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Alao Adedayo: Journalism For The Promotion Of Yoruba Language And Culture



Dele Jegede In Conversation With Prince Yemisi Shyllon

Alao Adedayo: Journalism For The Promotion Of Yoruba Language And Culture




Toyin Falola

This month, The Yoruba Studies Association of Nigeria will be marking its 50th anniversary. It is a remarkable moment for the association, those who developed the foresight to make it grow over the years, and the enthusiasm of its current members. The Toyin Falola Interviews is glad to be part of this anniversary. As part of our contribution, we devote the interview on Sunday, October 17, to an extensive conversation on promoting Yoruba languages and cultures. The prominent editors of Yoruba Studies Review, Professor Arinpe Adejumo of the University of Ibadan and Professor Tunde Akinyemi of the University of Florida, as well as the accomplished writer, poet and translator, Professor Akinloye Ojo, will interview Alao Adedayo, the brain behind the leading Yoruba newspaper and television station, Alaroye.

Every ex-colony faces one horrible challenge: the survival of its cultural identity, and this situation is more aggravated by the scarcity, if not absence, of individuals who are interested in lending a hand of rescue to this identity. This condition is usually occasioned because people have weak foundations of their cultural traditions in an environment where colonial values are placed above their indigenous ones. The preservation of ex-colonized people’s identity would not have experienced such arduous problems provided that they have individuals who would drive their heritages into the subconscious of the forthcoming or younger generations.

However, the problems persist because those who know their past are first ostracized from serving as socialization agents to the younger ones by creating an alarmist narrative, so much that they are devoid of the requisite knowledge and understanding to transform the lives of their people following the dictates of contemporary development. When this is practised repeatedly, the people’s cultures suffer abandonment, and their identity is suppressed gradually and furtively. In all these uncomfortable conditions, it takes only the courageous ones to stand up and then stand out in their rescue strategy to save their identity from potential damnation.

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In the case of the Yoruba culture, Mr. Alao Adedayo is one of the illustrious sons of the Yoruba people who decided to face-save his ancestral identity by establishing a newspaper business that would project the aspirations of the people, their challenges, and also make known the different philosophical ideas that are etched in their language. The vibrant young man trained as a journalist and immediately became a significant figure in the Nigerian journalism industry. He began his news reportage sojourn in the printing form at about 1985, when he was barely 25 years old. This means that he had a clear vision of what he wanted to achieve, and he did not give in to distractions that could swerve him away from the lofty dream of being an instrument of change for the cultural traditions of his people. Establishing a journalism firm in an indigenous language in a postcolonial environment is like staging a powerful protest that does not enjoy enough patronage by the people. This is because even when the government of the ex-colonies does not mandate anyone to use or discard a particular language as the language of their business, the realization that people craved for their imperialist’s language could pressure indigenous languages out of vogue.

Alao Adedayo: Journalism For The Promotion Of Yoruba Language And Culture

Ifa Work
Source: Daily Advent Nigeria

Therefore, the emergence of the Alaroye Newspaper served different purposes to preserve the Yoruba identity in a world constantly evolving into what supported imperialist establishment than others. Meanwhile, the preservation of the culture was necessary for different reasons. There is a consensus that many ex-colonies have beautiful cultural traditions and history that are worth looking into only if the people would have a marvellous compass and goodwill to embark on such a journey. Consequently, it would be discovered that a people’s power lies in their cultural traditions because they are not only disposed to seeing the world from that perspective, they also draw a large part of their moral and spiritual philosophies from the template of their indigenous structures, which were bequeathed to them by their ancestors and past generations. When the people’s language now becomes entirely strange to them because it is neither used as an instrument of education nor employed in the execution of commercial engagements, they would express ideas that are not grounded in their indigenous epistemology. For that reason, they would not be expressing themselves in whatever engagement they have but would be projecting a different cultural agenda. Mr. Adedayo is against such an end, and he decided to fight it with his Alaroye newspaper industry.

