OONI OF IFE CELEBRATES OLOJO FESTIVAL CELEBRATION, 2017
The Olojo Festival is annual cultural festival in Ile-Ife, Osun State which is located in the Southwestern part of Nigeria. It is the celebration of the remembrance of “Ogun”, god of Iron, who is believed to be the first son of Oduduwa, progenitor of the Yoruba people. This festival is celebrated every October by the people of Ile Ife, home and abroad.
On this year’s celebration, the Ooni of Ife appeared after several days of seclusion and denial communing with the ancestors and praying for his people during the seclusion, he was said not have received visitors nor seen outside. This is to make him pure and ensure the efficacy of his prayers. Before the Ooni emerged, women from his maternal and paternal families swept the Palace, symbolically ridding the Palace of evil.
The Ooni later appeared in public with the Are crown (King’s Crown), which is believed to be the original crown used by Oduduwa to lead a procession of traditional Chiefs and Priests to perform at the Shrine of Ogun. Ooni led the crowd to Okemogun’s shrine. Here he performed duties including the renewal of oath and divination for the Ooni at the foot of Oketage hill was performed by Araba (Chief Priest), and ooni with the priests visited places of historical importance.
This year’s Olojo festival involved several elaborate ritual prayers led by the Ooni. It is marked in a carnival-like atmosphere and is attended by people of all ages. Olojo has remained popular in Ile-Ife because it is the only day in the year believed to be specially blessed by Olodumare (the Creator of the universe)
.Acccording to traditional Yoruba belief, all power in the universe emanates from a supreme being, Olodumare. Olodumare, known as the owner of everlasting abundance, among many other praise names, holds all power and is the giver of all life. Olodumare is the mystical remote source of all things and is not identified by gender. All that exists, including supernatural divine realities and natural earth realities, are part of Olodumare. As the supreme almighty source, Olodumare is directly involved in the affairs of the earth through a complex core of sub-divinities called orisa. The orisa are authoritative divine emissaries and serve as intermediaries between the people of earth and Olodumare. They are the major objects of veneration and ritual obligation and are known locally and internationally.
However, this year’s olojo festival was a special and significant celebration which had hundreds of visitors and notable dignitaries gathered to celebrate with the Ooni and the people of Ile Ife. Amongst the dignitaries who were parts of this year’s celebration are the former president Olusegun Obasanjo, wife of the executive Governor of Ogun State, Mrs Olufunsho Amosun, Osun State Governor Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, Oba of Benin Kindom, Oba Erediauwa Ewuare II, Palace chiefs, Yoruba kings and priests among which were Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Saliu Adetunji, Akire of Ikire, Oba Olatunde Falabi (Lambeloye III), Aare Ona Kakanfo/OPC Chieftain, Chief (Dr) Gani Adams, Otun Oniguguru Ikire Land, High Chief Adejare Ishola Adedeji(AIG Rtd), former IGP Ibrahim Idris and host of many others making the numbers.
While addressing the press, the Ooni said Olojo is the celebration of God Almighty. It is a way of our culture, our tradition and our heritage. That is the reason why it’s the celebration for all black race all over the world and it is the pride of the entire blacks, not only people of Ife, Osun State.
The King however, charged Nigerian government to promote culture and indegenous languages as they play major roles in national development and urged the Yoruba race to promote the mother tongue and customs of the land. He said, ” it’s very important for us that our culture, tradition and heritage is keyed into every socio-cultural development of our nation. Our culture is our culture is our culture as we can’t grow or borrow culture; you can see how beautiful the Yoruba culture is, so far so good”
Also present at the occasion were Opeyemi Ayeola, Mama Rainbow, Mr Yemi Solade and host of others. Yemi Solade, a Yoruba actor said, “as an artist, I have never seen a festival in this wise. Yoruba should not forget their source and we need to teach our children the custom and tradition also the myth.’’