Figurines on display at the World Sango Festival 2016 Photo: Michael Obasa
In an exclusive interview with Naij.com during the 2016 World Sango Festival which took place in Oyo, the cultural ambassador to the Alaafin of Oyo said Yorubas should be proud of what they have.
Gomes said there was a lot of misconception surrounding the traditional Yoruba religion as many Yorubas think it is all about idol worship. She explained that Yorubas believe in only one God referred to as Eledumare and that the concept of idol worship is actually broad.
Dr Paula Gomes urged Yorubas to be proud of their heritage Photo: Michael Obasa
She said that Jesus who is worshipped by Christians is actually a form of idol worship as just like some people worship artistes.
She said: “People here, they believe that what comes from outside (religion) is good and what belongs to them is wrong. The Yorubas believe that their own culture is to worship idols which is wrong. The Yorubas don’t worship idols; the Yorubas worship only one god which is Eledumare.
“This Eledumare, nobody can see him; even the God for Christians. God is only one, nobody can see God.
Devotees of Sango at the World Sango Festival. Photo: Michael Obasa
“But the Yorubas believe that because nobody can see Eledumare, the Eledumare, God himself, delegates power to these divinities that they can interact with humanities so there is nothing wrong with it.
“It’s true that there is a lot of misconceptions but they Yorubas don’t worship idols. If we talk about idols, we have to talk in general. Jesus is an idol because you worship him. I love my mother, I worship her. If you have a singer that you like, people like Pasuma, Osupa. From what I listen, people worship these people so idol is a very vast word. Sango is a divinity was a irunmale and as well came to the earth as a human being.”
The cultural ambassador urged Yorubas to be proud of themselves and not be ashamed of their ancestors. She noted that the Nigerian government sends Muslims and Christians to Mecca and Jerusalem respectively every year and by doing so developing the economy of these places.
Dr Paula Gomes (centre) talking to foreign visitors at the World Sango Festival. Photo: Michael Obasa
She said: “You cannot deny where you’re coming from. You cannot deny your identity. If you deny your identity, you deny yourself. The Yoruba people should be proud of themselves and should not be ashamed of their culture and tradition.
“Nigerian government invests a lot of money to send people to Mecca and Jerusalem. The Dollars they are taking to these two places, they are developing the economy of these countries. They are giving jobs to their youths. Why not develop Yoruba, Nigeria historical sites, shrines and festivals for the white people and Nigerians to come to do tourism. It’s a way for economic development. The youth needs jobs. Why not develop tourism