COLUMBIA — African music and dancing filled the American Legion Post on Saturday night as over 100 Nigerians celebrated the Yoruba culture.
Saturday marked the 18th anniversary of Egbe Omo Oduduwa of Mid-Missouri’s founding, an event put on every year to share and honor the Yoruba culture. The Yoruba are an ethnic group in the southwestern part of Nigeria.
The celebration started with an opening prayer led by Pastor Femi Ogungbade followed by singing of the American, Nigeria and Yoruba anthems. Favour, Imisi and Ireti Soyoye, ages 12, 5 and 4 years old, also performed a Yoruba song rendition to kick off the celebration.
“Today we celebrate another milestone in the history of this great organization,” Olawale Ibitoye, president of Egbe Omo Oduduwa of Mid-Missouri, said in his opening speech. “I like to assure our host community, the city of Columbia, that we shall continue to promote progressive coexistence within the community and continue to strive to embark on people’s oriented programs both here in the U.S. and our home country, Nigeria.”
Egbe Omo Oduduwa of Mid-Missouri, a non-profit organization, was founded in 1998 with the mission to share Yoruba culture with the mid-Missouri area and its immediate environs through anniversary events, Yoruba language classes and artistic and cultural activities, Ibitoye said.
This year’s theme was “Fostering children’s mental health in Oduduwa culture.” Ibitoye said this theme was very important speaking from his own experience raising two sons and two daughters with his wife, Moyosola.
“We, as parents, we need to re-educate ourselves,” he said. “We need to interact more with our children and listen to them without being too commanding.
He said raising children in America is different from raising children in Nigeria because children have more freedom in America. Ibitoye said the goal with this year’s theme was to break the barrier between parents and their children.
Chairperson Okunade Adewole also gave a speech about children, mental health and Yoruba culture.
“As parents, we need to respect our children,” said Adewole. “We need to give them guidance and good parenting.” He said that one of the most important hallmarks of parenting is to lead by example. If parents are distressed, children won’t be able to handle stress, Adewole said.