Atelewo Cultural Initiative, a Yorùbá socio-cultural organisation has successfully held a virtual auction on Twitter for a copy of the book “Agbàlọ́wọ́ọméèrìí Baálẹ̀ Jòntolo” written by the late popular Yorùbá author, Chief Joseph Folahan Odunjo, in 1958 and published by Longman.
The virtual public auction started with a tweet posted by the organisation at exactly 8:50 pm on Monday, 31st of May, 2021 with a starting bid of $0.01.
The auction that witnessed 11 bids, 9 participants, and over 18,000 impressions on Twitter eventually ended by 11.59 pm on June 1, 2021, with the Twitter user @lanreee winning the auction with a bid of $55.
While speaking with the co-founders of the organisation, Rasaq Malik and Ọ̀rẹ́dọlá Ibrahim, they noted that the auction was launched as an experimental activity to gauge people’s interest in Yorùbá literature and general cultural heritage.
“This is no doubt the first-ever Yorùbá book auction on Twitter [went well] and we are very happy that the auction succeeded. For us, it is really not about the money, but the fact that we can still see people who know the value of Yorùbá literature and are ready to put their money where their mouth is. ‘Agbàlọ́wọ́ọméèrìí Baálẹ̀ Jòntolo’ by J.F Ọdúnjọ is a Yorùbá literature classic by all standards and the book teaches important lessons on public corruption,” they said.
“Since we founded ÀTẸ́LẸWỌ́ on the 1st of June in 2017, we have always cared about everything that promotes the Yorùbá language and culture and part of that is literature. We believe the literature of a language is key and critical to the survival of that language.”
“In fact, one of our founding objectives is to rekindle people’s interest in Yorùbá literature by organising readings, making Yorùbá literature available for purchase and publishing new voices in the Yorùbá Language. And this is why we collect and preserve old Yorùbá books while also making these books available to people to buy for educational and entertainment purposes.”
“Unfortunately, aside from the fact that many of us don’t care about the promotion of the Yoruba culture and language, there is also a greater concern as regards the waning presence of quality Yorùbá literature materials by newer authors.”
Rasaq further explained that many of the older Yorùbá literature materials by revered authors are already out of print (like the one recently auctioned off) and many have been burnt or are being burnt by publishers with the excuse that no one is buying them. He said that it is really a shame that the books seen on the shelf are mostly the ones being recommended for students.
“This issue and others are what we’re currently devoting all our resources to address at ATELEWO. This is why we started our online Yorùbá literary blog at www.atelewo.org to encourage more young people into writing in their indigenous language, this is why we are starting an ebook platform dedicated to Yorùbá literature scheduled for launch later this month. This is why we launched the ATELEWO Prize for Yorùbá Literature late last year, and this is why we started Ògbóntarigì (currently being supported by the Goethe Institute) to celebrate and showcase old veteran Yorùbá authors amongst other programmes and activities.”
The virtual auction coinciding with the 4th year anniversary of the organisation saw the participation of Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún, a Nigerian cultural activist and the founder of Yorubanames.com, as well as Dèjí Akọ́mọláfẹ́, a Global Evangelist and Program Manager at VMware.
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