By providence, one came across his blog sometime in late June 2015 while looking at different samples of functional blogs. It was lovely. The design, the colours, the layout, and above all, the contents were captivating. The contents were quite educative and interesting.
As one glanced through, the urge to meet him grew. One would really love to speak with him, learn more and ask plenty questions about certain aspects of the African culture and civilization.
His very busy schedules scuttled our plans for awhile. Meeting with him was becoming like an uphill task until one started seeing light at the end of the tunnel.
After three months of persistent effort, SPLENDID! eventually got the opportunity, albeit for a short while. We met with Mr. Olalekan Oduntan, the brain behind www.olalekanoduntan.blogspot.com . A blog one could very well consider an online custodian of the African culture and civilization with particular emphasis on the Yoruba traditions, the first of its kind.
In consideration of all we knew about him, we expected to see someone “extraordinary”. But the University of Lagos Theatre Arts graduate who is also an author, stage artiste, songwriter, musician, percussionist, chanter and a blogger turned out simple, cerebral and very unassuming.
In a brief chat with SPLENDID! he spoke about his works, spirituality and why the black man is lagging behind.
With your academic background and experience, why didn’t you consider a career in Nollywood instead of going the way of African tradition and culture?
This is because a lot is hidden from the people out there about us. It is a task that is not very easy. Somebody has to start it. Someone got to make the people in the west (northern hemisphere) to get to know more about us. Just like the late legendary Fela Anikulapo did. He conquered the western world through his music and they travelled from all over the world to come and meet with him.
He had other chooses, he met other musicians on the stage when he started, but he opted for his own genre of music which he suffered for and eventually projected him to limelight. Though he is late today, he is still celebrated all over the world. We should have individuals that should think in that direction.
How far have you gone in promoting the African culture?
I have always been doing that through my music. For instance when we did “Sango, the Legendary African King” by Chief Wale Ogunyemi, I wrote almost all the songs in that film and it was done to promote our culture, particularly my constituency the Yoruba culture.
You can see the direction things are going nowadays. Everybody has derailed. You cannot see anything cultural in our ways of life.
In your opinion, why did they derail?
They derailed because there are no other pivots as we used to have in those days. For instance, we have seen what Fela Anikulapo was able to do through music. How many of our youth today are privileged today to find out where they are coming from? Fela Kuti said: We don’t know ourselves. We don’t even know our ancestral heritage.
We only know what we have been fed through the media. With no guidance from anywhere, of course the youth of today would derail. Speaking our dialects for instance is a problem. In most home now, parents don’t want their children to speak in the mother tongue because everybody wants to go the western way. So how would we not derail?
The fault is more from the society; society because we are not doing enough to promote our culture. Look at the National Arts Theatre for instance, that is supposed to be the custodian of our tradition, a place to showcase your culture and tradition. There is nothing there.
When we were growing up we used to watch the legends of the theatre like Hubert Ogunde and all the doyens of the African theatre who were imparting culture. But today we don’t have them anymore.
How significant has your blog been in the promotion of African culture to Africans and the world at large?
In fact, I am very overwhelmed with the response. I never even thought that people in the West (northern hemisphere) are yearning for information about us. For instance, you cannot play the white man’s music better than him. That is why you see our Fuji musicians doing better, because it is more of percussion, than the people who are going the western way. Yes, within a short period of time they will make the money but they will fizzle out. You cannot compare the late Chief Osita Osadebe, he is gone now, but people still enjoy his works. You cannot compare with Sir Victor Uwaifor whose music is still reigning as we talk.
So likewise the people in the West are yearning to know more about us, because they have come to realize that our potentials are much more than what they succeeded in taking from us during the colonial era. Even we Africans have not been able to fully explore it to our advantage. That is making us to lag behind. We can never be like the whites. It’s not possible. Technologically, we are not there. We don’t have it.
Which particular information about your works interests them the most?
We are spiritual people. But we are kind of too secretive about it. We don’t want to let go of our knowledge spiritually. Most practitioners of such knowledge die with it. Some didn’t even get to impart such knowledge to their children.
