Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
It was a potpourri of traditions and culture as well as a showcase of the rich heritage of the Egba nation, when the Olumo Festival, was celebrated recently. The Olumo Rock Groove, Ikija in Abeokuta, Ogun State, venue of the event was filled to the brim by enthusiasts of culture and traditions.
Drumming, singing and dancing rent the air, while chanting of different Yoruba folklores were rendered to the delight of the crowd. Retinue of traditional rulers in Egbaland, led by the Alake, Oba Michael Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo, dressed resplendently to celebrate the historic Olumo Rock, which sheltered the Egba from the rampaging warriors of Dahomey.
The event was also to remember the exploits and bravery of Lisabi, who liberated the Egba people from the shackles of oppression of the representatives of the Alaafin of Oyo.
Also in attendance was the Generalisimo of Yoruba land, Iba Gani Adams. The Aare Ona Kakanfo, who is the Chief Promoter of Olokun Festival, also co-facilitated the Olumo Festival. Apart from the monarchs, chiefs and village heads in Egbaland converged on Olumo to add colour to the festival.
Ancient Yoruba drum, Gbedu, reverberated at the groove as devotees of Ogun, Osun, Orunmila, Olomolu, Erinle and Igunuko masquerade, took turns to dance and pay homage to the Alake. The Aare Ona Kakanfo said the event was to celebrate the rich cultural heritage of the Egba people. He eulogised Lisabi for his bravery and exploits in bringing Abeokuta to the limelight.
He urged the state government to build a befitting edifice at the Lisabi Groove inside the forest where the great warrior disappeared into the ground: “Government should ensure that the road leading to the groove is rehabilitated to make it possible for people to access the tourism facility.”
While noting that all the tourist sites in Ogun should be properly developed to drive tourism in the state, Adams, called on Governor Dapo Abiodun to adopt the template of former governor Gbenga Daniel, who reinvented the Olumo Rock, thus, making the site one of the attractive tourist sites in Nigeria:
“Our culture and traditions remain the bedrock of our existence as a people. We must harness new ideas to make sure that Yoruba with population of over 250 millions across the world regain its lost glory. It is indeed and important for us to strategize and strengthen our beliefs in the traditional institutions.
“We remember with great sense of history that Olumo Rock was once an abode for safety and security for the Egba people. We remember that the people of the past usually took refuge inside the rock, most especially, during wars. Happily today, we are not fighting any war; but we must make sure we do everything that is possible, to preserve the past heritage of our forefathers. That is the reason for celebrating this festival today.”
Adams hammered on the need by the South West governors to ensure integration of the region, especially in the power and transportation sectors. He noted that the success recorded so far with Amotekun project has vindicated the Yoruba that there is power in unity:
“If there is an effective regional integration in the power sector, the problem we are facing now in the country with the power generation will be a thing of the past. It is sad that the privatisation of the power sector had rather than becoming a blessing has turned out to be a curse. We all know how much we pay as bills on monthly basis. The bill is always on the high side.
“We also need regional integration on transportation sector across the southwest. Building the rail transportation system will enhance trade across the region. And with stable rail transport system, the region will definitely become the business hub for foreign investors.
“Whatever we can do to build our rail system across the South West will always be in the overall interest of the entire region. This is the way to go. The South West has what it takes to make this a reality. They can only complement the effort of the Federal Government to initiate a policy direction that will make our region the most efficient in Nigeria.
“I am ready to support this initiative as I have done with the Amotekun project. Our monarchs in the South West are also ready to support any idea that can bring development and growth to the region. This is what we need now.”
The Alake said: “I appreciate Aare for ensuring peace. When I got the information about Aare’s effort on Amotekun, I was relieved because the OPC under his leadership had saved the nation from those that involved in the illegal act of bunkering while protecting the pipelines.
“He is always visible at events that have to do with promotion of Yoruba cultural identity and heritage. Whoever fails to promote his or her culture is like an animal, therefore, we must join Aare Gani Adams, in his effort to sustain the cultural heritage of our forefathers.”
The guest lecturer, Nurudeen Sodipe, spoke about the act of sustaining the Yoruba culture and heritage. He explained that the Yoruba culture is one of the best in the world, stressing that the best idea is to promote everything that has to do with the culture and tradition.