Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
The Ibadan Cultural Festival 2018 had come and gone, but the special marks it left behind surpassed the expected blend of culture, history, heritage, glitz and glamour that characterised a week-long programme, graced by Ibadan natives at home and in the Diaspora.
The festival is held annually not only to celebrate the ancestors of the city, and unite the sons and daughters of Ibadan, it is also for the natives of the city, who know their onions, to come together to brainstorm on the past and present of Ibadan with a view to evolving pragmatic steps to safeguard the future of Ibadan through systematic planning and careful implementation of ideas that will ensure steady growth and development of the city.
This year’s festival, apart from showcasing the rich tradition and cultural heritage of Ibadan marked a fresh beginning for Ibadan Cultural Renaissance Project.
It began on Friday March 2 with a Jumat service at Ibadan Central Mosque, Oja’ba, and other mosques in Ibadanland, while the grand finale held at the Obafemi Awolowo Stadium, hitherto known as Liberty Stadium, Ibadan on Saturday, March 10.
The festival was organised around the time Oke’badan festival was being celebrated. The Aboke of Ibadan had announced that this year’s sacrifice would hold on Thursday, March 8, which made CCII to start the festival the preceding Friday.
It was not just an assembly of Ibadan people, wining and dining, the festival was packaged in such a way that the international community knew that Ibadan has its culture that can be exported and which can contribute to tourism development in Nigeria.
The festival, organised by the Central Council of Ibadan Indigenes (CCII), which is umbrella body over 250 affiliate clubs of Ibadan origin, was initiated 30 years ago, and has its roots in how Ibadan came into being, hospitality that is second to none, and entertainment prowess of natives of the city.
Chairman, 2018 Ibadan Cultural Festival Planning Committee, Asiwaju Nurudeen Akinade, noted that some cultural innovations that would bring to the fore the deeply rich Ibadan cultural heritage were introduced, saying “the idea is to bring the desired development to Ibadanland by showcasing our culture to the whole world as a source of attraction for development.”
Origin of Ibadan cultural festival
The city, according to historians, came into existence in 1829, during a period of turmoil that characterised Yorubaland at the time. It was in this period that many old Yoruba cities such as old Oyo (Oyo Ile), Ijaiye and Owu disappeared, and newer ones such as Abeokuta, new Oyo (Oyo Atiba) and Ibadan sprang up to replace them.
According to local historians, Lagelu founded the city, and was initially intended to be a war camp for warriors coming from Oyo, Ife and Ijebu. Later, the city was destroyed by the Oyo armies for violating the customs of Yorubaland. The people of Ibadanland reportedly humiliated a masquerade (Egungun) at the market place. The Egungun was said to have been accidentally disrobed, which resulted into an abominable mockery from Ibadan women and children. When the news of the incident reached the then Alaafin of Oyo, he ordered his men to turn Ibadan into complete rubble for committing such disrespectful and abominable offence.
Those who survived the attack, including Lagelu who had become old and weak, ran to a hill for safety. On the hill at Awotan, near Apete in the present Iddo Local Government, there was no food except for the ‘Oro’ fruit (bush mango or the native or African mango) and roasted snails (igbin) the people fed on. They also used the shells (ikarahun) for drinking purposes, hence the nickname: ‘Ibadan omo Ajorosun, omo a je igbin yo, omo a fi ikarahun fo ori mu.’
When the persecution cooled down, Lagelu and his children came down from the hill and founded second Ibadan town at a place called Ori Yangi in a place popularly known these days as Oja’ba. Shortly afterwards, Lagelu died leaving behind swarms of strong and political people.
History has it that Ibadan was later attacked three different times, but survived them all. Lagelu was buried in the sacred hill, which they believed protected them until they founded another town. The hill was idolised and a bull is sacrificed yearly on the shrine of Lagelu till date. Today, Ibadan is the third most populous state in Nigeria, coming after Lagos and Kano with a population of over 3.5 million dwellers.
