Tourism stakeholders laud Ojude Oba cultural essence

Advise organisers to make festival global

Frontline tourism experts and international marketing consultants have lauded the intensity and quality outing of the 2019 edition of the Ojude Oba festival, describing it as one of the most colourful cultural festivals in Africa, which holds a premium position in terms of richness that can boost international tourists’ arrival, not only to Ogun State, but also to Nigeria.

The national president, Institute of Tourism Professionals and vice president, Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN), Chief Abiodun Odusanwo, and chairman, Infogem limited and vice president, South-West Zone Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN), Otunba Ayo Olumoko, gave the commendation while speaking to Travelpulse&MICE at the venue of the festival.

According to Chief Odusanwo “Ojude Oba festival is actually getting better because if you look at it in terms of culture, it is becoming highly relevant, looking at the array of attires being worn by the male and female age groups. It projects the real Yoruba culture.

“Ojude Oba showcases very rich cultural wears which have been forgotten, and this is a way of preserving and promoting the cultural essence of Yoruba’s revered attires.

“The beautiful attires you see at the Ojude Oba yearly are not things you see or wear to the office on a daily basis, and this festival has created ample opportunities for people of all ages to see and relate with the people’s cultural pride.”

Speaking on the economic value of Ojude Oba festival, Odusanwo said the beauty of the age grade (Regberegbe) is that it brings people of different ages to the festival, which also contributes immensely to the value chain of tourism and translates to economic gains for those operating in the value chain.

“The hotels are filled up; taxi drivers and motorbike riders have a big chunk of the dividend of the festival, among other allied tourism operators.

On what to do to increase international tourists’ arrival, Chief Odusanwo explained “the way to actually do that without losing the cultural relevance of the festival is by inviting the diaspora and other cultural blend (like Brazil and other places where we have Yoruba). We can create a space for them to also have their procession and even invite other state to be part of the event and also have their own display at the festival.

“Again we should also know that it is not a carnival like the Rio, but a cultural festival that has its unique cultural content and pride of the people.”

Also, the chairman, Infogem Limited and vice president, South-West Zone Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN), Otunba Ayo Olumoko, said the festival is a peculiar fiesta strictly for the Ijebu people.

“This Festival is widely and generally commemorated in all towns and villages in Ijebu land. Though celebrated three days after the Muslims’ Ileya festival, it draws its participants from three tiers of religious believers in Nigeria: Christians, Muslims and the African traditional religions.

“Culturally, it brings back the rich memories of the people’s cultural pride and pageantry. The age groups and baloguns (traditional war lords) display their horse ridding dexterity to the admiration of commemorators, guests and friends who visit Ijebu Ode for the festival.”

Speaking on the economic values of the fiesta, Chief Olumoko said economically the festival is inestimable as there is a lot of selling and buying of foods, drinks and artefacts at the festival ground and within the cities. The hotels are fully patronised and pockets of entertainment dot the streets in celebration of the festival.

“To make the festival global, may I use this opportunity to advise the organisers to make room for other tourism-oriented friendly nations like Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and so on to showcase their country’s cultural pride at the presence of the Awujale, just as Iku Babayeye did with the burning fire Egungun (masquerade) performances at the 2019 edition of Ojude Oba festival. Ditto other Nigerian invited communities.”

The sponsorship dynamics of the Ojude Oba festival is unique as different categories of sponsors are accommodated with designated leveraging sections, whilst the main arena is exclusively for the major corporate sponsors.

“FCMB has shown its passion for cultural projection for an upward of 15 years with Osun Osogbo Festival and 10 years with, of course, Ojude Oba festival. These unprecedented corporate social responsibility support is worthwhile, Olumoko added.

In its brand capacity, the First City Monument Bank (FCMB) Limited’s support has continued to get stronger, as the bank came out in its colour and style to support the 2019 edition.

Apart from FCMB’s CSR agenda which focuses on poverty alleviation, empowerment and environmental sustainability, the bank has passionately continued to give promotion of culture the relevance it deserves.

Standing by its firm promise to always identify with the celebration of Ojude Oba the founder of FCMB Group who is also the the Olori Omo-Oba Akile Ijebu, Otunba  Michael Olasubomi Balogun, this year also renewed his commitment to support activities that promote and add value to Nigeria’s culture and heritage which are also capable of boosting tourism and other non-oil sectors in line with the Federal Government’s ongoing drive to diversify the country’s economy.

According to the bank, this is the rationale behind its decade-long support for the annual Ojude Oba festival, a carnival-like celebration of the traditional, cultural, spiritual, economic and other accomplishments of the people of Ijebuland in Ogun State.

“We believe that the communities in which we operate should benefit from our presence. We operate an inclusive strategy and, therefore, encourage our employees to volunteer towards community activities that align with our CSR pillars.

“In practice, our philosophy is about our commitment to the wellbeing of our employees and key stakeholders. We are committed to building long-term relationships with our customers, partners, governments and communities and contributing to their sustainable development,” said Balogun.