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 Musa Adedayo And Alaroye: The Future Of Yoruba Language



Dele Jegede In Conversation With Prince Yemisi Shyllon
Prof. Toyin Falola

 Musa Adedayo And Alaroye: The Future Of Yoruba Language




Toyin Falola

Different cultural traditions are threatened as stronger states of the world compete for supremacy. The struggle caused each civilization to exert influence in all ways possible to remain substantially important to the world’s affairs. This agenda brought the aggressive expansionist ambition that led to the colonization of technologically weaker places and economically shaky states to succumb to the pressure of globalization, which mops the influence of vulnerable people. Generally, certain things make a culture vulnerable: their epistemic understanding and ontological foundations, both of which serve as the structure on which every human civilization is built.

However, as much as they are cardinal to a people’s development, their significance can only be expressed through the agency of their language, for example, since their language would be used to drive their cultural traditions and legacies and make them a viable contestant in the society of civilizations. Meanwhile, every human society has language, for they naturally conduct their spiritual and cultural businesses in a particular language. Sadly, however, not all these civilizations with a language have attained a level of intellectual progress where they can reduce their language into signs and codes that can be read and understood even by non-members of their culture. In essence, many people that did not have written language found it hard to withstand the pressure mounted by those who came as predators.

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

As a result, massive declination of cultural power surged, and different cultures became very helpless, leading to the immediate extermination of some, the mindless struggling of others, and the perpetual disappearance of others. However, the foresighted ones among the West African nation-states in the nineteenth century, for example, Bishop Ajayi Crowther, who saw the possibility of devaluing cultures without written languages, dedicated his intellectual services to the codification of some Nigerian languages, particularly Yoruba and Igbo. Naturally, such generational achievement is meant to be masked if there is no commitment to enhancing its sustenance by others through different means. Meanwhile, the most potent way to preserve these cultures would have been to mandate its younger speakers to use it as their language of communication and instruction, especially in academic studies or research engagement. But this was far from forthcoming because the colonial system was not ready to allow any competition that such development would bring.

Understanding the potential consequences necessitated the promotion of the English language, as in the case of Nigeria, so that others may bow out. Luckily though, this would not happen because other important individuals became more creative with the situation and devised the appropriate ways by which they could stop the imperial agenda in its track of universalization. This is where the founder of Alaroye, Alao Adedayo, comes in. He understood that the newspaper industry in the country was already culturally predatory as many of them, if not all as at the time of Alaroye newspaper’s emergence, were already conducting their communication business in English. This ultimately reduced the participation of people in collective debates because not only were many of them unsuited for the communication of their thoughts in English, but they were also not appropriately and intellectually empowered to do so. This means they were shut out from important nationalist debates.

Many of them naturally wanted to be involved in national politics, but because they were being sidelined systematically, they either kept their ideas in perpetual suppression or expressed their frustrations in other ways possible. Alao Adedayo disclosed that the motive behind the establishment of the Alaroye is to ensure that the preservation of the Yoruba culture and customs can be achieved. He said, among other things, that the colonized people, having suffered from the bitter experience of their political system, also risked the challenge of losing their cultural traditions and identity because they did not have anything concrete that could preserve their culture for them. But since the Yoruba language is already codified, it makes sense that they created an avenue for its preservation; hence the creation of the Alaroye newspaper.

For the record, Henry Townsend began the pioneering campaign for the proliferation of the newspaper industry in Nigeria, in 1859, with Ara Egba and Yoruba series, but this did not attract something of magnitude compared to what we have in the contemporary time, and the reason was apparent. Essentially, it was a foreseeable challenge for the founder of Alaroye when he introduced the idea in 1985 and was overwhelmed by negative comments meant to distract him. He ultimately knew that the price needed to be paid to establish his dream was to remain insistent, for the environment would not accommodate his ambition without putting up resistance. But the content of his character propelled his determination, and this deserves our examination here. Adedayo talked about how his association with great Yoruba icons motivated his indigenous journalism engagement. He revealed that the constant exchanges of ideas and the extensive learning he gained from observing their activities showed him the beauty of the Yoruba language and its potential if given the right opportunity or platforms. He became immediately determined to ensure that he was focused on the actualization of his dream.