The promotion of news in an indigenous language seeks to achieve something outstanding and marvellous, and that is the idea that it would have a broader readership. Many people with their cultural knowledge do not need an extensive educational background to understand the orthographical system of their language. Because they have residual knowledge of their cultural traditions, they flow effortlessly when it comes to sharing or consuming information that is relayed in their indigenous language. For this reason, more people are involved in the dissemination of information that concerns their people. And under this reality, more people become very powerful in deciding the political and economic process of their environment. This means that the empowerment that indigenous language usage brings cannot be undermined, making the people who use it more powerful than can be readily explained. This explains why the Alaroye has been a massive success since its foundation in 1996 to contemporary time. More than it could be thought of, promoting the Yoruba language through a newspaper industry has helped win more people’s attention in issues associated with their sociopolitical state.

In addition to this, a multi-ethnic country like Nigeria needs a constant reminder of their diverse cultural traditions, which can only be guaranteed by outlets that project their heritages only in the way they have done by the Alaroye newspaper industry. We should be informed that even in academics, there is a need to redirect the people’s interest towards a line of research. In the case of the Alaroye, the exploration of the Yoruba language and their culture attracts potential researchers into knowing more about the traditions. Through the rendition of cultural practice in their columns, interested persons would want to dig more about their cultural identity, which would always bring numerous economic benefits to the people whose culture is explored. The fact that the newspaper industry uses the Yoruba language as its instrument of communication increases its cross-border significance because individuals in the diaspora community derive a measure of pride when they come across their language and culture being preserved and packaged into something ethereal. In essence, no one needs additional information about an identity of a newspaper outlet that projects the language of the people.

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More importantly, the Alaroye has been very informative. Apart from the educative purposes that it serves among the people, this indigenous newspaper forum has helped to paint messages in a tangible and creative form. No one can deny that an alien language cannot fully represent a sociocultural experience the same way their indigenous language will. In essence, the idea of relaying the people’s day-to-day experiences in their mother tongue helps to drive home the necessary points that need to be made in some instances. One needs no soothsayer to predict that the people would massively receive such a newspaper outlet. It is apparent that they relate to it more than they would relate to journalism that ostracizes their cultural experiences through language use. Some issues and matters are understood only by people who share similar cultural experiences with the language of instruction, which non-members of the identity cannot correctly understand. Because of their strangeness to outsiders, they would not be adequately depicted in the language that is not indigenous to it and would, therefore, potentially lose interest in them. But for such an opportunity that Alaroye has provided, such news gets aired to people in their preferred language.

Alao Adedayo: Journalism For The Promotion Of Yoruba Language And Culture

Photo: Iyere (Piper guineese)
Source: Keepklen


Alao Adedayo is the brain behind the evolution of Nigerian journalism that centers on indigenous language use. Through the persistence of his dream, he has expanded the frontiers of journalism to encourage others who share a similar ambition. In essence, he can be seen as a courageous fighter and a fantastic person with uncommon foresight. The rise of the indigenous newspaper industry, which he championed, experienced a series of challenges that toppled and consolidated the conclusion that he was ready to withstand every temptation that came his way. For a project that he began in 1996 and which suffered immediate downfall, Alao’s rejuvenation of such a project attests to his commitment and determination to make his presence known in that domain. Although it would appear that he was dedicated to such ambition so that he would achieve personal success, it is essential to emphasize the fact that some dreams, while they appear to grace the dream of the dreamer with success, also help in the transformation of a people or social group. Such is the case with Mr. Adedayo’s Alaroye newspaper. Obviously, it is evidence of success for the pursuant of the dream because it has expanded widely and extraordinarily. In the same vein, it remains a shining success for the Yoruba people because it represents them and projects their culture beyond the shores of their cultural geography.

Even when the newspaper industry overshadows many other significant feats associated with this outstanding individual, it cannot eclipse them generally from relevance because they also speak for themselves. One of the most significant additions to Alao’s journalism career is that he is also a writer. Although it would appear that being a journalist draws one close to being a writer, it cannot be overemphasized that not all journalists understand the art of creative writing. This is because writing requires creativity and organization that supersedes what can be found in journalism. For this reason, it takes an extra amount of creativity and zeal to become an author. Despite the challenges involved, Alao also falls within the category of Nigerian authors because he has written a couple of books. In one of his books, Ọrọ Kan, Owe Kan, which loosely translates to “One Word, One Proverb,” the cultural particularity of the Yoruba people is explored. From the book, one discovers that Yoruba people freely use aphorism in their conversations. It is so because they have a moral and linguistic purpose for using their expressions in such ways. Elders in conversation employ proverbs because they assume that they have more knowledge and experience at their disposal, which they share with the younger ones at every conversational possibility.

