of our lives.
Unfortunately, today’s modernization and globalization have reduced our language to a mere vernacular, such that our children are no longer proud of speaking in Yoruba Language in their schools. This is a worrisome situation and an imminent threat to the sustainability of the Yoruba cultural heritage.
SOCIAL VALUES AND GOOD GOVERNANCE
The loss of our cultural and social heritage has contributed immensely to the damaged leadership we had experienced in the years past. Moral and societal values which are major components of the Yoruba culture has become extinct in our public life. There is therefore the need to reinvigorate, especially in the youth, the cultural tenets and moral standards embedded in the Yoruba culture.
The social orientation of the youth today has totally jettisoned the social values of the Yoruba cultural heritage. As I shall further elucidate later in this presentation, what we are witnessing now is a complete departure from what our cultural social values truly are.
As argued by Salman, good governance is the ability of the Government to judiciously manage resources and formulate, implement as well as enforce good policies and regulations; and the respect of citizens and the state for the institutions that govern economic and social interaction between them (Salman, 2009).
Certain qualities are connected with good governance, which comprises protecting the respect for human rights, justice and rule of law; strengthening democracy through public participation and pluralism; encouraging transparency, accountability, anti-corruption policies and practices and capacity in public administration (UNDP 1998; World Bank 1989).
It is important to note that good governance is indispensable for institutional growth and effectiveness. According to Akanbi (2004), good governance is the capability of a government to sustain social peace, guarantee law and order, promote conditions needed for generating economic growth and ascertain a minimum level of social security.
The values embedded in the Yoruba culture cuts across different facets but for the purpose of this discourse, I will highlight a few which are: Moral, Religious, Economic, Political and Social values. I will focus on the social values as it appears to be the bedrock of the Yoruba cultural heritage and it tends to cover the other range of values subsumed under those values mentioned.
I will briefly discuss the social values of the Yoruba culture under the following senses: (i) Sense of good human relations, (ii) Sense of community, (iii) Sense of hospitality, (iv) Sense of respect for authority and the elders, (v) Sense of extended family and (vi) Sense of religiosity.
The traditional Yoruba cultures, for instance, emphasize such values as communalism, the dignity of the human person, respect for elders, hospitality and brotherly love. These values often make us as a people to come into strong confrontation with values that are in conflict with our own way of life. Despite the advent of globalization, Yorubas continue to wax stronger in politics and governance by holding on to the age long ethics of Omoluabi.
Omoluabi, in its simplest form, can be defined as the way of life of Yoruba people. Whatever we do, is done in a certain way to measure up to our cultural context. What we tag as our reality comes from what we have learnt through the process of socialization. It involves patterns of behaviour and thinking that we learn, create and share. Cultural and social values are of great importance to every society. A people’s culture is their life, living and dying. It is preserved from generation to generation. Some of these include greetings, value placed on children, education and so much more. Respect for elders, family members, and the husband is expected and highly regarded among the Yorubas. All of these have very important in shaping our way of life.
Do these values still exist? We should continuously remind ourselves and educate our wards of our collectivism heritage. Traditional Yoruba never recognized the individual as an isolated, self-existent being, who lived by and for himself. The Yoruba was his brother’s keeper. As such, he never swam in the ocean of opulence in the midst of his poverty stricken neighbours. However, today, the Yoruba is a different person. He now appreciates and imbibes the values and norms of individualism, moral depravity and cut-throat competition in business, politics and many other cultural positions introduced by foreign cultures and norms. All in the name of “Westernization”.
The Yoruba is now torn between the culture of his birth and the domineering influence of Western culture. He is a split personality. In the midst of this confusion, he despises his culture and feigns ignorance, or feels shy about his roots. He begins to openly identify with everything foreign. He wears foreign clothes, bears foreign names, watches foreign films and movies, and communicates in foreign language. Little wonder our rich and ever cherished Yoruba Language is now tagged a Vernacular.
We must resist the temptation of enslaving our thoughts and misleading the incoming generation. Imagine: European sports, entertainment and relaxation techniques are now the toasts of many youths. They sing European songs and dance European music. They know off-hand, all the football clubs and players in Europe, but know nothing about their local football clubs like Ekiti United, Osun United, Sunshine of Akure, Shooting Stars of Ibadan, Enyimba of Aba, Kano Pillars and so on.