The Ibadan cultural festival, as gathered, is the product of the merger of Ibadan Week which CCII used to celebrate every November and Oke’badan Festival, which holds every March. The special blessings for Ibadan and sacrifices at the shrine of Lagelu during Oke’badan festival, as well as activities such as Ibadan Conference, presentation of awards, ‘amala’ day, and so on during Ibadan Week have all been encapsulated into the Ibadan Cultural Festival that holds every March.
However, this year’s festival witnessed on Saturday March 3, a visit to the Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Adetunji, Aje Ogungunniso I, at his Popoyemoja palace by the CCII, members of the planning committee and representatives of Aboke family. The visitors to the palace went in a long convoy of vehicles, which also served as sensitisation rally for the festival.
On Sunday, a service was held at the Christ Church, Mapo, Ibadan and at every church in Ibadanland while March 5, featured a stage play entitled: ‘Ope Agbe, Baale of Ibadan’ in honour of a legend Baale in Ibadan, Ope Agbe, who reigned between 1850 and 1851. The play was staged at Ibadan House, Oke-Aremo.
On Tuesday, March 6, there was an award for business excellence at Ibadan House, while the Federation of Ibadan Students’ Union (FIBSU) took the centre stage on Wednesday for the ‘Ibadan Youths Day FIBSU debate.’
Awards for natives and friends of Ibadan
The award for patriotism came up on Thursday, March 8 at the Obafemi Awolowo stadium, Oke-Ado, Ibadan. On Friday, March 9, at the Ibadan House, Oke-Aremo, the Ibadan Town Hall Meeting was held.
However, some distinguished natives of Ibadan were honoured with awards by the CCII in recognition of their immense contributions to the progress of the city. In the same vein, quintessential individuals have contributed to the growth of the city, though they are not natives of Ibadan, were also honoured on the same day.
Wife of an Ekiti-born General Abayomi Olonisakin, Chief of Defence Staff, Mrs. Bolanle Olonisakin; a legal luminary, Chief Adeniyi Akintola (SAN); former Minister of Trade and Industries and former chairman, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dr (Mrs) Onikepo Akande; and Deputy Governor (Operations) of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Bayo Adelabu, were among distinguished daughters and sons of Ibadan that were honoured.
Olonisakin was garlanded with the award of Most Patriotic Daughter of Ibadan (MPDi), while Akintola and Adelabu were decorated with Most Patriotic Ibadan Indigenes (MPii).
Akande, who is the chairperson of Oyo State Education Trust Fund, Life President of Ibadan Prime Daughters Forum, and Ekerin Iyalode of Ibadanland, was garlanded with award of excellence.
The event was personally graced by Governor Abiola Ajimobi, and his wife, Florence; Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Adetunji, Aje Ogungunniso I, who was driven into and out of the stadium in a red Pontiac Solstice convertible sports car; General Officer Commanding (GOC), 2 Division, Nigerian Army, Major Gen Okwudili Azinta, and an array of royal fathers from Ibadanland among others.
The awardees also comprised an oil magnate, Mr. Seyi Makinde, who is a governorship aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); Commissioner for Health in Oyo State, Dr. Azeez Adeduntan; and founder of Nigeria’s first online betting portal, NairaBET, Akin Akabi, who were also honoured with Most Patriotic Ibadan Indigenes (MPII) awards.
Also, National President, Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT), Alogba Olukoya, and Project Director, Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State (BCOS), Yanju Adegbite; founder of Ibadan Business School and Asiwaju of Ijeshaland, Yinka Fasuyi, bagged Most Outstanding Friend of Ibadan (MOFI).
The First Bank of Nigeria Plc and Nigeria Breweries Plc, were also honoured with corporate awards for patriotism and friendship. Ajimobi in his short remarks, stated that events like the Ibadan cultural celebration should always be devoid of any form of politics, but should be avenues to celebrate the people and their culture, without any form of politics.
