By Jimoh Sulyman
A celebrated Performing Arts Lecturer, Professor Jeleel Olasunkami Ojuade has called on the government at all levels to reconsider the teaching and study of history and culture as part of the curriculum.
Ojuade who is the inaugural lecturer said this during the University of Ilorin 208th Inaugural Lecture, held at the University’s main auditorium on Thursday, 11th of November.
The Inaugural lecture titled “Dance is life, life is Dance :A cyclical Nature of Man on Earth” witnessed the presence of lots of people from walks of life, who came to grace the occasion.
Some of those present at the gathering were, Prof Muhammed Mustapha Akanbi, Vice Chancellor, Kwara State University; Prof Musbau Akanji, ex VC of Al-Hikmah University;Barrister Yusuf Olaolu Ali SAN, Prof AbdulGaniyu Ambali, former Vice Chancellor, University of Ilorin; Osun state Governor was represented by the Special adviser on Education, Hon Jamiu Babatunde among others.
The former Vice Chancellor, Prof AbdulGaniyu Ambali, while speaking to National Pilot expressed his delight and pride on the achievements of Professor Ojuade, saying, “I’m really proud of the lecturer, because I have worked with him while I was the VC, we have seen the quality in him and we know him to be someone who is always ready to assist the university at all levels,” the former don noted.
He also lauded the efforts of the inaugural lecturer in promoting the image of the university.,
Ambali said, “he has taken the university to different parts of the world and introduced us to so many scholars and that has given the University of Ilorin a good image outside the country, so I’m happy he has attained the level of professorship ,I’m very proud of him”.
Prof Ambali also described Ojuade as a perfect example of the popular saying that age is not a barrier to showcasing one’s talent, he also urged the youths to emulate the inaugural lecturer, Prof Ojuade.
It was also a regal gathering, with hosts of monarchs gracing the events as the likes of HRH Emir of Ilorin was represented by the Balogun Gambari of Ilorin, Alhaji Muhammed Adebayo; HRH Timi of Ede, HRH Oluoke of Okegbo, HRH Orangun of Ila-Orangun and HRH Olubosin of Ifetedo among other royal fathers.
One of the royal fathers in attendance, the monarch of Professor Ojuade’s hometown, Oba Akinola Oyetade Akinrera, the Olubosin of Ifetedo was in ecstatic mood at the event.
While speaking with our reporter, he said, “I’m so happy to be here today, the feat my son(Ojuade) accomplished today made me really happy, he is like a son to me and that is why I’m here today.”
Commenting on Prof AbdulJeleel Ojuade, the monarch said, “he is of noble birth and also living the lifestyle of a noble born, by following the footstep of his forebears, promoting it to the best of his ability, he is a promoter of culture and that is what informs my decision to honour him with a chieftaincy title of Aare Alasa of Ifetedo”
The programme commenced at 4:50pm by the VC’s procession coming into the auditorium, led by the Principal Assistant Registrar (Senate), Mrs Ebunoluwa Oshagbemi ,who was followed by all the Deans of the various faculties in the university.
The celebrant treated the crowd to a song which was echoed by the dance troupe, before he went to the podium to address the people at exactly 5pm and ended few minutes after 6pm.
During his lecture, he narrated his journey into the world of dance which he said to have started while he was about four and a half years old under the tutelage of his late father, Alhaji Fatal Oladosu Ojuade.
He said his venture into the world of dance at such a tender age was unheard of then as dance was seen as ‘Ise alagbe’ a craft of beggars but described that stage as his launch pad to getting to where he is today.
Ojuade described dance as a voiceless art but a practical communication art which requires active participation rather than theoretical teaching.
Music and dancing were one of the significant parts of the event as the performance by the traditional Sango performers added glamour to the event with exhilarating dance steps.
Other troupe that marveled the guests at the arena were the energetic Ayangalu Group from Erin Osun, who chanted eulogies of Prof Ojuade coupled with array of dances.
The man of the moment, Professor AbdulJaleel Ojuade,with delight, spoke with National Pilot, saying “I feel extremely happy, I have had the privilege of gliding into another profession but I chose to stick to this one.
“I ask myself, why should we dump our culture for the love of things introduced to us from foreign lands, legal profession was introduced to us, but this culture is our own, even the foreigners are copying our culture”,he said.
He, however, urged the people to embrace their respective culture, saying “we can only try to elevate our status through our culture. I implore a lot of people to please look into that and see what we can do to assist”.
While speaking with this medium, being the very first of his kind in a Nigerian University, Ojuade spoke on the prospect of the new path of discipline he just charted: “This will switch a lot of attention to it, people don’t see anything good in dancing, they just see it as a pass time or entertainment, but it is beyond that.”
He also spoke about the loneliness of pursuing his line of discipline, being the first of its kind in Nigerian academic strata, saying “I was alone in the class during my masters level, what I did was that I ensured that I did a lot of courses in Music ,because Music and dance are like the face of a coin.
“If one wants to dig through history and research, you will discover that they are no books you can refer to and also interview the real owners and practitioners of the culture to get what you need about the history that relates to their dances.
“I think a lot of people will be interested in dancing now, if you look at the people in the diaspora, they know nothing about our dances or culture, so if attention is shifted to it then a lot of people will benefit from it” he submitted.
The don also attributed the success of the programme to his humility and simplicity, in his own words, “I think simplicity is the road to life, I just believe life is just a temporary place, so what will one gain from not being good, the best thing is to be good, when you’re good a lot of people will benefit from you.”
He also stressed that government should ensure the documentation of our culture through the promotion of dance, which can also be a source of tourist attraction and a training center for the people
At the end of the programme, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof AbdulKareem Sulyman Age, in his remark, thanked everyone present at the occasion, before leading the recession out of the venue.
The event was also virtually followed via a Zoom meeting affording people from all over the world to follow the programme from their respective location.