An ambitious idea to promote Yoruba religion and culture was among the highpoints of the 10th Orisa World Congress held at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) in Ile-Ife, Osun State, in July 2013. At the opening ceremony in Oduduwa Hall, OAU, the then Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, had declared that July and August would be Yoruba cultural months from 2014. Oba Sijuwade, who died in 2015 after a 35-year reign, was a revered traditional ruler and Grand Patron of the Orisa tradition and religion.I implore all descendants of Oduduwa to return home every year during these months to celebrate our culture and religion, Oba Sijuwade had said. Oduduwa, regarded as the progenitor of the Yoruba people, is artistically represented by an imposing wooden sculpture carved by Lamidi Olonade Fakeye, which Oba Sijuwade had unveiled at the front of the university theatre in 1987.Oba Sijuwade had clarified the idea of Yoruba cultural months, saying, All my children in Nigeria, Benin Republic, Togo Republic, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Sudan, invite all lovers of Yoruba culture to the homeland during the months of July and August. Celebrate the values, virtues and treasures of our towns and cities. Hold public events, conventions and activities that showcase the invaluable riches of Yoruba culture and religion. These are the treasures that have made Yoruba culture and religion a global heritage of humanity.Ile-Ife, regarded as the source and cultural capital of the Yoruba race, was an appropriate setting for deliberations on the challenges of the Orisa way of life, especially in the context of contending faiths. The variegated gathering included participants from the United States of America, Brazil, Cuba, Venezuela and Mexico, and demonstrated the appeal of the Yoruba religion beyond its provenance.There is no doubt about the international status of Yoruba religion. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2005 added the Ifa Divination system to its list of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.Putting Oba Sijuwades idea into action is another matter. His death should not mean the death of the idea. His successor, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, who is also enthusiastic about promoting Yoruba religion and culture, should make moves to turn this striking idea into reality.While Oba Sijuwades idea awaits its time, the vehicle he had used to publicize the idea needs to be reactivated. The 10th edition of Orisa World Congress in Ile-Ife, which focused on Culture and Global Peace, was the fourth in the ancient town, starting from the first one nearly four decades ago. Six others have been held in Brazil, USA, Trinidad and Tobago, and Cuba. It is a project of Orisaworld, an organisation of practitioners and scholars of Orisa tradition, religion and culture, founded in 1981 by Prof Wande Abimbola, a retired academic and culture exponent. The group has individual and institutional members from over 50 countries, and promotes culture, education and peace in a world where Orisa tradition and culture play a central role in the day-to-day lives of over 100 million people.Abimbola had announced that future congresses would be held in Nigeria, and that the next one would take place in Ile-Ife in 2016. Six years after the last congress, and three years after the next one was expected to take place, it is unclear whether the organisers are planning another congress. It is ironic that a group set up to revitalise and rejuvenate the Orisa culture and all its traditions needs to be revitalised and rejuvenated.Oba Sijuwade had declared with poetic overtones, I hereby make the following proclamation: the religion of Yoruba land; the religion of Oduduwa who descended from Heaven on a chain of iron; the religion of Oranfe who lives in a house of perpetual fire in Heaven; the religion of Ifa, witness of destiny; the religion of Sango, the great warrior and giant, child of Oranmiyan; the religion of Oya nicknamed oriirii, eater of she-goats, the female warrior who wears a sword as part of her outfit; the religion of Osun nicknamed ewuji the greatest mother of all; the religion of Obatala, owner of ancient Iranje; will never perish.Interestingly, the last Orisa World Congress involved discussions on a number of important topics, including Globalisation and Cultural Identity. Globalisation has religious implications, including collision of faiths. There have been clashes between devotees of Yoruba traditional religion and Yoruba Christians and Muslims.Last year, for instance, following a conflict triggered by the Oro festival, a report said: Perhaps the height of the growing resentment against the festival came in February 2018 when the Christian Association of Nigeria and the Muslim Community in the Ipokia Local Government Area of Ogun State approached a high court to stop Oro from being held during daytime in the area. The religious bodies claimed that government parastatals, schools, businesses and other public places are usually forced to close down operations as a result of the daytime curfew foisted on them by the traditional exercise. While granting their prayers, the court limited the occasion to between 12:00am and 4:00am, a situation that has since brought relief to many in Ipokia and its environs.In another instance, a report said: In Erinmo Ijesha, Osun State, there is a traditional title, Oodole, which is conferred on a leading member of the community by the council of chiefs. Whoever is chosen to become the Oodole dances around the town, and visits important locations in the town, including the Obas palace. The chosen one wears a cap, under which are leaves alleged to have spiritual powers. The installation involves invoking the spirit of the deity; and the ceremony is rounded off with the killing of a sacrificial goat or cow Those who do not participate in communal rituals, especially Christians and Muslims, are often targets of violent attacks.In August, the two-week Osun-Osogbo Festival will take place in Osogbo, Osun State, with a grand finale in the Osun-Osogbo Grove, a national monument and one of Nigerias two UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Osun is a Yoruba water goddess celebrated yearly in a spectacular festival that is a star attraction. The Osun-Osogbo Festival, possibly the countrys pre-eminent traditional religious festival, draws a large number of visitors from within Nigeria as well as the Yoruba diaspora and beyond.There are various other traditional activities that sustain the Yoruba religion. The reality of diverse faiths and religious differences should not encourage religious violence. Click here to read full news..