By Taiye Olayemi, Lagos.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday inaugurated the John Randle Centre for Yoruba Culture and History in Lagos.
The president, in company of Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi and many other stakeholders in the entertainment and tourism industries, later toured the entire facility.
”I declare this site open,” Buhari said.
The John Randle Cantre for Yoruba Culture and History forms part of the urban regeneration at the heart of Lagos Island, a part of the city steeped in rich history.
The centre, which used to serve as a hub for cultural tourism, recreation and entertainment, was originally built in 1928.
Now redeveloped as a cultural attraction, the centre aims to expose to visitors the time-honoured story of the Yoruba ethnicity, one of the most influential ethnicities in Nigeria.
Mr Damilare Ojewole, the site architect, who took visitors on tour of the facility, explained that the centre brought to the fore the origins of Yoruba culture.
He said that the centre would educate individuals about the creation of the Yoruba Empire through “Ile-Ori”, “Ori-Olokun”, “Esu” and more.
According to him, there is another section for recreation where there are swimming pool and restaurants.
“This place, you will learn about happenings in the Yoruba empire in the olden days and now, the customs and practices.
“We have exhibitions on how naming ceremonies were conducted in the old, divinations, it reveals the various masquerades in Yoruba land; we have contemporary arts section, fashion and more.
“At another section, we have a gadget for visitors to check the meaning of their names and we have a good ambience for tales by moonlight.
“The permanent exhibition here celebrates the language, rituals, festivals, deities and ancestry of the Yoruba people at this time and will ensure that the legacy of Yoruba culture and history is kept alive in Lagos,” he said.
The centre will afford Yoruba experts and novices to be able to delve into the stories, myths and traditions of Yoruba heritage.
The space provides a superb atmosphere that is conducive to learning, art exhibitions and live music events.
The centre is said to serve as a place for remembrance and reconnection for Yoruba people from Cuba, Brazil, Haiti, America and the Carribean as well as the rest of Southwest Nigeria.
It reveals how Yoruba culture continues to influence musicians, artistes and creative innovators in the present day.
The architecture of the centre typifies the traditional Yoruba architecture and craftsmanship, using visual metaphors to reflect the strong art and philosophical origins of the language and culture.