Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said the world and Nigeria are presently at a crossroads.
He said this in Ibadan, on Tuesday, at the launch of the International Centre For Yoruba Arts and Culture at the University of Ibadan.
The Vice President, in his address at the event, said that COVID-19 and climate change were already disrupting life but said lessons to cope with these could be learnt from the culture of the people.
He said, “Culture is not just about the past, and it is neither static nor immutable it is constantly creating and recreating. Consequently, progress is not merely determined by fidelity to tradition but by our capacity for invention and reinvention.
“And this point is more relevant now than ever before as the world itself and our nation stand at a crossroads. The future of mankind is at an inflexion point with COVID-19 and climate change already disrupting life as we know it. While the Fourth Industrial Revolution requires us to adapt to technological innovation changing at lightning speed.
“To cope well, we must draw strength from our cultural capital – the wealth of tangible and intangible knowledge that emanates from a society’s core and enables it to cope with change.”
The VP said the Yoruba World Centre would therefore serve not just as a place of memory but as a place that inspires and fires the collective imagination as well as ideas and thought of the people.
He urged those present at the event to join the movement agitating for the return of the artefacts looted from Yorubaland by the colonial masters.
He said the proposed centre would give context and depth to the understanding of the past of the Yoruba, their place and role in the present, and hopefully our preparation for the future.
“Today, young Nigerian artists are using local sounds to create a global popular culture. Is there something to be learned here? Additionally, the Centre should offer a destination for missions of discovery by the very many Africans in Diaspora who trace their origins to the Yoruba people and promote closer links between the Yoruba people in the homeland and their kin in the diaspora.
“But more importantly provide a crucial pillar in the global attempt to build social and economic bridges between peoples of African descent everywhere in our world.
“And while we are at it, you must join in the global movement to champion the return of artefacts that were plundered, looted or illegally taken away from these shores. Indeed, the Centre could serve as a home for such returned items where the immediate provenance or circumstances in which the items were taken is not clear or not known,” he added.
The Chairman of the South-West Governors, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, who was represented by his deputy, Lucky Ayedatiwa, commended Dayo Alao for his visionary efforts to ensure that the centre was started.
He urged Yoruba people both at home and in the diaspora to join in building what he described as a place of remarkable history.
He also warned against adulterating the history that would be preserved at the Centre, saying the materials, oral traditions and other historic documents that would be presented there must be original.
The Deputy Governor of Oyo State, Rauf Olaniyan; Ogun State Deputy Governor, Noimot Salako, the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Gani Adams, Retired Archbishop of Methodist Church, Ayo Ladigbolu, Jimi Agbaje, Muyiwa Ige, Chief Ifayemi Elebuibon, and scholars were present at the event.