Folklore, dances as Oba Abolarin celebrates festival of the aged

One of the  evidences which  show  that our pre-colonial society has in-built   traditional system well laid out which took care of the socio and economic well being of all segments of the people  was showcased last Wednesday Oke Ila, Osun State.

It was the day, the Orangun of Oke – Ila, Oba Adedokun Omoniyi Abolarin, Aroyinkeye 1, with glamour, pomp and ceremony gathered the aged in the town inside the Apakimo, the Centre for the Aged and fete them lavishly with sumptuous meals in a convivial environment ever.

This act of Oba Abolarin was in fulfilment of the tradition and culture which was laid down by the progenitors and founders of Oke – Ila Orangun called Ilaka, a regime of paying pension and rewarding the aged in the town.

According to the monarch “In Oke – Ila Orangun, it is our prime tradition to pay pension in our own way to the aged in their old age. The town has evolved a system where those who have devoted their prime time in servicing the society are not only compensated, but paid their pension every year is as old as the town and I have the onerous responsibility of not only sustaining this festival, but showcasing it to the world that we the Yoruba has instituted the act of paying pension to the aged before the Europeans thought of it.”

The tradition which involved the young people going to their farms, bringing out yams and other items for the aged and an act which will be capped by the King hosting the aged in his palace was not only celebrated by Oba Abolarin but enhanced beyond the imagination of the aged.

This year’s celebration was unique and more glamorous as Oba Abolarin invited friends, media and many guests to witness how the people of Oke – Ila   pay pension to their aged traditionally system before the advent of the Europeans and the formal introduction of pension.

Some of these aged were ferried to the Apakimo, the Centre for the Aged, a multi media centre constructed by Oba Abolarin  and equipped with traditional leisure engaging  items, like Ayo Olopon and others with large flat screen television.

Seeing the aged dressed resplendently in their colourful aso ebi (uniform) by the Kabiyesi dancing, and singing the panegyrics and chanting the cognomen of Oba Abolarin was not only thrilling, but captivating.

“Oba Abolarin is doing wonders. Oba Abolarin is performing brilliantly. We feel the impact. His tenure is prosperous. His star and aura push Oke – Ila in the most visible angle of the firmament. He will   reign long and longer than his fore fathers. You will conquer your adversaries and crush your enemies. Welcome again, the great Ajagun Ila!”

The high point of the celebration was the moment the aged rose up and raised their voices in supplication to God and founders of Oke – Ila for the life of the Oba, the prosperity of the town and abundant advancement of every being that runs the blood of Oke – Ila .

The festival brought sparks and ignited vibrancy out of the aged who interacted not only with the kabiyesi and the chiefs led by Obanla, but also with themselves.

“I thank Oba Aroyinkeye for this festival of aged  which has  enabled me to see some of my people who I have not set eyes on  due to some reasons in the last two years despite being in this town,” “an 89 years-old woman said.

Watching them dancing, chatting and relating tales of old, reeling out stories of their time, stoking memories of their youthful days in Oke–Ila in particular was nostalgic and thrilling

“Here in Oke Ila, we did have fun in our own way as dictated by that time. We had the fashion, fads and vogue some of them are resurfacing,” “Baba Obanla revealed.

Oba Abolarin never allowed the reverie of the festivity rubbed off the message necessary for such occasion as he commended the aged for their past efforts at building the town and Oke – Ila society.

“You are the builders of today’s Oke – Ila. The modicum of success and development we have today is your hard work and handwork which is inestimable.  You have done well and still doing well.  Today is your day as my forefathers used to observe it. It is a day to show gratitude to you for your past efforts and to show appreciation for your unrelenting prayers for the town.”

Oba Abolarin praised them for raising children who are not only distinguished, but adding value to Oke – Ila outside the town.

He enjoined them to continue praying for their children and encourage them to come home to invest and contribute   more to the development of Oke – Ila.

The oldest man in Oke – Ila, Pa Owolabi, aged 123 years, who is still prim and proper trekked to the venue as he commended Oba Abolarin for resuscitating and enhancing the Ilaka festival of the aged “the town has been operating on a high pedestal since Oba Abolarin, ascended the throne 10 years ago. Kabiyesi has been using our cultural tourism values in promoting and projecting this town. See how he has injected glamour and fun to project the touristic aspect of   Ilaka Festival.”

Oba Abolarin pointed out that “Our pre colonial society was not only built on trust, honest, but also on humanitarian and social care. It established the necessary institutions and agenda for every segment of the society. When I studied the   Ilaka festival, I realised the ingenuity of our forefathers at taking care of the aged in their own way. I realised the community pension paying system and I feel proud of not only being a monarch but a scion of Oduduwa.”