Like tiny blocks that form a building, oral history/traditions, chants and folklore form a large part of Yoruba heritage, creating a powerful impact on the bedrock of cultural appreciation and socio-economic status.
The richness and exotic appeal that chants and orature bring into the aesthetics of Yoruba culture can’t be overemphasised. Over the years, innumerable stories, folklore, exploits of legendary feats of Kings, and achievements of warriors and individuals have been sealed in the ballad of chants and folklore, magically transferring and shaping the people’s narratives from one generation to another.
History, culture and heritage are preserved in the verses of this orature, the chants bring into focus, the chronology of traditional institutes, values and morals. It is no wonder the Yorùbá nation has survived and preserved its richness since time immemorial.
For centuries, Chants have been used for many purposes in Yoruba culture, to praise, to tell stories, to provoke joy, anger or agitations; a potent example would be the war chants or sounds used to remind a despotic ruler of what would happen to him if he doesn’t change his ways. Chants also serve the purpose of tracing family genealogy; known as “Oriki”, this form of chant can go back in time as far as 9 to 15 generations. That’s a history time capsule right there. Chants are also said to have spiritual elements in them – case in point: the chants that Traditional worshippers use in singing praise to a deity or a god. Even some chants are so scared and revered that they are only whispered by an initiate.
Folklore, on the other hand, preserves history as a form of education, moral lessons, and also a source of enlightenment to the listeners.
Traditional proverbs and adages form an integral part of what folklore can be. Although different, they sometimes share the same purpose. Proverbs are nuggets of moral instruction, take the saying: “Iwa rere l’eso eniyan” which espouses the importance of good character and proper etiquette as prerequisites for an outstanding life. It further compares character to being well-adorned, suggesting that a lack of good character would be tantamount to being naked.
As a form of education, Oral chants and folklore help to establish a deep appreciation for culture and heritage, expanding one’s thought processes, and making one flexible and more appreciating of the essence of humanity and the arts.
As educational structures and forms of learning become more advanced and fast-paced, the place of oral chants and folklore in the society is gradually fading out. Shall we sit and watch this huge part of our history fading out without any hope or plans for preservation and digitisation through the help of the fast-paced technological tools and mediums?
Technology has improved our lives far more than we can imagine. It has defined our world in ways that we never thought it could and most importantly, it has transformed our world into a “Global Village”; where any information is within reach at the snap of the fingers, and where we gain access to any person in just a matter of seconds, irrespective of distance. Have we abandoned our essence in place for an un-common necessity?
Yorùbá Traditional chants and folklore should be preserved and digitalised with the latest technology for generations to come, in order to keep the long line of history preserved. This is the only way to show the generations to come, the richness and greatness of their history. You can only become what you learn, so how do we build future leaders if we don’t educate them about their heritage and their essence?
One important challenge the future poses to us is the dynamic state of information consumption, and how a lot would be left behind if it doesn’t adapt to the new viral growing form of information processing. We will fail the generations to come if all forms of history, culture and arts are not preserved and digitalised for the future. Chants and oral folklore are two important mediums of the Yorùbá culture that needs to be reshaped for the future.