Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Monday, broke his silence on his late father, saying, culture almost prevented him from recognizing him before his death.
Obasanjo who called for the removal of any aspect of culture that undermines the roles of youths and women in the process of development of the country, said he was a victim of the barbaric culture during his childhood.
The ex-President who spoke at a regional summit on women and youth in the promotion of cultural security and development in Africa’ at Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library Complex, Abeokuta, submitted that the role of women and culture in cultural security and development is very important.
Obasanjo said: “I believe we should eliminate the aspect of our culture that still emphasizes that youth must be seen and not heard. I suffered under this because I was not supposed to look at my father in the face, I didn’t know my father, for many years had tribal marks, who the hell was I to look at my father in the face because the culture says I should look down when my father talks.
“Should we continue to uphold the culture that says women have no share in their parent’s and husband’s inheritance? And as we have been told 70 per cent of our food is provided and produced by women who are landless by our culture and have no access to anything that will help them in production and productivity in their farms.
“In most African countries, names mean something and you don’t just give a child a name. Culture tells us where we are coming from, where we are and to plot where we are going to. To me, culture is like history, if you have no history, you have no memory and if you say you have no culture, you have no past, maybe you have no present and I wonder how you will have a future.
“I have been very concerned about the destruction, that over the years have been hit on our culture in Africa as an instrument of suppression, domination and enslavement. I grew up being told in school that Yoruba is a vernacular and not a language and I must not speak it in school. “I wonder whether in English schools, English is regarded as a vernacular, I have asked my friends why Yoruba is a vernacular which should not be spoken and English is not a vernacular in England and should be spoken.”
“But if you can see that, and you can see the effect from the children that were brought up on this premise, whatever they may be, they may be able to speak English like the queen of England but then what is expected of them when they are with their peers is that which is authentically theirs, their language, their food, their mode of dressing which, invariably some of them have lost.
“Again, you can see the underplay of our culture and the overplay of what they want us to have. I believe the first thing we must identify with is what I called commonalities in cultures so as to use these commonalities to further unity and understanding and to build that constructive relation whether internally within countries or internally within Africa. It also brings close to us the fact that we are one people” Obasanjo said.