Ọrọ Kan, Owe Kan educates the readers about the importance of moral fabrics in society and establishes the position of every individual in the development and evolution of their people. It is apparent that the proverbs employed in conversation situations are used for various reasons. One of them is to educate the audience about the moral architecture of the Yoruba society. To do this, the elders deploy different sayings to reinforce their argument about the need for a strong moral character. They encourage younger ones to be hardworking without having to spell it to them.

In most cases, the meanings of proverbs are left for the voyeuristic and exploitative interest of the listeners, who are expected to do some findings to associate what is being said in the context of the conversation. This is the foundation for the book’s title, Oro Kan, Owe Kan. Proverbs also tell history, and Yoruba elders do not undermine the place of history in the building or development of their civilization. This is usually because, through the knowledge of history, a younger generation would understand what has been done by their forebears and would thus be keen on building an additional legacy that would outlast them so that the succeeding generations would also find something vital to leverage and work on.

Another defining work of Adedayo is Ọmọ Yoruba Atata, a creative work that educates readers about the Yoruba. It is grounded in the philosophy of the people as it talks about the characteristics of anyone who shares that identity. Among many other things, it is established that Yoruba people value the philosophical concept of “Ọmọluabi,” where Ọmọluabi designates the term used to refer to individuals who are morally upright, emotionally intelligent, mentally stable and ideologically sound. Although such a concept helps construct individuals who would become important to themselves and their society, it does not indicate that not being an Omoluabi automatically extradites an individual from their Yoruba identity. However, what it does is that it places some form of dishonour on the individual because they have become a liability to their culture. Beyond the showcasing of Ọmọluabi as someone who is considered as Ọmọ Yoruba Atata (a good representative of the Yoruba identity), the book emphasizes how morality works in the construction of a collective identity that projects the carriers in good descriptions. It is worthy of reiteration that being a good referent of the Yoruba culture encapsulates being the ethical ambassador of the people in whatever position the individual finds themselves.

Alao Adedayo: Journalism For The Promotion Of Yoruba Language And Culture

Photo: Sango Festival
Source: OU Tour


While it appears that Alao helps in the preservation of Yoruba ancestral legacies in these works, he has also written books that indicate he is a conscience of his Yoruba identity, and this can be immediately spotted in his work, Yoruba, Nibo La n Lo? (“Yoruba, where are we going?”). This book serves as a self-reflection message for the people aware of the Yoruba people’s progress in history and contemporary times. It appears that looking at the history of the people, they were so advanced that they maintained a beautiful and unique trajectory for themselves before they came in contact with the European and Arabs who came for expansionist agenda. However, the situation became scarier as the colonial system of the imperialists was introduced to them. That period saw the underdevelopment of the Yoruba culture because not only did it experience deliberate putdown by the colonialists, but it also became stagnant because it was not promoted as it used to be. The situation abated with the acquisition of independence under the white administration, but the ugly incidence raised its head again as the neocolonialist structure overtook the terrain of their governance. This affected the Yoruba people a lot, putting a question mark on their trajectory of development. This is the issue that the writer seeks to address in this book, Yoruba, Nibo La N Lọ?

Having made all these accomplishments, it is indisputable that eminent personalities in Nigeria and beyond feel the impact of Mr. Adedayo and his revolutionary ideas. Because they are aware that he has a broader reach, there have been series of accolades and tributes that he has been accorded in recent history. And because news circulation to the grassroots has remained a powerful instrument in shaping people’s opinions, his newspaper became very active in the public court of justice by providing people with the necessary information they need to navigate their existence. Considering the role that his newspaper played in agitation for the unjust annulment of the 1993 presidential election, which came to the favor of Chief Moshood Kashimawo Abiola, it dawned on the Nigerian government that the power of the news circulated by Alaroye is influential and imposing. The combination of the fact that a Yoruba man had been denied of his political mandate and that the military leadership trumped a democratic choice of the people worked in the fuel of the newspaper as it became widely received by an audience that appeared thirsty of whatever information shared in the medium.