 Musa Adedayo And Alaroye: The Future Of Yoruba Language

Photo: Alaroye Newspaper
Source: Alaroye Online

Yoruba language is rich in substance, great in values, and has numerous advantages if allowed to expand. As adults, our association could define who we are and the directions that we would take in life; however, our formative education and exposure significantly impact the trajectory that we would follow in life. Our interviewee emphasizes this when he reflects on his childhood development shaped by the conscious efforts of his parents. He mentioned how his father’s purchase of D. O. Fagunwa’s works helped build his intellectual capacity, as he was introduced to the epistemic perception of the Yoruba people through the books. He got to understand the people’s sociological structure and the philosophy they use in the development of society. He accessed the spiritual world of the Yoruba people, knowing how they conceive the metaphysical world and how they have created several ideological mappings from this thought system. He reckoned that the people are culturally outstanding and marvelous in their ontological engagement, but they will not understand the gravity of this cultural heritage unless they have access to it in all ways made available to them. This is one of the reasons he believed that the creation of the Alaroye was timely and important for advancing the Yoruba cultural identity and preserving their legacies. In short, all these factors worked excellently well for him, and his newspaper received a wide readership and was well-loved by the people.

Beyond the accident of history that led Adedayo to journalism and made him steadfast in promoting the Yoruba language, there is something that should interest us in our quest to understand the success of Alaroye. He committed to the preservation of culture, which was the driving force for establishing his forum. Indirectly but intentionally, he educated us about the need for conscious decisions when making efforts for revolutionary action. Of course, the Alaroye was and still is revolutionary for different purposes. First, it is the journalism avenue that broke the jinx of colonial domination in the country’s news reportage market, although it builds on the efforts of past pioneers. Second, it served as the rallying point for others and restored their confidence to air news in the language the people are culturally and historically affiliated with. So, these achievements combine to revalidate his position about determination. As a result of his commitment, he has made exponential success in the industry, for, without that daunting confidence, he would have bowed down to others who were already making beautiful strides.

READ ALSO: Federal University, Lokoja Honours Toyin Falola, Holds Conference

The preservation of the Yoruba language and culture introduces the new generation to their literary heritage. This is usually because people’s literature works more deeply and effectively in telling their stories than their manuals or verbal speeches can do. As exemplified by Adedayo’s father, who introduced him to D. O. Fagunwa’s books in his formative years, modern-day parents should, as a matter of principle, speak their language to their wards and always encourage that domestic communication with them is in their language. This is informed by the knowledge that once the younger ones are drawn away from speaking their native language, they would also be disinterested in the cultural values and traditions that come with such an identity. One of the reasons for the continuation of cultural servitude that the present generation suffers egregiously is that contemporary Yoruba parents do not take pride in speaking their language with their wards. People who are not introduced to their indigenous language would not be fully integrated into their cultural traditions, substantially affecting many things in their lives. Therefore, preserving their language and culture begins with employing the language to conduct their domestic engagements.

It was also necessary to preserve their language by consciously separating their religious identity from their cultural activities. But because contemporary Christian and Islamic identities do not delineate between cultures of a people and their religious beliefs, they try to dissociate themselves from anything that bears the mark of so-called paganistic beliefs or values. The speakers at the interview continued by saying that the Yoruba and their ancestors followed their indigenous culture in the past, which helped them stand their ground when they were invaded by different predators who wanted to make them their vassal city-states or proxy government. They employed their cultural knowledge and technology to contain the invaders and saved themselves from the dishonor of being overtaken. But because all these have been condemned as either “fetish” or “pagan” by people who do not understand the culture, they are considered harmful. However, the identity of a people is inextricably linked to the things they do and how they make efforts to keep themselves afloat in a world that torments them and their customs. Their knowledge about these things is a product of constant research and scientific efforts of thousands of years, and they should not be discarded under the impression that they are evil, even when there is no clear evidence that they are.

Photo: D.O Fagunwa
Source: Premium Times

Challenges are confronting indigenous creativities in the postcolonial environment, and anyone who does anything that animates their ancestral lifestyle, especially in something like the publication of a newspaper, would face its consequences. Undoubtedly, the various criticisms that Adedayo has faced are proofs of that condition, and then comes the question of profitability, commercial advantages, and the economic benefits of staging such ideological protest in a postcolonial environment. To be candid, going into indigenous journalism publishing is unprofitable for reasons that are not unknown to the general public. People who go into it are energized by the assurance of establishing a solid and long-lasting name for themselves and making an impact that would outlive them. The business mindset does not come with the creativity involved in establishing a Yoruba or any other indigenous communication platform like the Alaroye because the ground is already biased against such development.

