Society and Culture

Dance, drums, culture take centre stage at Oyo

cultureWILL you trade your culture for a plate of porridge, wealth or the glitters of this world? For those who have done so, it is a great disaster because the identity of generations unborn have been lost forever and for those thinking of doing the same, they are on the verge of annihilating the beauty of existence, mental and social pedigree of life.

This mental renaissance and socio-cultural richness was displayed at the Alaafin of Oyo’s palace last Friday, as the City People magazine rolled out drums to celebrate not only the 74th anniversary of Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Adeyemi III, but also the ingenuity of the custodians of the Yoruba culture and heritage.       

The palace gate, wore the looks of celebration as people of different social statuses, old and young, decked in different colourful attires beseiged the palace.

The palace’s courtyard filled to the brim with people wearing different faces of smile prompted by the rich and fascinating cultural display showed that culture is a symbol of unity, barrier breaker and a unique tool for peace and harmony.

For those that were at the courtyard, every performance put together by different groups at the event was a good take home and a rebirth to practically revive, preserve and promote the Yoruba culture ditto unity, love and progress in Nigeria.

In addition, the high point of the event was a cultural presentation of Yoruba hospitality through the display of different core traditional cuisines, by the guest lecturer and a Portuguese, Ms Paula Gomes.

Gomes’ presentation, which focuses on the topic; Reviving Old Oyo Customs and Traditions, highlighted culture as a propeller of economic, social and political development and in a broader sense, said culture promotion attracts tourist, create jobs and generate income.

She gave a vivid administrative order of the old Oyo, founder, progenitor lineage, rulers and their feat in Yoruba history.

“Beginning as a city of Oyo Ile, it rose through the wealth gained from trade with both its African neighbours as well as European nations such as Portugal. Its wealth of military skill, the Oyo Empire was the most politically important Yoruba state from mid-17th to the late 18th century, exercising control in not only the Yoruba states, but also stretching as far as Republic of Benin and Togo.

 “The old Yoruba Empire distinguished itself in three very distinctive models”, first, it evolved a developed and good constitution, though unwritten. The average Yoruba man is governed by strong convention. Secondly, it evolved a military system that allowed developing weaponry; the Oyos were the first to smith iron and produced guns and agricultural implements to boost food production by the iron-smith (Alagbede) . Thirdly, it evolved a practical method of administration, by adopting the cabinet system of governance from the Alaafin to the Prime Minister and the various divisional heads, which brought about the separation of powers, checks and balances

The celebrant, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III, who is noted for oratory and historical skill kept the guests at the event spell bound with his eye opening presentation, which took all and sundry on memory lane as he connected the past and present through his sound, reel of significant events and dates in Yoruba history and lands.

The Alaafin commended the City People magazine for not only celebrating him, but also promoting and re-awakening people’s consciousness to the importance of culture.

He described the publisher of the magazine as a humble, respectful and ardent culture promoter, who should be emulated.

On the guest lecturer, the Alaafin said Ms Gomes did not only give a contextual presentation of history, culture and people of the Yoruba nation, but also highlighted the supremacy of the Oyo Kingdom.  

“She is not only a lover of the Yoruba culture, but has also thrown the challenge to us on the importance of reviving our culture.”

To the Publisher of the City People Magazine and organiser of the event, Mr Seye Kehinde, “the Alaafin is a monarch in Yorubaland who we have had a long standing relationship with.”

According to, “aside the fact that historically, Alaafin is one of the exalted and respected traditional rulers in Nigeria, he was also one of those who blessed us when we (City People Magazine) came on the newsstand 16 years ago. So, recently, when he celebrated his 74th birthday; we felt that apart from the merriment, we should also draw attention of people to the need to reviving and displaying Oyo customs and traditions.

“The guest lecturer, Paula Gomes was a lady I ran into at the palace, I realised that she was doing a lot of research work about Oyo and along the same line trying to revive our culture and I thought of having an evening to celebrate Kabiyesi, Oyo and the customs and traditions that needed to be revived.”

Giving a prospective account of the Alaafin, Yoruba the promotion of culture in Nigeria 10 years from now, Kehinde said he sees Nigerians going back to the nitty gritty of culture, which according to him as the last resort at times like these when moral values and norms are fading away.

“As a graduate of History, the cycle of existence and the people we are, are tied to culture and anyone who forgets his or her past, the future becomes cloudy because the past informs the present and the latter informs the future. There is no way we can continue as a nation without going through the past; refreshing our memories of the values of our tradition.

“Like the lecturer said, that even with her passion for the Yoruba culture, she never forgets that she is a Portuguese, so we should gear up to embrace, celebrate and appreciate our origin before any other thing. In this light, I see us going back to our culture because it would help us a great deal.”

Speaking on the eroding of reading culture and the threat it poses to promotion of culture, Mr Kehinde said, ‘it is a big problem and I am worried. Just like I said earlier, as a graduate of History who likes the book culture and ardent lover of serious reading culture, which has been taken over by the advent of internet.

“Notwithstanding, we will continue to use this kind of gathering and other ways to try to involve the younger generation who are addicted to the internet to make them appreciate and carry on the promotion of our culture.”

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