‘Life is heaven, but a lingering pain is hell’
“The word ‘happiness’ does indeed have meaning, doesn’t it? I shall go out in search of it.”
― Mariama Bâ.
My name is Yemi Orisawayi and this is a letter to myself. When I was 19 years old I produced and presented a television programme with full sponsorship titled ‘Images of arts and culture’. I travelled around the world to interesting places, interviewed people of different cultures and beliefs. I dinned in the best places and tasted dishes I would never have tried.
Today, I am older, I am a mother and travel less. What I have learnt and yet to learn in this wonderful universe and beyond I wish to remind myself. In Mariama Bâ’s words I shall go in search of happiness as I once knew.
I love to express myself in Arts and Culture, but what does it really mean to me or to you if you are reading this long letter, well to me it means a lot, its about people, me, you, us, diverse groups, the way we interact and communicate with each other, what we do, our beliefs and the way we are meant to carry on with life as it were.
The word Culture is derived from the Latin word ‘Cultus’, which means to inhabit or cultivate while Arts in Latin means Arrangement.
Daniel Bell in the distinction of culture and social structure believes that, ‘social forces always finds expression in culture even when they work unseen and the problem is stated falsely if culture and society are torn apart from one another and are regarded as fully independent spheres which as such react upon one another’.
Bell refers to Culture as a form of expression, I see arts and culture as life. Indeed, Arts and Culture is how we express ourselves. Without these there is no life, no communication.
Picture this during my stint as a young presenter I once travelled to a town in Nigeria called Idanre. The town is located at the foot of a hill called Idanre Hill which attracts many tourists because of its unique cultural significance.
My guide took my crew and I to the top of the hill and it was a very tiring climb 653 steps it was and rest stations but the scene on the hill was superb.
There on the hill far away from civilization was small village which consisted of living huts, a king’s palace, market, shrines, old court, even something called Agboogun foot print which I will tell you about shortly and most things you would find in a normal village except this was not a normal village.
Now there are many tales to the reasons why there was a town on a hill and the one given by our guide was that many years ago when war broke between the people of Idanre and the surrounding villages, the towns people ran to the top of the hill and when the enemies came towards them they would throw down rocks to defend themselves.
Time went by and the people decided to settle on the hill as it provided sanctuary for them and kept the enemies away.
After a while the people came back down when the war had settled and built new homes at the foot of the hill but retained their homes on the hill, so very year during the Orosun festival the people would go back up with the king and stay in their family home and do whatever they wanted to do.
Now I asked my guide about the famous Agboogun foot print on the hill top is a human foot print carved in a rock, the foot print is meant to be one size fits all, that is anyone puts there foot in and it is the same size but if you put yours and it is too big or small then surely you are a witch. I was unable to prove or disprove my guide’s theory as there were too many fetish things there and I did not want to get charmed into anything.
Needless to say, Idanre has its cultural believes it people abide by and its lovely cultures I am hoping to go back there again one day and put my foot in that foot print.
“To be is to be perceived (Esse est percipi).” Or, “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” – Bishop George Berkeley’.