The posting of pictures of half-naked women in the social media, in newspapers, and on television screens, has led to increase in social vices such as prostitution, rape, cultism, ritual killings, kidnapping or abduction and armed robbery.
How do we remedy the situation and rescue the Yoruba from this foreign culture onslaught? Deliberate efforts must be made to sustain specific traits or value systems peculiar to Yoruba. Our linguistic setting, marriage system, burial rites, festivals, farming, techniques, beliefs, status symbols, mode of religious worships, pattern of giving names to children and initiation into adulthood are unique heritage that must never be allowed to go into extinction.
I am very proud of the new crops of youths making waves in our political space at the moment. Especially after signing the “Not too Young to Run” bill into law by the President. I am also happy to tell you that a 25year old youth is one of the members-elect into one of the Houses of Assembly in Oyo State. It gladdens my heart that Yoruba youths are becoming positively active and developing keen interest in the nation’s political engagement. I used the adverb ‘positively’ because in the past, some youths had allowed themselves to be used as tools in the hands of unscrupulous politicians to perpetrate their nefarious political activities.
Youth’s level of political participation and representation in the electoral process in the past had been very poor and often times undermined; being largely noticed at the level of electoral malpractices, voting irregularities and covert or overt thuggery in support of political office seekers who paradoxically had dominated the political arena at their expense. The new paradigm shift is therefore commendable.
Youths now play indispensable role in politics through their vibrancy and outspokenness. Your aspiration to be the leaders of tomorrow, starts now, hence the need for you to be patriotic in whatever you do, to enhance your stake in the nation’s political sphere. You are a force to reckon with as we strive to enshrine good governance in Nigeria. However, I must also remind you of the need to constantly reinvent yourselves as the apostles of good governance. As a Yoruba, you should constantly draw strength from the rich culture of your ancestors. A borrowed culture is like a borrowed garment. It will never fit the borrower. It will either be oversized or undersized.
There is no alternative to good governance. Good governance process should allow people to decide in making the right decision. Our concerns, tactics, actions and inactions should guide the process of making the right decision on what are ethically and morally right, and what is that right thing to do when faced with governance dilemma? We must be unanimous in creating and sustain conducive atmosphere for good governance.
Elections into public offices should not be a desperate task, or a must win by any means possible. It should never be “do or die” affair. It should not be about smear campaigning, character assassination or inciting one group, tribe and religion against another just to score cheap political points. It should not be about using hate speech or indecent language and spreading of fake news. It should, in my opinion, be a contest of ideas aimed towards winning the hearts and minds of the voting public, the selling of feasible policies and programs for bettering the lives of the electorate.
Ladies and gentlemen, good governance is undoubtedly the most fundamental condition for political, social and economic development. This is because it creates an environment in which everyone could unfold his/her productive, political and cultural potentials. The major problems that have consistently hindered good governance in Yoruba land have remained the individualistic and selfish agenda of some politicians. You must rise above these and consider your “Omoluabi” heritage first in all you do. The future is yours and you must play your part positively well for a better society, you can be proud of.
Sense of respect for authority and elders helps to solder and smoothen social relations in African society. Before the advent of slavery, slave trade and colonialism there was stability, peace and harmony in any African setting. There was the deep respect for legitimate and constituted authority. This authority is hierarchical but democratic, in the sense that remain legitimate and sacred only for as long as it continues to be exercised in the interest of the governed, and in accordance with the time-honoured and sanctified customs and traditions of the people. In Yoruba land, the way the young ones salute the elders was, and still is regarded as evidence of morality or lack of it, instead of as a matter of etiquette. In Yoruba setting a young man is described as totally immoral simply because he would not prostrate for his elders. The respect given to the elders has its practical effect in the maintenance of custom and tradition. The young are always looking forward to being elders and they are often told that if a child respects an elder, he would be respected by the young when he becomes an elder.