President General, CCII, Yemi Soladoye, said the awards were presented to worthy individuals and corporate organisations based on their contributions to the progress of Ibadanland, saying: “The awardees are very successful in their chosen line of works and we are not awarding them because of the money they have but because of the good work they have done for Ibadan.”
Chairperson of the award ceremony, Chief Onikepo Akande, in her address, made a case for the completion of the ongoing palace project of Olubadan, appealing to stakeholders to ensure completion of the project by donating generously for the purpose, noting that the project was stalled based on paucity of funds.
She charged natives of Ibadan and new generation of entrepreneurs to begin to give serious thoughts to the idea of rapid industrialisation of Ibadanland, and should ensure completion of Olubadan palace project.
According to her, “It is one of the utmost desire of people that Ibadanland begins to witness rapid industrialisation. Indigenes of Ibadan, including the new generation of entrepreneurs, should begin to give serious thought to this idea. Investors should be encouraged to look in our direction.
“Our forefathers left a legacy of bravery and dignity. Our generation of Ibadan has no choice but to revive the old glory and pride of Ibadanland. Since greatness is no longer determined by warfare and conquest, our relevance as true progenitors of great and famous warlords shall be measured by our individual contributions to the development of our great city.”
But on Friday March 9, it was the turn of Ibadan eggheads to brainstorm on the past, present and future of the city. They met at the Ibadan House for a town hall meeting. Chief Yemi Soladoye, President-General, CCII, explained that the town hall meeting was convened to discuss on why Ibadan has not achieved its full potentials and the losses the city has suffered due to complacency of Ibadan people.
The meeting was chaired by a former Minister of State for Finance, Mr. Remi Babalola, who stated that there’s an urgent need to reduce poverty in Ibadan, adding that once there is poverty reduction and job creation, Ibadan would get better and it would attract investors to the city.
“We need to make sure Lagos-Ibadan Expressway serves a purpose that is needed for Ibadan city. We need to make sure there is a modern day railway system and also work with the government to make sure that the Ibadan Masterplan is adhered to.
“How do we enhance the productivity of the private sector? Someone said that bread and butter is in Lagos, while peace and tranquility is in Ibadan and I asked, a young man doesn’t want peace and tranquility, he wants to make it and that’s why when they finish school, they go to Lagos and when they want to retire, they come back home, that is not what we want. We want Ibadan to be responsible for bread and butter as well as peace and tranquility.
“What do we need to do to make sure our children stay here after their education? To be innovative here, to be productive here because in all honesty, what drives people to any city is naira per head. How much naira per head do we have in Ibadan? The naira per head in Ikorordu or Epe in Lagos is far higher than the naira per head in Ibadan.
“The activities must be enhanced so that the naira per head will go up. We need to create economic stability and job security in Ibadan, things like infrastructure development, industrialization, employment and to reduce poverty. To know the economic development of a place, you will see how people go back home to renovate their houses. All the corrugated iron sheets will start changing.
“The economic stability of Ibadan is running down. How will Ibadan become a magnet for investment flows? We need to work with the state government and the Federal Government,” Babalola said.
Then, Major Gen Abdullahi Muraina (retd) and Rear Admiral Tokunbo Akintola Ibikunle (retd) took the centre stage. Muraina did SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) Analysis of Ibadan, saying: “Towards repositioning Ibadan, we need to look at the strengths and weaknesses of Ibadan, the opportunities given to Ibadan and the threats facing Ibadan.
“Our strength as Ibadan people, we are born here, we grew up here, though some of us went outside of Ibadan in terms of education, work and so on, but we are back. I look at us as very industrious and hardworking people and we can use that strength to forge the co-operation that is required.
“To achieve success, co-operation is essential. Many people here are succeeding in their various callings and we must thank God for that.
The opportunities which we can capitalise on are many in Ibadan.”
