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Exploring an enduring Yemoja festival

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Exploring an enduring Yemoja festival

 

It was a calm Monday evening, the weather was peaceful. Guests gathered at Ita Agbole in Ejigbo, a suburb of Lagos, where renowned multimedia artist, Jelili Atiku, explored an enduring Yoruba festival, Yemoja, which celebrates the feminine energy.

 

Tagged, “The Sacred Feminine Energy and Spiritual Values”, speakers at the seminar, Kafilat Abene Raji, Iyalorisa Omitonade Ifawemimo, Jumoke Sanwo, Jacob Stanton, and Ayo Akinwande, shared knowledge on the festival values to the indigenous African bodies. Speaking during the seminar, the convener, Atiku, whose art involves installations, drawings and video, to interrogate socio-cultural and political issues, emphasised that the essence of the seminar is to “discuss the Yoruba spirituality on the essence of feminine energy, and trace its values to the well-being of the society and the people.”

 

Elaborating on the festival, Stanton who participated during the festival procession at Brown University, Providence, RI, USA alongside other students on a course taught by Atiku, an Assistant Professor of Africana Studies, on the theme Decolonized Bodies, Spirit Bodies: Tracing Indigenous Knowledge of Africans reveals, said the Yemoja Festival at Brown University introduced him to the practice of Ifa.

 

“I had been in Atiku’s class for the entire semester, but since it was a class, it was structured very theoretically. It was only participating in the festival that showed me what these festivals are actually like and how they are infused with spiritual power.

“At first, I was very shocked by what I saw, and I didn’t know how to interpret several of the things that kept occurring during the festival, such as when Atiku would drink gin and spit it out or when he threw offerings into the water. However, as the festival progressed, I began to feel the spirit and power of the festival. I remember as we got in sight of the water, it got warmer, it was a cold day, and it felt like the whole festival fell together,” Stanton said.

 

Stanton, who spent some time in Ejigbo, Lagos, added the festival taught him the power in indigenous belief systems. “Prior to taking this class, and participating in the festival. I most likely would have looked at these practices as being outdated or not based in ‘true’ spirituality. However, feeling the power of this festival, and the way that our group came together in that moment, shows me that these practices are filled with truth and spiritual power. This festival at Brown was of very serious importance.

 

Brown University was able to build its wealth upon the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and the state that Brown is located in was one of the most active slave trading states in the United States. Further, the water in which we worshiped the Yemoja Orisha was used to transport these enslaved peoples. For this reason, the water is intrinsically tied to oppression, specifically the oppression of black bodies. For this reason, practicing traditional African beliefs at this water represents coming full circle. It serves to cleanse the water from its evil past and the pain that is within it. Many of those participating in the festival were black Americans who may have ancestors who partook in these practices but have no knowledge of this due to the erasure of slavery. Due to this, participating in this festival represented a return to this legacy and a reunion with our ancestors.”

 

He further stated that participating in the Yemoja Festival has greatly changed his beliefs on African culture and tradition.

 

“After the festival, I see these practices as a key to black people acquiring spiritual growth and working to liberate themselves. And my stay in Ejigbo was incredible. The first memorable aspect was the way in which the whole community.”

 

rallied around Atiku during his dispute with the king. This provided me with a model for who I want to be in my own community. I was amazed at the amazing hospitality that I was treated to during my stay. The people were so incredibly nice and welcoming even though many of us couldn’t speak with each other, due to me being unable to speak Yoruba. I was deeply moved by the spiritual devotion I felt within the community. The community was alive with a spiritual power and unity that deeply moved me and has me longing to return.”

 

He expressed delight in associating with the Yoruba culture, rituals. “It is incredible to be associated with Yoruba culture. Every time I think about my name, or have someone refer to me by ‘Ajewole Ojomo’, I feel absolutely full of pride. I feel that I have reclaimed a heritage that was lost during slavery and by the mechanisms of the United States. It’s incredibly powerful to see black people as Princes and Kings and to know that I now have a place within this system. This is incredibly powerful because in the United States, black people are constantly ridiculed by being told that they have no culture and portrayed as are criminals. I feel that I have connected with a legacy and heritage that is life sustaining and offers me a pathway to freedom. In Ifa, I see a way to continue my mental and spiritual decolonization and liberation. I feel that I have been connected to a force and culture so powerful as to liberate me and all of my descendants.”

