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Trills as Ilorin emirate holds Durbar

The ancient city of Ilorin in Kwara State on Tuesday witnessed an influx of eminent personalities from within and outside the country to grace the…

The ancient city of Ilorin in Kwara State on Tuesday witnessed an influx of eminent personalities from within and outside the country to grace the 2024 Ilọrin Emirate Grand Durbar.

The durbar, reintroduced in 2018 by the present Emir of Ilọrin, Dr Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari, is an annual event characterised by a colourful display of horses and historical archival materials, performances by indigenous musicians and the celebration of the various tribes that make up the emirate.

Daily Trust Saturday reports that this year’s edition was a masterpiece to celebrate the rich Islamic culture and heritage of Ilọrin.

The event which attracted a mammoth crowd from the five local government areas of Ilọrin East, Ilọrin West, Ilọrin South, Asa, Moro and beyond converged at the emir’s palace to showcase the culture of the ancient city that is home to different ethnic groups and extractions like the Yoruba, Hausa, Fulani, Nupe, Baruba and Kanuri.

Horsemen in their traditional and historical regalia representing the balogun (warlords) and other title holders added flavour to the event.

It was observed that those who could not make it to the venue held mini parties in the town.

This was complemented by large TV screens strategically placed in different locations within the palace.

At the palace, there were women and youth groups in their brilliant ankara and aso oke that occupied the pavilion.

As part of the programme, the organisers ensured the rendition of Qur’anic recitations of revered religious scholars like the first mufti of Ilọrin and founder of Ansarul Islam, late Sheikh Mohammed Kamaludeen; the late founder of the Lagos-based Markaz Institute; and that of the Chief Imam of Ilọrin, Dr Muhammed Basheer Solih.

The renditions attracted thunderous applause from the  audience, many of who recounted  the impact of Qur’anic institutions to the growth of Islam and expansion of the Ilọrin heritage.

The final of the Qur’anic recitation competition was incorporated into the durbar to underscore the importance of religious connection with the event. Upcoming teenage musicians were also called upon to thrill the audience with captivating performances as the people danced to cultural, religious and contemporary hip-hop tunes. 

At every interval, actions and activities of performances led to cheers from the podium which climaxed with the rendition of the Ilọrin Emirate National Anthem.

Although residents started arriving the palace as early as 7am, the emir commenced the procession which passed through ancestral homes in Ilọrin around 10am, when he led his entourage of over 500 horsemen through the city.

Security personnel from the police, DSS, NSCDC and vigilantes were mobilised to the streets to ensure law and order.

Officers of the Federal Road Safety Corps were also placed at strategic locations to ensure the free flow of traffic and provide a smooth tour for the emir.

Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq and his family members and officials who also mounted horses, joined the emir’s procession.

Speaking on this year’s edition, the National Secretary, Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union (IEDPU), Abubakar Imam, said the durbar was “a display of our uniqueness and peculiarity as a people of divergent origins who have been effectively cemented by Islam, the Alimi heritage, and a common history epitomised by the institution of the Amirul Mu’mineen (Emir) of Ilorin”.

He added that this year’s programme was “fantastic, enamoured by the groundbreaking cultural display across the city of Ilorin led by the emir who is the custodian of our culture and heritage. The various sights and sounds of the programme were brought to the delight of every Ilorin patriot in the diaspora courtesy of the ever-penetrating social media”.

Imam said he remained delighted that the procession passed through his ancestral home this time around for the first time since the reintroduction of the cultural programme, adding that this year’s edition was more colourful and better than each of the previous ones. 

Speaking shortly after arriving at the palace from the over six-hour tour around 4pm, an elated Sulu-Gambari appreciated the people for the large turnout, noting that the event was watched across several countries in the world, including the Caribbean.

He said, “I can only say alhamdulillahi and thank the state government and everybody who ensured we had a befitting event for their sacrifices.”

In his remark, the Chairman of the durbar committee, Engr Suleiman Yahaya Alapansapa, said, “It is getting clearer that the Ilọrin Emirate durbar has assumed its uniqueness compared to what is done in other emirates. This is due to the fact that our uniqueness as a people is manifesting in our durbar.”

He further said, “This year’s event is quite different from the previous ones. In order to reduce the number of people that converge on the forecourt of this great citadel of tradition, the organising committee decided to arrange more large screens at specific locations across Ilọrin. 

“Cultural exhibition was also retained in this edition to expose our children to those materials that made our illustrious progenitors and we their progenies different from others. Those who saw the cultural exhibition were delighted with the dexterity, ingenuity and profound knowledge of our founding fathers and their successors. Our unity in diversity was displayed in archival materials that challenged people to do more for the generation yet unborn.”

Alapansapa, who congratulated Governor AbdulRazaq for supporting the festival always, appealed for more support to have greater impact and record more colourful participation of tourists from far and beyond the shores of Nigeria. 

He further said, “We believe that once that is achieved, the festival would become more valuable to the people of llorin Emirate as its economic potency would become more apparent coupled with more revenue that would accrue to the government”.

He thanked the Kwara State House of Assembly for assuring the committee of a legislation that would ensure full participation of the government of Kwara State in the organisation and staging of the festival.

In his message, Governor Abdulrazaq described that durbar as “an occasion to celebrate our cultural heritage with class, pride and gratitude to the Almighty Allah. 

“Like the IEDPU Conference, the Ilorin durbar has become a national spectacle that unites our people behind the leadership of Mai Martaba the Emir of Ilorin and projects the unique beauty of our heritage as the southernmost Emirate. 

“It is gratifying to mention that our iconic Sugar Film Factory is currently producing a documentary on the Ilorin durbar as a national cultural heritage. We believe that the Ilorin durbar is long due to be so designated by UNESCO. 

He thanked “all the sons and daughters of the emirate for turning out in their numbers for the beautiful horse ride, which is a parade of our valour, loyalty to our emir and our strength as a people.”

Daily Trust Saturday reports further reports that this year’s durbar activities, which lasted seven days, featured a medical outreach, endurance trek and a special Jumua’ah service and prayers.


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