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Africa Needs to Go Back to Its Culture, Values, and Tradition to Thrive – Ooni of Ife



Ooni of Ife

Ooni of Ife

The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, says the loss of culture, values and tradition is responsible for the numerous challenges facing Africa as a continent.

Ogunwusi said this while delivering the 2015/2016 annual lecture of the School of Postgraduate Studies of the University of Lagos, on Thursday.

The theme of the lecture is: “Redefining the Role of Traditional Institutions for National Development”.

According to him, African culture and tradition is gradually giving way to westernization in several aspects. He said that this, to a large extent, had impacted negatively on the people’s way of life.

He explained that most of the things borrowed from the western culture had confused the thinking and way of life of Africans.

“There is nothing wrong borrowing from another. But the truth is that such things that are borrowed need to be properly aligned and harmonized in such a way that it will not affect our own way of life.

Before the colonial masters came, they met our culture, tradition and kingship system; the way our affairs were being directed.

By that time, there were no boundaries and yet kingdoms and territories were secured and we all had respect for one another,” he said.

The monarch said Africa was and still remained the centre of the world and therefore, must strive to trace and reclaim its lost tradition, values as well as culture and retain them.

According to him, another challenge facing Africans is that they do not appreciate what they have.

Ogunwusi explained that for the black race to sustain their worth among mankind, they must look inwards, believe in themselves as well as redirect their orientation.

“Any stream that forgets its source must surely run dry. It is only proper for us to know where we are coming from, in order for us to be able to determine where we are going to.

I have been asking questions on what is fundamentally wrong with the black race. We have everything but do not put it to good use.

Brothers are killing their own brothers and sisters doing the same. Our forefathers have bequeathed so many traditional legacies to make life easy for us. Let us put them to good use,” he added.

The monarch urged traditional rulers as custodians of culture, to rise up to their responsibilities in safeguarding those cultural heritage that bound the people.

He noted that the traditional institutions were closer to the people and therefore, must also strive to work closer with the political leaders in improving the lives of the people.

According to him, both the traditional rulers and the politicians ought to lead exemplary lives.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the high point of the occasion was the launch of the institution’s Postgraduate Trust Fund.

The vice-chancellor, Professor Rahamon Bello said that the launching was aimed at providing special funding for academic and research programmes geared towards producing a high level manpower for the country and the world.

Meanwhile, the Dean, School of Postgraduate Studies, Professor Solomon Akinboye, had earlier said that the fund would be used to assist indigent students who were desirous of engaging in research which could be carried out within or outside the country.

Photo Credit: Instagram – @Ooniadimulaife

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) was established by the Federal Government of Nigeria in May 1976 to gather and distribute news on Nigeria and cover events of interest to Nigeria at the international level for the benefit of the Nigerian Media and the Public.


  1. Tkf

    July 7, 2016 at 8:41 pm

    Says you? Ain’t my brother married to a cheap –

    • Bukz

      July 7, 2016 at 10:37 pm

      Haaba! you don’t have the fear of God in you kobo to judge another human harshly. God used Rahab the prostitute but you sit there and judge when you can’t create an ant.

    • LLee

      July 8, 2016 at 1:51 am

      Cheap cheap shot!!! Tired of hearing it at every turn. Bitter, Twisted. He made his choice, it’s not your choice. Live with it. Bored of this opinion. Move on!

    • Damilola

      July 8, 2016 at 9:07 am

      I will like to know what these African beliefs and culture are. Then how beneficial to Africans it’s been.
      The solution to Africa’s problem is not going backwards rather be progressive since we human are evolving.
      It’s about balance, learn from the good of western belief and retain the good of African beliefs.

  2. Osa

    July 7, 2016 at 9:15 pm

    God bless u Oni of Ife, we need to emphasise dat for u to gain admission, u must pass Nigeria history a a subject. The reason our fore father laid the rules they did, was bcos they saw the future, but some greedy and wicked one hav com to hijack it. The say if a child stand on a mountain, he will still not see what a elderly one is seeing from the bottom of the mountain. We should promote our culture at every means over forign culture and African leader must pass laws to protect and respect African laws

  3. bee

    July 7, 2016 at 9:43 pm

    This is the type of stuff you say when you have run out of ideas. We shouldn’t be declaring war between African tradition and Western culture. We need not choose one over the other but rather think critically about what will further the African society and imbibe those progressive ideas without compromising our values. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

  4. Weezy

    July 7, 2016 at 9:49 pm

    You’d like that wouldn’t you, ooni? You’d love for sharp women to spend their time competing to be your 6th wife instead of running multinational companies and changing the world. You’d like everyone under the age of 50 to go back to respecting our elders no matter what they do or say because #elders. You’d love for traditional leaders who are simply born into their positions to have the authority to judge over the rest of us.

