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Inside Ijebu-Ode’s ‘Festival of Colours’

The age-grade women in colourful attire
The age-grade women in colourful attire

Ijebu – Ode, Ogun State, was agog on Tuesday during the celebration of the age long Ojude-Oba festival amid glamour, funfair and cultural display.

The ‘Festival of Colours’, Ojude-Oba, which usually holds on the second day after Eid – el – Kabir, reportedly began over 100 years ago.

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The theme of this year’s festival was “Ojude Oba: The uniqueness of the Ijebu nation”. It  attracted Ijebu sons and daughters from across the globe.

Amid glitz and glamour, men, women and the age – grade clad in colourful attires partook in the festival.

The venue, the Awujale’s Pavilion, opposite the Awujale of Ijebuland’s palace in Ijebu-Ode was filled to capacity with indigenes and high – profile personalities.

Among the dignitaries were Governor Dapo Abiodun, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, former governors Olusegun Osoba and Otunba Gbenga Daniel, Afenifere chieftain Pa Ayo Adebanjo; the chairman of Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Senator Biyi Durojaiye and Senator Gbenga Kaka.

Unlike last year’s, the 2019 edition was devoid of political undertone, apparently because the  elections have been won and lost.

At the venue, the age grades called Regberegbes,  had enough space to sit while guests  were also comfortably accommodated. Music was blaring from within the canopies leading to a cacophony of sounds. For hours various groups in their colourful dresses depicting the rich Yoruba culture took turns to parade and paid homage to the Awujale and the Paramount Ruler of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Adetona, who occupied a vintage position alongside other top personalities.

The parade of the Regberegbes, a unique and age old institution established to weld the society into age groups is for the purpose of bringing development and progress to the community. Other parades included those of the Baloguns (warlords) and Dodondawas on horseback with sporadic shooting, turning the place into a  colourful atmosphere, the high – point of the festival.

On the sidelines, a masquerade, called Danafojura, pulled a fire stunt when it was set ablaze and came out unhurt to the admiration of the audience.

In his remarks, Governor Abiodun noted that the Ojude Oba festival had become a global tourist attraction in showcasing the cooperation and collaborative tendencies of the rich Yoruba culture.

He noted that Ojude Oba had metamorphosed from homage paying to the Awujale of Ijebuland by the Muslim community to “a unifying traditional festival.”

The governor promised his administration’s support for the festival to sustain and promote culture and tourism in the state.

“Our administration will continue to support this great festival as we are desirous of sustaining and promoting culture, tourism and the lessons of the positive development that would be engendered through our collective efforts.

“Permit me to note that the lesson of collaborative effort, which the yearly commemoration of the Ojude Oba festival promotes, is significant to the successful implementation of our administration’s “Building our Future Together” agenda.

“As an administration, we understand the fact that no meaningful development can occur without the collaborative efforts of all and sundry. We understand that for any development to take place, the people have an important role to play by contributing meaningfully and positively. We therefore seek the support and cooperation of our people at all times in our quest to build a solid foundation for the future of our dear state,” he said.

The festival’s guest of honour, business mogul, Sir Kensington Adebutu, in his remarks, described Ojude Oba as a religious-cultural-cum traditional festivity which has been accepted across the world.

Adebutu, popularly called Owo Baba-Ijebu, who was represented by Aare Kola Oyefeso, also applauded the Awujale of Ijebuland, describing him as an indomitable royal father who has left indelible footprints in the sands of time.

“To say Ojude Oba of Akile Ijebu is unique is saying the obvious. It is a religious-cultural-cum traditional festivity that has burgeoned and gone viral the world over.

“Unarguably, the Awujale Oba, Sikiru Adetona, is a royal colossus who has remained consistently consistent, thus dependable, forthright, indomitable, tenacity personified, a rallying force and indeed a role model for any and all royal fathers, who want to leave indelible footprints in the sands of time,” Adebutu said.

And when it came to its turn, Oba Adetona known as Orisa Ijebu (god of Ijebu), thanked the sons and daughters of Ijebuland for their support in organising another successful Ojude Oba festival.

The 85-years-old monarch who ascended the throne 59 years ago used the opportunity to give Ijebu kingmakers conditions that must be put into consideration while appointing his successor when he finally joins his ancestors.

Hinting that “Nobody knows when I will join my ancestors,” the revered first class monarch said his would – be successor must not be a money bag who would destroy the achievements Ijebuland has recorded so far.

He equally asked them to call on God in order to select a capable successor worthy of building on the tract records of Ijebuland.

The Awujale also warned that the process of selecting his successor must not be politicised, and asked Ijebu indigenes to reject selection of an incompetent successor.

“Do not politicise the process of selecting my successor. Do not go for people that will draw Ijebu backwards. If the next ruling house does not present a viable candidate, please reject him and go for the next ruling house with a capable candidate.

  A horse-rider performs at the festival
A horse-rider performs at the festival

“Do not go for money bags that will destroy the achievements Ijebuland has recorded so far. Call on God for direction when picking my successor, ask God to guide you. My prayer is that Ijebuland will continue to grow from strength to strength,” Oba Adetona said.

Bobamayegun Okunrin Asiwaju emerged winner in the Regberegbes (age grade) parade, Bobamayegun Okunrin came second while Tobalase Okunrin came third in the male category.

In the female category, Bobamayegun Obinrin Aaremo emerged winner, Jagunmolu Original came second while Jagunmolu Stainless came third.

In the horse riding category, the Balogun Odunuga family won the first prize, the Balogun Soye family came second while the Balogun Alausa came third.

Prizes were awarded to the winners in the various categories courtesy of Globacom Nigeria. There were also 10 winners of tricycles also courtesy of Globacom. The founder of Globacom, Dr. Michael Adenuga, noted that Globacom has been the chief sponsor of the festival for 16 years and acknowledged the efforts of the Awujale in uniting Ijebus through the festival.

Speaking through the Regional Activation Manager of Globacom, Mr. Olufolahan Feseyitan, Adenuga described the festival as a gift of the Ijebu nation to Nigeria and the world, “being a unique case study of religious tolerance and harmony”.

“The annual Ojude Oba Festival is a rallying point for all Ijebus to pay homage to the Awujale and collectively share thoughts on how to take Ijebuland to the next level of social and infrastructural development.

“We note that Alaiyeluwa has been using his clout to bring high net worth personalities to grace the festival as special guests thereby raising the profile of the festival and the status of Ijebuland. We knew that this year would not be different.”

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