TIME FOR AFRICAN AMERICANS TO “COME HOME”

After visiting Nigeria for the Olojo festival, Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr.,
President and CEO, National Newspaper Publishers Association admonishes African-Americans to forge ties with the African Continent as he posits that it is imperative that they know their heritage.

One of the best kept secrets among African Americans is how much our brothers and sisters in Africa enthusiastically would love for us to “Come home.” Such was the case most recently in Nigeria as delegations of African Americans traveled to lle-Ife, Nigeria, the ancestral home of the Yoruba culture and tradition, for the 2018 Olojo Festival, September 28-October 2, 2018.

I was pleased to be joined on this unique and meaningful pilgrimage to Nigeria by Claudette Perry of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA); Jeffrey L. Boney, Texas city councilman and contributing writer for the NNPA; Tish Bazil, author and photographer; and Gary Foster, videographer and social media visionary.

We were invited to attend the Olojo Festival by His Imperial Majesty The Ooni of Ife, who is the global leader of Yoruba and King of the Osun State in Nigeria. Ile-Ife is one of the oldest cities in the world dating back thousands of years.

Yes, Africa is very rich with oil, gold, diamonds, uranium, titanium, platinum and other precious stones and metals. Africa’s richest resource, however, is its human resource in the context of thousands of years of culture, language and tradition. Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nation with over 190 million people.

But from what we witnessed firsthand during the five days while we were in Ile-Ife, it was the culture that has had and will continue to have the greatest impact on unifying Nigerians and all people of African descent throughout the Diaspora. The Olojo Festival was one of most authentic and impactful cultural festivals that we had ever seen. We saw vibrantly displayed cultural genius in native language, traditional dress, dance, spirituality, pageantry and food.

In fact, we experienced a real-life “Wakanda” celebration of the sanctity, diversity, and cultural wealth of Africa in the ancient sacred city of Ile-Ife, Nigeria. The Yoruba language and cultural manifestations were so evident at the Olojo Festival that we were all moved to tears of insatiable joy and passionate responses.

In preparation for this year’s Olojo Festival, H.I.M.The Ooni Of Ife, stated, “We are set for a legacy project that will uplift one of the oldest cities in the world and put it on the global tourist map.” I certainly plan to let all of our NNPA member publishers and media company owners know about this historic city and all-inspiring annual festival. We should start planning now for next year’s festival.

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