Soyinka calls for retrieval of Ife antiquities carted away to foreign land
Professor Wole Soyinka has called on the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, the Ojaja II to accord attention to the retrieval of Ife antiquities and art objects illegally carted away to foreign land especially the Oriolokun.
Speaking recently in Ife, at the declaration of the city as a free tourism zone, Professor Soyinka who was represented by Professor Wale Adeniran stated that steps must be take to ensure that they are not given replicas in place of the original.
He noted that to assist in this enterprise, some names have been suggested that Kabiyesi could constitute to undertake the task, which will be multi racial and multi national in scope.
According to the Nobel laureate:” some names have been mentioned, names like Emeka Anyaoku, former Secretary general of the Commonwealth, Koffi Annan former secretary of United Nations, Henry Leegate, a distinguished Africanist at the Yale, that has a university, Professor Bolanle Awe, Prof Oyayi, Mr Edison Arantes do Nascimento, Pele of Brazil and the representative of the National Commission for museums and monuments.”
He noted that when these artifacts must have been returned to their original home, the pilgrims will never cease to leave Ile-fe with the dynamism, energy, drive and solomonic wisdom of Oba Ogunwusi.
Soyinka expressed the confidence that this feat can be accomplished.
He explained that what is happening now at the palace ground is long overdue given the status of Ife as the city of the arts and world’s famed tribe of ancient and modern art.
He observed that it is the believe of many that Ile-Ife is the centre of the world, and that Olodumare has made Otu Ife a focal point of the universe.
The erudite professor stated further that with the infrastructure been put in place by Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, one can foresee an endless procession of pilgrims and tourists continually converging on the ancestral home of Ile-Ife from far and near.
He commended the efforts of the Kabiesi, stressing that if this is adopted and supported will contribute in bringing back the golden days of 1970’s when the then University of Ife used to organise Ife festival of the Arts which attracted participants from far and near including the Negritude poet and the then president of Senegal Léopold Sédar Senghor who participated in one of such festivals.
Soyinka maintained that the Obafemi Awolowo University still have a major role to play in strengthening the organisation of the festival of arts, by engaging in sustained research into the history of Ile-Ife.
In this regards, we have to bring back the programme of the study of archaeology at the undergraduate and post graduate levels, he said.
Speaking earlier at the event, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, the Ojaja II called for a concerted effort to take the continent out of impoverished level of poverty, “because God gave us everything”
He said it is important “for us to come together as one happy family and channel the course and make Africa a better place, not only Ile-Ife, not only Osun State, Yoruba land or Nigeria, but the entire Africa.”
He explained that today our traditional religion is the fastest growing in the world, faster than Christianity faster than Islam.
The Ooni maintained that the entire world is moving towards African traditional religion while and the custodians do not even appreciate it nor value it.
He disclosed that it is evident that every sqaure metre of Ile-Ife is full of mysteries.
The Ooni said the alternatives we have is to keep all those mysteries that have been existing for million of years or open it to the world for them to know and experience those mysteries.
“Out of that we going to have movement in terms of tourism because any development in life is all about tourism. Movement of slave trade is now our past, but it was a movement at some point, because some humans moved all the way from Africa to Europe, South America and other places. Movement brings every other thing, it brings development, prosperity and progress, so we need to focus well on movement in the entire Africa because every part of Africa is full of mysteries and I will start from Ile-ife”, he said