Isedale Wa (Our Heritage, UK) is an independent, non political and non-profit organisation based in the UK and Nigeria, and
I was born in the mid 1960s in Scotland in the UK to middle class parents from humble backgrounds. My father studied Civil Engineering at St Andrew’s university and my late mother was the first black student at Jordanhill College of Education. – That came with a lot of challenges. Long after my late mother passed, whilst tidying up get suitcases, I came across some newspaper cuttings and one of the headlines was a court case as some of my mother’s students used to chant- Black Monkey Go Home, we Don’t want you as our teacher”. Mum won those cases but it was still tough. However despite that my parents made great friends in Scotland including her Head Teacher who become my God Mother, my older Sister’sGod Mother and a lot of my Father’s work colleagues. Many of whom visited us later in Nigeria and we are still in contact with.
Back to my story, upon completion of my Father’s studies, our parents sold their home and moved back to Nigeria – to serve their Fatherland.
My parents both worked for the Lagos State Government. My late Mum was the Head Teacher of her school at the time she passed on. My Father retired as the Head Of Consultancy and Works Lagos State Government.
I spent 18 years of my life in Nigeria before moving back to England in the mid 80s.
Whilst growing up I had access to a lot of the Yoruba culture albeit in a very westernised way.
Being children of an Educationist, we were not allowed to speak “Vernacular” ours being a Yoruba because my parents felt it would affect my English. Well do you blame them? One day my Aunty visiting from Canada was speaking to my Mum and she said “ Nkan ti mo fi oju e ri”. I translated that to be “ what I used her eyes to see”. Abi? My mum was not too happy about that.
I however was exposed to the Yoruba culture. The Yoruba extended family life. Some of our traditions including Child Naming ceremonies, traditional engagements and weddings, parties, funerals etc. I was blessed to see how siblings respected one another; how new wives were given new names by the children in the household. How a new wife has to give names to all the children she met in the family home etc. How all the wives in a particular family would serve all their in-laws at family occasions and so much more.
I had embraced and loved the cultural heritage of the Yoruba people.
Going into my 50s and having raised my family in the United Kingdom, I began to notice how lost and endangered the Yoruba culture was becoming, even at home in Nigeria.
A lot of us had embraced Westernisation so much to the detriment of our own rich cultural heritage.
I believe that our generation is the moulding generation between our parents and our children. We had to do something about this and after discussions with like minded people, ISEDALE Wa (OUR HERITAGE) was birthed.