Professor Soyinka seeks end to herdsmen’s killing, unveils OAU food festival logo

Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Osun State, was agog recently when literary giant Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, unveiled the OAU Ife Festival of Foods and identity logo.

Organised by the Institute of Cultural Studies (ICS) of the university, the event attracted academics, business technocrats, culture and tourism enthusiasts and students.

The socio-cultural programme was aimed at showcasing the Nigerian “Africanness” in the context of indigenous foods peculiar to different ethnic groups and their relevance to the people’s health needs.

It was also intended to draw people’s consciousness to the need to maximize the potentialities of their indigenous foods with a view to promoting their cultures and traditions.

Before the unveiling of the logo, there was a cultural procession to draw awareness on the rationale behind the programme.

When participants returned to the hall, they were served indigenous dishes free. Iyan (pounded yam), amala, fufu, tuwo shinkafa, efo riro (vegetable soup), egusi, gbegiri and oha were served according to those that the dishes are culturally peculiar to. There were cultural dances reflecting different ethnic cultures and traditions of the people around.

The unveiling of the logo was intended to herald the highpoint of the festival scheduled for July in which eminent dignitaries from different parts of the world, including tourists, traditional rulers, business technocrats, academics and students are expected to participate.

Director, ICS, Dr. Ayo Omidire, said celebrity shelves would be built where important dignitaries would be invited to cook their favourite dishes and serve people from their ethnic groups.

There will also be elder statesmen corners where such indigenous dishes would be served to promote the culture and tradition of the people.

The Vice Chancellor, Professor Eyitope Ogunbodede, said indigenous foods, instead of chemicalised foods, especially junks, contributed greatly to a healthy living.

He disclosed that OAU would continue to promote the food festival to project the culture and tradition of the people and orientate them towards enjoying indigenous foods.

He said the university dedicated the building where Soyinka had lived on the campus to him as a tourist centre to continue the legacy he set in African culture and tradition through his literary works.

Soyinka, who spoke on the sideline of the event, lamented the incessant herdsmen’s killings in some parts of the country. He called on the Federal Government to reverse what he described as a seeming triumph of evil over good, arguing that failure to do so meant that there was no government in the country:

“This is not the best of times for this nation. For us as a people, it is not the most cheerful of times. We have a responsibility to ourselves as living beings not to allow destruction to overtake or overwhelm our creativity. We shall beat swords into plough shears it means the instrument of cultivation. We must overcome the instrument of destruction.

“Between the time of the launching of this logo and the manifestation of the festival itself, we should have seen signs that the clash between swords and the ploughshares is reversed. This would have given us a total fulfilment as people with culture, peace and harmony.

“We cannot continue to see the seeming triumph of the guns over the ploughshare. We want to see this government’s reversal of the triumph of the swords over the plough shears. If this has not taken place, it means we have no government.

“If those who have been displaced in their hundreds from various parts of this nation, especially in the North and the farmers have not been taken back to their productive environments, it means we have no government. Let us all join hands to bet the swords into ploughshares.”

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