 

 

Artist, curator and writer, Akínwande hinted that the Yemoja Festival has been a great opportunity to learn more about the culture and traditions, “and documenting the rituals, processions, activities around the Yemoja Festival. The Festival has become a rallying point to awaken the people towards the traditions. It has become an event that is enshrined in the Ejigbo calendar. The people get to become participants and spectators in these celebrations.”

 

 

Akinwande, who was the co-curator/Curatorial Advisor, Lagos Biennial 2017 emphasized that the images of the festival has become a reference point in the culture scene. “The Festival in Ejigbo, is the celebration of the feminine energy in Yoruba culture. It is not about “addressing” but more about showing to the world, the importance of Women and the role they play in our culture.”

 

 

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Literature

Beasts on Rampage, Something to Live For and other stories

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Beasts on Rampage,  Something to Live For and other stories

Book title: Love Like A Woman and Other Stories

Author: Razinat T Mohammed

Pagination: 120

Publisher: Kraft Books Limited

Reviewer: Adeniyi Taiwo Kunnu

 

 

T

he human heart is as deep as complex, and when it comes to matters of the woman heart, the discourse takes a unique turn in need of careful attention. Razinat Mohammed in this work, “Love Like a Woman and other stories”, examines the multifarious fictional realities in the lives of different women, deftly navigating the planes of marriage, religion, culture and the vicissitudes that affect other lives.

 

 

Eleven stories in 120 gripping pages; and the reader could never be left the same way because the pieces contained in one piece gets one acquainted with the not-too-often examined daily or lifetime experiences of people. If only we knew the much we should, as someone once said, we would have done more to make the world better than we have it now. From the first story, Razinat simply conveys delicious incidences and at times unsavoury glitches in ‘fine’ vocabulary.

 

 

“Something to Live For” gives needed premonition which later comes to fore in the other stories. Afi, hungry and tired descended into another realm which reveals her experiences as a woman married off against her will. Failing in her bid to commit suicide and having been rescued by a stranger, her life continues for a brief moment in lonely forest. Razinat employs the stream of consciousness technique, demonstrating how often times we keep our fears at the subconscious, but present to the world the side which fits men’s acceptance.

 

 

Importantly, Afi chooses the real world where her torrid relationship with her spouse could not prevent her from getting back to the one person in her family where her only love still remains. She could leave every other thing and move on with her life, but in this instance; the propelling force of love keeps her in. Her memories of Efida can wait, while the painful face-off with Uduma must be shrugged off.

 

 

Sterile Water takes the reader on another fictional journey in realistic representation. Kulu’s life depicts one whose existence is enmeshed in destructive poverty. In a family of five children, jobless husband and offensive cultural practice which are obviously unfavourable to the plight of the mother who toils but gets incommensurate returns. This is a creative output which addresses, not only an area of general concern, but specific cultural distastes.

 

 

The third story, which also doubles as the title of the collection is “Love Like A Woman’s”, takes this narrative a notch higher.  Dije bears the burden of love by giving her life to a man whose mental state defies immediate or remote remedy. The story describes the height of one’s love characterised by ‘ultimate sacrifice’, and in this wise it is a woman giving her life, having first lost the life of the unborn to the violence of a mentally unstable man.

 

 

In “Laila”, Razinat gives new perspective to the weighty concerns of an erstwhile divorcee.  Overwhelmed by the stigma associated with being unmarried on the one side and the fear of being out of a second marriage of three months on the other, Laila contends with the disrespectful gateman in her new home, the pressured facilities, step-children rivalry, perceptions by the older wife and ultimately her sexual preferences.

 

 

The author keeps readers’ taste buds watered with “The U-Turn”. Here, a woman also finds herself on the receiving end of the pugilist. A husband-to-be; a beautiful prospect in a daughter in-law; a dotting mother-in-law and the Achilles Heels of being overweight all come together causing flurry of emotions. So, when England came to Nigeria in the hope of a damsel, Sam got a shocker in eve’s daughter who has indulged beyond measure in ‘fatteners’. In summary, Mary Rose does not have the Knight in any shining armour as hers. He, back to England, while the consolatory words of her mother in-law does nothing to change Sam’s mind.

