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OJUDE OBA: Festival of colours, glamour

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OJUDE OBA: Festival of colours, glamour

The Yoruba people are known to be the life of any party. This is why they usually go all out in their full regalia and element when it comes to celebrating any event. 

At the just concluded OJude Oba festival held at Ijebu Ode, Ogun State, anyone who is familiar with the event or was at the venue could tell that the Ijebu extraction of the Yoruba race will always add more than colour to any event.

Men and women appeared in beauty, colours, glamour, and, splendour to celebrate the age-long festival after a two years disruption by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Defying the rain, women with babies strapped to their backs, children joyfully holding family flags, and men riding horses danced joyously under the rain as they match to pay homage to the Awujale. 

Coming from the Middle belt part of Nigeria and experiencing the festival for the first time I could tell and feel how happy the people were from the joy on their faces and the happiness all over the air. 

From the colours to the horses, to the sound of the local guns, the songs, and the beautiful display of wealth, even the rain could not stop them from celebrating the return of the age-long festival.

The Ojude Oba festival is an ancient annual festival usually celebrated on the third day after Eid al-Kabir. The people, from all works of life both at home and in the diaspora, come together to show respect and pay homage to the Awujale of Ijebu land.

The festival allows for the Ijebu people to reaffirm their loyalty and allegiance to Awujale. As a sign of respect for the king, the different age grades and families bring gifts to the Awujale as a way of thanksgiving and support. 

No one is left out on the day of the festival. Men, women, and children both young and old come out dressed in beautiful and colourful attires for the celebration. The atmosphere could be likened to the joy that comes with Christmas. 

The Olori Omo Oba (head of princes) in Ijebu land Otunba Subomi Balogun, who went down memory lane at the festival told newsmen that the Ojude Oba come way back from the colonial era. He said the festival began during the time of his ancestors.

“The Ojude Oba started during the reign of my ancestors, Oba Adesumbo Tunwase, who was the Oba during the reign of the British colonialists. Oba Tunwase allowed the Christians to come and preach in Ijebuland, and even before then, he had allowed the Muslims to also come into the town.

“So in appreciation of the king’s benevolence, the Muslims started going to greet the king after the Ileya festival, and the Christians also joined immediately.”

He also added that before the coming of Islam and Christianity, the Ijebu people were mainly traditional worshippers. However, Islam came to Ijebu before Christianity did. “When Oba Tunwase, my ancestor, my mother’s great grandfather, was on the throne, the British missionaries came to Ijebu and asked for his permission to preach the gospel, and he gave them the go-ahead.

“They also asked to baptise the people and he allowed them. But before then, the Muslim religion had come into Ijebu Ode, maybe through the North. The Muslim religion came first, and not long, Christianity followed. 

“Before then, the Ijebu people were mainly traditional religion worshippers. Therefore, Ojude Oba started when Muslims and Christians began going to Oba Tunwase’s forecourt to appreciate him for his kindness,” he said.

 However, according to a 2015 article by one AbdulGafar Olawale Fahm of the department of Religion, University of Ilorin, on the history of the Ojude Oba festival, it said the festival has been in existence for more than 100 years. 

Oral history has it that the festival began when one of the prominent men in the village accepted Islam and gathered his family and friends to pay homage to the king. 

“Ojude Oba which means, “The king’s fore-court or frontage,” could also be translated as “majestic outing.” The Ojude Oba festival in Ijebu Ode is known to the Ijebus as a major festival that brings them together. The native age groups (reg-beregbe), indigenes, their friends, and, associates from far and near throng the palace of the Awujale of Ijebuland for the carnival-like celebration. 

“The festival is celebrated on the third day after Id-El-Kabir. Ojude Oba is one of the most glamorous cultural and spiritual festivals in Ijebuland and Ogun State in general. This is a celebration that has traditional, cultural, religious, social, and, military significance. It has been celebrated for more than 100 years.

beregbe), indigenes, their friends, and associates from far near throng the palace of the Awujale of Ijebuland for the 

“According to oral historical accounts, the festival began when Balogun Kuku, one of the leading personalities in the community accepted Islam. He decided to gather his friends, families, and well-wishers to pay homage to the king for allowing them to practice their religion peacefully (Balogun Kuku, n.d).  

“In another account, the festival was said to have started when Imam Tunwatoba led his friends and family members to pay homage to his friend, who was also the Awujale of Ijebuland Oba Fidipote during the Eid-I-Adha festival.

beregbe), indigenes, their friends, and associates from far and near throng the palace of the Awujale of Ijebuland for the carnival-like celebration. The festival is celebrated on the third day after Id-El-Kabir. Ojude Oba is one of the most glamorous cultural and spiritual festivals in Ijebuland and Ogun State in general. This is a celebration that has traditional, cultural, religious, social, and military significance. It has been celebrated for more than 100 years.

“Imam Tunwatoba thanked the king for being instrumental to the freedom enjoyed by the Muslims in the community to practice their faith in a peaceful atmosphere (Babatunde, 2007). They prayed for the monarch to enjoy a long life, and good health, and for the progress and prosperity of Ijebuland. Since then, what began as a visit has grown in leaps and bound to assume the status of a flagship cultural festival.”

Since the festival is about paying homage and respect to the king, many brands and organisation see it as an opportunity to pay homage to the king and also express their support for his reign by being part of the sponsors of the event.

Author: Kangmwa Gofwen

Lagos Bureau Chief, Nigeria

gofwenjoy@gmail.com

 

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