The Alaroye newspaper continues to dominate the market, an indication that its management board are especially tactful, market-ready, and innovative because the survival of journalism in the country, especially in an era when increasing interest is shown to the English language more than other languages, sustaining the people’s interest requires a different level of creativity. Such creativity enables the newspaper to explore different areas of stories that activate the readers’ voyeuristic experiments. For example, the expansion of the Alaroye newspaper to give room for Iriri Aye Alaroye holds the people’s interest because it explores issues that happen around the world from which people can learn and then use the knowledge to navigate their own lives. This is not only the creativity introduced to the Alaroye newspaper. It is garnished with more entertainment news that makes people take the industry as their go-to source whenever they want to be abreast of happenings around them. His entertainment news features Nollywood stars and music artists, and their stories always attract people who want to be informed about their progress.

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Meanwhile, Adedayo’s success story is mixed with various experiences of challenges and trials. He did not become the beacon of hope for the indigenous Yoruba journalism he has been known for today without having his shares of rugged experience which stretched his very creative ingenuity to the limit. Raised in Abeokuta, schooled in Ado Ekiti at the University of Ado Ekiti, Ambrose Ali University, Edo State, and the Lagos Business School, the combination of toughness and persistence made him come out as victorious and also helped him attain his position of social importance. His journalism expertise does not come without corresponding sacrifices in different forms. For example, he began his career in journalism at the Lagos State Broadcasting Corporation (Radio Lagos), where he was test-running his knowledge and experience of news reportage. Eventually, he worked at the Federal Radio Corporations of Nigeria (FRCN) and Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), where he was very active and instrumental to their collective success. Mr. Alao Adedayo is a success not only in the career he chose and developed, but he is also a loving husband and responsible father. He has advanced the Nigerian journalism industry to a very impressive degree, and he is highly invaluable to the Yoruba. As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Yoruba Studies Association of Nigeria, I once again congratulate them and the visionary leadership of Alao Adedayo, our first-rate town crier.

Would you please join us for a conversation with the publisher of the Yoruba national Newspaper, Alaroye, Mr. Alao Adedayo?

Sunday, October 17, 2021

5:00 PM Nigeria

4:00 PM GMT

11:00 AM Austin CST

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Falola is a Nigerian historian and professor of African Studies. He is currently the Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities at the University of Texas at Austin.


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Interview With Beautiful Nubia



Beautiful Nubia

Please join us for a conversation with the renowned Nigerian Songwriter, Music Composer, and Band Leader, Olusegun Akinlolu (Beautiful Nubia).

Sunday, March 19, 2023

5:00 PM Nigeria // 4:00 PM GMT // 11:00 AM Austin CST

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Toyin Falola Interviews Holds Conversation With Kunle Afolayan



A  renowned Nigerian Actor, Producer, and Director, Kunle Afolayan will on Sunday, March 5, 2023 have an interview with the Toyin Falola Interviews at 5:00 PM Nigeria // 4:00 PM GMT // 10:00 AM Austin CST.


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Touching Base With Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi’s Perspectives On Nigeria’s 2023 Elections



Professor Ademola Dasylva At 70: A Labourer In The Vineyard
Prof. Toyin Falola

By Toyin Falola

Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi is a well-versed law professor, international relations activist, and commentator. It was delightful to have her join us, alongside Miriam Oke, Chido Onumah, and Jibrin Hussaini, at the last edition of the Toyin Falola Interviews, where we discussed Nigeria’s 2023 elections.

