When Ogidi Community Marked Ogidi Day, Celebrated NewYam Festival‘Why New Yam Festival Celebration is Important to Ogidi People’
Dignitaries from all walks of life converged on the sprawling town of Ogidi, Kogi State on Saturday June 21, 2014 to celebrate Ogidi Day, which is also the celebration of annual New Yam Cultural Festival. For the people of Ogidiland, the celebration offers an opportunity to express gratitude to God and promote their cultural heritage. WESTERN POST Correspondent BAYO OYEWALE who attended the event, brings the highlights.
The occasion of the New Yam festival, WESTERN POST learnt, always generates great excitement among the people of Ogidi Community because the people are essentially an agrarian society. It was also described as an avenue to showcase the various cultural heritage of the people of Ogidiland and also served as a rallying point for the sons and daughters of Ogidi at home and in the Diaspora to converge annually to discuss issues relating to the development of Ogidi community.
The 2014 edition of Ogidi Day was indeed an opportunity for various cultural displays by cultural groups from far and near. Their beautiful performance was a spectacle to behold as the display was to the admiration of all and sundry at the venue of the cultural celebration.
Traditional Homage to Ologidi
At the beginning of the celebration of New Yam Festival, the following groups paid traditional homage to Ologidi of Ogidiland, Oba Rabiu Oladimeji Sule, the Olokoro and Olu-Otun, the Orontas led by Ono, all Igemo, all men, all women, famers, hunters, Alasatu, elegbejegbe and others.
Among the cultural groups that performed were Olaga, Agbo ode, Lebe Egungun, the Nike group from Lagos, the Sango of Africa from Osogbo in Osun State, the Igunnu from Nupe in Niger State and Igbo and Ebira performance groups.
Ipinmisho: Why New Yam Festival Celebration is Important in Ogidiland
Speaking on the significance of Ogidi Day, the National President of Ogidi Development Union, Mr. Tunde Ipinmisho, explained that the celebration of New Yam Festival was particularly important in Ogidi Community because the people of the community are purely agrarian, with yam occupying a prime place as king of crops. “As you would have noticed here today, the King entered the arena with great pomp and pageantry. That is exactly how we welcome the new yam with dancing and drumming. We do that as our own peculiar way of expressing our appreciation to God for giving us the strength and good health to till the soil as well as for His special power, which ensures that the crop germinates and yields bountiful harvest. Since yam is our staple food around here, the New Yam Festival is therefore our expression of communal gratitude to God for sustenance of life,” he said.
Ipinmisho pointed out that Ogidi Community is blessed with a rich culture and great tourism potentials, adding that the people had tried to expand the frontiers of New Yam festival to accommodate a display of the best of their culture.
He stated that the New Yam Festival is also used as an opportunity to rebuild broken links with friendly communities as well as to generally promote the core values of integrity, hard work, love and honesty. He further said Ogidi Day also provides the community the opportunity to seek the assistance of their friends in prosecuting projects that would add value to the lives of the people in the area. “This is not a new thing for us since we have virtually provided for ourselves the modern amenities taken for granted elsewhere. Our fathers gave to us to imbibe the virtue of self-
help. We singlehandedly built our Community Secondary School. We have also embarked on the electrification of this town and had done 80 percent of the work before some semblance of government assistance came,” he said.
In continuation of the self-help tradition in the community, he explained that three years ago, the ODU requested for assistance for the completion of town hall and cottage hospital, which was then at about 45 percent completion stage. He also said last year the focus shifted to water project embarked upon some 40 years ago by a Canadian Catholic priest who served in the community. “I stand before you today, proud and happy for the sacrifice made by our people, the contributions of our friends and support of the Kogi State government, which enabled us complete these projects,” he said.
He, however, commended Mrs. NIke Okundaye, an indigene of the community and Yeye-Oba of Ogidi for the completion of the town hall project, stating that both the water project and town hall had been delivered.
He also lauded the Kogi State government and other friends of Ogidiland for the assistance rendered to enable the community to reticulate from the borehole to five points. Of the cottage hospital that will be completed soon, he particularly mentioned the support of Chief Olatunde Ayeni, the Chairman of Skye Bank Plc, who donated the sum of N5 million.
Ipinmisho also seized the opportunity to pay glowing tributes to the former Executive Secretary of National Mass Literacy and Non-formal Education, Dr. Dayo Olagunju, who he said was suspended for being steadfast and resolute in the face of intimidation and eventually lost his job. He described him as an extra-ordinary Nigerian.
He acknowledged the presence of the Ambassador and Head of Delegation of the European Union to Nigeria, His Excellency, Mr. Michel Arion, the Economic Society of West African States and the Managing Director of Promasidor Nigeria Limited, Mr. Keth Richards, thanking them for gracing the occasion.
He noted that in view of the current security situation in the country, it takes considerable courage for foreign dignitaries to venture out of their safe havens in Abuja and Lagos nowadays and attend an occasion like this.
Fund-raiser, Conferment of Chieftaincy Titles
The highlights of the occasion were the fund-raiser wherein a reasonable amount of money was realised and the conferment of chieftaincy titles by the Ologidi on the following personalities- Otunba Jide Adebayo- Maiyegun; Chief (Mrs.) Alice Ifedun Adebayo- Yeye Maiygun; Chief Omolade Ibikunle- Tadese; Chief (Mrs.) Agnes Abiola Ibikunle- Yeye Tadese, and Chief Madam Awawu W. Balogun-Atuluse.
Dignitaries in Attendance
Dignitaries who graced the 2014 Ogidi Day included the representative of Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade; the Onijumu of Ijumu, Oba Jerome Sumonu JP; former Minister of Health, Professor Eyitayo Lambo, who chaired of the occasion; House of Representatives member, Hon. Tajudeen Yusuf; Major-General Oshanupin (rtd); representative of Estu Nupe, Arch. Usman Babayitso; former House of Reps, member, Hon. Dino Melaye, and former governorship aspirant, Barrister Bamidele Suru. Others included former Managing Director, New Nigerian Newspaper, Malam Mohammed Haruna, Dr. Dayo Olagunju, Mr. Michel.