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    2022 Winners of the Isaac Oluwole Delano Prize for Yoruba Studies



    Babcock University, the Isaac Delano Foundation, and Pan-African University Press

    Announce The

    2022 Winners of the

    Isaac Oluwole Delano Prize for Yoruba Studies


    Chair: Professor Bola Dauda

    Chief Akinwande Delano

    Professor Bola Sotunsa

    Professor Michael O. Afolayan

    Professor Olajumoke Yacob-Haliso

    JURY, 2020-2022

    Chair: Professor Toyin Falola

    Members: Professor Tunde Babawale, University of Lagos

    Professor Pamela Smith, Emeritus Professor, University of Nebraska, Omaha

    Professor Akin Akinlabi, Rutgers University

    Secretary: Mr Damilola Osunlakin, Ahmadu Bello University

    The Supervisory Board and Distinguished Jury for the Isaac Oluwole Delano Prize for Yoruba Studies 2022 are delighted to announce two winners in two categories for the Prize this year. The winning entries are Akin Ogundiran’s The Yoruba: A New History (Indiana University Press, 2020), in the book category, and Tunde Kelani’s Ayinla (Mainframe, 2021) in the creative and performance category. The prize includes a citation, a certificate, $1,000 to be shared equally among both awardees, and public acknowledgment at the annual Convocation Ceremony at Babcock University.


    Akin Ogundiran, The Yoruba: A New History (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2020)

    By their default social nature, humans are always seeking ways to connect with their fellow humans, concepts, or phenomena. This desire to connect is replicated in other aspects of human endeavors, particularly in academic disciplines. The interconnected nature of academic disciplines is well explained by the linkages between history, anthropology, and archaeology. Anthropology and archaeology lend credence to historical portrayals and studies, while history helps bring perspective and solidity to archaeology and anthropology. These three fields of study complement one another and are intertwined so that a skilled historian is also knowledgeable in anthropology and archaeology. In other words, it is difficult to trace the history of a people if we do not have some understanding of archaeology and anthropology.

    This outstanding book, The Yoruba: A New History, is about connections at multiple levels. It is an intellectually stimulating book for anyone, particularly for academics and scholars in history, anthropology, and archaeology. The book takes the reader on a journey that begins at the climax of its message, reverts to the genesis of the Yoruba, then maneuvers readers through different historical developments in the existence of the Yoruba people, and then returns to the starting point — the climax — in such an all-around intellectual stimulation. Every chapter of this 562-page commentary on the Yoruba is a matching piece in the academic puzzle that Professor Ogundiran has neatly arranged to form the insightful book on a new Yoruba history with complex and understandable analysis. Readers are immediately drawn into the deep, propelled by Ogundiran’s deft use of language to unravel the wide-cracking gap that has classified the study of African civilization and history. Ogundiran criticizes the disposition towards African study from early on, which sees the advent of Christianity and colonialism as the defining point in the cultural evolution of Africa.

    In the book, Ogundiran walks the reader through the need to study Yoruba history from the perspective of a holistic approach, one that includes comparative, theoretical, and empirical methods. This type of holistic study could help advance the research into the existence and evolution of the Yoruba people. It is easy to fall prey to the possible shallowness that mostly results from a study that does not look at history from varied perspectives. Ogundiran’s emphasis on portraying evolution and development during a distant time, not as independent capsules of time but as overlapping periods in continuous existence, is brought to the fore by how the book explores seven-time capsules as they overlap one another in the study of a new Yoruba history.

    Furthermore, Ogundiran unearths the four pillars of the Yoruba cultural identity, starting with the “House,” a symbol of the socio-political organization of the Yoruba people; to “Divine Kingship,” which represents governance and its structures in a deeply political society; the complementary existence of the two recognized genders in Yoruba history — the one complementing the other, and vice-versa; to what is perhaps represented across cultures and not only with the Yoruba people, which is fundamental to the reasoning and being of all humans — a search for meaningful living, the thirst after immortality, which in itself births religion. Also, Ogundiran captures the turbulences that characterized Yoruba civilization in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Although these upheavals did not destroy the Yoruba population, they displaced certain cities and engulfed other places like Owu.

    Remarkably, the narration is rich and powerful, aided by archaeological, linguistic, anthropological, and historical evidence that one can almost feel as being present at the locations mentioned and connected with the individuals whose stories the book narrates to show the evolutionary development of the Yoruba people across timeframes. The Yoruba: A New History is a well-rounded book that has registered its place among the invaluable scholarly outputs of our time.


    Tunde Kelani, Ayinla (Mainframe, 2021)

    Making a blockbuster movie is no mean feat. The arduous production process, the continuous refining of creative representations to ensure they project the finest of details, and the place of good storytelling, continuity, and the ability to connect with and sustain the audience’s attention cannot be overstated. Thus, when we consider Ayinla, the latest of Tunde Kelani’s movies, as a blockbuster, we should not only consider it as one of the top five highest-grossing movies in the Nollywood industry but also as a masterpiece that has registered its place as the defining point for biographical adaptations in the Nigerian entertainment industry.