 

 

“Beasts on Rampage” is another delicious read which queries the sanity of allowing the wild dwell amongst the urbane. There are circuses where wild animals are on display for fun, but having these carnivorous mammals in neighbourhoods gets a thumb down here. Mohammed weaves her words around the humanity in people, touching on the unjust treatment of the average in society and arrives its zenith with the distaste that under-lie her fictive presentation. She sure makes the reader wonder but in a maze of reading experiences.

 

 

One Good Turn is one of morality…, of a home gone apart…. of a child turned out and left on the streets…, of a father bereft of needful values and love and subsequent degeneration but eventual redemption of a dear life. This story x-rays parents and parenting, while also exploring peer influences and workings around it.

 

 

“Official Touts” rounds off this collection, and this story picks holes in the often mentioned fake police experiences. This piece regales readers with the stop and search on the roads by police and the check point experiences. A travelling family that parts with cash and kind; and then in turn receives some ‘change’ from the money stolen from them gets the reader’s needful attention. This is an eye opener to stepping up the game in terms of security so as to keep men of the underworld on their toes.

 

 

A Love Like A Woman and Other Stories is truly a fascinating collection. It is a work recommended for its unique perspectives and indeed a deserving applause as a beautiful piece of literature.

 

 

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Literature

Nigerian poet, Ipadeola, bags International Writing Programme in US

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Nigerian poet, Ipadeola, bags International Writing Programme in US

Award-winning poet and author of short stories, Tade Ipadeola, has been selected alongside 28 other accomplished writers from across the globe to participate in the International Writing Programme (IWP) Fall Residency at the University of Iowa, courtesy of the United States Department of State.

Ipadeola, who was the 2013 winner of the Nigeria Prize for Literature, left on September 1 to participate at the world’s oldest and largest multinational writing residency. The programme ends on to November 16.

Before Ipadeola’s selection, 34 Nigerian literary figures had participated in the IWP Fall Residency. Notable among them are Elechi Amadi (1973), Cyprian Ekwensi (1974), Ola Rotimi (1980), Femi Osofisan (1986), Niyi Osundare (1988), Festus Iyayi (1990), Lola Shoneyin (1999), Obari Gomba (2016).

Over the course of 11 weeks, Ipadeola and the other participants will give readings and lectures that share their work and cultures, collaborate with artists from other genres and art forms, and travel to interact with audiences and literary communities across the United States.

In addition, the residency will provide the writers a one-of-a-kind inter-cultural opportunity to forge productive relationships with colleagues and translators, and take part in the vibrant social and academic life of the University of Iowa as well as the larger American literary scene.

United States Consulate Public Affairs Officer, Russell Brooks congratulated the Nigerian writer on his acceptance into the residency program.

According to him, the goal of the IWP Fall Residency is to provide outstanding writers with a platform for cultural exchange and collaboration.

Ipadeola, an essayist and translator, has three published works, including The Sahara Testament, a poetry collection, which won the Nigeria Prize for Literature in 2013 and has been translated into Dutch, French, Spanish and Xhosa.

In 2009, he won the Delphic Laurel in Poetry for his Yoruba poem Songbird at the Delphic Games in Jeju, South Korea. In 2012, he translated Paid on Both Sides, the first dramatic work of renowned Anglo-American poet, W.H. Auden, into Yoruba as Lamilami.

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Literature

Nigeria Prize for Literature announces shortlist

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Nigeria Prize for Literature announces shortlist

The Nigeria Prize for Literature has announced shortlist of three for the 2019 edition of the Prize.

They are Boom, Boom by Jude Idada, Mystery at Ebenezer’s Lodge by Dunni Olatunde, and The Great Walls of Benin, O. T. Begho.

The shortlist, which was drawn from initial shortlist of 11 books, was announced today in Lagos by the Chairman of the Advisory Board for the prize, Emeritus Prof. Ayo Banjo.

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Literature

Nigeria Prize for Literature announces shortlist

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By

Nigeria Prize for Literature announces shortlist

The Nigeria Prize for Literature has announced shortlist of three for the 2019 edition of the Prize.

