Upon the advent of numerous global ideologies such as Feminism and Racism amongst others, that have reproved some African cultures and beliefs, there are essential roles played by Creative Writing to showcase some cultures and beliefs that govern the African continent.
Creative Writing has become a vehicle for the enlightenment and empowerment of the Yoruba cultures and beliefs, as well as reforming the denial that comes with shoving the Yoruba cultures and beliefs to the behind in the diaspora.
Thus, this essay aims to highlight Yoruba culture and belief representations, various structures of the Yoruba culture and beliefs, roles in Governance and International relations, powerful impact of the Yoruba culture and beliefs as conveyed by Tomi Adeyemi’s ‘Children of Blood and Bone’, and Ayobami Adebayo’s ‘Stay with Me’.
It is important to note however that, when considering the impacts creative writing has on Yoruba culture and religions, there are some fundamental questions to be asked, such as: how have the impacts brought about revolutionary changes? How does it reflect the superiority complex of a developing country?
Creative Writing made its debut during the early 30s through the likes of Wole Soyinka, Jacob K. Olupona, Daniel O. Fagunwa, Tobe Melora Correal, Amos Tutuola and Kayode J. Fakinlede. Their works not only rebelled against the ‘darkness’ commonly used to refer to the African continent at that point in time, but it also debunked the falsehood presented by foreign authors who barely knew the truth about the culture and beliefs of the African culture.
At a time, the continent fought for its liberation from captivity, its people strived to embrace their culture without being sold out to westernization, which prompted the need for preservation through literary works as a cultural timepiece especially for the country ‘Nigeria’.
Chris Abani, an African speaker buttressed on the point during one of his Ted Talk while speaking on ‘Telling Stories from Africa’, when he said: “If you want to know about Africa, read our literature — and not just ‘Things Fall Apart,’ because that would be like saying, ‘I’ve read ‘Gone with the Wind’ and so I know everything about America” (Chris Abani, 2007).
For the purpose of this essay, the method adopted is an in-depth study of Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi and Stay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo. It becomes necessary to explain and analyze concepts related to Yoruba cultural and beliefs representation to hone their meanings and give room for better understanding.
Yoruba Culture is the way of life among a certain group of people in Nigeria. It can also be defined as the language, custom, belief, rule, mode of dressing, folklore, religion, symbol and memories developed by members of all social groups that make their social environments meaningful.
Religion on the other hand is “a united system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things. Religion seeks to mold the individual to fit into what is considered the norm, based on adherence to the supernatural as culturally agreed” (Emile Durkheim, 1988).
Traditional religion varies from community to community in the Yorubaland. The Yoruba religion holds that there is one supreme being and hundreds of deities. Although, divided among other religions such as Christianity and Islam, they still observe annual festivals and other traditional religious practices (Bascom, 1984; Hetfield & Koslow 1996).
Cultural authenticity refers to the worthy acceptance of a way of life among a certain group of people while Religion authenticity refers to the beliefs as conforming to united system of practices that have been kept apart for spiritual purposes.
An Overview of Children of Blood and Bone & Stay with Me
Children of Blood and Bone drew inspiration from the Yoruba culture and religion. It follows the story of the main character ‘Zelie Adebola’, who remembers when the soil of Orisha hummed with magic. But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, majis were killed, leaving Zelie without a mother. The young adult fantasy novel also features a rebel princess ‘Amari’, who saw no justice in the actions of her father ‘King Inan’.
The setting is West-African inspired, based in the country ‘Nigeria’ and restricted to the south western part of the country – Lagos and Orisha. The story taps into the religion aspect of traditions and folklore from the West African region. It is an impactful allegory of relevant issues such as colorism, racism and Yoruba cultural & religion redundancy.
In addition, Stay with Me is about a woman ‘Yejide’, hoping for a miracle, a child. It is all her husband wants, all her mother-in-law wants, and she has tried everything – arduous pilgrimages, medical consultations, dances with prophets, appeals to God. But when her in-laws insist upon a new wife, it is too much for Yejide to bear. It starts in the midst of a Nigeria’s political turmoil in the 1980s. It is a novel of commitment, culture and the struggle to conceive a child. Stay with Me vividly explores the changes between the personal and disequilibrium of stability and safety in both spheres. As the novel progresses, it moves into a more minor key and a realization that forces ‘Yejide’ to question traditional attitudes towards the society.
Roving Heights Books, rhbooks.com.ng/.
Simon, Scott. “’Stay with Me’ Is A Novel Of Commitment, Culture And The Struggle To Conceive.” NPR, NPR, 19 Aug. 2017, www.npr.org/2017/08/19/544533403/stay-with-me-is-a-novel-of-commitment-culture-and-the-struggle-to-conceive.
“Yoruba.” Countries and Their Cultures, www.everyculture.com/wc/Mauritania-to-Nigeria/Yoruba.html.
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