If anything, the primaries being organised in the nation’s two most influential parties, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress, are pointers to what should be expected of the 2023 Nigerian elections. As is customary, the primaries have been rife with electoral malpractices, vote-buying, and unscrupulous voting figures, and there is a shocking video posted on Twitter by Bashir Ahmad, former Personal Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on New Media, who lost his bid to secure the ticket of the APC to contest for a seat in the House of Representatives primaries in his home state of Kano. The video shows how supposed delegates are handed pre-ticked ballot boxes and are asked to put them in the ballot box without even batting an eyelid at the malpractice.

The ball is being set in motion. Atiku Abubakar is the People’s Democratic Party flag bearer for the presidential seat. The All Progressives Congress has recently screened its presidential hopefuls and will soon appoint its flagbearer. Peter Obi, who defected from the People’s Democratic Party to the Labour Party and has since been elected as the party’s flagbearer for the presidential seat, is a seeming third wheel in the routine two-dominant-party multi-party system practised in the country. The stage is set. Or is it?

This piece is not much of a sequel to the one on Chido Onumah’s perspectives on the 2023 elections because Dr Akiyode-Afolabi had her unique views on the questions asked. Nonetheless, it will follow a similar pattern, where we will examine points touched on by Dr Akiyode-Afolabi during the interview.

Electoral Violence and Nigeria’s 2023 Elections

Sad as it may seem, electoral violence is an immemorial issue rocking the Nigerian state. Throughout all its republics, Nigeria has witnessed killings and maiming during election periods — whether at the polling booths on election day or among political rivals setting targets on each other’s backs. Nigeria’s electoral process is peculiar, involving the recruitment of violent electoral mercenaries, often branded as party thugs. These thugs sign off their loyalty to a political party and wreak havoc on the party’s behalf — from ballot snatching to intimidating voters to bow to their party’s will.

In the Nigerian political scene, these party thugs sit with political kings. They are deemed crucial to the electoral process and candidates’ success. The recruitment and payment of these party thugs consume huge financial resources. However, political leaders and public officeholders fail to consider the expected uselessness of the party thugs within the governance period of three to four years that separate pre-election and election years. Having tasted ill-gotten wealth that far surpasses what they could have earned honestly, and without any honest and paying job, these party thugs resort to all sorts of vice to pay their bills and keep themselves in shape. Thus, it is not uncommon to find that party thugs become robbers, kidnappers, bandits, and street-terrorising thugs who incessantly cut holes through the state’s peace, security, and quiet.

In most cases, we would rather relate the incessant kidnappings and unrest to unknown gunmen or herdsmen-bandits rather than the true perpetrators of the evil — anarchical party thugs with weapons they were equipped with during the election period. Thus, the rivalry for power and politicians’ insatiable desire for control, regardless of the extent they go to get it, could be strongly linked to the violent crises that have rocked the country for a while now.

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For Dr Akiyode-Afolabi, violent political mercenaries in Nigeria and the political aspirants and parties who are their enablers act out of an abundant enjoyment of sheer impunity — the knowledge that they can do and undo, wreak whatever havoc they want to, without bearing the consequences. Although several of the perpetrators of this electoral violence are known, nothing is done to bring them to justice, further reinforcing the need to carry out their vice during the next election. Over the years, electoral violence has become a norm in Nigeria, and nothing is being done to curb the menace, especially in punishing the perpetrators. Thus, the electorate have joined the camp of political aspirants and political thugs who see electoral violence as part of the electioneering process in Nigeria. For members of the electorate who have difficulty processing electoral violence as a part of the electioneering process, the option of apathy kicks to the surface — especially among women and the youth who earnestly believe politics in Nigeria is a dirty game, and electoral violence is inevitable. Thus, it is not surprising that Nigeria has had a low voter turnout over the years.

The case of electoral violence and the state’s reaction to it is like several other policies in Nigeria. While the Electoral Act was proactively drafted to cover electoral violence and how to punish offenders and culprits, there has not been any action to make that part of the Act functional. It is akin to the numerous nation-improving policies whose existence has never gone beyond the paper. If we were to dig to the roots of why the aspect of the Nigerian Electoral Act that punishes electoral violence has not been enforced, we would be quick to find out that the average Nigerian politician is either directly or indirectly complicit. Thus, those at the helm and those willing to take over from them are all involved, making them reluctant to enforce the punishment for electoral violence, that is, if they consider punishing the crime at all.

