Day Ifa priests gathered in Osogbo for Ogbeyonu festival

The 2016 edition of the annual Ogbeyonu festival has come and gone leaving a sweet memory in the minds of attendees from different parts of the country particularly the South-West. TUNDE BUSARI reports.

In their calendar, the ifa priests and their devotees in Yorubaland have marked the month of September as that the Araba Awo of Osogboland, Ifayemi Elebuibon’s holds and celebrates his Ogbeyonu festival.

Ogbeyonu is a weeklong festival consisting activities such as assemblage of Ifa priests, offering to Elegbara, invocation of 16 odu, homage to ancestors at Oluode Aturuku, exhibition of Elebuibon works, Ifa divination as well as music and dance for Orisa Ibeji.

Held in Elebuibon compound known as House of Culture and situated at off Osogbo-Ikirun road, the annual festival usually attracts a good number of Yoruba culture enthusiasts from far and near.

Even though nature was expressing its supremacy with the intermittent rain pouring on the venue, the event went uninterrupted. Elebuibon, seated amidst his aides, began to receive guests as early as the day broke.

Cladding simple white apparel in a clean shaven face, the Araba looked complimentarily different from the heavily bearded old man his former look painted.

Women from presumably from a contracted catering service were busy preparing food and serving the guests who kept entering the compound.

Remarkably, some uninvited guests but who appreciate Yoruba culture, also found their way to the venue and got enough of what they had expected, in terms of watching big names in politics and business strolling into the Elebuibon’s compound to feast with him.

ogbeyonu-festival2“I have come around to celebrate with Baba even though he does not know me. Attending this event is an opportunity for some of us who have only heard about his name to see him. He looks young than the person we used to see on television. I can see him differently now. I have not seen any fetish thing since I have come here. He is such a gentle man,” a young man who gave his name as Sola said.

Traditional performances of dancers and masquerade featured at the event. Guests also enjoyed a variety of Elebuibon musicals which sound pervaded the whole space to the excitement of all.

Dignitaries in attendance at Ogbeyonu included the representative of the Governor of the State of Osun, Honourable Sikiru Ayedun. Ayedun is former Commissioner for Home Affairs, Tourism and Culture.

Others included the Olowu of Kuta, Oba Adekunle Oyelude Makama, former Commissioner of Information and Strategy, Honourable Sunday Akere, the Are Latoosa of Ibadan Land Chief Adegboyega Maninuori

The Oba Oyelude Makama described Ogbeyonu festival as Elebuibon’s annual obligation to his root as a credible Ifa priest. He said the Araba Awo had proved to be an enigma in his depth and widespread acceptance as Ifa promoter.

Affirming his faith in the significance of Ifa in decoding vital issues in Yoruba culture, Oba Makama regretted the propaganda which has, over the years, diminished the value of African Traditional Religions in the contemporary society, describing it as injustice to the memory of Yoruba forefathers.

“It is not fair to criminalise our culture which encompasses our traditional religion. I am speaking as a traditional ruler who is naturally the custodian of custom. But I am always happy that we still have credible men like Araba Elebuibon who is now interestingly converting whites to our traditional religion. The record is there for all to see. I follow his exploits in the US and other parts of the world where he is accorded great respect,” he said.

Former President of Osogbo Progressive Union (OPU), Alhaji Ajadi Badmus, who also made a brief appearance at the event, eulogized Elebuibon as culture ambassador of Osogbo nay Nigeria. Badmus said Elebuibon’s consistency has earned him his personal respect having worked with him at Osogbo Heritage Council. Chief Elebuibon, in Badmus’s lens, is a trustworthy man who does not pretend or compromise his faith under any circumstance.

“Osogbo is a predominant Muslim town, yet Elebuibon remains himself and devotes all his time in promoting his faith and relating freely with adherents of other religion. He is peace-loving man and a blessing to Osogbo for remaining at the limelight for so many years for positive reason,” he said.

The Araba used the 2016 edition of Ogbeyonu to educate the people on the need to accept God as the only determinant of who is honoured as chief.

He said chieftaincy is an integral part of Yoruba culture, which is not compromised, hence dispute arising from succession. Elebuibon, therefore stated that no one becomes chief unless he is ordained by supreme being.

“Title should never be bought with money. It is only an unreliable and irresponsible individuals who would bribe his way to become a chief. One must have all the required criteria before he/she is considered a chief. It is only after rites and ceremonies are conducted that a person be referred to as a chief,” he said.