After a weeklong heated debate by the Editorial Board members, History Professor, erudite scholar and advocate of Yoruba self-determination, Professor Stephen Banji Akintoye was on Wednesday declared the Yoruba Man of the Year 2020.
The 84-year old radical scholar top the list of the best twelve Yoruba leaders selected from across the old Western Region, and Kwara and Kogi, where a large Yoruba population is indigenous.
In a statement by its Editorial Board, Irohinoodua, the Pan Yoruba news medium said Prof Akintoye who left the comfort of his home in the United States, in pursuit of a noble cause, beat ten other contestants selected by the Board for this season’s award.
The five criteria considered for the selection were: courage in the pursuit of Yoruba values; advocacy for Yoruba self-determination; deep, articulate and demonstrated-knowledge of the fears and aspirations of Yoruba Nation; consistency in the pursuit of such ideal and lastly, international networking and bringing the Yoruba Nation into global reckoning.
“Yoruba nation faces existential problems in a benighted country. Never in history have the people been so deprived of their economic, social and cultural freedom than the present. The Yoruba Nation is threatened by a myriad of challenges ranging from lack of a critical voice that speaks the truth in firm grip of the conscience of a long suffering people. Never in history has the future been so terrifying and the present lay in ruin, with only a dimming gleam of light in the tunnel of circumstances history placed the Yoruba Nation.”
Irohinoodua said anxiety holds grip the heart of toilworn Yoruba people largely condemned in the intricate cobweb of hopelessness, anguish, pains and the lack of ideological direction. On this worrisome turf, Prof Akintoye brought hope in the face of despair. He lit up the heart of Yoruba nation with a new, beautiful song which broke boundaries reaching millions of people across the world. He provided direction at a time of anomie and leadership ineptitude adding that “the chain was broken, Prof Akintoye came to fix it.” The intellectual prowess he brought to the Yoruba self-determination campaign is difficult to quantify.
The Irohinoodua management said though several efforts have been made by different groups to promote the Yoruba aspiration, Prof Akintoye beat a unique drum driven by rare intellectual power and articulation of the aspirations of Yoruba people all over the world.
“The new album of liberation he composed, the melody of freedom has hit all the corners of the world. From the valley, his voice echoes and shook the mountains, raising up the people from their slumber. In line with the time honoured culture of the Yoruba people, Akintoye brought a deep intellectual flavor which redefined the Yoruba in the context of international politics” said Irohinoodua. The management said at his well ripe age, he literarily devotes 48 hours per day in the advancement of Yoruba most important goal.
“This man abandoned the trauma of old age, he gave his strength, his power, his energy and above all his spirit to the renewed campaign for Yoruba sovereignty. He was the first to take the case of Yoruba self-determination to the world where he obtained a memorable stamp of duty through the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation, (UNPO). He redefined the form and content of Yoruba search for political autonomy even in the face of the vicious cycle of familiar savage threats”, the Board said.
Within the shortest time possible, Prof Akintoye literarily lifted up the dead and aroused the fading memory of a once glorious past through his vigorous, uncompromising and iron cast pursuit of the most important Yoruba cause in the 21st century history.
Past winners of the Yoruba Man of the Year Award are Professor Wole Soyinka, Pastor Temitope Joshua and others.