Nigeria’s Three-faced Need and the Importance of a Long-term Agenda

The need for a long-term agenda should not be misconstrued as supporting the cabalistic unending Northern presidency agenda or any other agenda that does not mean well for Nigeria as a nation. Rather, it represents Dr Akiyode-Afolabi’s thoughts on what is truly needed to get Nigeria out of its current quagmire. The international relations activist considers the 2023 elections in Nigeria a big issue for the country, particularly because there are more people interested in the presidential position than we have had in quite a while. Nonetheless, most of these aspirants are people who have either held a political position or currently hold one. They are people we know so well. Given their deeds while in office, it will be difficult to convince any right-thinking Nigerian that there is hope for the country if any of the candidates being paraded were elected as president.

The double tragedy that is Buhari’s eight years in office has seen the country go from bad to worse. The country’s debts keep piling up, with no way of repaying them year after year. The people are impoverished, and the currency continually suffers a blow of worthlessness and devaluation, inflation, and the unemployment rate keeps rising. To make matters worse are the rife killings, banditry, and the near state of anarchy that the country has been thrown into. Has any of the numerous candidates aspiring for the presidential seat shown they are the visionary yet pragmatic leaders that can help Nigeria realise a remarkable positive change?

Careful consideration of the likeliest players at the 2023 polls, vis-à-vis the criterion above, would show that Nigeria is not prepared for an election. Dr Akiyode-Afolabi proposed a three-aspect strategy to help us discover a new Nigeria. These are aspects that cannot be fully realised within a four-year term. Thus, there is the need for Nigerian politicians, regardless of their differences—although there are no marked differences in Nigerian politics—to consider government as a continuum and treat it as such. This will help ensure that even if power falls to the opposition camp, the remarkable and change-focused plans that have been kicked into action by the previous government will continue to be nurtured by the new government. This is the only way we can fully realise the three-dimensional solution proposed by Dr Akiyode-Afolabi.

Dr Akiyode-Afolabi’s first proposed dimension is the need for an empowered political class. The Nigerian political field is riddled with whimsical people who are of the anything-goes breed as long as they get elected to office. That is why serial defection is nothing to them, and they can shamelessly befriend a foe today and betray a friend tomorrow. They are overly selfish lot who constantly put personal needs and gains before national needs and expected gains. The Nigerian political class needs to be empowered enough to engage the electorate in an ideological and issue-based manner. A look at the pre-campaign clamouring in the camps of the presidential aspirants will show that they think so little of Nigerians that they believe not much is needed in the way of plans and strategies to convince the people. It is also why Nyensom Wike, who lost his party’s presidential ticket, deemed it fit to incessantly chant, “give me power… power!” To him, that was enough to get him the ticket to become Nigeria’s next president.

The coming months will show us lamentable political campaigns with no depth, so shallow that every reasonable Nigerian would be too ashamed to identify with a country where such gimmicks pass as enough campaign to convince the people to vote for someone. There is a need to empower citizens and help kick structures in place to organise Nigerians and help them truly understand what they want. Nigeria has so much suffered from poor governance that asking the average electorate what they expect from the aspirants — what they look forward to hearing that could convince them to vote for an aspirant — would most likely render them stammering.

In Nigeria, constitutional reformation is of great necessity. The Nigerian Constitution has outlived its essence. What use is a constitution if it does not amply meet the state’s needs nor adequately answer its citizens’ burning questions? The systems of the constitution no longer effectively serve us as a nation, which is why there have been agitations and clamouring for secession, restructuring, regionalisation, and central policing, among other issues raised. In the end, until Nigeria intentionally kicks these three dimensions into action, and until there are successive tenures that consider the government as a continuum and reach a knowing agreement to nurture and not impede the realisation of the three-dimensional issue, a new and positive Nigeria will be anything but reality.

  1. *** This is the third and final report on the interview held on May 22, 2022, on the 2023 elections in Nigeria. The views of our distinguished panelists have traveled wide and have been reported in several newspapers.

For the transcript, see:




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