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Lisabi & Olumo: Two great festivals in Abeokuta

Sons and daughters of the town, which comprises four sections, Ake, Owu, Gbagura and Oke Ona Egba, came from far and near to join in…

Sons and daughters of the town, which comprises four sections, Ake, Owu, Gbagura and Oke Ona Egba, came from far and near to join in the celebrations.
Also, neighboring towns, particularly from the southwest states of Nigeria were not left out of the razzmatazz of the festivals, which had two major bodies, Olukun Festival Foundation and GLO as major organizers and sponsors.
The two festivals climaxed at the Lisabi forest, where the ancient warrior, Lisabi reportedly buried himself in  the  early 18th century and at the Olumo  Rock, which  the deities of Olumo  use  as an  ancestral ground.
The paramount ruler of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo, alongside his retinue  of titled    chiefs and his Olori (wife) were conspicuously present at all the programmes slated for the celebrations. This included the walk to the Lisabi forest, a journey of about 10km  on the outskirts  of the town, traditional gun shots salute, Miss Olumo, quiz competition, football competition, road shows among others.
While shedding more light  on the Lisabi celebration, Oba Gbadebo said the energetic warrior, remained a hero who would continually be remembered for his dynamic  feats in the quest for Egba freedom.
The theme for this year’s Lisabi Day, “Collective Unity: Panacea to social-cultural growth of Egbaland” according to Oba Adedotun is apt, as it is a collective responsibility of all to ensure unity and promote religious harmony. He stressed that the Lisabi Day celebration, “is part of measures  outlined  to achieve the unity needed in Egbaland and beyond.
“And, we want to thank the Almighty that in the last 29 years of celebrating our hero, Lisabi, the annual celebration has been pivotal to sustaining the unity of the community.”
On the future of the land, the paramount ruler, who is  also the Alake of Egbaland  thanked the state governor, Sen. Ibikunle Amosun for his role in uniting the four sections of the town , but enjoined sons and daughters to expand their business scope, by going into mechanized farming, which according to him, would guarantee more food for the people in his domain and beyond.
The paramount ruler noted that the land available is good for agriculture, hence the long stay of the natives, “We shall encourage them too to provide assistance for the big investors in farming, which will have a long term result  in the agricultural growth of  Egbaland.”
The Business Manager of Glo (Lagos), Yomi Ogunbamowo  appreciated the support of the paramount traditional ruler in the success of the celebration over the years, asserting that the company would continue to support the annual festival.
The chairman, planning committee, former military administrator of Bauchi and Sokoto state, Chief Rasheed Raji said this year’s celebration would witness the traditional homage to the Lisabi Forest, while, quiz competition among schools, road show and others would take place.
On Saturday, March 14, all markets in the town were closed down to honour the late Egba warrior. The traditional Oro (Spirits) took over the routes leading to the forest, amid incessant traditional gun salutes. The festival, which started on March 9, ended on the 15th, with a Church Thanksgiving service.

Oba Gbadebo at the Olumo  Rock venue of the annual Olumo day said the place of the Yoruba in the socio-economic strata of the country, is crucial, as such, caution should be taking in electing the country’s leaders.
The paramount ruler, who was responding to  questions from newsmen  on the link between the festival and the forthcoming elections, says, “ as you know, the high culture that we do exhibit during these celebrations, is also needed during the general elections.
“In Yorubaland, we are noted for our high sense of culture,  which encompasses a lot.So, I want our people to take this into the general elections by exhibiting this valued attribute. We must not do something that will reduce this respect for us.We are at the forefront in everything. So, we must remain at the forefront even as we go into the elections,” Oba Adedotun urged.
The monarch thanked the Olokun Festival Foundation, the organizers  of the Olumo  day celebration for putting up “a superlative show this year, which often draws all members of the Odu’a Peoples Congress (OPC), under the leadership of Otunba Gani Adams from the southwest to the ancient Abeokuta, the Ogun state capital.
The Olokun Festival Foundation chief promoter, Gani Adams promised to continue the upliftment  of the cultural values of Yoruba, which he said was rich in values and customs.