For instance, Numerology has to do with numbers. Ifa too has something to do with numbers. What is the secret about it? If numerology is dealing with numbers, ifa too is dealing with numbers. So for you to be able to know ifa, you have to study the numbers, you have to know what the numbers are saying just like numerology. This gave them the impression that we were not like our forefathers. We are trying to reach-out now, to open up.
Besides information on your blog, have you had cause to travel overseas to impart this knowledge?
With what I am currently doing, I have not travelled but I know the time for that is drawing near because I have started receiving invitations for lectures and seminars.
But regarding my acting, being an actor, I have done a lot of travelling.
Would you consider the whites more interested in learning more than the Africans?
Forever and ever, the whites are ready to learn. My people are also interested because they now see that somebody is bold enough to take bull by the horn and talk about this thing.
Why was nobody bold before now, was it a risky venture?
It’s because people were actually afraid to talk about it.
When you say “it”, what? About what?
It’s a kind of spiritual information about African spirituality. Few of the whites who know about it respect Africa. For instance, if you go to the United Kingdom today, Queen Elizabeth is the spiritual head in Britain. Every institution including the government are under her spiritual supervision. In the same way United States of America has lords. These people are reserved and consulted for information, knowledge and advice on the country’s affairs. Likewise, we have also in Africa. It’s with our spirituality that we get to know these people; talk to them and seek advice.
Ifa, for instance; there is nothing you want to know about yourself that Ifa would not tell you. Ifa will tell you about the past, present and the future. But here in this part of the world, we are not spiritual. We are only religious.
And the whites; are they also religious?
The white people are spiritual. They don’t care about religion. They push religion to us Africans. They push it to us because today, we regard anything about our culture as being fetish.
They use their spirituality to supercede us. That is what is happening to today. That is why I cited the example of Fela Kuti. When he was alive he was an Ifa man. He was an Ifa priest. When the white people saw that they respected it; and they never joked with till he died. They saw him as one among thousands of Africans who knew himself.
Most of the so-called religious people in Africa are “blending” religious people. Most of them go about with the Bible and the Quran professing their religion however, most of the spiritual problems they have they know where to they go in the “night” to solve them. We are too pretentious. Anything that is ours we don’t want to identify with it. If you see how they flock the churches and the mosques today you will see that majority, even the so-called head of the religious organization they still practice our traditions secretly. They would not let anybody know this to prevent disintegration and dispersal of the congregation.
Africa would have been much more developed today if we had not abandoned our roots, our lineage. How do I mean? Everything that Africa is doing today is to copy the white man. Be it government, be it anything it’s to copy the white man. But the white man that brought this knowledge to you is it to their own advantage over-there and he is getting results.
Let’s talk about your books
The first is Odara. It’s about how the devil came to the world. We were told that devil was the one that went to get the clay with which Adam was made because devil was God’s right hand (angel) man. Devil was expelled by God to the world because he never agreed that man should be superior to him. Hence during the course of arguing with God, devil was expelled from heaven. As he left, he promised to work against all God’s followers and gather his own followers. Hence, bad occurrence (hunger, accident, poverty, witchcraft, diseases, and so on) are always attributed to the devil.
The second book is called Vengeance. It’s about two very poor friends who visited and fortuneteller to know their future. It was revealed that Enitan would be very rich. Olaosebikan was not happy with the revelation that his friend would be richer than him so he went to a blacksmith. He got two iron rods with pointed edges.
He was able to persuade his friend to accompany him to his mother’s village. While in the bush very close to a mahogany tree, he used a charm to render Enitan unconscious; he stuck the rods into his eyes, nailed him to the tree and left him there.
While there two owls perched on the tree and started exchanging knowledge of different herbal medicines. As he writhed in pains (as he was stuck to the tree through the eyes), Enitan listened and imbibed the discussions of the birds. The birds finished their exchange and flew away.
As for the first medicine, if a person has been blind all his life and he plucks leaves from the right-hand side of this man writhing in pain; squeezes the juice into the affected eyes he will regain his sight. Enitan followed the instruction and he regained his sights.
Regarding the second medicine, if one gets the leaves on the left side; squeeze them in a bucket he will be so rich that his generation yet unborn will not be able to exhaust his wealth. Enitan followed the instructions and he became super rich.
The third book is Revelation of Our Dreams. The book shows and explains to you the different meanings and interpretations to your dreams.
All books are available on www.amazon.com.