In the case of the ex-colonies, the solid foundation of the English language (and other languages of colonialism) has made it somewhat difficult for them to make the deserved progress in a positive direction, and their possibility of making many economic gains is very slim. Even if the financial gains are not coming, the front-liners understand that they are making an impact and not because of money. The soul-lifting realization that the successful implementation of their agenda would promote the thinking that inferiorizing indigenous legacies will create bigger problems.

On many occasions, Adedayo has been frustrated openly by people from whom one would expect a positive mindset towards indigenous journalism. He was discouraged by their assumption that his newspaper would struggle in vain against other available platforms that have gained strength because they are done in the English language. Apparent discouragement notwithstanding, determined people always foresee such conditions and would instead spring up with their desires and continue to pursue excellence even when it comes with some financial commitment. All these are ways to showcase their readiness to develop their indigenous structures and preserve their legacies. Adedayo continues in his fearless engagement of local and international news in his Yoruba Alaroye medium, and his fame persists.

The stigma was evident from the beginning and even choking because several political efforts of past Yoruba icons such as Chief Obafemi Awolowo to rejuvenate the language and make an instrument of social and economic regeneration went down the drain because of some factors beyond their control. It continued to reflect in other areas, and they inherited these challenges decades after initial attempts. But then, they continued to keep the faith. They defied all odds to ensure that they give the Yoruba language and traditions the befitting honor they deserve. Regardless of the skewed and jaundiced market space for the proliferation of the newspaper platform, the fact that the Alaroye has four titles makes people wonder if the desire to promote Yoruba interest and ideology was really more than the desire to make money from the business.

It is reassuring to know that the idea of having four titles on the commercial landscape of the newspapers business is targeted to ensure that there are competing sub-news that would give the people a particular taste per that desire. Although these said platforms appear to be beneficial to the capitalist community where they would compete with existing newspaper platforms for obvious economic reasons, the fact remains that it was an effort to spice newspaper journalism in Nigeria up that motivated the kind of creativity that led to the emergence of these said titles, not any other.

When considered keenly, these different Alaroye titles are necessarily created because they have different but unique things to address. One needs to conduct research about the past activities so that people would find something beneficial from them and see the possibility of drawing ideas that would bring about collaborative development for them. This is hinged on the fact that numerous things could help people when they consider them intelligently and carefully. So, when the company decided to have different headings or titles, it was a well-calculated attempt. For instance, there was no way that the stories of iconic characters like Efunsetan Aniwura, Madam Tinubu, Ogunmola, and Moremi would not teach something important about Yoruba tradition. Where they are not learning the act of courage, they would be learning the importance of hard work, diligence, and dedication from these historical characters. In some beautiful instances, they would be educated about how communal togetherness is necessary and a viable tool in challenging situations that are consuming or can potentially destroy their civilization. It is because of the possibility of getting something tangible out for them that these titles exist.

READ ALSO: Dele Giwa’s Assassination: 35 Years After

In general, there is more to the idea of developing language and sustaining it than what mere verbal commitment could do. Beyond the fact of paying lip service to the protection and preservation of cultural identity in a world where colonial pressure is combined with postcolonial politics, some people must take bold steps; otherwise, their collective identity would be endangered, and their cultural traditions would be made the sacrificial lambs. Such revolutionary actions that would salvage the people’s culture do not always come from individuals with the political wherewithal in the society. In fact, the contrary is always the case.

Photo: Yoruba Drums
Source: Legit NG

Today, efforts are being made to ensure that the Yoruba language does not go down on the wrong side of history. One of the ways this is being achieved is by preserving the Yoruba language and culture with the Alaroye Newspaper. Mr. Alao Adedayo undertook the duty and carried the mantle with such a level of confidence that he was able to face and overcome all the obstacles that arose. The phenomenal results from his publications make him an icon to be forever celebrated.

This is the report on the interview with Mr Alao Adedayo on October 17, 2021.    For the transcript, see: Facebook: YouTube:

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.

READ ALSO: Dele Jegede In Conversation With Prince Yemisi Shyllon

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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