This year’s Odun Oba Festival in Ikere-Ekiti offered another opportunity for those indigenous to the town at home and in the Diaspora to come together to celebrate their king, the Ogoga, and also rally for the development of their community. The festival witnessed the display of the rich cultural heritage of the town. OUR REPORTER captured the event.
The rich cultural heritage of Ikere-Ekiti was on display on Saturday, July 27, as those indigenous to the town trooped out in large numbers to celebrate this year’s Odun Oba Festival.
The festival, which has grown in leaps and bounds since the Ogoga of Ikere-Ekiti, Oba Samuel Adejimi Adu Alagbado, Agirilala Ogbenuotesoro II, ascended the throne of his forefathers in 2015, has become synonymous with the development of the town and celebration of its illustrious sons and daughters.
This year’s Odun Oba Festival, which attracted Ikere citizens at home and abroad, lived up to its billing as traditional chiefs, honorary chiefs, palace queens (oloris), princes and princesses (omo owas), traditional hunters, market women (iyalojas), various age groups, social clubs, associations and non-indigenes danced to the palace to pay homage to the Ogoga.
The reigning queen, the Eyesorun of Ikere, Olori Olufunmilola Ololade Adejimi Adu, led other palace queens in a colourful dance on their way to pay special homage to the Ogoga. This drew a thunderous applause.
Members of the elite group, Ikere Development Forum (IDF), led by an illustrious son of the soil and legal giant, Chief Wole Olanipekun, which is championing the political, economic and social progress of the town, were present.
It was a celebration of class, colour, pomp and ceremony which the appreciative residents savoured to the fullest while it lasted.
Popular juju musician and a native of the town, Micho Ade, sang the praises of the town believed to be the cradle of valiant men who were not conquered during the 19th Century wars.
Originally christened as Odun Ijesu (New Yam Festival), the festival has grown to be an avenue not only to celebrate the agricultural fertility of the land but also to reason together and work out modalities on how to develop their town.
Leading the personalities who attended this year’s Odun Oba was the Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Bureau of Chieftaincy Affairs, Mr. Adeniyi Familoni.
The royal guest for the day was the Attah of Ayede-Ekiti, Oba Mumini Adebayo Orisagbemi, a first-class monarch like the Ogoga.
Others in attendance included an illustrious son of the community and Speaker of the Ekiti State House of Assembly. Hon. Funminiyi Afuye; retired Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Chief Tunde Ogunsakin; the Otunba of Ikere and oil magnate, Otunba Sola Adewumi and Otun Eyesorun of Ikere, Chief Oluwakemi Sola-Adewumi; the Bobagunwa of Ikere, Chief Dimeji Isiaka, a shipping magnate, Mr. Foluso Alaba; Coordinating Director of Ikere Local Government Area, Mrs. Toba Ojo, Commissioner 1, State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Mrs. Funke Fajobi and Director-General, Ekiti Bureau of Arts and Culture, Mr. Wale Ojo-Lanre.
The icing on the cake was the homage paid to the Ogoga, whom they acknowledged as the paramount ruler and prescribed authority over the kingdom and its environs and who is also one of the most respected monarchs, not only in Ekiti State but also in Yoruba land.
The Ogoga, who was colourfully dressed in a richly embroidered agbada with his conical shaped crown on his head, intermittently waved his horsetail (irukere) to his subjects to acknowledge their homages.
One of the features of the Odun Oba was the parade of the crowns worn by the Ogoga and other paraphernalia of his office which confer prestige on his throne.
The Ogoga had every cause to rejoice because his ascension to the throne has been a harbinger of good fortunes to Ikere. He single-handedly built an eye-catching modern palace which has become a tourists’ attraction within and outside Ekiti.
The Ikere king has attracted more corporate organisations that have established their presence in the town, thereby boosting its economy and creating jobs for the teeming youths. But like Oliver Twist, the Ogoga is yearning for more, which explains why he is calling on his subjects and non-indigenes from within and outside Nigeria to invest in his domain.
A native of the town that came from London, the United Kingdom for the Odun Oba, Princess Sayo Adenle, said Odun Oba has become a rallying point for all well-meaning sons and daughters to lift their community to greater heights.
