Winners of Àtélewó Yoruba Literature 2023]
By: Aduwo Ayodele
A literary and pro-cultural group, Àtélewó Cultural Initiative on Saturday, 25th March 2023 charged students, youths, and the Nigerian public on the need to promote and improve Yoruba literacy.
The third-of-its-kind cultural event held at the BNI Youth Centre, U&I Building, University of Ibadan witnessed the gathering of undergraduate students from the University of Ibadan, authors, folklorists, a renowned actor, Fatai Odua well known as Lálùdé and other enthusiasts of the Yoruba genres.
Speaking to the lecture, guest speaker and science-fiction Yoruba author, Mr. Bode Oje, veteran Nollywood actor, Lálùdé, and an astute speaker, Arojinle all have respectively called on writers, authors, artists, and folklorists to embrace contemporary styles in expressing their literary works. Speaking further, the three invited guests admonished Yoruba writers, folklorists, and authors to incorporate present-time approaches, realities, and solutions when writing or performing their works.
[Veteran Nollywood actor speaking to the lecture]
Featured at the event, ‘Atelewo Prizes for Yoruba Literature 2023’ were awarded to the best literary entries. Three second-rate entries were awarded the sum of one hundred thousand nairas (#100,000), while Babatunde Shittu with his exceptional entry titled Láàdì emerged as the first runner-up winning a prize of #250,000.
Speaking with IndyPress, Babatunde Shittu noted that his emergence as the overall winner would be credited to the commitment and self-criticism he applied regularly to his work.
“I know that I’ve really done wonderful work because I sat to criticize the work from the beginning to the end. I wrote a playwright book titled Láàdì. Láàdì is one of the greatest myths in Ile-Ife.”
Discussing the aims and objectives of the initiative, one of the Co-founders, Ibrahim Oredola noted that the initiative was established as a response to the endangering threats facing the preservation and survival of the Yorubá culture and language. He also berated what he noted as an obvious decline of the indigenous Yoruba language as a majority of Nigerians and Africans are drawn back on reading and writing in their native African languages.
Calling on the need for a collective reform, the initiative has called on parents, teachers, and schools, to encourage the learning and teaching of the language, while also tasking the Government on the need to make education policies that would mandate students to learn an African language up to the secondary school level.
“If we want to protect our culture and promote it, we need to promote it at the early stage. We will need to teach the language from the home. As teachers, we need to encourage the teaching and learning of Yoruba in schools.”
“As Government, we need to actually put up policies that encourage young people to learn the language and culture. We need to publish more books in Yoruba language for people to read. And as a society, we need to support Yoruba writers as a society by buying and reading their works” he added.