It must have been such a fascinating experience for the blacks around the globe wanting to trace where their great grandparents were from. I know I would be extremely excited, but will I be able to swallow the truths of the so-called roots especially if it is still as oppressing as it were before and after the transatlantic slave trade?
In April this year I was at a three-day conference, among the attendees were two guests from Trinidad and Tobago. At the end of the second day, I had chance to chat briefly with them, they were excited coming to Yorubaland for the first time. The lady among the two narrated excitedly all that they do in Trinidad that is so similar to ours – the masquerade, the Sango and many traditions that is slowly disappearing in today’s Yorubaland. The man was equally excited, they had plans to visit lots of places and of course the Orisun (source) of Yoruba people which is supposedly Ile Ife.
If this step of reconnecting with roots brings joy – I am glad to be one of the first few of Yoruba they met, I thought to myself.
In my hotel room that evening I remember my good friend Eve, whom I met 14 years ago at work, we hit it off from the first day, family talks is central to our conversations – our ups and lows. Both of our parents are of about the same age. Our family settings bear so much resemblance that it is hard to believe we are from different continents, hers in Trinidad – I have met both of her parents, mine in Nigeria – she met one of mine. I have joked with Eve several times that her great grandparents were the lucky ones to have made ‘the boat,’ this is because Eve was shocked the first time I narrated the land grabbing crisis I grew up with and that it is still ongoing, the exercise that was meant to rid of a group of people using violence initiated by Ooni Sijuade.
It is worth noting that slavery was part of Yoruba culture well before the transatlantic Slave Trade began. And also that during the Slave Trade, African Merchants played significant roles and profited from the trade. Most of the active merchants in Nigeria were the royal families, they owned slaves of their own, they knew the groups to select from. Slave Trade has been banned around the world for a long time now however, a few royal families in Yorubaland still hold on tightly to the inhumane traditions by way of extortion or outright land grabbing.
Just noticing this on BBC and Nigeria is one of the few countries who still practice systematic slave trade, in my case it is between Ile Ife and Modakeke.
Please stay tuned for details on recent development.
About my new Trini friends – they talked about Opa Oranmiyan, they talked about the palace, which Palace? I itched to inform them that for the most part of my life, I lived less than four miles to the palace but never visited for the fear of being tied up.
I decided I’d be a very good girl so I talked about all that is pleasant about our Yoruba heritage – I encouraged them to visit the Erin Ijesa Waterfalls, Osun State and Ikogosi Springs, Ekiti state, and if they had more time Atakumosa Palace is a good place to stop by – all good.
No way am going to ruin their big trip to the roots – after all they are more likely to be my long-lost cousins.