The Yoruba of South-west Nigeria have been variously described as a People with a rich cultural heritage. In recent times, efforts have been made to project the rich culture of the people as a form of tourist event that now attracts visitors from around the world. OLAOLU BILAU writes on the 3 most glamorous cultural festival in South-west Nigeria…
Eyo Festival – Lagos
Also known as the Adamu Orisha Play, Eyo Festival is native to the commercial city of Lagos, particularly, Lagos Island. From a traditional event held as part of burial rites to accompany the soul of departed Lagos kings in times past, Eyo Festival has developed into a tourist event that attracts thousands of tourists from around the world who come to see costumed dancers or masquerades called ‘Eyo’, adorned in white attires and who perform during the festival. The Eyo Masquerades are said to represent the spirit of the departed and those who participate pay homage to the King of Lagos.
Osun Osogbo Festival
Also a major cultural festival in Yorubaland, Osun Festival has become one of the most popular traditional festivals in Nigeria. The festival celebrated in the month of August is a two-week programme which celebrates the Osun deity believed to dish out blessings to its worshippers at every festival. The Osun has a sacred grove which has been recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as a world heritage site. The festival commences with the cleansing of Osogbo town followed by the lighting of the 500-year-old lamp known as Ina Olojumerindinlogun (the 16-point lamp). Thereafter, the crowns of past rulers of Osogbo, Ataoja would be assembled. There is also the Arugba (the calabash carrier), who must be a young maiden. The Osun is believed to have powers to solve many problems.
Ojude Oba Festival – Ijebuland
The main purpose of Ojude Oba Festival is for the people of Ijebuland to return home en masse to pay homage to their paramount king, the Awujale of Ijebuland. Ojude Oba festival is a cultural festival woven around the threads of diversity, history, legend and conquest. It includes parades, traditional songs, equestrian skill display and lots more.
The Ojude Oba festival of Ijebu-Ode is usually held two days after the Muslim Festival of Ileya, Eid-el-kabir when the people of Ijebu come together as one to honor their king.
The whole of Ijebu Ode, which is the capital of the Ijebuland is usually set aglow by the celebration of the over 100 year old event that has become a unifying factor for all sons and daughters of Ijebuland at home and in the Diaspora.
The event is usually an opportunity to pray for the continued peace and prosperity of the town.
Like in other parts of Africa, the Ijebu have come to accept a ‘systemic internalization of different age grades into its social fabric. Each of the groups comprises of people born within the same age bracket of three years.’
These groups have, in time, crystallised into instruments of social cohesion and mobilization for the development of the Ijebu Nation.