    Tell me, if “most of the things borrowed” from the west are damaging, who gets to decide what we keep and what we dispose? Is democracy damaging? How about children’s right to an education. Widows right to inherit property over the right of the man’s family to take his property?

    This man and his wife are peddling in a dangerous, dogwhistle provincialism. Instead of admiring their photos on social media, people (especially women) need to start asking them to be specific and give examples of what they are talking about.

    • osa

      July 7, 2016 at 10:17 pm

      @weezy, it is easier for u to run ur mouth, but u do not see the danger ahead, African men, you hav being warned and advised, make the right decision, follow the path our fore fathers have laid, it will protect us and lead us aright

    • Naijatalk

      July 7, 2016 at 11:54 pm

      Please keep qwayett lol! Ways of our forefathers indeed. Even the West had to evolved from the ways of their forefathers. You keep that which is good and you do away with the foolishness.
      @ weepy, hear! hear!

    • Naijatalk

      July 7, 2016 at 11:55 pm

      *had to evolve

    • Anonymous

      July 8, 2016 at 5:49 am

      Yh right. #traditionsarentstatic

    • Nahum

      July 7, 2016 at 11:35 pm

      Wo, GOD BLESS YOU WEEZY!!!! What cultures and traditions are we talking about sef? The traditions that do not encourage scientific thinking? The traditions that condemn ever old woman above the age of 50 as a witch? The traditions that brand little children as witches and kills them? The traditions that kills twins? Ooni please specify when you make such statements, we need to understand you well.

    • Ifeoye

      July 18, 2016 at 2:13 pm

      It funny how you all think but all I want to tell you is that one day you son would have a right to a gun and would shot you because he can’t afford and GF and you walked the lady out of your house, or rather you been arrested for correcting your child better still maybe you love and appreciate his words when your 5 years old boy tells you ” you most be stupid and when you try say anything he tells you he would tell the social worker that you are not responsible enough. To you all that don’t understand what is happening outside africa try work so more and travel to countries outside then and only then would you understand the Ooni. And to you @Nahum African culture is not against scientific thinking okay come to think of it despite the development within the like of France, UK, Spain, Canada and the USA the culture within them are all different yet develop so if you don’t understand the meaning of culture maybe you should all pick a sociology tutorial to gather more knowledge.

  5. nunulicious

    July 7, 2016 at 10:26 pm

    It would have been interesting to hear a few examples of what he had in mind when saying this.

  6. Lasisi

    July 7, 2016 at 11:13 pm

    This Ooni of Ife loves attention like a woman. Always in the news like he is the President of Nigeria. Fade away already or get busy with a meaningful project!!!

  7. Engoz

    July 8, 2016 at 1:35 am

    Science and technology, research and development are the drivers of strong economies. Great civilizations are built on innovations. The problem with Africa is that we are cursed with an intellectually decrepit elite in the form of traditional rulers and political leaders. It was the reason why black manpower (slaves) was exchanged for mere seaman aromatic schnapps, mirrors and beads. African traditional rulers engineered the selling of their kith and kin and started the precedence and worthlessness of black lives. I agree though everyone needs to know their History in order to emphasize and showcase the disgraceful role Africa’s traditional rulers played in the bastardization of the black African identity. Wherever the leaders and rulers take the people they govern, that is where the people will go. Having an intellectually decrepit elite is the bane of any society of which Africa boasts of. When a society is blessed with the dumbest elite on earth, it will refuse to install specialists and technocrats in strategic positions, it will refuse to see beyond his ethnic group. Northern Nigeria is suffering the effect of a mafia-like elite in colonial Nigeria who consciously and purposely refused to educate its masses but only educated their own kids. Boko haram is spurred out of the decisions their elite made. Again where the elites go is where the people follow. To compete on a world stage, you need science and technology. The refusal to develop on these subjects by our elites and political leaders has been the bane of Africa.

    • Nikky

      July 8, 2016 at 5:38 am

      ????????????. You better preach that gospel. Next election cycle now these ansestors that have refused to leave leadership for the youth will come in their PDP and APC formation to sell the same shyte they’ve been selling since 1960. Of cus we will be quick to buy as long as we get our bag of rice, tin tomatoes, vegetable oil, wrapper and scarf for rally, slippers, hand fan and other load of nonsense we are willing to sell our soul for.

      Anyway history is important. No doubt about that. I mean without history we will not know that our leaders and king makers today have been involved in government in some capacity since forever. And they are still here and will still be in the next cycle. So #yeahhhNigeria.

