UNIOSUN inaugurates team for $100,000 UNESCO-IFCD grant 

By Deborah Oladejo, Osogbo

The College of Humanities and Culture, Osun State University, Ikire Campus has inaugurated a research team to drive the effective execution and implementation of its UNESCO-funded project under the International Fund for Cultural Diversity.

The team is led by Prof. Olukoya Ogen, the Principal Investigator and grant holder. He will be supported by a 20-man research team drawn from three faculties in the university. 

Speaking at the occasion, the don revealed that Osun State University is the first university in Nigeria to win the prestigious grant and that this feat was officially acknowledged by the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture. 

He noted that out of the 610 applications from 86 countries, only 11 projects were approved for funding by UNESCO under the 2022 IFCD grant circle, adding that the proposal from UNIOSUN was ranked fourth out of the 11 recommended by the UNESCO panel of experts. 

Earlier, Prof. Ogen noted that the proposal would not have sailed through without the active encouragement, inspiration and research-friendly environment provided by the Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof. Clement Odunayo Adebooye. 

He also alluded to the tremendous work, ingenuity, and commendable support of all the team members, particularly, Prof. Temitope Balogun, the immediate past Provost of the College of Humanities and Culture. 

He informed the meeting of the constitution of a high-powered Project Advisory Board led by Prof. Toyin Falola of the University of Texas at Austin.

Other members of the Advisory Board are Professors Wale Are Olaitan, Sola Akinrinade, Siyan Oyeweso, Insa Nolte, Adriaan van Klinken and Abel Ugba. Two members of the Advisory Board, Prof. Wale-Are Olaitan and Prof. Siyan Oyeweso joined the inaugural meeting virtually.

In their separate addresses, the duo made useful suggestions, highlighting the socio-cultural and economic importance of the project and promised their full support. 

According to the grant holder, the project is titled;‘‘Youth Empowerment, Gender Mainstreaming, and Entrepreneurising Yoruba Oral Arts for Sustainable Development in Southwest Nigeria’.

It has three major objectives; ‘‘first, to identify, locate and collate various aspects of Yoruba oral genres and provide formal professional trainings to selected youths across the southwest, 50% of whom will be Yoruba female oral artists.

“Second, to reinvent by digitising Yoruba cultural moral tales and stories through animations, caricatures, and cartooning technology, and third, to enhance sustainable cultural policies and the international mobility of artists that will cater for the socio-economic empowerment of Yoruba oral artists.”

Addressing journalists after the inaugural meeting of the team, Prof. Ogen revealed that the grant is worth about $100,000, with UNESCO contributing $73,077 and a counterpart funding of $27,000 both in cash and in kind by critical stakeholders.” 

He disclosed further that, in view of the national and global significance of the project, the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Abuja, recently congratulated UNIOSUN and expressed the willingness to partner with the team members for a successful execution of the project. 

He thereafter stated that the abstract for a presentation titled; ‘‘Digitization, civil citizenship and Yoruba cultural moral tales’’ which according to him, is an integral aspect of the UNESCO funded project, has also been accepted and the full paper is slated for presentation at an international conference taking place at the University of Pretoria on June 15, 2023.

He paid glowing tributes to the immediate past Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof. Labo Popoola and the current Vice-Chancellor, Professor Adebooye for their invaluable support during the application process, describing them as national assets and global researchers par excellence. 

Also at the meeting, a 5-man sub-committee saddled with the responsibility of developing the Project’s training modules was constituted. Members of the Team were also divided into six groups, one for each state in the southwest, with the mandate to identify groups whose oral arts have not been well captured in the extant literature on Yoruba civilization.

They are also to locate suppressed and marginalised sub-groups whose history, culture, and traditions face the threat of extinction due mainly to the forces of globalisation and internal cultural marginalisation.

Members of the team unanimously pledged to give their all and ensure the success of the project. 

Team members that attended the inaugural meeting are Prof. Temitope Balogun, Dr. Sikiru Ogundokun, Dr. Tolulope Oluremi, Dr. Femi Abanikannda, Dr. Bunmi Alaje, Dr. Felix Niran Faniran, Dr. Nurudeen Lawal, Dr. Adeyemi Balogun, Dr. Olakunle Olawuyi, Dr. Jumoke Seweje Akiode, Dr. Taiwo Araroba, Mrs Oluwadara Fakunle, Mr. Afolabi Ismail Olaitan.

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