Ayo Ewebiyi a.k.a “Mama Oriki” is a cultural crusader, ambassador, a sociocultural entrepreneur, traditional artiste and a theatre practitioner who had traveled far and wide in showcasing and promoting Yoruba Culture, Art and Tradition through her cultural music, poetry and chanting .In an exclusive interview with Adewale Adenrele , Mama Oriki speaks about her experience; challenges, lifestyle and the importance of promoting Yoruba culture especially Yoruba Language.
Would you like to tell us a little about yourself in relation to the work you do and religion belief?
I am Fausat M. Ewebiyi all known as mama oriki. I am a total theatre practitioner and socio cultural entrepreneur, who is into gospel folk arts genre of music. I started my primary school education at the Talimul Islam Ahmadiyya primary school, Awori college ojo and Herbert Macaulay girls’ high school for my secondary school and the University of Lagos under the auspices of National troupe of Nigeria. I have represented Nigeria at different festivals of arts in countries, like Brazil, United Arab Emirates (Duba),Egypt,Algeria,South Africa and United States of America. My company Ayo Ewebiyi films we have produced several jingles notable amongst the jingles is “Ire mi a waye” a political jingle done during former Governor of Lagos State first term campaign. We have five films to our credit, Oorun Ayo, Wura Aje, Gangan, Oloja Erupe, O shele and Osundagbonu. As a cultural ambassador and a traditional artiste my faith in God as a Christian remains firm.
Yoruba is one of the largest African ethnic groups which collection of diverse people bound together by a common language, history, and culture.. What can you say about Yoruba people, the culture and tradition?
Yorubas are a unique race, with diverse dialect but united in language with the adoption of Oyo Yoruba dialect in writing. They are known to be omo OLODUMARE. Olodumare is the supreme God that is above all. They believe strongly in Olodumare.
Oneness in ideas, customs, and social behaviour of the Yoruba people is one of the things that make Yoruba to stand out. Regardless of dialectal difference we know the culture if kneeling, prostrating, to belong to the Yoruba. It is very interesting to know that Yoruba language is very popular and next to Swahili language. Even most hip hop artiste that are non-Yoruba’s render their lyrics in Yoruba. Talk about Yoruba deities and their festivals. Olokun,Osun,Egungun, Obatala,Ori is universal and is popular.
What do you like about African Culture?
I like the culture of sharing and caring. Community training of all children, collective monitoring and mentoring. Buts it’s so sad that is gone but we are trying to resuscitate it .
Do you believe in Yoruba tradition, worshiping the deities?
Yes I do, Olodumare is supreme. my ancestors are into ancestral worshipping through egungun. Ogun God of iron Osun, Yemoja and olokun. That’s what I met. That is my Isese (Tradition)
For many years now your name, Ayo Ewebiyi, has traveled far and wide. How were you able to build it into the big brand it is today?
It’s been God all the way. God is my support; he has blessed me with people that supported my dream, prayer and hardworking and taking advantage of each opportunity that comes my way. Though, there are times of disappointments and moments when everything seems not working. God is always there for me. I THANK HIM
When did you join the Nigeria film industry and who are your role models?
I joined the industry in 1995. My role models in the industry are Mrs Joke Jacobs, Auntie Binta Ayo Mogaji, Alhaji Yinka Quadri , they are fantastic role interpreters. I admire them so much.
What is your vision for the future?
My vision is to re-ignite the love for Yoruba cultural values, arts and tradition, by supporting upcoming cultural artiste. Training the next generation in Yoruba oral poetry so as to encourage continuity. Books don’t die I want to go into writing books on culture. I see a future in it we are already in information age.
Amazing memories are unforgettable; can u share with us your most amazing memory?
SMILES……………….. One of my amazing memories was the very first time I performed outside the country at a theatre in Meteipec,Mexico. It was the national troupes’ production of Yemoja. I haven’t performed before a large crowd of that magnitude. I came to the stage frightened; I slipped on stage and fell on my face feigning a kind spiritual influence. People clapped. “Ah! Asiri mi o tu “ I didn’t not messed up and that took away my fear
You are a performing artiste, what kind of music genre do you sing?
My music falls into African Traditional Folk Arts music.
Do you have any musical tracks and album to your credit?
Yes I have over 2000 soundtracks for movies I have released four albums debuting with good morning Eledumare, followed by Elese osun, No F’ayo beer and the latest is Odun ire temi de.
2017 was a great year when you unveil OGO YORUBA GBODE’ and launched a film OSUNDAGBONU’’ and a musical album ‘ALAAFIN AKOKO” can you tell us more on this 3 in 1 package?
As it is known that the glory of a nation is embedded in its citizenry. Anyone born of Oduduwa descent is the glory of Yoruba race. Being a Yoruba son or daughter by birth alone is not enough to be called the glory, but having the right character and impacting the society positively with the blessings that Olodunare has deposited in one’s life. Being a cultural ambassador and crusader, culture can be a tool that can be used to sanitize the society.
We write to introduce to you OGO YORUBA GB’ODE, a Pan Yoruba socio-cultural event packaged by Ayo Ewebiyi www.ogoyorubagbode.com.ng in conjunction with the department of Linguistics African and Asia Studies, to further promote the rich cultural heritage of the Yoruba nation both at home and in diaspora. Ogo Yoruba gb’ode aim is to give recognition and celebrate the Yoruba sons and daughters who are making Yoruba nation proud.
OGO YORUBA GB’ODE is targeted at the Yoruba youth of today many of whom are becoming estranged with the cultural values of their mother tongue Yoruba. This event is aimed at rejuvenating the sense of belonging and appreciation of God given prestige and richness of the Yoruba race
Have you performed for Yoruba Monarchs who are custodian of Yoruba culture and heritage by reciting and chanting?
. Yes, to the glory of God I have performed oriki for several Obas including His Imperial Majesty Oba Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi. The Ooni of Ife, His Royal majesty Oba Oyetunji Olanipekun Ataoja of Oshogbo, Ologidi of Ogidi Oba Suleiman in Kogi state. Oba Rilwan Oluwalambe Olojokoro of Ojokoro, Just to mention a few. CRYCAT ASA Yoruba. Nike art Gallery.
What advice would you give the younger ones?
I will advise them to be prayerful,, identify their part in the arts , and patiently wait for their time but ensure that they make use of every opportunity that comes their way.
What is the role of Youth in Nation Building with emphasis on culture?
Youths are the regenerative power of every nation, the future hope of every society is hinged on this class of people. Therefore they should be given proper attention, training, and mentoring in other to develop a culture of love for their country. Since Culture is the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society, if they inherit a culture of selflessness they will be able to build a better society for themselves and subsequently pass same to the next generation.
Can you mention a few of the Nolly wood films that you have featured in?
Iwere INA, Enu Eku, ileke,, Wura aje, Oloja Erupe, Apehinda Oba, iseju iseju, Kogba goje. Mo Dorisa, Osundagbonu
Have you attended, performed at Nigeria festivals, what can you say about it?
Performed at several Nigeria festivals, Abuja festivals and I represented Ogun State at Calabar festival and the latest is Olokun festival in Ile Ife. I can tell you that a Nigeria festival of arts is one of the best in the world. Every festival has its own challenges, and its peculiar to the country, but we have colorful and interesting. Olokun festival is quite different from festival of arts it is to appease and bless the nation so we don’t mix it up. Festival of arts is different from festival of gods.
How many tourist site have you visited in Nigeria and Africa?
The Lekki Conservation Centre, Olumo rock in Abeokuta and Osun Osogbo groove.
Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us.
You are welcome. Thanks.
Photocredit: Adesanya Oluwafemi .O