Explaining further on the significance of the Olumo  festival, Adams said in Yoruba cosmology, spirits are creatures of Olodumare.” They are those of the ancestors or dwell in nature. As ancestral spirits, they are invisible remains of human beings after death. They are immortal and invisible entities.
“Nature beings are beings that inhabit or live in nature. They dwell in the woods, bush, forest and rivers.They also believe that spirits dwell in mountains, hills, valleys etc.Nature spirits are benevolent spirits.We believe they provide protection against enemies. They house mineral resources that confer economic prosperity on our people. In order to guarantee continuous benevolence of nature spirits,rituals and ceremonies are performed and held to honour them.”
He emphasized  “Because of the importance attached to them they are venerated and worshipped. Despite the importance attached to nature spirits, it’s  worship and followers are often despised and condemned.”
Going down, memory lane, the Olokun Festival Foundation chief promoter disclosed that, “ Historical evidence shows that Olumo  Rock was discovered by a hunter farmer named adagba who found the rock to be a natural place of refuge from wars and threats of wars.
“Adagba with his wife usually retreated to the safety of the rock whenever the need arose. The name of this city translated “under the rock” derived its name from Olumo Rock .Abeokuta was founded and originally inhabited by Egba people who took refuge under the rock during the internecine intertribal wars  which  ravaged Yorubaland in the 19th century.
“The Olumo  rock was a place of refuge for the Egba people. Olumo rock provided sanctuary to the people as well as conferred  on them a vantage defence and attacking position,  where the people monitored  the enemy’s advance. The strategic location of Olumo  rock   lead the Egba to eventual triumph in most wars. Morphologically, the word Olum o was derived from two Yoruba words “Olu” (God) and “Mo” (molded) meaning “Oluwa fi mo” (God has put an end to our wandering and suffering). As a place of refuge during wars, the Olumo rock houses the shrines of many deities.

Some fifty (50) years ago, particularly during the raining season, Olumo  rock produced water that was used by local herbalists to cure sickness and diseases. Olumo  rock was turned into a tourist site in1976 and thus commissioned on February 3rd 2006 by chief Olusegun Obasanjo. By their nature, festivals attract people from far and near,” Adams stated.
Some of the  respective leaders who spoke  said the Olumo  festival had come to stay, “we shall continue to support it whether we are around or outside the country,” the Iya Oosa of Egbland, Chief (Mrs.) Mulikat Dauda, who had come from the United State, told our correspondent.
The ardent follower of Igunnuko, said contrary to views in certain quarters, there is nothing wrong in the celebration of our deities. I am a very good Muslim and I pray very well, but that doesn’t stop me from following tradition. It is from our fore fathers, they practiced it and everything was calm and peaceful.
“I have traveled far and wide, and honestly, people outside Nigeria are eager to come and be part of these traditions. So what stops us. As you can see, I am from the Igunuko family, it is a very important deity that should not be celebrated, when the opportunity comes like this.
On her message for the Egbas, the head of all traditional deities in the land, urged sons and daughter’s of Egba Alake “to be honest and that they shouldn’t forget our traditions. I’ve travelled far and wide, still I will not forget my tradition.
Chief Awurela, who led members of the traditional worshippers from Awori, in Ojo local government area of Lagos state ,said the essence of coming to the festival was in line with the footsteps of their fore- fathers, who always travelled  wide to identify with similar traditional festivals.
“We’re following in the footsteps of our fore fathers. They usually travelled  like this to identify with people and places where traditional festivals do take place. We all thank Gani Adams that brought us here today.”

The traditionalist urged the people of Egba  to be united, “as our fore fathers used to be in the 18th century. I believe it’s unity that brought all of us together thus far. This Olumo festival should be a rallying point for Egba, in order not to forget our  history.”
The marketing committee of the OPC whose members  were turned out  in special attires  also admonished the host Egba community to always come out and join in the celebration.
The committee treasurer, who spoke on behalf of their leader, Mrs Nike Lawal said “We come here every year to celebrate, pray and listen to the origin and history of the great rock. So, Egba people should be happy receiving this crowd every year, by coming out to join in the celebration.”
The occasion was climaxed by the public presentation of newly crowned Miss Olumo  2015, Miss Koleoso Teniola Oluwaseun with a brand new car, by the Chief Promoter of the Olokun Festival Foundation.

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