    Another factor that lends awe to Ayinla’s widespread success is that it is dominantly presented in the Yoruba language. Despite this, the movie found widespread acceptance among viewers. It was a hit in cinemas and has been among the top 10 trending movies on Netflix for weeks, further testifying to the strength of the movie’s broad appeal and how quickly it gained popularity among Africans and other lovers of good productions. The things that make Ayinla deserving of praise pale compared to the movie’s awesomeness as a work of art. The movie demonstrates the artistic and creative ingenuity of the cast and crew, especially the producer and the writer, for an apt summation of the life of Ayinla, the musician, in such a eulogizing way, and the director, for the intricate selection of the cast. This has to be lauded because Ayinla is a beautifully arranged masterpiece. Since the movie premiere, not only has the director and the producer been receiving laurels, but the actors and actresses have also received their own warm and large share of the accolades, particularly Lateef Adedimeji, who did not just take on the role of Ayinla but rebirthed himself as the protagonist of the movie. Àyìnlá is the winner of the 2022 Programmer’s Best African Narrative Award in Los Angeles, California, USA.

    Literature is the mirror of life, and the Ayinla movie is another wonderful product of literature that mirrors different aspects of society during Ayinla’s existence and several circumstances that could have contributed to his untimely death. The portrayal of Ayinla in the movie is such that one cannot but love the protagonist’s character, regardless of his whimsical nature. Great commendation must be given to the director and producers for the attention paid to the movie’s setting. When one considers the financial resources pumped into creating a setting that suits the story, the intellectual capabilities forged together to birth the masterpiece, and the human resources pulled together to make the movie a success, one would realize that they must be priceless and invaluable.

    Research must have been conducted to learn about Ayinla’s hometown and his life. We see Ayinla, a musician and band leader subject to the whims and caprices popular among musicians — reneging on promises, devising dubious means to slip out of performing engagements, womanizing unashamedly, downtown brawls, one of which eventually led to his death, and general controversies. Watching Ayinla, the average person, no matter how old, can easily relate the struggles of Ayinla as a thespian to the struggles of artists across all ages, from the new-generation artists to the much older ones, and across genres of music, from hip-hop to Apala, to afrobeat, to highlife, and the likes. During Ayinla’s time, the indigenous religion was still widely accepted. Thus, self-protection, war-enhancing charms, prophecies, and destiny-unearthing ritual prayers were popular and not frowned upon. The viewers are made to see that Ayinla’s life starts to take a turn for the better when he consults the gods of his ancestors and accelerates the manifestation of his glorious destiny.

    Ayinla, the short-tempered, lovable, room-sparking musician, had at his fingertips the deft and rare skills of eulogizing to win people’s hearts and money. If viewers across countries and continents easily love the Ayinla character in the movie — so much so that the love has extended to Lateef Adedimeji for the excellent way he portrayed the character — one can only imagine how much people loved Ayinla during his lifetime. He was the typical Yoruba man who never shied away from saying what was on his mind — whether it was a profession of love, flirtatious words, abusive jabs for his enemies and sparse spenders, or huge words of praise for the big spenders. Ayinla was loved for this same reason. People did not just love Ayinla, the musician; they loved the full embodiment of Ayinla, the talented yet troubled virtuoso many easily misunderstood and the whimsical trouper whose fame was equally his downfall.

    Being only human, Ayinla was prone to infallibility. He surrounded himself with people he could not fully trust, resulting in an abrupt and painful end to his life at a time when he was supposed to grow in popularity astronomically. He was not all saint — but then, is anyone? He snatched his manager’s girlfriend and stepped on some other toes.

    Perhaps, what is most beautiful about the movie is how it is not only a representation of Ayinla’s life but also the way it reflects the lives of several other characters, which can be reviewed independently or seen as fragmented pieces of Ayinla’s life. In the Nigerian movie industry, Ayinla has set new standards in quality, details, directing, casting, and production for historical and biographical adaptations.


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    Renaming National Theatre after Soyinka a fitting recognition – NFVCB DG



    Renaming National Theatre after Soyinka a fitting recognition – NFVCB DG

    The Director-General of the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB), Shuaibu Hussaini, has commended President Bola Tinubu for renaming the National Arts Theatre in Lagos, after Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka.

    Hussaini, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday, described the development as “the kind of recognition one will wish for a giant like Wole Soyinka”.

    Akonitv that the President disclosed this in a tribute personally written and signed by him on Friday in Abuja, to mark Soyinka’s 90th birthday.

    The President renamed the National Theatre as Wole Soyinka Centre for Culture and the Creative Arts.

    It read: “Professor Soyinka, the first African to win the Nobel Literature Prize in 1986, deserves all the accolades as he marks the milestone of 90 years on earth.

    “Having beaten prostate cancer, this milestone is a fitting testament to his ruggedness as a person and the significance of his work.

    “It is also fitting we celebrate this national treasure while he is still with us.

