Yoruba leaders under the auspices of Egbe Omo Yoruba from the Tri-state area of New York met over the weekend at the JFK International Plaza Hotel in New York for a forum and an award ceremony for Yoruba children who graduated from High schools and Universities.
The conference discussed the relative progress by the Yoruba community in comparison to other groups such as the Polish, Irish, Jews and other African nationalities like the Senegalese.
Attendees proposed to acquire a property to serve as a resource center to cater for the needs of the Yoruba and new Yoruba immigrants from Nigeria. It will be a job search point and also assist in providing social and educational support for the Yoruba. It will have a museum, day care, Yoruba learning center, and a multi-purpose hall.
Dr. Adegboyega Dada, an Associate Director in the New York City hospitals board moderated the event. He challenged the Yoruba to come together to explore the myriads of opportunities that abound in the state and learn from the Senegalese who now own a bank that caters for the needs of their people.
The president, Chief Babatunde Olatunbosun encouraged members to reach out and ensure cooperation that would result in the collective progress of the race. He condemned “the pervasive individual attitude” and advocated love and harmony to ensure greater success among the Yoruba in America. “This forum was conveyed in order to achieve a renaissance for the Yoruba in New York in particular and in the U.S in general,” he said.
The resource person for the event, Dr. Bola Omotosho, a member of the New York city Board that oversees sale of government houses, informed the gathering that other nationalities like Ghanaians have utilized opportunities to acquire government houses at very reduced prices because of their minority status. He advised the Yoruba to also seek to buy similar properties in New York.
Pastor Laolu Akande of the Redeemed Church commended the organizers and implored them to embark on a mass mobilization of Yoruba in New York to ensure that professionals are brought together for enviable achievements. “We should ensure that our Doctors, Lawyers, Accountants, Nurses, and Professors are mobilized to be part of projects which would create a positive impact in New York and beyond,” he said. Adding that “for too long our people have been defined by the negative image of a few amongst us, it is time that we tell the rest of the world who we are, the potentials inherent in us and also showcase our achievements.”
The event also featured the recognition and presentation of awards to about 25 Yoruba children who graduated from high schools and colleges with their parents in attendance. One of the recipients was 15-year-old Saheela Ibraheem, who is set to attend Harvard University. Ms. Ibraheem was offered admission by 13 of America’s prestigious universities.
The speaker for the award ceremony, Omoyele Sowore, publisher of SaharaReporters encouraged the graduates to be conscious of the American society and its pitfalls. He advised them “to think outside the box, and realize that Nigeria beckons on them to join hands to rid the country of corruption.”
Also in attendance was a former Miss Nigeria, Deaconess Yemi Fawaz who extolled her pride in her Yoruba roots and counseled the graduates to aim for the sky. She condemned the lack of promotion of the Yoruba language and culture in most homes. “I am proud of my Yoruba lineage and I ensure Yoruba is spoken in my home, we have to make sure that we raise our children with Yoruba cultural values,” she said.
Participants plan to organize a Yoruba day with all Yoruba associations, an event that would showcase the cultural richness of the Yoruba. Egbe Omo Yoruba will have its 19th National Convention from September 8-11, at the Long Island Marriott Convention Center. According to the president, the convention is “aimed at developing a synergy between Yoruba at home and abroad towards the political, socio and economic development of the Yoruba nation.