The Sense of Extended Family: According to Pantaleon Iroegbu “African languages generally have no words for uncles, aunts cousins and nieces. All these are part of the one family. The family is one, but extended”. (Iroegbu, 84). “Living together” and the sense of “community of brothers and sisters” are the basis of, and the expression of, the extended family system in Africa. The rationale behind it is that balance of kinship relations, seen as essential to the ideal balance with nature that was itself the material guarantee of survival, called for specific conduct.
Sense of hospitality is inherently indispensable in the Yoruba cultural values. The spontaneous welcome and accommodation of strangers and visitors in our community is one example of the hospitable nature of the Yoruba people. Another aspect of hospitality which is highly cherished is sharing with a needy neighbor who comes for assistance. Anybody who has and does not assist is taken to be a bad fellow. This is a true reflection of the Yoruba social values and one that every serious leader must imbibe.
The values and senses highlighted above are what the Yoruba cultural heritage truly represents. They are characters that every true leader must imbibe, these ideologies are pertinent to improve our level of governance and our general public life.
FACTORS MILITATING AGAINST THE ENCULTURATION OF THE YORUBA CULTURE IN OUR YOUTH
Globalization is the convergence or the coming together of different peoples, races, cultures and institutions. It is a process through which peoples, races and cultures are connected, united, integrated and affected by events all over the world. Globalization is multi-faceted, with political, social, economic, environmental, philosophical and cultural dimensions. Through globalization, distances become drastically reduced as events that take place thousands of kilometers away are instantly brought to the door steps. Through it one can actively participate in events which take place far beyond one’s immediate vicinity or environment, such as meetings, seminars and conferences (Dons Eze, 2014).
The main driving force of this phenomenon is communication, and in particular, information and communication technology. Satellite and fiber optic technologies have allowed the internet to provide access to communication and social networks such as email, facebook, twitter, cell phones, through which people and events are connected, united and integrated, making the world a global village. Since no country can live or survive in isolation, acculturation enables one country to learn and make full use of other countries’ achievements in order to enrich its own unique culture and values, without losing its cultural character and national identity. Globalization generally leads to acculturation or the harmonization of local and global cultures.
Globalization, per se, is therefore, not bad since it leads to increase in human knowledge, improvement in science and technology, human development and harmonious relationship among people of diverse races and nationalities. What however is considered objectionable or reprehensible in acculturation is what many people see as the cultural domination of the world by the countries of Western Europe and the United States of America. (Fukuda, 1995).
Globalization only becomes a problem when the crossing of cultural boundaries leads to an intrusion, trespassing on cultures rather than the friendly meeting of cultures. This is referred to as a cultural integration and uniformity that mesmerizes the world with Western culture – language, arts, religion, dressing code, fast food, music and computers.
Prior to the current phase of globalization, Africans had generally passed through slavery and colonialism, which made us abandon our cultural values and take up the European way of life. We were told not to look back at our past, our history, and our religion, which were considered bad, ugly and nasty, while the Europeans possessed all that was good. X-raying the Western cultural onslaught on the Africa arising from colonization, Chibueze Udeani lamented that the system had succeeded in the “erosion of the foundation of the African cultural identity” (Udeani 2001:97). The result of this erosion, he explained, was the alienation of Africans from themselves and their world-view, which made them strangers in their own country.
The mass media in recent years has had its own share of contribution to the erosion of the Yoruba culture. Of course, this is part of the advents of globalization. Unfortunately, our youth have been engrossed in the materials available to them through the mass media and which has not been promoting our cultural heritage. Thanks to the Yoruba movie industry and a few others working tirelessly to ensure that our cultural heritage do not go into total oblivion.
Parenting is a major way of transmitting our cultural values to the children. It is the duty of every Yoruba parent to continue to ensure that our cultural and societal values are taught at home. The family is the nucleus of any society and as such the struggle to sustain our cultural heritage must start from the family. Every Yoruba family must be re-awaken by this call, we must not be swayed by this menace of civilization and continue to ignore or abandoned the teachings of the values enriched in our culture.
