Interviews

‘Epe is bigger than Ibadan, Ogbomosho, others’ – Oba Animashaun boasts

-Speaks on the significance of Ebi Festival

Epe Kingdom is currently experiencing unprecedented and glamorous events for almost 90 days dedicated to the 2014 Ebi Festival.

His Royal Majesty, Oba Kamorudeen Ishola Animashaun Arolugbade Elepe II, the Oloja of Epe Kingdom was filled with joy to receive ENCOMIUM Weekly, when he explained the etimology and the significance of the Ebi Festival.

Not only that, Oba Animashaun excitedly spoke on the level of investments going on in Epe, and why corporate organizations and investors should be part of this great development and more.

DSC_7795Tell us about Ebi Festival?

Ebi is part of our culture and tradition in Epe. It started long time ago, about the 13th century. We celebrate it within the nooks and crannies of Ijebu settlements. We have the month of Ebi, which is usually between February and March. During this period, we worship our ancestors, divinity, those handed to us by our fore-fathers. To kick start the festival, we have Igba Erun, which is meant for select people, especially people in charge of Oro diety. Followed is the worship of Oba Oluaiye, the god of chicken pox which will be done in some select days. We also have masquerades called Jigbo. They are in their hundreds and you can see them around. They will be around for 30 days. We have Kilojolu and Okosi Festival, which rebuild the memory of our past, among others.

You talked about Ebi Festival dating back to the 13th century. Does that mean Epe has been in existence before 13th century?

Epe is an ancient town. The colonialists ruled Ikorodu, Badagry, Ikeja, from Epe. This place is like the headquarters. The District Officer’s house is in Epe here. That shows you the importance and significance of Epe. In addition, when King Kosoko fled Lagos, it was Epe he ran to for asylum. We admitted him and that’s why we have Eko-Epe today. I don’t want to go into details because we’re today under the same Lagos with Ikorodu, Badagry and Ikeja. In fact, we are as old as Ijebu-Ode. The Awujale is our father. Epe is older than Ibadan. At the time Ibadan was being formed, we already existed as a community.

If Epe is older than Ibadan, why is it that Ibadan is now bigger and well developed than Epe?

I love that question, very technical. The thing is, Ibadan enjoys more largesse than Epe because it served as the political headquarters of the defunct Western Region. Also, Ibadan is a conglomerate of tribes of Yoruba land. It was a military base before it metamorphosed into the capital of Western Nigeria.

What about the title of Oba Epe and Olu Ibadan. How come he’s bigger than the Oba Epe’s title?

Oba of Epe is older in tradition. In fact, formerly, we had Baale of Ibadan. It was late Bola Ige that elevated the Baale of Ibadan and Ogbomosho in the 80s.

We’ve travelled to other towns, and we’ve seen how they’ve packaged their festivals. What are you doing as the king of this community to ensure that Ebi and other festivals go international?

We’ve been doing that, just that you’ve not been conversant with our festivals. We hosted a lot of people, from the US, Europe, among others. Our children in the diaspora came home during the period. Some even brought investors and sponsors. However, we need support. We want you (ENCOMIUM) to publicise Epe to the world through your magazine. Epe hosted the first Black & Africa Festival, among others. We have the biggest and most colourful festivals in Epe. Although some companies have been supporting us, especially MTN, we need support from bigger organizations and companies to assist us financially.

Tell us the things Lagos State government has done for the Epe community?

First, we have to thank Lagos State government. Now, we have free zone, we have airport, which is Lekki/Epe International Airport. The free zone starts from the sea side to the lagoon, and some investors have been coming. As we speak, Aliko Dangote has promised to build a gigantic refinery and fertilizer company. We thank Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola for making sure these projects were brought to Lagos, not Ogun State. We appreciate all his efforts. Big thanks to Asiwaju who created the free zone. There is going to be a sea port here as well. However, we still need more assistance from the government. We also call on investors to invest in Epe.

Tell us more about you, particularly how you juggle royalty with personal life?

I am a product of CMS Primary School, moved to Zumuratul Secondary School to Yabatech to study Engineering, but I did not work as an engineer. I worked as a contractor for companies, including Nigerian Breweries. I moved into sea business. I was licensed to supply fuel to all the vessels that came to Nigerian waters. I represented AP, National and Total, and later resigned because of things I was not expected to do because I am from a royal house.

Now, I cannot move on machine as a royal father, but my children can operate it. I am married to some wives and I am blessed with children. I thank God.

We have leadership issue in the country at the moment. As an Oba, what does leadership mean to you?

As a leader, you’re a servant of the people. You should listen to your people and have very good interaction with them. Make sure your subjects don’t suffer unjustly. You must respect your stand, your yes, must be yes, your no must be no. That’s leadership.

As a royal father, you must not play double game. You should not deceive people. Don’t let anybody buy you. Our father, Awujale exhibited this during Abacha’s regime. That is what’s expected of a good traditional ruler. There are some cases like that, and I speak my mind. For instance, I told them that we don’t want him because we’ve tried him, he didn’t perform according to our expectation. You can take him to another place. I stood by it, the government took him to another place. I don’t want to mention names. Don’t be an oba that will be bought. The voice of the people is your voice. A traditional ruler must be straight forward because he’s the representative of the gods on earth.

–  RASHEED ABUBKAR

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