Wole Balogun, Ado-Ekiti
Odun Oba, translated in English to mean the King’s festival, has become a cultural feature of the people of lkere-Ekiti, in Ikere Local Government Area of Ekiti State. It is an event with which the people celebrate their monarch, Oba Samuel Adu Alagbado, Ogoga of Ikere.
They also use the occasion to take stock of the achievements of their sons and daughters home and abroad as well appreciate the heavens for the development. It is a week long event featuring cultural ceremonies such as eating of new yam and worship of ancestors of the land as well as appeasement of the gods to promote peace, progress and stability.
Ogoga’s palace at the centre of the town was recently filled with hundreds of Ikere people, as well as many ethnic nationalities from across the federation who have been living peacefully in the town for many years. These ethnic nationalities included the Igede people from Benue State, Igala from Kogi State, Fulani, Hausa and Tiv people from the North.
The festival began with homage paying to the monarch by groups including school children in costumes, teenagers who thrilled with scintillating cultural songs and dance, traditional medicine men and women, local hunters, high chiefs, social clubs and associations and ethnic nationalities.
Others were the Iyelori, mothers and wives of present and past kings, ljengbede, a group of old women, Omo Owa; who are children of the royal families, Ikere sisters club, and chieftaincy title holders including Tunde Ogunsakin, ex-Assistant Inspector General (AIG) of Police.
There were also goodwill messages. For instance, Chief Sola Adewunmi, praised the Ogoga for developmental strides since the monarch was enthroned some five years ago: “Let us pursue Ikere’s progress with joint efforts, those who assist the town will continue to be specially recognized and honoured.”
Ikere Development Forum (IDF), was represented by Femi Ekundayo, its spokesman, who said: “We rejoice with the Kabiyesi and people of Ikere people. Civilization is a heritage of beliefs, knowledge and norms among others, accumulated by a people over the time. We take pride in the heritage of our forbears especially that we were never defeated or conquered in wars. We appreciate the Ogoga for the rare privilege given to the IDF to reconcile parties disturbed by long rivalries. Our report will soon be ready and its tone is positive.”
Funminiyi Afuye, Speaker of Ekiti State House of Assembly and indigene of the town, said: “There is no other way to go than for the community to police itself. We know ourselves in each community inside out and we know the nook and cranny of the town. And that is what is happening all over the world and it of course resonates with the principle of federalism.”
Ogunsakin who holds the traditional title of Bashorun of Ikere, said: “We are already going to community policing in the country. I am happy that there will also soon be state policing. The best way to solve the guiarrella war posing security issue in the country is to use state police.
“Odun Oba is a celebration of the progress and unity that is in Ikere and I am happy to be part of it. Since the Oba Samuel Adu Alagbado, of Ikere Kingdom, came on board, we have been having progress and prosperity.”
Chief Oladimeji Isiaka, Bobagunwa of Ikere, said: “The cultural value is very important especially for the younger generations to understand our culture and get to know where we are coming from the beginning in terms of our values and behavioural pattern. The turnout at the festival is very impressive. We do not have security issues.
“One of my roles is to propagate the values of leadership to our community. The Kabiyesi has been my mentor and he has got a lot of leadership capacities. My role is to advise the monarch on how best to fulfil his obligations and aspirations for Ikere.
“I also try my little best to contribute to community development, this is why last year, I and my wife built the hall of fame. We should start to reinstitute the values of integrity and good behaviour that Ekiti, and the Yoruba race are known for.”
Chief Emmanuel Olajide Ayeni, Ologootun of Odo-Oja quarters, said: “I am a kingmaker, the political and administrative head of Odo Oja in Ikere. My role and that of my people is to support the Ogoga to ensure the success of the festival. The clothing materials are brought as an honour by the wives of the chiefs to decorate the festival.
“My message is for us to be united and not be divided. We must unite for the progress and development of the town. I also want to advise the monarch Ogoga not to take offence against those who are distracting him as he is our father. Some have been working against the tradition and culture of the land. I urge the Kabiyesi to continue to tolerate them and bring them closer as usual.”
The Sapetu of Ikere, Prof. Babatope Oluwafemi, of the Federal University Akure (FUTA), Ondo State, said: “This festival comprises of many festival activities. This is the conclusion of the festival. This phase heralds the beginning of a new year for us. The most significant of the festival where the wives of the Sapetu would go to the farm and harvest the yams and line up in a procession and take it to the home of the Sapetu who offers prayers on it. On the next day, the Sapetu will lead others to present the yam to the monarch, before we have this grand finale.
“My message to Ikere people is that we should unite to become one and lift the town to an enviable height for others to emulate us. We are lucky to have a truthful, progressive monarch. In recent times, we have had development because of his personality. He on his own should continue to carry everyone along for continued progress.”
Chief Kayode, Omodara, Sao of Ikere, said: “My role is the third in position to the Ogoga. We rejoice with the monarch on a day like this. In Iro, the Sao is the second in command among the chiefs. His role in this festival is to use a ram for sacrifice and appeasement to the gods of the land. This is done to offer prayers for the town to have progress and development.”
The Ogoga who was resplendent later addressed the people: “Ikere community has witnessed a mix-bag of everything in the past 12 months. There was the high tension, which arose from the governorship and presidential elections that sort of polarised the whole kingdom, pitching brothers against brothers. We also experienced scourge of thuggery, lawlessness and youth cultism disturbances.
“In spite of these, we have reasons to also celebrate. During the same period we witnessed the elevation of our sons and daughters to the enviable status of professorship in various institutions worldwide. We also witnessed he approval by the Senate the appointment one of our sons to a very important position in the nation.
“ Ikere has a glorious history that is the envy of many kingdoms. Our ancestors in their wisdom arranged the administration of the kingdom in such a balanced way that ensured unity. It was this unity that served as the strength, which resulted in the successes achieved in those days of internecine wars where Ikere remains undefeated and unconquered till date.
“Today, despite our efforts to ensure full integration some egocentric individuals for their own selfish and self aggrandisement have been making spurious, strange and bizarre stories which are all falsehood in the attempt to rewrite and change our history to suit their evil plans. We depend on God Almighty to vindicate us and arrest these evil diets because we stand on truth.
“We must eschew hatred and bitterness in our politics. We cannot all be in one party but our goals and objectives for Ikere, our common heritage must be for her progress. Therefore we must keep that in mind regardless of party loyalty. May there be love and peace among us.
“While we commend families who are known for good deeds that have brought glory to Ikere, do not let your family be known to bring rebuke or shame to Ikere. Guide them to become professors, achievers and not thugs and Yahoo fraudsters.”
On the allegation that the recent death of a commercial driver was allegedly caused by a procession of Ipekele Ayaba from the Ogoga Palace, the monarch, through the Secretary to Ogoga-in-Council, Chief James Ayidele Alonge, debunked the reports. He said the procession had already concluded its activity under police protection before news frittered in that a certain Okada man was killed.
He urged the law enforcement agents to fish out the real persons behind the killing. He asked the populace to discountenance the reports that linked the tragic incident to the palace.