Princess Adenle said: “Odun Oba represents a veritable platform through which we contribute to the development of Ikere. The town is witnessing progress. We should all rally round our revered king, the Ogoga, to continue this good work. We will work hard to make Odun Oba an internationally- recognised tourists’ attraction.
“I was here last year and I am here again. We will continue to work harder to ensure development of Ikere. I want to call on all Ikere sons and daughters to come together and contribute our quota to lift our town and develop it in all spheres of life.”
Sola Adewunmi said: “Let us pursue Ikere’s progress with joint efforts. Those who assist the town will continue to be specially recognised and honoured.
Speaking on behalf of IDF, Mr. Femi Ekundayo said: “We take pride in the heritage of our forebears, especially in the fact that we were never defeated or conquered in wars. We appreciate the Ogoga for the rare privilege given to the IDF to reconcile parties disturbed by age-long rivalries.
“Our report will soon be ready and its tone is positive.”
Isiaka said: “The cultural value is very important, especially for the younger generations to understand our culture and get to know where we are coming from; the beginning in terms of our values and behavioural patterns. The turnout at the festival is very impressive. We do not have security issues.
“One of my roles is to propagate the values of leadership to our community. The Kabiyesi has been my mentor for many years and he has got a lot of leadership capacities. I also try my best to contribute to community development. This was why my wife and I built the hall of fame last year.”
Retired AIG Ogunsakin, who is also the Basorun of Ikere, hailed the developmental strides of the reigning Ogoga which he described as unprecedented in the history of the ancient town.
He said: “This programme (Odun Oba) is a celebration of the progress and unity of Ikere and I am happy to be part of it.
“Since the king, Oba Agirilala II of Ikere Kingdom came on board; we have been witnessing progress and prosperity.”
The Ogoga, who acknowledged the unflinching support he had enjoyed since mounting the throne in 2015 also expressed satisfaction with the accomplishments of the citizes in their various fields of human endeavour.
He said the task to make Ikere great had just begun, urging his subjects not to relent in working hard to positively turn around the fortunes of their hometown to the level of great Yoruba towns and cities.
Delivering his speech, Oba Alagbado appealed to Ikere citizens not to be divided by politics, saying the development of the kingdom is a task that must be accomplished.
The royal father vowed that he would never be distracted in his commitment to ensure the fulfilment of his desire to take Ikere to greater heights in the comity of Yoruba towns and to ensure that its citizens rise to the pinnacle of their endeaavours and bring the benefits home.
The Ogoga said: “Ikere community has witnessed a mix bag of everything in the past 12 months. There was the tension which arose from the Governorship and Presidential elections that sort of polarised the whole kingdom, pitting brothers against brothers. We also experienced scourge of thuggery, lawlessness and youth cultism.
“However, in spite of these, we have reasons to also celebrate. During the same period, we witnessed the elevation of our sons and daughters to the enviable status of professorship in various institutions worldwide. We also witnessed The approval by the Senate of Nigeria, the appointment of one of our sons to a very important position in the country.
“Ikere has a glorious history that is the envy of many kingdoms. Our ancestors, in their wisdom, arranged the administration of the kingdom in such a balanced way that ensured unity. It was this unity that served as the strength which resulted in the successes achieved in those days of internecine wars where Ikere remained undefeated and unconquered till date.
“At present, despite our efforts to ensure full integration, some egocentric individuals for their own selfish and self-aggrandisement, have been making spurious, strange and bizarre stories which are all falsehood in the attempt to rewrite and change our history to suit their evil plans. We, therefore, depend on God Almighty to vindicate us and arrest these evildoers because we stand on the truth.
“We must eschew hatred and bitterness in our politics. We cannot all be in one party but our goals and objectives for Ikere, our common heritage, must be for her progress. Therefore, we must keep that in mind regardless of party loyalty. We need love and peace among us.
“While we commend families who are known for good deeds that have brought glory to Ikere Kingdom, do not let your families be known to bring rebuke or shame to Ikere. Guide them to become professors, honourable men and women and achievers and not thugs and Yahoo fraudsters.”