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Mr. Olushola Ojo; Chairman, Oronna Ilaro Festival Central Planning Committee, Alhaji Rafiu Akinola; Olu of Ilaro and Paramount ruler of Yewaland, Oba Kehinde Gbadewole Olugbenle; Chief Thomas Ilala; and Chief Yemi Oloyo at the briefing of the festival.

The ancient city of Ilaro, Ogun State, was lighted up yesterday with activities, as sons and daughters of the community, including those in the Diaspora, friends and well wishers came home for the silver jubilee of Oronna Ilaro Festival.

Started in 1993, the festival titled, Festival of Unity, has since taken a new dimension, attracting tourists from different parts of the world, showcasing the culture and history of the Ilaro people, aside from serving as platform to make new friends, bond and network.

This year’s celebration, apart from being earmarked for the silver jubilee, was rebranded to reposition the town as a tourist destination, create avenue for Ilaro descent and other communities around Ilaro living in the Diaspora to trace their roots to Africa and reconnect with their kith an kin back home. It also aimed at growing and developing the town socially and economically.

Speaking on the various advantages of the festival, Oba Kehinde Gbadewole Olugbenle, the Olu of Ilaro and Paramount ruler of Yewaland, disclosed that the origin of the festival dates back to the beginning of Ilaro, shortly after the town was founded by Aro, a brave hunter and farmer from Oyo Ile.

The traditional ruler noted that Oronna’s exploit was great that he was recognised as a super-human and with time assumed a deity figure.

According to the paramount ruler, no enemy dared challenge Ilaro to war, while Oronna was alive and in death he defended Ilaro people.

“Oronna disappeared into the earth following a provocation and leaving the tail of a long chain tied to his waist as exist point from earth. That point of exist is where the famous Oronna Shrine is built and it is now a tourist centre in Ogun State,” he said.

Oba Olugbenle called on lawmakers to give traditional rulers more roles that would enable them liaise with people in the Diaspora, saying current law would not make it possible for him to take the festival beyond the level it is without the intervention of the state governor. He noted that assigning such roles to them would further make them to influence Nigerians in the Diaspora to come and invest.

The Olu of Ilaro said there are lots of historical and natural resources to harness in Ilaro, stressing that Yewa River among others are still in their natural state and need to be explored for tourism and economic benefits.

The chairman of Oronna Ilaro Festival Central Planning Committee, Alhaji Rafiu Akinola, highlighted some of the programmes planned for the day to include, carnival/road show, masquerade display, secondary school and artisans football match, efe night, oosu/apara night, visit to less privileged homes, free Medicare, sisi Ilaro cultural pageant, royal dinner and others.

He noted that the Governor of Ogun State, Ibikunle Amosun; the Minister of Information and culture, Alhaji Lai Muhammed; the Group Executive Director, Dangote Cement, Plc., Chief Edwin Victor Devakuma, among others will grace the grand finale on Saturday 17.


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