Heart Of Arts

JUST IN: Michael Afolayan Wins 2021 J.A. Atanda Prize


Babcock University, the Yoruba Studies Review, and the Jury of the J. A. Atanda Prize are happy to announce the winner of the 2021 J. A. Atanda Prize for the Best Essay on the Yoruba. The winner will receive a certificate, citation, and a sum of $500. The J. A. Atanda Prize represents a stable and enduring platform for promoting and further developing Yoruba Studies.

The prize celebrates the legacy of Professor Atanda to the study of Yoruba history. Joseph Adebowale Atanda was a passionate historian who dedicated his scholarship to Africa’s historiography, especially Yoruba. Popular among his publications are The New Oyo Empire: Indirect Rule and Change in Western Nigeria, 1894-1934; An Introduction to Yoruba History; and Baptist Churches in Nigeria: Accounts of Their Foundation and Growth. More than two decades after his demise, his scholarship remains relevant.

The finalists were selected from a list of short-listed essays chosen by the Editors of the Yoruba Studies Review. The finalists and the eventual winner’s selection were according to a professional and rigorous set of guidelines covering data quality, originality, contributions to knowledge, and Yoruba Studies. The finalists presented original ideas and high-quality data on the Yoruba language, culture, and society.

Chair: Dr. Akinloye Ojo, University of Georgia
Members: Professor Segun Ogungbemi, Independent Scholar
Dr. Bose Afolayan, University of Lagos
Secretary to the Jury: Kaosarat Aina, University of Ibadan

The winner of the 2021 J.A. Atanda Prize for the Best Essay on the Yoruba is Dr. Michael Oladejo Afolayan for his essay:

Ọmọ tí a kò kọ́: Globalization and Cultural Education among new Generation Nigeria-Yoruba

Michael Afolayan’s paper is a comprehensive exploration of the semantic, phonological and philosophical implications of the Yoruba verbal particle Kọ́ which, contextually, could mean ‘to teach or instruct,’ ‘to learn,’ ‘to build,’ or ‘to anchor or to hang’ in the Yoruba language. Afolayan draws attention to an influential aspect of Yoruba indigenous epistemology by highlighting the play on the tonemic and semantic complexity of the language in the use of Kọ́ in a particular Yoruba proverbial, Omo ti a ko ko ni yoo gbe ile ti a ko ta (“the child that is not taught will eventually sell the house that is built”). The paper outlines the case for the high socio-cultural value that the Yoruba people place on the appropriate upbringing of a child based on the compelling argument that building a child’s mind is more consequential than building a physical structure. Highly ambitious and didactic, the major strength of the paper is its persuasive argument for the essential transference of cultural education as the foundation for Yoruba nation-building, especially against the backdrop of the looming crisis amongst the new generation of Yoruba people apparently comfortable with violating the norms and values of the society and generally failing to embrace Yoruba cultural literacy. Outlining what Afolayan identifies as the vicious cycle of culpability and loss of the conscience of shame and guilt, the paper proposes half a dozen solutions to remedy this looming cultural crisis amongst the Yoruba both at home and in the Diaspora. The paper exceptionally exposes that which is good in the Yorùbá and present original ideas constructively to highlight the positive in Yorùbá language, culture, and society.


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