Arts & Entertainments

Ojude Oba: Grand return of the people’s festival

…as FCMB reiterates commitment to promoting culture, tourism

It was a grand return of the annual Ojude Oba festival after two years hiatus due to the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021, and government prohibition on mass gathering of people. It was therefore not surprising the turnout Aptly themed ‘The Return of Ojude Oba’, an held at the Awujale Pavilion, Ijebu Ode, Ogun State, this year’s edition of the festival witnessed massive turnout of not just the sons and daughters of Ijebuland both at home and in the diaspora, but also from across other parts of the country.

From the adjourning streets leading the venue of the festival, various performances took centre stage as scores of enthusiastic dancers, young and old, clad in various colourful traditional attires, thrilled visitors to rich performances. Inside the venue, it was a kaleidoscope of colours as the ‘Regberegbe’- the age grades in Ijebuland, adorned in traditional Aso Oke, defied the downpour at the Awujale Pavilion, to come out in their numbers for parades and paying of homage to the Awujale.

The camaraderie and excitement was palpable. Highlight of the event include parade of Regberegbe and Homage to the Awujale of Ijebuland; Iyalaje in Council pays Homage to the Awujale; FCMB pays Homage to the Awujale of Ijebuland; Equestrian display by Balogun Families and Horse Riders (Eleshin) and Homage to the Awujale; Otun Balogun and Balogun of Ijebu Ode on Horse Ride pay Homage to Awujale.

The festival had in attendance, the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwoolu who was the special guest of honour, Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, the Alaiyeluwa Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona, CFR, the Awujale and Paramount Ruler of Ijebuland, former Governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, founder of the FCMB Group Plc. and Olori Omo-Oba (Head of all Princes) of Ijebuland, Otunba Olasubomi Balogun, and several others. Musiliu Ishola, the legendary Apala singer and son of the pioneer Apala musician, Haruna Ishola, added colour and beats to the event as he entertained the audience with classics like ‘Opon Apala Ti Sun’ and ‘Soyoyo’…

In his welcome address, the Chairman, Ojude Oba Festival Committee, Otunba Wahab Osinusi, noted that the fittingly captioned theme for this year 2022 Ojude Oba festival ‘The Return of Ojude Oba’ “was intrinsically concieved and a carefully adopted one, arising from the realities of the unfortunate situation that confronted all of us, men, women, the highly placed, the commoners and even the government. Most sectors of the Nigerian society are yet to fully recover from the shock COVID-19 made to befall us but we are immensely thankful to God that has made all to become history and keeping us alive to witness this day.

Suffice to say that the carefully chosen theme makes an apt illustration and connotation of the reminiscences of the past, realities of the present and assurance of the future.” Significantly, as with previous editions of the festival, it had the support of one of the leading finacial services institutions in Nigeria with unique subsidiaries/segments, First City Monument Bank (FCMB), which has been a key supporter of the Festival Limitedfor more than a decade. In his Goodwill message, the Group Chief Executive, FCMB Group PLC, Mr. Ladi Balogun, noted that the Ojude Oba Festival is more than an event for all true sons and daughters of Ijebuland.

“It has become a long-standing yearly tradition we look forward to as a unifying factor. For over a century, this Festival has amplified and promoted our rich cultural legacy,” he said. He added that the display of the rich cultural heritage of Ijebuland as showcased by the various age groups (Regberegbes), family groups, and other cultural activities “embodies the spirit of the Ojude Oba Festival.

This age-long traditions have continued to inspire generations and attract tourists from across the globe and Ijebu indigenes in the diaspora, boosting trade and the hospitality sector in Ogun State and Nigeria. The festival also remains a unique platform for home-based Ijebus to promote their wares to a broad range of visitors, thus contributing significantly to economic growth and development. “FCMB has been a major suporter of the Ojude Oba Festival for almost two decades, and it has been a mutually beneficial journey.

As a purpose beyond profit corporation, we understand that culture is an essential component of sustainable development. It is an important in building social inclusion, eradicating poverty and stimulating progress.” He assured that FCMB is committed to the longevity of the festival and is proud to be associated with the values it promotes.

In an interview with journalists at his residence shortly after the festival, Otunba Olasubomi Balogun, said his support and involvement in the Ojude Oba Festival for almost 20 years is due to his patriotic zeal and love for the Ijebu people, adding that Ojude Oba is a unique festival and that he is very much involved in it. “When Oba Tunwase, my mother’s great grandfather was on the throne, the British missionaries who came to Ijebu Ode asked for his permission to preach the gospel. He did not hesitate to give them the go-ahead.

They also asked for permission to baptize the people and he allowed them. But before then, the Islamic religion had come to Ijebu Ode, and not long after, Christianity also came. So, Ojude Oba festival started when the people (Muslims and Christians) started going to the forecourt of Oba Tunwase to pay homage and express their appreciation to him for his kindness and benevolence.” On his involvement and sponsorship of the festival, Otunba Balogun noted that as the founder of FCMB, it is only natural that the bank must show interest in anything he’s interested in. “God gave me FCMB and so FCMB must be interested in anything I have interest in.

The sponsorship of Ojude Oba is borne out of patriotism. If I created an institution, it is only natural that it benefits my people. As a patriotic Ijebu man, I made sure that as soon as we started building branches, I brought FCMB here and the people have been patronising us.

Therefore, the only way we can show appreciation is to participate in the traditional undertakings that bring to the fore the culture and traditions of the Ijebu. Ojude Oba is a unique festival and I am very much involved in it,” he said.

“I built the first museum in honour of my progenitor, Oba Adesimbo Tunwase, the 47th Awujale of Ijebu Ode. He was the one reigning when the British came and defeated us at the Imagbon war. I built a museum where you can have the history of the Ijebus from the reign of my ancestors. The Tunwase Museum was built when I turned 80.”

 

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