Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola at the opening of the Conference of Black Nationalities in Osogbo
African Diaspora regards Nigeria as a very important nation in the area of African Renaissance. The whole world is not unaware of the strategic importance of Nigeria. Famed Nelson Mandela spoke the minds of millions of people on the importance of the country to the Black race when he commented that: ‘’Nigeria stood by us (South Africa) more than any nation. ‘’The world will not respect Africa until Nigeria earns that respect. The black people of the world need Nigeria to be great as a source of pride and confidence. Do you have lessons on how your past leaders stood by us and gave us large amounts of money? You know I hear from Angolans and Mozambicans and Zimbabweans how your people opened their hearts and their homes to them. ‘’I was in prison then, but we know how your leaders punished western companies who supported Apartheid’’
In 2010, far away in Rio de Janeiro, Federative Republic of Brazil, a Brazilian black civil rights activist, writer, painter, and scholar, who was also a Nobel Laureate nominee, Abdias do Nascimento said the unexpected: He was willing to die in Nigeria! It was on the occasion of the visit of then Governor OlagunsoyeOyinlola to Brazil and Cuba to sensitize the international community on the First Global Conference of Black Nationalities that held in Osogbo, Osun State in August, 2010. It drew participants from all over the world and further opened up Nigeria to the international community, with several people tracing their roots in attendance. The then Vice President Namadi Sambo confessed that he threw away his pen on his desk in his office to watch the live telecast of the event for about an hour. He was amazed that a white British woman Prof. Karen Barber, an expert in Yoruba studies at the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom (named AjikeOlokuku) rendered flawless Yoruba prose at the opening of the conference. Chief Obasanjo added colour to the opening ceremonies by dancing heartily with young Ekemini Dancers of Akwa Ibom State. Whoever has seen that cultural troupe perform would attest to the fact that those young talents are great ambassadors of Nigeria any day, and they deserve huge exposure, and encouragement. Elsewhere, all of them will be millionaires today as they would have been properly managed. Senator GodswillAkpabio& Governor Udom Emmanuel: over to you.
Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola and Dr. Abdias do Nascimentos in Brazil
Now, back to the substantive issue. Governor Oyinlola had invited Abdias to witness the conference which was first mooted by the AwiseAgbaye, Prof. Wande Abimbola when he was serving as the Special Adviser to the Nigerian President on Culture. Abdias, who had a brief stint at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife from 1976 to 1977 had nostalgic feelings of returning to Nigeria at the age of 96 years; but his doctors warned that he would not be able to bear the stress of the trip. Abdias do Nascimento then voiced out his desire to make the trip to Nigeria, even if he died after setting his feet on Nigeria. He said he would be happy if he ended his terrestrial journey on that note. Not only that. Abdias pleaded with all Africans in the Diaspora to ensure that they visit Nigeria, particularly Osun State at least once during their sojourn on earth. And those utterances from a person of the caliber of late Abdias do Nascientos speak volumes about how Blacks in the Diaspora value and cherish Nigeria, as well as the inherent potentials of Nigeria. Dr. Abdias do Nascimento died barely one year later May 24, 2011. During his eventful sojourn on earth, he founded several Afro-Brazilian rights and arts groups, including the Black Experimental Theater, which defied the segregated tradition of using black-faced actors in Brazilian theatre; the Afro-Brazilian Democratic Committee; the Museum of Black Art; and the Afro-Brazilian Studies and Research Institute, known as IPEAFRO.
Oyinlola, who was at the Aso Rock Villa in company with officials of the World Conference of Black Mayors to brief Arc, Namadi Sambo on another international conference planned to hold in Osun State under the auspices of the Centre for Black Culture & International Understanding in March 2011, told Sambo that Black people in the Diaspora are generally highly conscious of their roots and heritage and have, therefore, done a lot to maintain, protect and project the rich cultural heritage of Nigeria and Black people. Beyond Africa, large concentration of Blacks who believe they originated from Nigeria could be found in countries like Trinidad & Tobago, Cuba, Argentina, Brazil, Papua New Guinea, Haiti, South-America, Barbados, Jamaica, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Uruguay. He said part of the gains and outcomes of the culture and tourism drive was the possibility that many of these potential visitors would fall in love with what they see and decide to relocate to Nigeria, or at least have stronger connections with Nigeria in diverse fields.
Deoscóredes Maximiliano dos Santos (MENSTRE DIDI)
And in Salvador, Mestre Didi, another prominent Brazilian who apparently traced his roots to Nigeria was delighted about the Conference of Black Nationalities. He also loved to visit Nigeria, but for his advanced age of 93 years; but he still appeared fairly agile. You could read the joy of knowing about the event holding in Nigeria on the faces of Black Brazilians. Deoscóredes Maximiliano dos Santos was a writer known for Masquerade (Egungun) festivals. Menstre Didi was the head of Asipa family quarters in Salvador, Bahia and was noted to be one of Brazil’s greatest high priests called: ‘Babalorishas’ in Bahia. His origin was traced to great hunters and exploiters of the nations of Oyo and Ketu, located in Nigeria. His priestly initiation took place at the age of 7 years and he gradually rose to the position of High Priest Alapini – IpekunOye – the highest hierarchy in the cult of the ancestors in the Yoruba tradition in Bahia, and was a strong influence in Salvador.
Looking back, all these point in one direction: Nigeria has huge potentials for greatness and God is not done with the country yet. I remember the prophecy that came through late Revd S.G. Elton in which God clearly affirmed that: ‘’Nigeria will be known for corruption, and Nigeria will thereafter also be known for righteousness world wide.”Many shall take hold of him that is a Nigerian, saying, we will go with you for we have heard that God is with you,” (Prophecy by Revd. S.G. Elton, a British Missionary who was divinely ordered to vacate the United Kingdom to go and live in Ilesa, Osun State in 1937) But God’s principle remains that He will not do His own part until we human beings accomplish our part of the bargain. Building Nigeria and repositioning Nigeria for greatness is a collective task. Good Governance, prayers and social responsibility are the prime recipes.
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