The Brazilian government has given Yoruba a pride of place among foreign languages spoken in the country.
Our heritage reporter was told in an exclusive interview with the Brazilian minister of culture, Dr Sérgio Sá leitão at the weekend in Brazil that the government has introduced the compulsory study of African History and Yoruba language into the primary and secondary schools curriculum.
The minister spoke at an event where the Institute of African Studies, University of Sao Paulo, in Brazil paraded important dignitaries including Nigerian artists and historians, as well as Professors of Arts and African Studies at a lecture on the importance of Yoruba language in the Brazilian culture and tradition.
According to him, the inclusion of African History and Yoruba Language in the curriculum would help bring the closeness of the African Brazilian people to their roots and thus encourage the understandings of the language among other important languages in Brazil apart from Portuguese which is the official language.
The Minister also mentioned the role played by Brazil during the Festival of Arts and Culture, ‘FESTAC 77’, held in Lagos, Nigeria in 1977; the constant inter-cultural programmes between Nigeria and Brazil; the annual carnival of Arts, music and cultural displays featuring prominent African artists and Yoruba writers such as Yinka Shonibare, Adeyinka Olaiya, El Anatsui among many others, including the highly respected Yoruba writer, Professor Wande Abimbola.
Speaking at the event, Peruvian Nobel laureate, Prof. Mário Vargas Llosa also made mention of the African community in Peru where the African Peruvians are settled till date.
Vargas Llosa, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2010, is known as one of Latin America’s most significant novelists and essayists, and one of the leading writers of his generation.
According to Vargas Llosa, Yoruba people and their culture have helped the universe, IFA has proven his existence in the beings of mankind right from the inception and IFA is still very much alive and needs to be recognized even more than it is today.
According to Prof Mário Vargas, the Yoruba language should no longer be approached as an ethnic language but a universal language that is alive in culture and tradition of the Africans and her roots around the universe.
Speaking in Yoruba and Portuguese, Prof Katiuscia Ribeiro of the Institute of African Studies drew attention to the African philosophical practices introducing the constant representation of the Yoruba culture and religion in the Brazilian traditional beliefs.
Our heritage reporter learnt that the Yoruba traditional religion today comes after the Catholic practices as the most improving religious practices in the South American country. Several houses of worships called “ILE ASE” are having the Yoruba culture, tradition and language as official, whenever the cults are declared open for the day. Babalawo, Iyalawo, Omo Awo, and Aborisa are all common Yoruba usages in the practice of the Yoruba religion called Candomblé in Brazil.
A Nigerian carnival artist, painter and illustrator, Adeyinka Olaiya, also expressed the benefits the Yoruba language would bring to the Brazilian culture if fully integrated into the Brazilian educational curriculum.
According to Olaiya, living in Salvador, Brazil, is like living in any of the western states of Nigeria where the Yoruba are predominantly located.
He said, “Most of the cultures and traditions in evidence in Brazil are all of the heritages brought along to the Latin American country by the majority Yoruba families, victims of the BARCO NEGREIROS, the NEGRO BOAT that forcefully brought the enslaved West Africans to Brazil in the 13th century. The Yoruba heritage that represents the majority of the African cultural practices in Brazil today is having several words in Yoruba roots. Akara, Dendê, Iyalode, Babalawo, Iyalawo and lots more are all derived from the Yoruba roots.”