How to Say Perseverance in Yoruba
The day got better. Today was one of those days when perseverance paid off. Reminded me to keep doing what I must do. Aside from poetry, there is Yoruba. Although, there is actually no distinction since Yoruba language is poetry. I started this Yoruba school journey over 5 years ago; after spending a year seriously trying to practice and pick up some. I had an ex whose only value was to induce me to learn my language by any means necessary, by belittling me so much for what I did not know. They say pray for your enemies. They are sometimes your best friends, they make you break barriers you may not otherwise break.
I remember asking random people if they would teach a Yoruba class. Got many to agree, but then it was to find enough people to make a class worthwhile. It was inevitable that I would end up in a Yoruba class, especially one I organized. But then someone else did. And I took the class. It was a major stepping stone in terms of my learning. Much credit to them. But the experience proved to me that I had to start a Yoruba program, especially as part and parcel with Exodus to Afrika’s movement to get people back to the Continent. I was afraid to for years. Even though I was married to the best Yoruba teacher in the world. I feared that people would say I stole someone else’s idea. Priding myself on always being original, this was torment for me. I agonized on how I could bring it to fruition without stepping on the other folks’ toes. I made the call, and asked, how can we do this so that I don’t step on your toes? The response was clear hesitation but relenting.
I appreciated that and released the concern about what others would say. This was something I HAD TO DO. Part of my existence, creation. In those moments when God was shaping my lips and forming these little ears and stretching out the clay for my legs, S/HE was saying, this child of mine better get a million people speaking Yoruba again. Or else.
So I do this because I have to. I do this because millions of beautiful souls were stolen and captured, tortured and enslaved, KILLED so that the pride of this language would disappear. So that the pride and POWER of these people would disappear. It almost did. As we speak, we are at the borderline of losing a language forever. A mother tongue. Many African tongues are dying, because parents did not speak their languages to just about anyone my age (in the West especially). So just about everyone my age from an African country, who was raised in the West, can not read, write and speak their language fluently. And they are making babies who can’t as well. So, as I’ve said many times, (I wrote an article about it) the language could very well die forever with this [tongue-tied] generation.
So today became a better day when I was reinforced with this mission. When I was reminded that it will work, and must. By some miracle, I have found a way to keep it going even when it isn’t profitable to me. Even when it doesn’t line my pockets. Even when after many nights of designing flyers and writing press releases and e-mail blasts (I am the spam queen) end at 5 am or 7 am and I still have to have a productive day; I don’t give up because I can’t. It’s unfathomable to not push this mission. It’s unfathomable to not make sure that there is a venue for my people to learn one of the most beautiful languages in the world EFFECTIVELY. And I would say that’s where I’ve beat all the other “schools”. For Yoruba Cultural Institute is not the only place to learn Yoruba of course, but with full bias I will say it’s the BEST. I will say that I only work with teachers who are PASSIONATE about reversing the language loss epidemic, with teachers who know that Yoruba is the most beautiful thing after the galaxy, who love all people and nurture students gently towards fluency. I have a long way to go with this. There is so much work to be done to get the program where it needs to be, to reach those 1 million who MUST #getfluent, but I was reminded and strengthened today, that the work will work. That it will continue to grow, to be effective, to be exciting, to make students HAPPY. Which is all I ever want to do anyway, bring a smile to your face.
Thanks to all our supporters. Yoruba Cultural Institute lives here.
**According to my mother and Fakinlede’s dictionary, “perseverance” would translate into “iforiti”, which makes sense to me since it would break down to “the putting of the head to [something]…”
***And since I am obsessed with Yoruba proverbs (awon owe Yoruba), I will share this one with you: “Adun ni i gbehin ewuro” => “The bitterleaf stew (ewuro) becomes sweet in the end.”