Writings of the general word's body

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Osun home of culture? This week it is

It's difficult to crop Ogun State governor Gbenga Daniel out of this picture, so he stays - but the people I'm particularly concerned with, are the men on either side of him. Reason is that these 2 signify for me the bridging of whatever gulf there might be between Africa and her Diaspora. Left is US Academic Runoko Rashidi who has undergone a life's journey to his African roots, and next to him is the king of 'The Source' which African Diasporans often come seeking, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade. Both graced the opening ceremony of the Global Conference of Black Nationalities in Osogbo on Monday 23 August and spoke. When King Sunny Ade started to chant the oriki (lineage praise) of the 81-year-old 'Oonirisa' as the ceremony drew to a close, the Ooni, clearly moved, rose from his seat on the high table and raised a fist in salute, holding the pose for nearly 5 minutes. It was quite something, and the gesture reminded me of the Black Panther salute of yore. As for Runoko Rashidi, I heard him say from the distant stage: "You're not African because you're born in Africa, you're African because Afrise is born in you" - and I thought, Wow! I was to meet the man responsible for that sentiment later in Iloko-Ijesa, Osun State, where we've been since Monday at another major conference, the International Colloquium on Slavery, Slave Trade and Their Consequences' (see Pelu Awofeso's photo of me with Rashidi, below; yes the CNN award winning travel writer Pelu Awofeso is also here, as are academics from all over the world). Rashidi, an electrifying speaker and persona, delivered his paper yesterday but I'm sad to say I missed it, having gone on another culture jaunt to Iragbiji, about which, more anon. Rashidi & Ooni's photo is by Tommy Adegbite, courtesy Osun State Government.

Osun State is the place to be this week. Three major international events are ongoing this week.

The week-long Global Conference of Black Nationalities opened in Osogbo on Monday August 23, with over 2,000 people (my estimate) in attendance. Name them, they were there - major Nigerian and Yoruba and international cultural and political figures. The crowd outside the WOCDIF Centre venue was nearly as large.
The International Colloquium on Slavery, Slave Trade and Their Consequences also kicked off same day at Iloko-Ijesa, Osun State and it's ongoing till tomorrow 27 August.
Tomorrow of course is the Osun Osogbo Festival.
These 3 major events also have smaller breakout programmes associated with them, some holding till Saturday 28th. So, if you're in Nigeria and haven't found your way here yet, it's not too late.

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