By Anote Ajeluorou
The Ooni of the ancient city of Ile-Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade and his illustrious Ile-Ife subjects are preparing to celebrate the historic exploits of their fourth monarch, Oranmiyan, whose warlike and expansionist exploits saw the Yoruba race spreading its influence far and wide. Ile-Ife is the spiritual and founding home of the Yoruba race.
Festival consultants, Flabsy Travel and Tours Ltd, stated at the Ooni’s palace last week that besides fostering unity among Yorubas worldwide in promoting the noble virtues of the revered Oranmiyan, the festival would also promote Yoruba traditional drumming through a contest.
The festival, which will hold from September 26 – 28, 2013 will be supported by Nigerian Bottling Company, makers of Coca Cola Coke; Grand Oak Ltd, makers of Seamans Schnapps, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Vita Foam and WABP Publishers.
Through Oranmiyan Festival, Lawrence Omidiora and Abiodun Olabampe of Flabsy Travels and Tours Ltd are hoping to market the historical artifacts associated with the legendary Oranmiyan and Ile-Ife. Such artifacts include Oranmiyan Staff located in his grave site, his sword and calabash of divination, which must confer legitimacy on any would-be Alaafin of Oyo before he takes office, and his shield located at Alasa compound at Iremo, Ife. According to Obalufe of Ile-Ife, Oba S.F. Omisakin, Oranmiyan was the only Ooni, who crowned two of his sons, Eweka and Ajaka in two kingdoms –Benin and Oyo and was later crowned the fourth Ooni of Ife.
Festival Consultants stated, “Ife is a great legacy; it’s a sacred name, and all of us must preserve and protect its history. Ife, what a name! What a glorious heritage! May we all be worthy of her illustrious history and her great tradition. Peace within her gates and prosperity within her palaces.
“Flabsy Travel and Tours is a tourism promotional company. We are concerned about people, their comfort, movements and the places they visit for relaxation, education, enlightenment and so on. We market historical sites like the Oranmiyan Staff, which history has brought us together to celebrate today.
“We have come as an organisation to inform you that our Kabiyesi, the Alayeluwa, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, Olubuse II, Ooni of Ile - Ife, the source, has mandated us to promote and let the world know that a legend, Oranmiyan deserves to be celebrated because he expanded the Yoruba dynasties from Oyo to Benin and so on.
“The mission of Oba Sijuwade is to foster unity among the Yoruba dynasties. According to him, our histories are supposed to be unifying factors and should not divide Yoruba people. Hence the Oranmyan Festival should be a bond for all and project our cultural diversity as derivable from a source and for a purpose ordained by Olodumare. Therefore, Yoruba dynasties and the people are one and should be seen as one totally committed to the sustenance of our cultural values.
“Oba Sijuwade’s vision is to see a united Yoruba nation through her history”.
They paid tribute to the chiefs in attendance and the government of Osun State, and sued for their support for a successful festival, noting, “Our royal fathers, we are here because you are there. The festival is your festival. You are the owners of this land. We are to support you and make you happy that our heritage for which you are the custodians is sustained and celebrated.
“We are short of words to describe the heart warming disposition of the government of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola when we raised the idea of celebrating Oranmiyan Festival as a traditional festival in Ife. We are encouraged in a government that is bestowed with wisdom to develop the culture of its people”.
Chairman of the event, Chief Bashir Awotorebo, commended Flabsy for the festival initiative and said Oranmiyan isn’t a religious deity or a political affair, but a cultural hero. He added that Ile-Ife is the cultural capital of all Yoruba and that Oranmiyan the legend of Ile-Ife culture, a man who was always in the forefront of war, saying, “Flabsy is in the right perspective that Oranmiyan should be celebrated. There should be Ife Cultural Week to really bring to the fore the rich culture of Ife”.
Among the highlights of the festival will be a drumming competition, with King Sunny Ade and Jimi Solanke as jury members. All intending competitors are to pick up forms for free at the Ooni’s palace. The three-day festival would also have a showcase of cultural artefacts and objects of Yoruba origin. It will see the Ooni visiting Oranmiyan Staff and other historical sites, with the keepers of Oranmiyan war paraphernalia also paying homage to the Ooni in his palace.
Guests at the palace got firsthand treatment of the coming contest, with the Alagbon body drummers and dancers and Osirigi gong drummers also serenading the royal palace with their foot-stamping and sonorous beats.
Chiefs present at the briefing were Oba Akiyele, Chief Owoyomi, Chief Akindoyin, Prof. Adewusi, Hon. Lekan Omidiora, Mr. Funmilola Olorunsola among others.