They are Boom, Boom by Jude Idada, Mystery at Ebenezer’s Lodge by Dunni Olatunde, and The Great Walls of Benin, O. T. Begho.

The shortlist, which was drawn from initial shortlist of 11 books, was announced today in Lagos by the Chairman of the Advisory Board for the prize, Emeritus Prof. Ayo Banjo.

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Literature

Nigeria Prize for Literature announces shortlist

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on

By

Nigeria Prize for Literature announces shortlist

The Nigeria Prize for Literature has announced shortlist of three for the 2019 edition of the Prize.

They are Boom, Boom by Jude Idada, Mystery at Ebenezer’s Lodge by Dunni Olatunde, and The Great Walls of Benin, O. T. Begho.

The shortlist, which was drawn from initial shortlist of 11 books, was announced today in Lagos by the Chairman of the Advisory Board for the prize, Emeritus Prof. Ayo Banjo.

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Literature

Nigeria Prize for Literature announces shortlist

Published

on

By

Nigeria Prize for Literature announces shortlist

The Nigeria Prize for Literature has announced shortlist of three for the 2019 edition of the Prize.

They are Boom, Boom by Jude Idada, Mystery at Ebenezer’s Lodge by Dunni Olatunde, and The Great Walls of Benin, O. T. Begho.

The shortlist, which was drawn from initial shortlist of 11 books, was announced today in Lagos by the Chairman of the Advisory Board for the prize, Emeritus Prof. Ayo Banjo.

Continue Reading

Literature

Nigeria Prize for Literature announces shortlist

Published

on

By

Nigeria Prize for Literature announces shortlist

The Nigeria Prize for Literature has announced shortlist of three for the 2019 edition of the Prize.

They are Boom, Boom by Jude Idada, Mystery at Ebenezer’s Lodge by Dunni Olatunde, and The Great Walls of Benin, O. T. Begho.

The shortlist, which was drawn from initial shortlist of 11 books, was announced today in Lagos by the Chairman of the Advisory Board for the prize, Emeritus Prof. Ayo Banjo.

Continue Reading

Literature

Nigeria Prize for Literature announces shortlist

Published

on

By

Nigeria Prize for Literature announces shortlist

The Nigeria Prize for Literature has announced shortlist of three for the 2019 edition of the Prize.

They are Boom, Boom by Jude Idada, Mystery at Ebenezer’s Lodge by Dunni Olatunde, and The Great Walls of Benin, O. T. Begho.

The shortlist, which was drawn from initial shortlist of 11 books, was announced today in Lagos by the Chairman of the Advisory Board for the prize, Emeritus Prof. Ayo Banjo.

Continue Reading

Literature

Nigeria Prize for Literature announces shortlist

Published

on

By

Nigeria Prize for Literature announces shortlist

The Nigeria Prize for Literature has announced shortlist of three for the 2019 edition of the Prize.

They are Boom, Boom by Jude Idada, Mystery at Ebenezer’s Lodge by Dunni Olatunde, and The Great Walls of Benin, O. T. Begho.

The shortlist, which was drawn from initial shortlist of 11 books, was announced today in Lagos by the Chairman of the Advisory Board for the prize, Emeritus Prof. Ayo Banjo.

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Literature

Homage to an uncommon revolutionary scholar

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Homage to an uncommon revolutionary scholar

Title: Unions Without Unionism, Governments Without Governance: Essays in Honour of Professor Funminiyi Oladele Adewumi

 

Editors: Owei Lakemfa and Ahmed Aminu Yusuf

 

 

Publishers: Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Abuja

 

Year of publication: 2018

 

Pages:     306 pages

 

Reviewer: Uzor Maxim Uzoatu

 

 

P

rofessor Funmi Adewumi (1960-2017) died so painfully at the height of his powers. As the dedication of this book committed to his memory goes, Prof Adewumi “devoted his life to honest intellectualism, a better society based on social justice, and to the emancipation of the poor, the disinherited and the defenceless.”

