The Ooni of Ife, His Imperial Majesty , Oba Adeyeye Enitan Babatunde Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, on Thursday, 23 September, 2016, registered another historical feat on the cultural tourism platform when he gathered prominent Yoruba leaders in business, law, commerce, merchandising and culture to discuss the sociocultural tourism development of the race.
In what was described as “The beginning of a new dawn in the house of Oduduwa “by Prince Julius Adelusi Adeluyi and which was termed ‘Olojo Festival Corporate Forum held at the Eko Hotel $ Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos, Ooni Ogunwusi had the singular honour of hosting Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Chief and Chief (Mrs )Kunle Ojora, Prince Julius Adelusi Adeluyi , Chairman , Julie Pharmacy; Sir Olanihun Ajayi, Gen Alani Akinrinade, Otunba Subomi Balogun, Chief Idowu Sofola, Prince Bola Ajibola, Chief Adebisi Adebutu Kensington, Chief Alex Duduyemi , Alhaji Femi Okunnu, Ambassador Adekanye Adeigba, Chief GOK Ajayi, Prof Adebanji Akintoye, Prof Adeyemi Aderibigbe, Ambassador Omotayo Ogunsulire, Otunba Kenny Martins, Chief Amos Akingba, Mr Dipo Famakinwa, Gbenga Adefaye and others. For hours, they discussed the socio – cultural tourism development of Yoruba race
The event was packaged by Infogem Limited in conjunction with Ile – Ife Cultural Heritage Council as directed by the Ooni Ogunwusi who expressed the belief that the Olojo Festival must be disentangled from the labyrinth of misconception and mystery and exposed on a cosmopolitan platform for global understanding, proper perspective and generational acceptance.
And the spirit of Oduduwa was not only alive but the Yoruba values of punctuality whenever one is on the king’s mission was evidently displayed by all the distinguished Yoruba icons. Yemi Sodimu, the Yoruba scholar, actor and cultural enthusiast beautifully anchored the programme with all sense of modesty, respect to tradition and elders. After the traditional prayers offered by High Chief Adekola Adeyeye , Jaran of Ife .
The sensibilities of the guests were stoked by a documentary on Ile-Ife which ethereally explained how the ancient town was spiritually conceived, planted and spread into the global sphere. The documentary was reinforced by the oral evidence passed by generation to generation in the palace, as revealed by Hon Biyi Odunlade, Secretary, Olojo Festival Advisory Committe.
Hon Odunlade said: “It is the vision of Kabiyesi, Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Babatunde Ogunwusi, that Olojo Festival is a global concern whose celebration must not only be globalised , but must be celebrated with the consciousness of being a festival for all humanity. It is not just a festival for all purposes but a festival to appreciate and acknowledge God for His creative efforts without which we may not be on this sphere of the realm.”
He described the strides of Ooni Ogunwusi in rejuvenating the socio-cultural tourism sector as “phenomenal, transcending entertainment, fulfilling the tradition of and being economically beneficial to the society.“
The guest speaker, Mr Oluremi Funsho Adedayo, a lecturer at Kwara State University, Ilorin, delivered a paper titled: ‘Community festivals: A veritable avenue for boosting domestic tourism.’ He pointed out that for community to benefit from the potentialities of a festival “There must be partnership between the operators of tourism, different stakeholders, shareholders and financial partners who must be in the vanguard of promoting domestic tourism.“
Adedayo, who lamented the dwindling fortunes of Yoruba culture, tradition and mores, urged the prominent Yoruba icons at the occasion to think of a joint action for salvaging the Yoruba pristine cultural heritage from being buried in the soil of time and civilization. He pointed out the importance of community festival like Olojo, saying “a community festival has the capacity of encouraging Nigerians to celebrate their own values, cultural attractions and heritage that can attract investments. It is also passionately promoted and patronised by members of the community because it is seen as a clarion call by sons and daughters of the community to offer economic and social benefits which will promote domestic tourism.”
Adedayo added: “Olojo Festival belongs to Ile Ife community and the entire Yoruba race all over the world as a mark of celebration of the creation of the World and the ancestral throne of authority and empowerment. It is the celebration of the period when Oduduwa and other deities descended on the earth. It is the commemoration of the descent of Oduduwa to Ile Ife which is historically tied to OGUN; the quintessential deity of Iron and Truth. The Yoruba cosmology informs that Ogun charted the way to the earth for Oduduwa thereby acting as the pathfinder for Oduduwa and other deities.”
He said that the steps being taken so far by Ooni Ogunwusi to rejuvenate community festivals and heritages calls for the involvement of the private sector practitioners who need to support the move for symbiotic benefits. He said: “The Olojo festival will be a turning point in the promotion of the cultural values of the Nigerian nation as well as the entire African culture. I will therefore, on behalf of His Imperial Majesty, call on all our intending partners, stakeholders and shareholders, cultural ambassadors, business magnates, corporate entities, government agencies, media gurus, financial and, telecommunication giants, oil and gas magnates and several other important personalities to rally support for this very unique initiative coming from the land of peace, Ile- Ife, Ife Ooye.”