Also, Ibikunle stated that the Ibadan people must look for means to achieve the potentials of the city, adding that “We must change the notion of our people to work hard and maintain the position where our forefathers put us. We must crystalize our ideas and our goals so that we can articulate the ways and means of achieving them.
“We must also realise that we are no longer fighting wars using dane guns and arrows. It is now economic wars and that should sink through the traditional institutions to our people. We as people should also complement government’s efforts.”
President, Jericho Businessmen Club, Alhaji Remi Bello, who is a past president, Lagos Chambers of Commerce, noted that Ibadan is not yet where it should, being the pace setter in education and health with the presence of the premier university and teaching hospitals in the country -University of Ibadan(UI) and University College Hospital (UCH).
His words: “When talking about economy, look at the city. There is a direct dichotomy between the economy and those that are there. When companies want to come to a place, they look for peace of mind, they want reception, they want beautiful environment. We should put in place machineries that will make us fulfil potentials. We are conscious of our problems now; we know what we should have. We should look forward to solving them.”
Mr. Kunle Oyewole, Secretary of Ikoyi Club 38, and legal adviser of Jericho Businessmen Club, delved into the historical perspective of why Ibadan has not achieved its full potentials, saying: “This is due to leadership or lack of leadership. Indigenes of Ibadan in power, how many people did they mentor? Lack of vision of our leaders, that is, those that are in the position of any form of power. When you have vision, you will know how to help, if not, you will be thinking about yourself.
“Also, lack of political skills. If you don’t empower people, how will they be useful for you? Lack of followership. People are not properly educated, what we have now are motorcycle riders.”
Honours for Jemibewon, Afolabi, Olatunde-Agbeja
The grand finale of the festival was held on Saturday March 10 at the Obafemi Awolowo Stadium, Oke-Ado, which among other things, featured the parade by Ibadan entertaining and war masquerades; parade of warlords, Ibadan Mogajis (compound heads), local government groups, and affiliate clubs of CCII; as well as exhibition of Ibadan ‘dundun’ drums, bata music, and Ibadan traditional wedding.
On the occasion, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Amni International Petroleum Development Company, a leading indigenous petroleum exploration and production company, Chief Tunde Afolabi, was honoured by CCII as the Most Patriotic Ibadan Indigenes (MPII).
Also, former captain, Ibadan Golf Club and Presidential Adviser for Anglophone countries in Africa and Middle East, Chief Jide Olatunde-Agbeja, was also given an award as the Most Outstanding Friend of Ibadan (MOFI).
The Most Ibadan-Friendly Former Governor of Oyo State (MFFGOS) went to Major Gen David Jemibewon (retd), who the military governor of Western/Oyo State for only three years – 1975 to 1978, for massive infrastructural development of Ibadan and for upgrading occupier of Olubadan stool from a cap-wearing king to the beaded-crown wearing level around 1976.
The President General of CCII, Chief Soladoye, said about Jemibewon, “In the process of putting together this year’s cultural package, one person that came to the mind of all Ibadan people as the most qualified Nigerian to flag-off this Ibadan Cultural Renaissance Project is Major Gen David Jemibewon (retd), the military governor of Western/Oyo State for only three years – 1975 to 1978, but left such indelible legacies in the areas of culture and infrastructure as if he was in power for 20 years.
“We all recall Agbowo Shopping Complex, the Adamasingba Stadium, the Jemibewon Road, the secretariat flyover, but more of significance to today’s event, the Ibadan Cultural Centre, and the upgrading of our monarch from a cap-wearing king to the beaded-crown wearing level.
“Ibadan cannot thank our father, Major Gen David Medayese Jemibewon, enough and that is why today we recalled him ‘back home’ from Kogi State to honour him with Most Ibadan-Friendly Former Governor of Oyo State (MFFGOS). Sir, the event of today is a clear testimony to the fact that your cultural vision and foresight of some 40 years ago was not in vain.”