\ 10.14.2010 A journey to Oyotunji how many of you have passed the sign off hwy 21 out in sheldon that reads, "african village-as seen on tv", and had their curiosity peaked?
and how many of you have heard the phrase, "curiosity killed the cat"?
nah, i'm only kidding. the oyotunji's are very polite, despite my misconceptions about their authentic african village. i was lucky enough to be an honored guest at a termed, "meet and greet" (along with other cso members of beaufort county) where i received the pleasure of a quick tour and then heard several speeches, including an address from the well-versed oba, or, as we say, king. as an "outsider" who had traveled down their long and windy dirt road, i wasn't sure what to expect. what are the terms of a "meet and greet" anyways?
ekaabo! ekaabo! drums filled the air. long tunics and colorful head pieces were worn, a small glob of outstretched hands lined the walkway, waiting to be met with a firm grip. i looked towards the end of the line and saw a tribesman, a good 10 years my minor, texting on his blackberry. i did a double take.
once inside a small building that was serving as a gathering room, i was relieved to bump into a small table that carried a sign up sheet and several name tags that said, "hello. my name is..." at that point i had been introduced to about 5 people, literally of which had names that i heard for the first time as it left their lips. those small white tags with sticky backs and ridiculously stereotypical "office conference" appearance were rather instrumental in my african village experience. perhaps a neglected luxury if i were to really travel to africa, but would now choose it, if given the option.
to my surprise, the entire evening was centered around food. that's right, food. i heard from the satisfied belly of more than one guest, "this salad is amazing!", "did you get a taste of the arugula?", "i usually don't like sprouts." oba had prepared a rather quenching documentary that centered around the same themes and concepts as food inc. and foodmatters. documentaries addressing america's obesity crisis and health issues related to diet and the disconnect between what we eat and who we are. the spotlight was shared with several others including a farmer who drove all the way from columbia to talk about his family-owned and operated farm, city roots, and what their training centers and tomatoe festivals are all about: slowly changing the health of americans through education.
several members of the oyotunji have traveled back and forth to city rootswhere they have received training and how-to skills from an in-town sustainable farm.
the residents at oyotunji have developed a simple concept as their mission: community. oba said that they are like water, they want no enemies, and as the new king he wants to be more involved in beaufort county and the community as a whole. they believe that starting an organic garden would be the best way to accomplish community and save our future: our children. as child obesity is on the rise, it is up to us to teach our kids what to put in their body. this concpet is two-fold, for as we educate our youth, we save our future.
the oyotunji's slogan for this movement is titled: our mission, our children, our future.
so. as i look back on the evening spent at oyotunji and the introduction of a "new world" i am encouraged. it seems that slowly and surely cultures can unite and make a difference for the human condition.
i have volunteered my time to help in their endeavor, and in better health for beaufort county.