    “I am, accordingly, delighted to announce the decision of the Federal Government to rename the National Theatre in Iganmu, Surulere, as the Wole Soyinka Centre for Culture and the Creative Arts.”

    Hussaini commended the President for his interest and passion for the arts.

    “It takes somebody who is passionate to remember that this kind of man needs to be recognised with this kind of iconic structure like the National Theatre.

    “It is a welcome development. I am happy because there is nothing you want to name after Soyinka that will be enough compared to what he has done in the literary world.

    “So, this is a fantastic news and welcome development. It is also the President’s interest that made him create a separate ministry for arts, culture, and creative economy because culture has always been an appendage of the Ministry of Information.

    “For us in the arts, this is a fitting reward and recognition for the great feat that Wole Soyinka has achieved, not just for himself, but for Nigeria and Africa as a whole,” Hussaini said.

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    Ecobank’s “Adire Lagos” opens in grand style with over 100 exhibitors



    Ecobank’s “Adire Lagos” opens in grand style with over 100 exhibitors

    The annual Ecobank “Adire Lagos” exhibition has taken off in grand style with over 100 exhibitors showcasing their wares. The 4-day fair which opened June 14 and ends 17th, is taking place at the Ecobank Pan African Centre (EPAC) in Lagos.

    Originating from Abeokuta in Southwestern Nigeria, Adire textile is an indigenous indigo-dyed cloth made by using different wax-resistant methods to create dazzling designs.

    The four-day Adire exhibition, returning for the third year in a row, is to promote culture, tourism, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and enable them benefit from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Some of the international exhibitors at the fair include Adire Oodua, Tampoori, Jide Batik, Janae, Asologe and host of others.

    The fair is set to witnessing influx of topflight exhibitors, government functionaries, culture enthusiasts, social media influencers, artistes, local and foreign tourists, traditional rulers, and members of the diplomatic community. It provides an exceptional opportunity to network with entrepreneurs, shoppers, and everyone in the business of Adire.

    Speaking at the opening ceremony, the Executive Director, Commercial Banking, Ecobank Nigeria, Kola Adeleke said the exhibition is part of the efforts of the bank to support the creative industry in the country, adding that it was also to promote micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and help them benefit from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

    According to him, “As you all know, we are part of a Pan African bank which operates in 33 countries of Africa. We always look out to support various initiatives on the continent and this adire exhibition fits into the scheme. As you can see, today, we have over 100 merchants who are being given the opportunity to showcase their adire products. This is the biggest that we’ve ever seen.

    It is an international exhibition. We want to support them all the way, train them and make them international brands with indigenous backgrounds. We want to ensure they are able to export their locally-created products across the continent. This is also one way to support the Nigerian economy.”

    Exhibitors and attendees alike were enthusiastic and full of commendation for Ecobank. Ecobank Nigeria, a key driver of tourism, culture and the creative industries in Nigeria, recently hosted the +234Art, a 10-day art fair dedicated to nurturing and uplifting the burgeoning art industry in Nigeria.

    The fair provided a platform to support emerging artists and encourage increased interest in art acquisition; the bank organised the Photography, Art, and Design Exhibition (PADE) to commemorate World Photography Day in 2022; the bank also partnered “Songs & Stories” With Cobhams Asuquo; Redbull Dance Your Style; BellaNaija Style Summit and Loosing Daylight (An exhibition of the history of Nollywood organised by Nse Ikpe-Etim)

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    Makinde Inaugurates New Olubadan Palace, Says 11 LGAs To Maintain Edifice



    Makinde Inaugurates New Olubadan Palace, Says 11 LGAs To Maintain Edifice

    Ahead of the formal coronation of the new Olubadan of Ibadan Land on Friday, July 12, 2024, the new Olubadan Palace was on Wednesday evening commissioned in Ibadan, by the Oyo State governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde.

    Akonitv reports that the new Palace project was initiated by the immediate-past administration of late Governor Abiola Ajimobi.

    Governor Makinde, who took to his verified social media handles on Wednesday night to disclose the development, thanked the late Governor Ajimobi; a former President of the Central Council of Ibadan Indigenes (CCII), Chief O. O. Bello; Chief Bayo Oyero, and all Ibadan indigenes, who contributed to make the project a reality.

    He added that for the second phase of the palace, the State government will include renovating the Bower’s Tower in order to boost tourism in the State.

    Makinde wrote: “This evening, we commissioned the new Olubadan Palace in Ibadan. The event gave us an opportunity to acknowledge and thank everyone who made it possible including former Governor Abiola Ajimobi who started it, the former President of the Central Council of Ibadan Indigenes (CCII), Chief O. O. Bello, Chief Bayo Oyero, and all Ibadan indigenes who contributed to make the project a reality.

    “To maintain this new palace, we have established a process where all 11 local government councils in Ibadan will contribute to its upkeep on a monthly basis. For the second phase of the palace, we will also include renovating the Bower’s Tower, to boost tourism in our dear State. We are looking forward to the coronation of our Olubadan this Friday.”

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