Erelu Advocates Cultural Restoration

Erelu Bisi Fayemi 



By
Abasi-Femi Oguntayo

The wife of Ekiti State Governor, Erelu Bisi Fayemi has encouraged support for the restoration of our positive traditions and cultural values.

She made this call yesterday, Wednesday 31st of October, 2018, in Ado-Ekiti, the State capital, while speaking with pressmen at the special monthly reading of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) in Ekiti State, where she was hosted as the guest speaker.

According to her, traditions such as: neglecting women, maltreating women, inheriting women after the death of their husbands or chasing them out of their late husband's houses should be eradicated. She however advocated that our positive cultural values and traditions such as performing the normal traditional rites for a new born baby should not be neglected as it was a good thing that needed to be encouraged.

Speaking from her book 'Loud Whispers' in a write up which she titled 'The Value Of What is Ours', she emphasised that, "We had an excuse when the colonialists and invaders carter away our cultural artifacts and placed them in museum in Europe and the US where people pay good money to go and view them.  What excuse do we have now?"

She emphasised further and said, "the Yoruba culture thieves in many countries in Diaspora and what I witnessed in Bahia, (Brazil) is a typical example. With all the tools we have at our disposal today for the documentations and retention of our rich cultural heritage, we seem to be in a race to divest ourselves or our inheritance.

"Western education, Christianity, Islam, the mobility of people and other influences have taken their toll in quite devastating ways.


"Some people express surprise when they hear me speaking up in favour of our cultures and traditions, assuming that as a feminist, I should be happy that many of these practices are being eroded.  Being modern Africans does not mean that we should forget who we are.  Cultures evolve, they are not static, but they should change for better and not for worse.

"We have negative cultural practices such as expressions of Misogyny, female genital mutilation, treatment of widows, forced marriages, human sacrifice,  harmful myths and superstitions and so on. We also have deeply valuable practices such as communal solidarity, good manners, respect for elders, accountability and prioritisation of a good name and integrity over unexplained riches".

Talking about the traditional way of naming a baby in the Yoruba belief, she said, "many of my western educated peers do not know how to name a new born baby the Yoruba way. The old ways of naming a baby with salt (to symbolize a life of value and worth), water (a life with no enemies), honey (a life of sweetness), and other items depending on the community are no longer in vogue. These practices are now considered 'fetish' and 'putting the child in bondage'".

However, talking about the culture of traditional weddings, she said: "Traditional wedding ceremonies have been taken over totally by hired hands and not the women of respective families. These ceremonies have now become a mishmash of relentless money collection and the hired hands known locally as 'Gagers' sometimes outdo in their crassness and total disregard for cultural protocol.

"To make matters worse, there are now 'Gagers' from the Christian community who have taken the pomp, fun and pageantry out of the ceremonies and have turned them into a mini church service, devoid of most of the culturally symbolic aspects. I attend these events almost every week and I could write a book about the disappearance of the beautiful Yoruba traditional wedding ceremonies".

Her book, 'Loud Whispers'  which was however read yesterday at the event which took place at the De Jewel's Apartments had several commendations from the participants and the people in attendance.

Several authors, scholars and great personalities were among other people present at the occasion yesterday. In attendance were, the chairman of ANA in Ekiti State who doubles as the publisher of Fountain Newsbreaker, Akogun Tai Oguntayo, former president of ANA, Wale Okediran, Prolific Author, Femi Osanfisan (Author of Women of Owu and several other books), deputy governor of Ekiti State, Otunba Bisi Egbeyemi, his wife, Chief Mrs Margret Egbeyemi, the Chief of Staff to the governor, Mr Biodun Omoleye, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr Yinka Oyebode,  associate professor Lara Owoeye and many other dignitaries.

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