    • Gia

      July 8, 2016 at 10:55 am

      Engoz,can you please send me a photo?
      So that i can carve a statue with your lineaments?
      (Don’t worry i’m not a guy…lol)
      You said EXACTLY what i was thinking!

    • Haha

      July 8, 2016 at 2:08 pm

      Engoz please send me the photo too, don’t worry I am a guy.

  8. Dtruth

    July 8, 2016 at 1:51 am

    Right on Ooni starting with the brain wash Religions…the ones the Europeans used and continue to use in enslaving blacks….The bible in the new testament advises slaves to be obedient to the masters/owners…they did not give Africans access to anything apart from religion during slavery..Now tell me how that makes sense….Man know thyself and thou shalt know the Universe and the Gods……

  9. Joke

    July 8, 2016 at 2:25 am

    Very disappointed in the Oni. He is not an intellectual to be making such statements that were not well thought out. He needs to be schooled on so many things by a team of knowledgeable people. He means well, but many of his moves have been irritating to say the least including his dumbo – of a wife.

  10. Mabel

    July 8, 2016 at 2:48 am

    Why did he not give specific examples of what people need to be doing and how this will improve their lives and the well being of the country? What about the negative things of the past, should ppl move back to those too? Bitterness can look sweet in the rearview mirror of life. Every culture evolve, and all had to drop things that were detrimental to their advancement. There is nothing wrong with doing away with negative cultural practices.

  11. Naijatalk

    July 8, 2016 at 3:47 am

    BN moderator, what were you thinking when you decided to post my second comment which contained corrections to the initial comment?

    • Wanderlust _Trekeffect

      July 8, 2016 at 9:03 am

      Is BN supposed to make private corrections on your behalf??

    • Naijatalk

      July 8, 2016 at 10:02 am

      Comprehension is key. BN initially posted only one of my comments and the second one which was posted, contained corrections to the first so it made no sense.

  12. Kikiki

    July 8, 2016 at 9:05 am

    Lmao this one just landed on BN, ‘Princess’ that is how It is done here and on every other site on the planet, they don’t edit users comment, you write it, they post it. End of story

  13. Enn

    July 8, 2016 at 10:58 am

    I agree the Ooni has to have a rethink on the whole thing BUT I noticed something irritating in most comments why are u pple taking cheap shots at his wife,it’s really hypocrital & very foolish…”let he who’s without sin cast the first stone”…

  14. Jalord

    July 8, 2016 at 11:20 am

    The Ooni is on point! People just need to put their thinking cap on.

    There’s no perfection in Life but continous improvement.

    The African culture and custom are quite unique but it does require further evolment.
    what the man is simply saying in essence;
    You already have a civilization or way of life and all that is needed is continuous improvement rather than demonise it.

    Over the centuries people inherited their late brothers wealth including their wives but today that is no longer the case….Thats evolution.

    Twins were being killed actually but that’s not the case today….it’s evolvement.

    Build on what is on ground or improve some philosophy rather than waiting for new ideas from external people.

    The world is a global village and nothing wrong with learning from friends around the world.

    The West were even worst years and decades back with so many barbaric acts but they kept improving rather than demonise.
    china copy the west in so many ways but love it’s culture.

    I’m still very proud of my culture even though I may not follow the path of my ancestors or present older generation.

    People are forgetting that cultures and traditions are like Constitution that needs ammendment overtime. The process might be slow.

    You can’t be proud of your traditions today and demonise it tomorrow.

    • ade

      July 8, 2016 at 12:12 pm

      A pint of example is worth a gallon of advice. Let’s live by example!
      This Onigbese man should get rid of the MIC he is holding because that was not made from Ife’s traditions and tell his servants to go to markets and communuties in Ife to do “Ikedeo, Obani sofunyinpe ke wa si afin lola o”

  15. ElessarisElendil

    July 8, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    Chai, my ears are full. Africa sold slaves for common schnapps, Africa didn’t have science. Chai mbanu.

    In the real world: Africa did have science, read on the Timbuktu, Jenne libraries (concurrent to its historical period, we often forget the tech we take for granted is really young, horses were the main form of transport 200 years ago. IRONICALLY its the Generation, yes I’m talking to you 60s-80s peeps who allowed the gap to get colossal that are more likely to call out our ancestors for lacking science). The reason it sold slaves was simple, because land was communal, labour was viewed as a store of wealth. The same way the lords of Europe accumulated property, ours accumulated slaves. Of course a quirk of history shows that private property>communal but that’s aside today’s point. Further, the slaves were sold not for luxuries but to buy ammunitions e.t.c for state building exercises. Simple question which great empire was not built on the back of slaves???? Africans were progressing down the normal path of development then due to another quirk of history, equal parts geographic and Mongolian, the Europeans got guns from Asia, due to their little space spent centuries perfecting the art of war. The rest is well history.

