Ile-Ife, the ancient city synonymous with 201 deities was agog on Saturday as the weeklong activities to celebrate this year’s Olojo climaxed with the wearing of the “Are Crown” by the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi (Ojaja 11), OLUWOLE IGE, who was at the festivals reports the thrills and glamour.
The Olojo festival is one that brings all sons and daughters of Ile-Ife together for a week-long festival to celebrate the gods and cleanse the land from all perceived evils. And this year, the festival was one with a difference; being the first festival that will be anchored by the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi (Ojaja 11)
It is also more glamorous as thousands converged to witness the first appearance of the Ooni in the prestigious Ade Are, which does not come out except once a year, at the culmination of the Olojo festival.
Olojo festival commemorates the descent of Oduduwa, the progenitor of Yoruba land to Ile-Ife and it is historically tied to Ogun, the quintessential deity of iron and truth, who is the father of modern science.
The Yoruba cosmology stated that Ogun charted the way to earth for Oduduwa and other deities and in this perspective, Olojo festival is meant to commemorate the period Oduduwa and other spiritual deities descended on the earth.
Traditionally before the grand finale of any Olojo festival, the Ooni had to undergo certain traditional and spiritual rites, which include seclusion for five days, during which he would commune with his ancestors, the esoteric beings and Almighty God. At this point of the processes, culminating in t he peak of the festival, the monarch would not interact with mortals.
The opening ceremony of this year’s festival followed previous editions line up with the Gbajure which is the carnival procession from Oranmiyan Groove to the toll gate on the Ife-Ibadan Expressway and terminated at the Ooni’s Palace. The procession had the custodians of the festival; Chief Owa Eredunu, Chief Akogun, Chief Okogun, officials of the Ministry of Information, Home Affairs, Tourism and Culture, State Council for Arts and Culture who appeared in various Yoruba costumes as well as diverse cultural groups with thousands of spectators as participants
The procession was led bearing a replica of the Aare Crown which the Ooni wore at the culmination of the festival on Saturday. Activities that took place during the week long festivities include Ayo Olopon traditional game, Yoruba culture entertainment night, festival musical concert, omidan olojo cultural pageant, festival fashion show, Ojo Ilagun, Iwode Ile-Ife (Community Cleansing), Oonirisa terrestrial message to the world, Okemogun day, the Are’s cultural procession and amny other side attractions.
The grand finale of this year’s Olojo festival that took place on Saturday was also entertaining and full of glitz with the Oonirisa ancestral traditional propitiation cultural trade/art exhibition that held yesterday (Monday)
Every activity and procedure moved as expected with Oba Ogunwusi moving into the Iledi on Sunday, October 9, 2016, where he spent five days to emerge from the spiritual solitude last Friday, which was the “Ilagun Day”, dedicated to cleansing with Oonirisa’s terrestrial message to the world.
The earthly symbolic conviviality came up last Saturday, the “Oke Mogun Day” when the Oba Ogunwusi adorned the “Are sacred beaded Crown”. The Are crown, a heavy beautifully adorned crown which the Oonirisa wears once in year during Olojo’ festival cultural procession received great attention when Ooni Ogunwusi stepped out, giving an aura of mystic and dignified ambience.
Investigations revealed that the sacred crown is the only physical symbol of authority the Ooni of Ife inherited from his ancestors, believed to have been made from many items, such as cutlass, hoes and 149 other undisclosed objects that descended from heaven for its formation.
The reigning Ooni must not look inside the crown because any attempt to do so would result in him joining his ancestors. Nigerian Tribune reliably gathered that when the Ooni wear the mysterious crown, he is instantly transfigured into his true nature, “Orisa”, that is a deity whose visage is said to be too dreadful to behold.
However, this year’s Olojo festival was distinct as it was the first one Oba Ogunwusi would be celebrating on the throne as the 51st Ooni of Ife. It was a mixture of tradition, colour and glamour last Saturday as a huge crowd of people from within and outside Ife thronged the palace of Ooni and Enuwa square to witness this year’s festival.
Different socio-cultural groups in Yoruba land, most especially members of Odua Peoples’ Congress (OPC) from Lagos State stormed the ancient city of Ife in buses to participate in the festival.
Amidst pomp and pageantry, crowd of people, including traditional worshippers, natives of Ile-Ife, tourists stormed major streets, most especially Enuwa, Iremo road, Oke’Mogun, Ilare and Oduduwa road, where they struggled to catch the glimpse of Ooni, with the ancient “Are Crown”, which is worn by the monarch once in year.
Ooni, who was crowned and presented with staff of office on the 7th of December, 2015 had performed necessary traditional rites before wearing the crown from his palace to Oke ‘Mogun and Idi-Aje spots, which were critical to the holding of any Olojo festival in Ife.
Before he emerged with the “Are Crown”, Nigerian Tribune reported that the Emeses, otherwise known as palace emissaries performed the roles of Lokoloko, wielding canes to herald the arrival of Ooni in the traditional Are crown.
Oba Ogunwusi, accompanied by mammoth crowd while leaving the palace greeted the Sookoos and also offered prayers to the gods for the peace of Ile-Ife, Osun State, Nigeria and the entire world.
At the frontage of his palace, also offered prayers, before releasing two doves, to symbolise peace and he subsequently proceeded to Oke ‘Mogun shrine, which is a few metres from his palace.
Speaking on the festival, the Adimula of Ife, High Chief Joseph Ijaodola, disclosed that the festival had been in existence for many centuries that he could not ascertained.
According to him, “we witness today and forever in Ile-Ife, landmarks predating the existence of mankind; signaling the establishment of mankind on earth, through the source – Ile-Ife. The festival shows the uniqueness of Ile-Ife as the cradle of the universe. The Olojo festival promises to be a turning point in promoting African culture and business initiatives through Nigeria’s domestic tourism as well as well as further showcasing the image of the Yoruba race as a peace loving people,” Ijaodola remarked
While baring his mind on the role of the Emeses, known as palace emissaries during the festival, the Sarun Adimula of Ife, who is the traditional Aide Camp (ADC) to the Ooni, Chief Yemi Oriowo said “people were very anxious of this year’s Olojo festival because it was the first the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enital Adeyeye Ogunwusi would be celebrating on the throne”.
According to him, “when Olojo festival is about 30 days away, the Emeses would begin necessary preparation, including prayers and rituals. And a day to Ilagun Day, they would invoke the spirits of the past Oonis, who have joined their ancestors. On Oke Mogun Day, the Emeses would perform the role of Lokoloko. They have to stay with Ooni at all times. They would be holding canes in their hands. The canes are not to harm anybody, but to serves as guidance. Some people may come to the palace or near the Ooni with charms or harmful things, the cane would locate such persons and spoil his charms or evil power”, Oriowo asserted.
And for those that witnessed this year’s Olojo festival, the memories will linger till the next edition of the ceremony next year.