J. Randle Yoruba culture centre excites artists, historians


Many personalities in the arts and culture industry, and historians have lauded the John Randle Centre for Yoruba Culture and History, which was built by the Lagos State government, and commissioned by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.); and Lagos Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, earlier in the week.

At a ceremony to formally open the centre, a first-class Yoruba monarch, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, could be seen beaming with pride and happiness at the edifice which is dedicated to celebrating and educating people about Yoruba culture and history.

Though the President did not give a speech at the event, he looked pleased with what he saw.

The sprawling edifice has different areas, including the exhibition gallery, swimming pool and other recreational facilities.

Described as part of an urban regeneration project at the heart of Lagos Island, the project entailed restoring a public swimming pool built in 1928 with updated facilities, creating a centrepiece community building with an exhibition gallery telling the story of Yoruba history and culture through the present day, to the future.

The exhibition gallery is divided into ‘curate zones’— Government (indigenous, colonial, civilian); Industry (arts, agriculture, crafts, minerals); and Culture (spirituality, literature, art, music, media). Together, they showcase an eclectic glimpse into the rich Yoruba culture.

The gallery also contains an interactive platform, which functions as a self-service programme, which translates English to Yoruba.

Speaking at the event, the Lagos State Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Umazat Akinbile-Yussuf, noted that members of the public would pay a token to access the facility. She also noted that the government hopes to get grants to keep it functioning at optimum capacity.

Top filmmaker, Tunde Kelani; and ace actress, Joke Silva, were present at the event, and they nodded in approval at several times during a tour of the gallery.

An arts enthusiast, Opeyemi Craig, described the project as a step in the right direction towards helping the younger generation to learn about their culture through the years, and appreciate it.

This was even as many history buffs took to social media to laud the programme, but warning that the centre had to be well maintained, or it could fast lose its aura.

Other guests at the event were the Lagos State First Lady, Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu; and Erelu Kuti IV of Lagos, Abiola Dosunmu.

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