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Inside ‘Ojude Oba’ Festival

Often referred to as a festival of colours, the 2024 edition of the Ojude Oba festival took place in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State on Tuesday amid…

Often referred to as a festival of colours, the 2024 edition of the Ojude Oba festival took place in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State on Tuesday amid usual colourful and flamboyant celebrations, Daily Trust on Sunday reports.

 

Ojude Oba, which literally means, “The king’s fore-court,” remains an age-long festival in Ijebu Ode, Ogun State. It is known to the Ijebus as a major annual festival that brings them together. The Ijebus’ age-grade groups (regberegbe), their friends and associates from far and near gathered at the palace of the Awujale of Ijebuland for the most colourful and flamboyant celebration. It’s often referred to as “festival of colours.”

The festival is celebrated on the third day after Eid-El-Kabir. The festival has its traditional, cultural, religious and social military significance.

Except for the interruption between 2020 and 2021 due to the outbreak of the COVID-19, which held the world by the storm and prevented large gatherings, Ojude Oba has been celebrated for more than 100 years.

This theme for this year’s celebrations is “Ojude Oba: Unity and Harmony, Our Gift”

And usual, the venue, Awujale’s pavilion was filled to the brim as the age-grade groups clad in colourful and flamboyant native dresses took turns to pay homage to the Awujale and Paramount Ruler of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Adetona, who presided over the occasion.

Over 100 age-grade groups of males and females (Regberegbes) paid annual homage to the traditional ruler. The horse riders who are from the warrior families in Ijebuland were also on hand to thrill the fun seekers to various acrobatic displays with their horses.

participants at the cultural festival
participants at the cultural festival

Speaking at the event, the Minister of Culture, Art and Creative Economy, Barrister Hannatu Musa- Musawa said that the federal government will activate plans to list the annual Ojude Oba Festival as one of the of the festivals backed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

Musa-Musawa also said that the annual festival is in tune with the President Bola Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda mandate for the ministry, which seeks to take revenue generation from tourism to over $100bn by 2030.

The minister who was represented by the Director of Cultural Agencies and Heritage, Dr Ben Ugo Anama, described the annual festival as a platform that fosters the unity of the country in diversity as well as one of the country’s tourism potentials that can be tapped into to diversify the economy from oil and generates more resources the nation.

She said “In line with the President Bola Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda, the ministry will always to collaborate with stakeholders to promote, preserve and protect the rich cultural heritage of our nation to ensure it reaches its enviable height according to our vision for the ministry called destination 2030

“This vision considers the potentials in arts, culture and creative economy in terms of its ability to create economic expansion. Our ambitious goal is predicated on this drive, which is capable of yielding over $100bn, an increase in the gross domestic product by the year 2030.”

She said that the presidential Renewed Hope Agenda, especially for the ministry, demonstrated unwavering commitment to diversify the economy and move away from the country’s over dependence on oil revenue.

While rejoicing with the sons and daughters of Ijebuland over the success of the festival and the good image it has given the country over the years, the minister said that she had also observed that the festival has not gotten no elements of UNESCO approval as one of its approved festivals.

The minister said that the status of a festival like Ojude-Oba with its profound impacts in the tourism sector of the country deserves to be listed by the international body vowing to activate all the processes to get this done without further delay.

Governor Dapo Abiodun described Ojude-Oba as a festival that has given Ijebuland and indeed, the people of Ogun State a distinct identity.

He said the festival has become a catalyst for the development of Ijebuland land and this underscores the essence of preserving our rich cultural heritage.

While rejoicing with the Awujale and other sons and daughters of Ijebuland over this year’s celebrations, the governor promised to partner with the federal government to develop the festival and make it a global tourist attraction and destination

The governor said that the theme of the celebration was quite apt as unity and harmony remains the bedrock of any thriving society calling for a more united force to lift the country out of its present woes.

He said: “Ojude Oba festival is not only a cultural heritage for the indigenes of Ijebuland but has now become a significant event that attracts local and foreign tourists to Ogun State, showcasing our hospitality and enviable tradition of Ijebuland to the national and global audience.

“This festival serves as a symbol of our unity, tourism and a rallying point to all the Ijebu sons and daughters to celebrate the life and times of our tradition, culture, and revered monarch.

“It has become a catalyst for development of Ijebuland, and this undoubtedly underscores the importance of preserving our traditions for future generations.

“By standing for unity and harmony, we elevate our community and set an example for others to follow. The essence of unity and harmony in Ijebuland can be seen willingly in cultural events like this festival.

“Our administration is deeply committed to supporting the initiative to make it a permanent event in the global tourism industry,” he said.

The event, Abiodun observed, creates opportunities for an advancement, which has brought about the socio-economic development not only to the axis but the state as a whole.

While thanking Tinubu for showing interest in expanding the festival, especially with plans to include it in the UNESCO’s world cultural heritage, the Governor said his administration was committed to providing the conducive environment for business to thrive.

He said the festival provides an opportunity for the Ijebu people to take stock and project the future. He called for unity and harmony from people across the state, adding that it was time to work together to build a virile state.

“The state government will continue to create a conducive atmosphere for community development across the state and I solicit the support of the people, especially all the sons and daughters towards the 20th National Sports Festival, Gateway Games, 2024, part of which will be hosted right here in Ijebu-Ode,” the governor concluded.

Dignitaries at the event included, former governors of Ogun State; Chief Olusegun Osoba and Sen Gbenga Daniel currently representing Ogun East at the Senate.

Others were the deputy governor, Engr Noimot Salako-Oyedele, Sen Shuaibu Salisu representing Ogun Central at the Senate, the Speaker of Ogun State House of Assembly, Daisi Elemide, wife of Ondo State Deputy Governor, Mrs Abosede Adelami, wife of former President of Nigeria, Mrs Bola Obasanjo, the Accountant General of the Federation, Dr Mrs Oluwatoyin Madein, among other distinguished Nigerians and guests.

About four days after the event, the Managing Director of NG Clearing Limited, Farooq Oreagba, is still trending in social media space over his display at the Ojude Oba festival.

Oreagba warmed himself into the people’s hearts over his fashion taste and “steeze.” A viral footage showed him on a horse making a grand entrance at the festival amid cheers from the crowd.

The businessman who is a cancer survivor is now addressed as “Mr Steeze” on social media.

Reacting to his newfound fame, ‘Mr Steeze’ in a short clip said “I am now officially blown, but I am available though.”

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