Can the Monarchy of Ooni of Ife bring about economic development of Youth in Diaspora? Adedayo interviews the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi (Ojaja II) on his youth development agenda
One of the major development agendas that needs focus is the rapidly growing youth population in Africa. According to a UN population report, In 2015, 226 million youth aged 15-24 lived in Africa, accounting for 19 per cent of the global youth population. By 2030, it is projected that the number of youth in Africa will have increased by 42 per cent. Understanding the economic development agenda of any governmental body including the traditional monarchy can play a vital role in the development of youth in the Diaspora. For youth abroad, more initiatives with incentives needs to be created so that the internationally studied youth from the diaspora can be motivated to return back to their home countries to aid in development. While for youth at home, it is important for powerfully placed individuals, monarchies and other legislative bodies to establish structures and opportunities for them to secure employment and solve other economic challenges they face especially with the rising demographic and economic competition.
On His purpose for the Historical U.S Visit:
The general purpose of the Ooni’s visit was aimed at attracting foreign investors for economic development in Ile-Ife and the Yoruba regions. The Ooni mentioned that the goal of His visit was to come from the mother continent of Africa to the U.S to reconcile with His blood brothers and sisters of African descent (African Americans) as one big family, to preach and foster peace across the entire black race. He said he came to foster peace, showcase the Yoruba rich culture (which he says is the oldest in the world)— for African Americans to know about their source and heritage. He explains that during trans-Atlantic slave trade, a lot of African Americans forgot their background and as a result they don’t know how to trace their ancestral roots. He said this visit purposed to let them (African Americans) know that “we have royalty, tradition and culture and to preach peace for a better human race to exist.”
The Extraordinary Royal Reception by the U.S:
On his majestic arrival at the John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York City, United States— he was given a rousing welcome with a colorful reception that was arranged in his honor
Whenever God is involved, there is always perfection the Ooni says. We came here and it has been perfection all the way, he acclaims. The acceptance and warm welcome gotten from people in the diaspora, Nigerians in the diaspora of Yoruba descent, Caribbeans, African Americans has been incredible, the Ooni said. The response has been very good from the U.S County level, State and Federal level to reconcile the black race
On Youth Development in Africa :
Any time we are talking about Youth, I am passionate, he says. He attests that his number one policy is to eat, sleep, walk and think all the way about the Youth. I am very passionate about youth development, he says. In Nigeria, seven out of ten are youth and eight out of ten Africans are youth. All over the world youth should have a voice—a voice in terms of trying to get a lot of good things done, he says. If you look at fortune 500 companies or massive companies, they are driven by youth, it is their initiative, the youth are also in charge of the info-tech world. Youth are breaking grounds in different sectors. The Ooni described his palace agenda basically as “youth emancipation.” We don’t need to wait for government and keep complaining. We need to try and support one another and corporate in terms of initiatives and ideas, and have track records and testimonials.
The Ooni mentions, “This throne is dedicated to the youth and to the glory of God we are using it very well”.
According to the Ooni, Ninety percent of the entourage that accompanied the Monarch are youth, present to help display the rich culture and heritage! Stating that he is encouraging young people to go back to agriculture, break new grounds, pioneer initiatives—for Instance the African pilot that flew around the world solo, as a good example
Ooni’s Strategies for Investing in Youth:
A foundation called House of Oduduwa is one of the designs instituted by the Monarch to encourage youth and youth emancipation across the world. The Ooni mentioned that another company will interface facilitation of training and manpower development across the globe with the Youth. Also mentioning of several advocacy groups his palace is partnering with. What we are doing basically is to continue to reach out, he said; with the focus on encouraging youth.
On Partnering with Youth–Led Businesses:
There is no community that can grow with only big companies, the Ooni said. You can only grow with Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) so we are focused mainly on small businesses.
Economic Sectors to Focus On:
On his take regarding which Nigerian economic sector young people can focus on, the Ooni mentions that Nigeria has been a mono product economy, very risky, he says. You can’t survive with one product—explaining that the prices of oil and gas going down and yet other prices of agricultural produce going up is because we neglected that sector. Pre-1960, the country never focused on oil and gas but cash-crop all the way— the likes of cocoa, cashew, timber… making Nigeria one of the the largest exporters in the world which gave us a lot of foreign exchange earnings in the country until Crude oil. The strategy, the Ooni suggests they are working with in terms of engagement of the youth is to go back to the roots. Using the Nigerian flag to demonstrate his point, he says the “White and Green” is indicative for “Peace and Agriculture” but sadly we are no longer players in that field, importing almost everything. We import almost everything now he says but we are trying to change that perspective.
“That is why we have critical mass movements of our youth, encouraging them to go back to so many initiatives right now, we need global partners to partner with a lot of positive initiatives and we have achieved that.” -Ooni of Ife
Hope for the Future and Landmark to Identify the Impact of This Visit:
This visit will make a great impact, the Ooni assures. Although a very challenging journey to bring over a hundred people to spend twenty-one days here, in terms of logistics—we have achieved so much, he said. In the area of global partnership and cultural exposure especially being carried out and executed by the youth entourage (age 15-35) , we are fulfilled about our visit. We attracted the U.S government, so many companies and individuals and the African Americans— to know that indeed there is Royalty where they came from.
Repository programs for people to come from Nigeria and Africa for global training to the U.S is one of the partnership goals the Ooni said they are looking to implement as a result of this visit. We are able to achieve blending modernity and tradition, he said. In the old tradition, Kings are expected to sit in their Palace but we decided to come out of the Palace. To blend modernity with tradition because the world is a global village. If we didn’t come, how will African Americans know that they come from royalty, changing their mindset. We are preaching healing process and peace. The take home is enormous, our strategy is not to make it seem like a jamboree—we are focused on implementation.