    Africans were not inferior to the Europeans until well into the 18th century, again due to a geographical quirk, the new world giving them the production and most importantly resources of two continents, it triggered a whole lot of effects that propelled European dominance. However my point in all this was that this growing view of the inferiority of the African past needs to die, its one thing to face it with outsiders, but one’s Brothers and sisters. SMH.

    Final aside, killing witches was not unique to Africa, neither was human sacrifice. The Chinese, Japanese, Americans (South, Native) and even the Europeans did it.

    I agree with the Oni, just as the South Asian roll with their Confucian values and its drawbacks, Indians with their Hindutva, and Americans with Manifest Destiny let’s roll with ours. Somebody come up with a cool name for it.

    • Engoz

      July 8, 2016 at 4:16 pm

      “Chai, my ears are full. Africa sold slaves for common schnapps, Africa didn’t have science. Chai mbanu.”

      Mbanu, I believe you must have taken my post out of context. My comment ‘great civilizations are built on innovation’ also encompasses African civilizations such as Egypt, Timbuktu, Ashanti, Zimbabwe, etc and does not translate to Africa never had civilizations. But these civilizations are centuries long gone. Africa today does not prioritize on science. The degeneration of the African started from the slave trade. It may have not been evident in the 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th century, but it sure laid the foundations of its degeneration and finally peaked during colonialism. African slavers realized that by becoming involved in the trade they would become wealthy which would give them more power over their rivals. Therefore close ties between Africans and European tradesmen began. European traders, singly or in groups, would establish themselves under the protection of African rulers, who welcomed them for the sake of the imported manufactured goods they offered in return for slaves or other produce. The imported commodities were chiefly luxuries- textiles, hardware, tobacco, liquor anything that seemed more attractive than those produced locally. They also included firearms. Slaves were exchanged for guns, to fight wars to capture slaves to exchange for more guns. I know it will make us sleep well at night when we rationalize slavery to the ‘belief’ that our ‘land was communal’, ‘labour was viewed as a store of wealth’, ‘everyone sold slaves’….however the main crux of the matter was the exchange rate of a human soul for mere commodities like tobacco, drinks and guns not even gold or diamonds was ABYSMAL and shows a lack of a developed intellect from the African Elite.

      For these reasons, do not blame me for being skeptical when traditional rulers speak on reverting back to old customs. They have not been exemplary leaders. And an Igbo woman, the Igbo way entails that tradition and customs should never be stagnant. It should be open to changes, amendments, dialogue. We will only learn from history.

    • ElessarisElendil

      July 9, 2016 at 12:32 am

      That’s the thing, all the great civilizations you can think of, they were all built on the back of slaves and slave trading. What the Africans were doing was not outside the norm for their time. The Romans(Silk), Brits(Sugar), Dutch(Spices) e.t.c they all exchanged/used slave labour for luxuries as well, so again the Africans were normal.

      It can’t be colonisation either: India, South Korea, Singapore, North Korea, China(not colonised but pretty much ruined), Malaysia e.t.c all countries which were colonised and got their independence around the same period as us, all have greater technological achievements than Nigeria.

      If Nigerians had knuckled down between independence to even the 90s at most we’d be 20-30 years behind technologically, the people alive then chose to not be normal like their ancestors, focusing on the parochial, now we’re technologically behind centuries if not more.

      Might make you sleep better to blame traditions and ancestors, but every other advanced country had messed up ancestors (slave holding Americans for example) and traditions (foot binding Chinese) they’re doing fine, do they have two heads??

      Our ancestors may have not been as exemplary as those of say the Japanese or the Dutch or the Americans, they after all lost. So did the ancestors of the Chinese, look at them now. Of course tradition is not stagnant, it however has a base, a foundation, the Anglos are WASP+Magna Carta e.t.c, the South Asians Confucian, the Indians, Hinudu+Jainism+Buddhism e.t.c. Nigerians????????????

  16. Special1

    July 8, 2016 at 8:54 pm

    Which of the History, is the adulterated history lessons handed over to us by the colonial masters?

    • Special1

      July 8, 2016 at 8:55 pm

      *is it*

    • ElessarisElendil

      July 9, 2016 at 12:33 am

      The struggle is real, they’ve brainwashed so many. At least we’ve moved on from we thought they were gods.

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