The beauty, glamour of Remo culture
Community searches for peace, unity, progress
From WOLE BALOGUN & LAIDE RAHEEM, Ado-Ekiti
a procession of beautiful women conveying potted leaves and assorted sculpted images lined up Makun Road, Sagamu in Sagamu Local Government Area of Ogun State. This provided an enchanting spectacle reminiscent only of the romantic era of the 15th Century cultural heritage of the Chinese origin being elaborately showcased via many contemporary chinese films.
They sang cultural songs in praise of Orisagamu Ewa, the diety who founded the town. It was the 32th edition of Shagamu Day/Epiripo Fiesta 2016, and the town was aglow.
Believed to have given Sagamu people a mysterious pot, from which flows some healing water, Orisagamu Ewa, according to the custodians of Sagamu culture, was that deity who led some Yoruba people of Remo descent from Ile-Ife, Osun State, to settle at a place where a pot that produced water, was found in the heart of the forest.
Aremo Oba Aradanuwa, Chief Olaolu Abiju, told Daily Sun: “Once our forefathers discovered the pot from which the water flowed, they settled down here, convinced that it was the place where Ifa (Yoruba god of divination) had told them they would settle. A place where Orisa (diety) had kept a pot that gave healing water eternally.
“When our forbears left Ile-Ife, they first settled in some places such as Omoowa, Ile Ofin in Sagamu here, Ikorodu and some other places before we finally settled at Irapabamowo where we are now. Our forbears settled here because they chose to work together in unity.”
Sagamu today is the centre of a notable and progressive Yoruba ethnic group, which is the Remo kingdom in Ogun State. It comprises 13 dialectical divisions of Remo ethnical identity and as such regarded as a robust city capable of becoming a state capital with regards to its admirable industrial, human and infrastructural development.
The women in the procession, old and young, were clothed in white wrappers, and adored their bodies with several colourful coral beads. They marched joyfully from the palace of the Paramount Ruler of Remoland, the Akarigbo, accompanied by the traditional chiefs, priests and prietesses, kingmakers, excited townspeople as well as many other custodians of the people’s culture and particularly, the sponsor of the event, executives of the Sagamu Development Association (SDA) led by Professor Tunde Ogunsawo, into the grove of Orisagamu Ewa located in Eri, an outskirts of the town.
About 21 deities being celebrated yearly in the town were represented by the images the women carried, many of them strapping babies to their backs while some resembled a certain monarch or traditional chief or forbears of the people.
Those who carried potted leaves, otherwise called “Otun,” were about 14 and they believed the ritual of conveying the images and Otun to the grove, cleanses the society of ills, ailments and brings peace, unity and progress to all.
Before then, the SDA had organized a joint Muslim/Christian prayer session at the Akarigbo Palace in which clerics of both faiths prayed for the town’s spiritual healing, deliverance from backwardness, peace, unity, love for one another and progress.
Ogunsanwo disclosed that though Sagamu boasts of 38 fully grown industries, the town had missed many benefits such as losing the state capital to Abeokuta in spite of the fact that it was first considered as a result of its central location in Ogun, and missing a federal polythenic now in Ilaro, among many other developmental benefits.
He attributed part of the reasons for missing such benefits to lack of unity among the people and some perceived curses from forebears and enjoined the people to be more patriotic and prayerful for the town.
While Christian and Muslim leaders such as the Chairmen of the Christian Association of Nigeria, (CAN), of both Sagamu and Remo region, Rev. Badejo and Pastor Benson Malato, and the leader, Cathedral of St Paul, Shagamu, Remo Chief Imam, Alhaji Dauda Adeniji, graced the occasion, the royal presence of some monarchs of the Remo kingdom such as the Oba T. O. Akinsanya, Ewusi of Makun. Oba Gbenga Sonuga, Fadesewa of Simawa, Oba Adewale Jibodu, Onijoku of Ijoku, Oba S. A. Oyenuga, Alariye of Ariye, Oba E. O. Osho, Odogun of Ipoji, Oba Nureni Oduwaiye, Onifojege of Fojege and Oba J. O. Odumade, Onilaye of Ilaye, Oba Omobola Ogunwaye, Onigboyege of Gboyege, Chief Rasaki Adeyemi Salami, and Lisa Akarigbo and Otunba S.A Adesanya added colour to it.
At the Orisagamu Ewa grove, excited people danced and sang praise songs of the diety. A big cow, earlier tied to the entrance of the grove, later “disappeared” into it.
Masquerades and other representatives of some deities such as Sango (Yoruba god of iron, Ogun, Osun (river goddess), Onimole and others presented acrobatic and electrifying dance steps to thrill the monarchs and traditional chiefs present as well as some heirs to the thrones of several monarchs in Remoland.
The chiefs and monarchs replicated the entertaining gesture by presenting cash gifts to the entertainers while “Akara” (bean cakes), prepared on the spot by the palace women, were shared to all in attendance. Many people of the town in joyful mood, thronged the grove, joining the dancers and singers in the communal celebration of culture.
Prince Abiodun Ogunlesi, chairman, Media and Publicity Committee of Sagamu Day 2016, said: “This year’s Sagamu Day, apart from being in honour of our departed monarch, Oba Michael Adeniyi Sonariwo, is unique in many ways and a complete departure from what used to obtain at Sagamu Day.”
Chief Taju Asesanya, head of all priests in Remoland and chairman of all traditional priests in Ogun State, also explained to Daily Sun, the symbolic nature of the event: “The full name of this town is Orisaguamu Ewa, its short form is Sagamu.
The meaning of that is that it was a diety that founded this town. The river with which the diety founded this town is what we have come to pay respect to here at the grove.
“The river flows from an ancient pot. It solves problems of barreness, ill-fate and answers prayers from anyone who has faith in it. In those days, when a couple got married, they were given this water for marital bliss. We enjoin our children all over the world and in here to ensure to be part of this festival every year. We assure them it would bring them fortunes, that I am sure of.”
Princess Adeleke Adedoyin, the town’s river goddess’ priestess said: “Each of the images being conveyed by the women carriers has a name of a diety attached to it. There is Ojuju who blesses women with children, Lajogun who brings wealth to the carrier, Ojutu who builds the town, as well as Abatan Erinle which brings peace to the town among others. Each of these carriers appreciates the usefulness of the god they carry.
“Just as everyone knows that the Ojude Oba festival in Ijebu-Ode is done to bring development and harmony to the town, we are celebrating the Shagamu Day today so that we can bring all of us on board with a view to develop our town.
“Orisa Omi, meaning water goddess is what we have come to celebrate today and all other priests and adherents of other deities have joined us in this celebration. We encourage all our people to bring back the celebration of our tradition so things could be better as they were before and all social vices could be eradicated.”