Olaniyi Olajide Ayeni studied Forestry and Wood Technology, but he later became a poet to practice his passion. In this interview he spoke about his latest works and collection of poems; “Journey from freedom,” Ayeni, an author and human resources management consultant, speaks on his passion and issues affecting Africa and her tradition which includes polygamy.
You read Forestry and Wood Technology, how did you become a poet and a writer of literary works?
I want to project my passion for writing because I want to project my ideas on the subject matter I write on. I want my writings to serve as an awakening call for my African brothers.
You also became a human resources consultant; it appears you are not inclined to practise what you studied, what happened?
I studied a rich course that is in fact practicable in Nigeria, but the course I studied should not and will not limit me to work on other things I have passion for or hinder me from showcasing other talents that I posses
So, let’s talk about your work, why are you so passionate about Africa?
First of all, I am a patriotic African man and I should naturally be passionate about my fatherland. Besides, I believe we are too blessed with both human and natural resources to be where we are currently.
Why is Africa in a sorry state with all that we have at our disposal?
Questions like this drive my passion for my dear continent. “Shoulder high, too tall,” “War never ends,” “Diversified Unity,” “Chained,” and “Identify Crisis,” “Whispers of Rainbow,” are inspiring whatever we in your work, what inspired them?
First of all, I am a patriotic African man and I should naturally be passionate about my fatherland. Additionally, I believe we are too blessed with both human and natural resources to be where we are currently.
Talking about Africa, where do you think we got it wrong?
Getting it wrong at the beginning wasn’t our fault we were deceived and made to suffer. We suffered from colonization for over 200 hundred years and we still haven’t recovered from that horror that happened to our ancestors, which I believe laid the foundation for our suffering.
Numerous generations without transitioning to our own values and system of education, we were made to adopt an alien system which up till today we still don’t know how to go about it. Such alien values include the government we currently practice.
Decades after independence from our colonial masters we Africans continue to put ourselves in harm’s way by not choosing and backing the wrong leaders when the time comes for us to choose one.
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Are you saying proper development is still far from this continent?
It’s obvious that Africa is underdeveloped, from our infrastructures to our system of education, to our educational system and in fact all sectors.
To say we are far from the development would be rather too harsh; we just need to start taking the right steps, making the right decisions putting the right people with good and innovative mindsets in power
How can we have that desired social change in our continent?
Politics and government have power and control over everything if we get the right people in power and be good people ourselves. I believe we will be on the right path to the social change we desire. Young people with bright ideas and technocrats need to get involved in government
You wrote the poems like someone that has traversed Africa, how many African countries have you been to or read about and what are your observations?
Well as a travel curator, I have visited a couple of African countries and I realized that we are all almost suffering from the effects of two things; the effects of colonization and bad governance as well as separatist and inter-tribal conflicts with countries that are heterogeneous.
We need to stop fighting ourselves and get together as one to fight the common enemy we all have.
Do you think Africans in the Diaspora have a role to play, if yes, can you be specific?
Yes! Yes, I believe Africans in the Diaspora need to come to effect the innovations they are living in and continue to create wealth in their motherland if they can.
It seems you believe so much in Africa and its endowment, how close are you to African culture?
Close enough to know we have a rich culture. I am a Yoruba from Ekiti State, blessed with rich tradition; I have been close to other traditions too across Yorubaland and beyond.
I have been a witness of the annual Calabar festivals, in which I was actively involved, the Olojo festivals at Ile Ife and numerous others.
What is the problem with the black or do you see the colour as a blessing?
The colour of our skin doesn’t make us any less, it’s in fact a blessing to us. It makes us stronger, we have strong skin and it makes us healthy infact.
How would you describe African leaders?
I want to be kind with words but I can’t help it. They are very clueless and selfish people who don’t have the interest of their people at heart. A lot of them are after their own pocket and personal gains. They do not want to leave the corridor of powers.
What kind of African or Nigerian songs inspire you?
Both the new bees and oldies serve as a source of inspiration to me, but I want to say that Fela’s songs stand out as they mostly align with my own ideas
You didn’t do a poem on polygamy, is polygamy a kind of positive or negative part of African culture?
Polygamy is both a curse and a blessing. The main reason why our ancestors were polygamists was because of their farm work. But in the present day, it has been abused that we Africans now give birth to numerous children we can’t cater for thereby increasing the crime rate, overpopulation and high rate of unemployment.
A huge population can be a blessing and I know if we get things right that gives us the advantage of a large population.
Would you recommend that Africans should go back to the era of traditional government or continue with democracy that was imported into the continent?
Our traditional government has been bastardized. There are so many discrepancies in our traditional institutions. If we can modernize it and practice a constitutional system of government with respect to tradition it will do us more good than this democracy that we do not seem to know how to go about.
Have you been to Ile Ife in Osun State and Oyo Town in Oyo State, if yes, what can you say about them?
The historical town that houses the origin and most important traditional institutions of the Yoruba people in Ile Ife, orisun Yoruba. The monarch Ooni is the son of the founder of the Yoruba people, Oduduwa. Ile Ife and Oyo are the two indigenous towns that are blessed with great traditions and culture.
The cultural festival, traditional museums and houses are second to none throughout the region. They are the two great historical settlements of the Yoruba people.
How would you like to be remembered?
I want to be remembered as a man that impacted many lives positively.
Are you considering doing a movie on Africa?
If it is a movie that will tell our own side of the story and one that will project my ideas why not? I will gladly be willing to be part of one.