Spring 2012 Yoruba Professors Dr. Fehintola Mosadomi and Dr. Niyi Afolabi share their thoughts on Yoruba classes this coming semester
Posted: October 27, 2011
Spring 2012 Yoruba Professors Dr. Mosadomi and Dr. Afolabi
As registration for Spring 2012 begins, the African and African Diaspora Studies (AADS) department wishes to highlight upcoming classes for UT students interested in Africa and the African Diaspora, AFR majors or otherwise. First on the list is the Yoruba Studies program, which will be offering two Yoruba language classes in the spring: First Year Yoruba II (YOR 507) with Dr. Fehintola Mosadomi, and Second Year Yoruba II (YOR312L) with Dr. Niyi Afolabi.
Yoruba Studies at UT began as a student-driven initiative from the African Student Association (ASA) in collaboration with the John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies (CAAAS). Concerned about the absence of instruction in indigenous African languages at UT, students circulated petitions, consulted with faculty, and met with administrators. As a result of their hard work, the Yoruba Studies Program was born in 2002. Dr. Mosadomi and Dr. Afolabi were among the first Yoruba professors at UT Austin. They have since been joined by additional Yoruba Studies faculty, including Dr. Christopher Adejumo, Dr. Toyin Falola, Dr. Jossiana Arroyo-Martinez, Dr. Moyo Okediji, and Dr. Omi Osun Joni L. Jones.
The Yoruba Studies Program fosters an understanding of Yoruba politics, aesthetics, and spiritual cosmology that is diasporic in focus. Not only is the Yorubaland of Nigeria considered, but nearby African countries such as Benin and Togo, as well as Brazil, Cuba, Trinidad, the United States (particularly Miami and New York City), and Puerto Rico, are studied. For more information on exploring academics in Yoruba Studies, please consult the AADS department website.
As professors, both Dr. Afolabi and Dr. Mosadomi have enjoyed lasting connections with their students. Routinely described by their students as engaging, caring, and knowledgeable, Dr. Afolabi and Dr. Mosadomi not only make their Yoruba classes a rewarding academic experience, but a fun way to learn about culture as well.
AADS sat down with Spring 2012 Yoruba professors to learn a little more about what happens inside the classroom.
AADS: Why do you think it’s important for students to have the opportunity to take Yoruba classes at UT?
Dr. Mosadomi: To break the stereotypes that Africans speak only one language whereas African nations speak real and many languages. Yoruba is also the only African language offered at UT. This provides a fair representation of diverse world languages.
Dr. Afolabi: Students will be exposed to a transnational culture that could permanently influence their cosmovision. Yoruba is a critical language in the study of the African diaspora beyond its relevance as a central language in West Africa. Cultural and spiritual relics of Yoruba influence are found in the USA (Bronx, Miami, New Orleans, etc), Brazil, Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago, Cuba, among other locations where dispersed Africans have made home.
AADS: What is a typical day in your Yoruba class?
Dr. Mosadomi: Fun, interactive, engaging, and informative!
Dr. Afolabi: The lesson of the day is reviewed, [then] students communicate interactively, while a variety of multimedia approaches (music, movie clips, songs, stories) are used to reinforce communication skills and cultural immersion.
AADS: Many of your students in the past have described your courses as fun as well as informative. Can you describe your approach to teaching the language?
Dr. Mosadomi: [I teach] materials of the day with entertainment and high energy!
Dr. Afolabi: [I approach with] a complete cultural and communicative immersion that focuses on hands-on approaches to stimulating communication and real-life situations or sketches.
AADS: What is a favorite memory of teaching Yoruba class?
Dr. Mosadomi: Personal anecdotes and stories that I tell in class before and during teaching, teaching songs and tongue-twisters, and dancing to these!
Dr. Afolabi: The curiosity of students to want to learn more given the poetic and rhythmic nature of the language.
AADS: What have you found to be the most difficult thing for students learning the Yoruba language?
Dr. Mosadomi: Tones and diacritics.
Dr. Afolabi: The tone is a central challenge that can be gradually overcome once students perceive it as music to their ears (as in "do-re-mi"). [Then] accentuation and pronunciation become second nature and spontaneous!
AADS: What have you found to be the most rewarding thing for students learning Yoruba?
Dr. Mosadomi: Connecting with students and [seeing the progression of] students’ ability to speak and write!
Dr. Afolabi: The lasting experience of knowing about a rich African culture that has resonances in the African American experience as well as in the African diaspora as a whole.
AADS: Any last words?
Dr. Afolabi: Learn an ancestral and spiritual language that can take you to other places where it is still spoken daily such as West Africa and the African diaspora. Listen to Yoruba music and participate in cultural performance that teaches the values of respect, morals, metaphysics, pride, and self-confidence. Rediscover your performance skills through a class play presented to the public on campus during Yoruba Day!
Students are encouraged to nominate Yoruba language professors for the 2012 Texas Foreign Language Teaching Excellence Awards, which “embody the University’s commitment to teach foreign languages and cultures – and to do so with distinction’. Deadline for nominations is December 16, 2011. For more information please visit this page.