” Why it is most likely that in less than 50 years from now, some major Nigerian languages, if not encouraged, can become extinct”…… Late Oba Lamidi Adeyemi

Olayiwola Aláàfin Àtàndá



The contributions of Oba Adeyemi to the preservation and promotion of
Yoruba culture, his efforts toward the unity and progress of the Yoruba as well as promotion of the traditional institution were unquantifiable and would remain legacy.

He was an epitome of intelligence, repository of knowledge culture and symbol of intellectualism in royalty.

In an Exclusive chat with His Director of Media and Publicity, BODE DUROJAIYE, the Paramount Ruler said ” of the estimated 7,000 unique lnguages spoken in the world today, nearly half are likely to disappear this century, with an average of one lost every two weeks.

EXCERPTS

“Gradual extinction of Yoruba Customs and traditions, and how modernisation has been allowed to bombard Yoruba
traditions. As things move at the present time, it will be disastrous. If we fold our arms allowing our traditions to dwindle into oblivion in the face of permissiveness.

“How many Yoruba sons and daughters can brilliantly articulate their local language? It is frightening that our own language is dangling on the pit of extinction while preference is accorded foreign language, which is English.


” Languages often hold the only record of a people’s history, including their songs, stories, praise poetry and ancient traditions. In particular, many indigenous cultures contain a wealth of information about the local environment and its floral and faunal resources, based upon thousands of years of close interaction, experience, and problem-solving.

“With the extinction of a language, therefore, mankind also loses access to local understanding of plants, animals, and ecosystems, some of which have important medicinal value, and many of which remain undocumented by science.

“Thus, the survival of threatened languages, and the indigenous knowledge contained within, is an important aspect of maintaining biological diversity. Languages are now becoming extinct faster than birds, mammals, fish or plants. Of the estimated 7,000 unique languages spoken in the world today, nearly half are likely to disappear this century, with an average of one lost every two weeks.

“It is most likely that in less than 50 years from now, even some major Nigerian languages, if not encouraged, can become extinct, and lecturers in our Universities would have cause to excite their students with great lectures in a course on, say, ‘ancient’ Igbo or “ancient” Yoruba languages, and of which they would speak thus, with nostalgia, ‘They once flourished in the distant past but have now become extinct’. This is a disheartening possibility for anyone who cares about our indigenous languages, the history and unrecorded knowledge they carry within them.


“African traditional religion clearly plays a distinctive role as the utimate source of supernatural power and authority that sanction and reinforce public morality. It is pressed into full service to maintain social order, peace and harmony.

” Traditional Africans believe that
success in life; including the gift of off-spring, wealth and prosperity, are all blessings from the gods and ancestors. They accrue to people who work hard, and who strictly adhere to the customs, and traditional norms of morality of the community, people who strictly uphold the community ideal of harmonious living. Only such people could entertain a real hope of achieving the highly esteemed status of ancestor-hood in the hereafter.


“The vast majority of norms, taboos and prohibitions is directed towards protecting the community and
promoting peace and harmony. Communal farmland, economic interests like the market-place, stream, or shrine are generally surrounded with taboos, including who may or may not enter, and when and under what circumstances people are permitted or not to enter such places.

“Stealing is abhorred. It is in fact, an abomination to steal things relating to people’s vital life-interests and occupation. Religion may be distinct and separate from morality, as many scholars have rightly argued. For traditional Africans, however, the line dividing the two is very thin indeed. African traditional religion plays a crucial role in the ethical dynamics of the different groups. In the traditional Africanbackground, ‘gods serve as police men.

“African traditional world-views invariably outline a vision of reality that is, at once ethical in content and orientation. Human beings and their world are the focal centre of a highly integrated universe. Human conduct is seen as key in upholding the delicate balance believed to exist etween the visible world and the invisible one.



“What is more, as Africa continues to re-write its history and stride into the Millennium, there is urgent need for leaders in the continent to begin a systematic documentation of what they have in the name of cultural property. These should include objects made by our forefather ’the primitives’’ the civilizations that ounce flourished in Africa have become the issue in
the Art world today. The head-count of our cultural property should be properly and fully documented. in this regard, our museums have the primary responsibility to ensure that such National Registers are created. These great cultural materials across Africa put together
today, belong to Africa and to humanity collectively.

“While we cannot deny the advantages of rapid expansion in our modern world, such progress on the other hand imperils the irreplaceable heritage of nature and culture, essential to the equilibrium and happiness of mankind.

“This, in turn, leads to a situation where cultures vanish with the disappearance of the economic and social
systems which brought them into being. Even human groups, the victims of thoughtless and too sudden evolution, perish, and for the human sciences such as history of art, archaeology, and anthropology, loss ensues, as well as frustration and misery for mankind if all the objects and places of historic importance are not appropriately recorded and documented”.

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