 

 

‘Unions Without Unionism, Governments Without Governance’ is a compilation of some of the papers presented at a “National Symposium” following Prof Adewumi’s death which held at the ETF building, Hall A, College of Humanities, Osun State University (OSU), Ikire Campus. The symposium, sponsored by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, had the theme “Democratic Space, Labour and the Socio-Economic Liberation of Nigeria.”

 

 

According to the editors, Owei Lakemfa and Ahmed Aminu Yusuf, in their Preface, “Professor Funmi Adewumi, in his thoughts and deeds, was an intellectual of the universe, not just because he taught in various countries and crisscrossed the universe seeking and spreading knowledge, but because his worldview, learning, research and work had universal origins and applications.”

 

 

In his Foreword, Funmi Adewumi’s comrade in the then University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), Femi Falana (SAN) pays deserving tribute to “a committed and dedicated intellectual, who devoted his life to the study of the working class, the political education of union leaders and activists, and was an active participant in the struggles of workers for improved working and living conditions, national development, the enthronement of social justice and the emancipation of the poor.”

 

 

Divided into four parts and made up of 18 chapters, ‘Unions Without Unionism, Governments Without Governance’ starts with an Introduction, “Funmi Adewumi: In the Race of Time”, written by one of the editors, Owei Lakemfa, who recounts how as a 19-year-old University of Ife sophomore he met his age-mate, Funmi Adewumi, who was already in the third year as a History Education undergraduate and they bonded as “part of a tribe of youths who had consciously decided to either change our country from its under-developed and dependent political economy or dedicate our lives fighting to do so.”

 

 

The title of the book is taken from Professor Funmi Adewunmi’s 2009 Inaugural Lecture at Crawford University, Faith City, Igbesa, Ogun State, to wit, “Unions Without Unionism: Towards Trade Union Relevance In Nigeria’s Industrial Relations System And Polity,” which is included here. As in the case of Nelson Mandela, the struggle was Funmi Adewumi’s life as he writes: “As a Part 1 student at the University of Ife, Ile-Ife (1977/78), I got involved in prosecuting the Ali-must go struggle in 1978, thus marking the beginning of my involvement in political activism. I got elected into the Students’ Representative Council during the 1978/79 academic session and by the time I was in 300 Level; I became Chairman of the Students’ Union Electoral Commission. The Central Executive Council that was elected that year remains one of the most dynamic in the history of students’ unionism in the university.” The elected student leaders went on to distinguish themselves in Nigeria, notably Wole Olaoye (President), Greg Obong-Oshotse (Secretary), Femi Falana (Public Relations Officer) etc. Professor Adewumi concludes the essay by stating that it is “necessary to re-invent trade unionism in Nigeria as a necessary step in ensuring the relevance of trade unions within the Nigerian social formation.”

 

 

‘Unions Without Unionism, Governments Without Governance’ is a compilation of in-depth essays by academics, activists, journalists, researchers, trade unionists and a public servant, namely: Owei Lakemfa, Professor Sola Fajana, Funmi Komolafe, Ade A. Ola-Joseph, Olutoyin Mejiuni (PhD), Oluranti Samuel (D.Phil.), Comrade Ismail Bello, Jubril Olayiwola Jawando, Aderemi Medupin (PhD), Ahmed Aminu Yusuf, Comrade Martin Adekunle Babawale, Professor Tunde Babwale, Baba Aye, Femi Aborisade, Abiodun Aremu, Oluranti Afowowe and Comrade Gbenga Komolafe.

 

 

Aside from proclaiming the bona-fides of Professor Funmi Adewuni and what he stood for and why he stood for the principles, ‘Unions Without Unionism, Governments Without Governance’ interrogates the Nigerian state’s implementation of undemocratic, nondemocratic and anti-democracy neoliberal policies as exemplified by the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP).

 

 

The trade unions come up for censure for not adequately promoting and advancing the interests of the working classes. The need to move Nigeria onto the path of development, true democracy and social justice by instituting people-centred and driven developmental policies cannot be over-emphasised.

 

 

Professor Funmi Adewumi lived and died fighting for the lives, struggles, well-being and welfare of the working class, students and other vulnerable people in Nigeria. With the existence of a book such as ‘Unions Without Unionism, Governments Without Governance’, it is very obvious that Professor Adewumi did not die in vain.

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