As already seen above, globalization has brought immense benefits to the world – greater unity and cooperation among the nations of the world, mutual exchange of cultures and social values, increase in human relations as well as better appreciation and understanding of people. Globalization has led to the leveling up of valleys, the pulling down of hills and barriers of communication and the construction of bridges of understanding among nations, races, cultures and institutions. The net effects there from, are better education, increase in human knowledge and improvement in scientific and technological advancements. However, all countries of the world do not share equal benefits from globalization. While the developed countries of Europe and America are better placed, and indeed, have cornered most of the benefits of globalization, developing countries like Nigeria are only left to struggle for the crumbs that fell from the process. In some cases, these countries had come out even worse, pauperized, with most of their value systems and institutions virtually destroyed. Nigeria can free herself from this quagmire by adopting appropriate strategies not only to contain the menacing influence of globalization, but more importantly to reap the full benefits of the process.
We cannot dissociate ourselves from the global village and its technological advancement; what we must do, therefore, is to consistently ensure that we adopt dynamic ways to continue to adequately promote our cultural heritage and imbibe in them the values in our culture that have so far been debased.
Globalization has become so endemic that there is no culture in the world that has not has its own share of its positive and negative effects; as such we cannot then single out the Yoruba Nation as a major victim.
Our communal relationship has given way to individualism, and the heritage of Oduduwa being the progenitor of Yoruba race is no more the pride. The first democratic government of the Western Region under the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo ran the best civil service in the entire Black Africa and established institutions that were first in Africa. the first television station in Africa in Ibadan was a product of Yoruba vision, the Liberty stadium, and of course, the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan was at a time the third best hospital in the entire commonwealth.
Where have we missed the road? Things have fallen apart and the centre is not holding, but all hopes not lost when we have the great personality of our current paramount ruler, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Adeyeye, Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, on the throne. this is a great time for reformation and restoration of Yoruba values and culture; and our Imperial Majesty is well positioned to champion this course. I am proud to acknowledge the giant strides our Kabiyesi is taking to position our youth for leadership and ensure that they are productively engaged. if other Royal Fathers will follow this initiative, then the menace of joblessness and hopelessness which drag these youths to social vices will not be there.
Beyond this, I want to also suggest and advice that the Yoruba concept of dispute resolution which is conciliatory be formalized with the National Access to Justice Schedule. The traditional rulers should be empowered to handle cases that relate to cultural differences ranging from child abuse, matrimonial, communal differences and local disputes. this will help to decongest the conventional courts and reduce prison inmates. This will also stabilize the society rather than the punitive English legal system that we are currently practicing.
The celebration of traditional festivals like the Olojo festival should be encouraged in all the Yoruba communities to bring people together to remember their history and plan on how to move forward without jettisoning their original cultural practices.
Yes, certain elements of our culture may have to be amended like crude farming system to modernized farming, local financial to modern financial management while local technology must give way for modern technology. Of course, old communication pattern must give to a digital ICT driven technology.
All these will still not make us lose our sense of value and respect as Yoruba people, rather it will enhance our productivity and better living condition. Some traditional health practices have been found to be injurious, such as female genital mutilation, traditional birth attendant services and a list of others needs to be upgraded to reduce mortality rates.
In all, the exemplary profile of our Kabiyesi has of recent, given much prominence to the rich cultural values of Yoruba History. Kabiyesi has distinguished Yoruba traditional Royalty through his dress, public conducts and in the governance of the ancestral home of the Yorubas. This is the starting point.
I commend our youth to be proud ambassadors of the Yoruba Nation anywhere they go. History will accord you the benefit of such compliance. When you have an identity that is distinct, you will be respected and appreciated.
Yoruba youth must rise to the occasion to defend Yoruba interest anywhere they go and demonstrate to the whole world, that Yoruba depicts integrity, greatness, excellence, originality, modesty, civility, courage and above all incorrigibility.
Never will Yorubas play second fiddle where they are expected to take the lead. We challenge the “Omo-Akins” amongst you to rise to defend the course of Yoruba interest anywhere you find yourself in the world. As you do this, “Oduduwa a gbe yin o”. this is the clarion call!
Imperial Majesty, distinguished personalities and the organizers of this lecture, I want to appreciate you all for the opportunity you have given me to present this lecture and I thank the entire attendance for the attention given to this very short presentation.
Thank you and God bless you. Oodua a gbe wa o.
Hon. Biodun Omoleye
Chief of Staff to Ekiti State Governor.
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