The Osun-Osogbo Festival, one of the most glamorous and prestigious cultural convocation in Nigeria is a ritual at the end of August of every year.
The annual festival remains uncommon because of the spiritual, cultural and historical content.
It’s arguably the most popular cultural event that unites the Yoruba race at home and in the diaspora.
Every year, the event attracts foreign tourists, historians, collectors of art work, lovers of culture, etc. The cultural and spiritual festival has a peculiar history.
According to some historians, the Osun-Osogbo Festival dates back to 1370 AD but was popularized in Osogbo some decades ago. It has even popularized the ancient community as people from far and wide and people from all walks of life converge annually to celebrate the goddess of Osun River who traditionalists believe is still alive. With the establishment of the Osun Groove as a world heritage site by the United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), 10 years back, the Osun-Osogbo Festival has further received a boost from not only the indigenes of the town but the international community. This year’s edition was a week-long celebration of tradition and culture of the Yoruba race.
ENCOMIUM Weekly brings you happenstances from the event.
TRADITIONAL CLEANSING – For the people of Osogbo land in the state of Osun, August is a month of celebration, traditional cleansing of the people and reconciling them with their ancestors and founders of Osogbo kingdom. It’s called Iwapopo and its three days of lighting a 16 point lamp called Olojumeindinlogun which has been in existence for over 500 years.
OPON AYO (SEAMAN’S AYO) – A segment of the Osun-Osogbo Festival is a traditional indoor game called Opon Ayo. The official sponsor of the traditional indoor game, Opon Ayo, Grand Oak Limited makers of Seaman’s Schnapps, Regal Dry Gin, Swagger, etc, gave out prices to winners.
ISESE – This was another interesting segment of the festival. All the local government councils In the state of Osun displayed their traditional dances and cultural performances.
At the end, assorted cultural costumes and dresses were put on sale. These included Iyere Osun, beads of different types and sizes, etc.
ARUGBA – The tradition and culture of Osogbo demands that the request of the goddess must be met. We gathered that the goddess of Osun River had instructed that a young virgin selected by the incumbent Ataoja of Osogbo, through Ifa divination should carry a calabash on her head to the Osun River at the grand finale of the festival. The monarch with the Osun River priestess must hold the calabash to welcome a messenger called Iko.
It might interest you to know that the name Osogbo was coined from the word Osoigbo.
WHAT SUSAN WENGER REPRESENTED – The just concluded Osun-Osogbo Festival was very symbolic in the sense that it marked 10 years of the death of Susan Wenger, the former white priestess of Osun River.
GRAND OAK LIMITED LONGEST SPONSOR – Grand Oak Limited has sponsored the Osun-Osogbo Festival for 30 years. Part of the festival is a traditional prayer for His Royal Highness tagged Ibo Oriade.
Seaman’s Schnapps was very handy at this segment of the festival. Traditionalists believe that the Schnapps is the medium with which such prayers are conveyed to the gods.
FASHION SHOW – There was a fashion show which added beauty and panache to the festival. This was specifically to showcase our tradition and cultural heritage as it concerns what to wear.
GANI ADAMS AT THE FESTIVAL – The leader of Odua People’s Congress, a Yoruba socio-cultural organization and Olokun Foundation Organization, Otunba Gani Adams, was there. He came with a massive entourage of OPC members to rejoice and celebrate with the good people of the state of Osun.
PASUMA AND OTHERS PERFORMED – The 2015 Osun-Osogbo Festival climaxed with the performances of music acts. Some of the musicians were sponsored by Regal Dry Gin. Taiye Currency and Nurudeen Atanda, aka Antenna did very well.
Orobokibo crooner, Oga Nla Pasuma Wonder thrilled until the early hours of Saturday, August 22.
ENCOMIUM Weekly’s DAPO ADESEKO spoke to some of the notable people at the event…
How do you feel about today?
I am very happy to witness the 2015 Osun-Osogbo Festival. I am excited.
What is the significance of this Osun-Osogbo Festival?
The importance of this festival is to celebrate and appreciate Osun-Osogbo.
What is your view about Yoruba culture and traditional that is fading away?
The fault is from our parents. They need to encourage our children to speak our language and understand the moral, cultural and traditions of our people. You will discover that children who cannot speak Yoruba may not understand our tradition and morals including respect. There is an adage which says, Charity begins at home. So, we need to teach our children our language and culture.
Sir, you are an Ifa priest, why do people tend to bend the rule of Ifa divination now, when they want to select an Oba, they ask government or politician to pick?
It’s improper for government to impose a leader like oba on people without the direction of Ifa. That is enough to make the society go astray.
If government should choose based on the popularity on wealth, it may backfire. So, Ifa should be encouraged to choose our leaders, most especially a traditional leader. No man should compromise the rule so that we can have a better society.
What can you say about today’s event?
Today’s event is an annual ritual that attracts sons and daughters of Osun state. Not only that, all Yoruba speaking states come together to celebrate Osun-Osogbo Festival.
What is the importance and significance of this event?
You must all know our roots. We must know where we are coming from. If we do not know where we are coming from, we may not know where we are going. People should not toy with their culture. Even the British who brought missionaries to Nigeria never played with their culture. Anybody, no matter who you are, you cannot toy with Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II of England.
In Nigeria, it is believed that once you identify with tradition and culture, you’re demonic. What we are doing here today is promoting and sustaining our identity.
Can you differentiate between culture and religion?
Religion is about the way you communicate with Almighty God. Religion is about how to keep yourself and your family in a certain faith. But culture is how to promote your identity, how to guide your language, that can be easily identified because that is one of the reasons God created you.
How do you think we can improve our culture and tradition?
With assistance from government, corporate organizations and individuals. At the same time, we need to sensitize people and correct the impression about promotion of culture. Government should talk to religious leaders. You can castigate religion not culture.
How do you feel about today?
It is very wonderful and encouraging.
We have noticed you support traditional and cultural events? Can you explain the role of Grand Oak in those activities?
Seaman’s Schnapps supports the culture that is our brand that is why we support Ayo Olopon courtesy of Seaman’s while the Regal Dry Gin is about enjoyment and entertainment. That is why you see our Regal Gin at music stands.
How did you come about the Seaman’s Ayo (Ayo Olopon)?
Let me speak on behalf of Seaman’s. When we noticed the world was going digital, we researched on how to take the cultural identity to the younger ones. Then we came out with Seaman’s Ayo where you can plan Ayo Olopon using your android phone.