Spicing up the event was a cultural display by three Yoruba young men, including Tayo Conga, who is regarded as the best percussionist in Nigeria and Khalid Ayansina of Beriola fame, who is also regarded as the best chanter and bata dancer in Yoruba land. Khalid opened the show with his sonorous voice, extolled the virtues of the Yoruba people and recited the cognomen of Ooni Ogunwusi, climaxing it with a song which called the attention of all Yoruba to the fact that their virtues, heritage and culture are being eroded and rapidly obliterated from the face of the earth by western civilization, while Tayo Conga displayed his dexterity on the Conga so skillfully that the Ooni Oguwusi could not restrain himself from applauding the two Yoruba culture promoters.
After the brilliant and scintillating show put up by Tayo Conga and Khalid which commanded applause and commendation, Prince Julius Adeluyi rose and gave a goodwill message. He remarked that Ooni Ogunwusi had not stopped convincing and affirming to the world that he was not only God sent, enthroned and planted, but that he had a lot to offer humanity. Prince Adeluyi described the Ooni as a special breed of a royal father who is “tall, young , brilliant, handsome and a visionary who has a clear understanding of his mission and who has been going about this sequentially without missing a point “
He pointed out “This gathering put together by Ooni Ogunwusi is the beginning of a new dawn in the House of Oduduwa. This kind of gathering for communal festival in this form and being attended by eminent and distinguished Yoruba of different professions and callings taking place today under the watchful eye of Ooni Ogunwusi, is a good sign for the Yoruba.”
He commended Ooni Ogunwusi for his vision, foresight and drive to establish a cordial relationship with traditional rulers in Yoruba land. Prince Adeluyi remarked that if this kind of forum had been put in place in times past, maybe Nigeria or the Yoruba would have been saved from many of its present ailments. He pointed out: “It is regrettable that, in the last few years, we have wasted the three Cs. We have made wrong choices and thereby lost the chance of making the nation strong and we are now reaping the consequences.”
Prince Adeluyi pointed out that the Ooni has “raised the cultural tourism profile of the Yoruba race in the comity of nations and we shall not relent in our efforts at supporting him achieving the best in this mission.”
The Ooni, who was impressed by the conglomeration of what could be called Yoruba juggernauts, declared: “This is one of my finest moments since God enthroned me as the Ooni of Ife. And I will forever give glory to Almighty God, the creator and the owner of this day for creating such a day like this to be recorded in the annals of history of the Yoruba. To show how important the day is, I will take a picture with all the elders present here which I will glaze, place in the palace and in all the historical corners in the House of Oduduwa.”
Ooni Ogunwusi urged everyone in the hall to stand up, point to the elders and pray for them. He added that it pleased God almighty to place the destiny of the world in the hands of the elders , thus “we should not only pray for them but celebrate them as well.”He revealed “This is one of the greatest achievements I ever recorded since I mounted the throne. I must confess that I have been having uncomfortable and sleepless nights that there has been no forum by which Yoruba elders meet to discuss matters arising and pending, and to chart clearly identifiable ways for the development of the race.”
Ooni Ogunwusi declared “ I am glad that the creator of Yoruba race, God Almighty, employed the Olojo Festival’s aura and its spirit to bring together Yoruba elders.”
He informed that ‘The Olojo festival Corporate Forum is by the way. The main purpose of today is to gather the elders and celebrate them. We should not leave the celebration only to their children. We must create that forum where they will come together in unity of purpose and set agenda for the race “
Ooni Ogunwusi said that such forum will create opportunity also for the youths to learn from them by understudying how they rise to the top of their chosen endeavours. “There is a disconnect between the elders and the youths. The youths want to make it to the top like the elders without bothering to know the strategy, logic and tactic of getting there. This must stop,” he added. Ooni Ogunwusi prayed for all, thanked the elders for attending the occasion, and commended the youths for being at the Olojo festival corporate Forum. He urged all to join him in Ile Ife and celebrate his first Olojo Festival on the throne. And before the elders receded into the inner room for a meeting, the Obalufe of Iremo quarters, Ile – Ife , Chief Idowu Adediwura, who is the chairman , Festival Advisory Committee, gave the vote of thanks and commended Mr Ayo Olumoko , President, Infogem Limited, for the professional packaging of the event .
He informed all that “We are making all preparations to welcome you all into Ile-Ife, your home for the celebration of the rebranded Olojo Festival which will start on Saturday 8 October 2016 with its grand finale on Sunday 16th October 2016, and close finally for the year on Monday 17 October 2016 when the Oonirisa will do the traditional propitiation.”