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Ojude Oba Festival… Colourful celebraton of rich Ijebu heritage

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Group Chief Executive, FCMB Group Plc, Mr. Ladi Balogun (left) with the Governor of Ogun State, Dr. Dapo Abiodun and Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Adetona, at the 2019 Ojude Oba Festival held at Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State

FCMB Reinstates Commitment To Cultural Promotion
Thought the people of Ijebu Ode joined the entire Muslim community to mark this year’s Eid al-Adha on Sunday, the real celebration was actually on Tuesday, the Ojude Oba Festival. As usual, the entire Ijebuland, Ogun State, was in festive mood as they paid homage to the paramount ruler of Ijebu, Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona, the Awujale of the Ijebu.

With the rate at which the festival is growing, one might not necessarily need to the Oba’s Golden Jubilee Centre to be part of the feast; entertainment is now everywhere. Aside from the locals, who created mini arenas in their frontage, with DJs blasting popular tunes, corporate organisations and blue-chip businesses also organised mini concerts, with artistes performing live on stage.

At the main arena, different Age Grades (Regberegbe) were seated in groups, observing proceedings at the high table where the Awujale sat in company of distinguished guests, including the Alaafin of Oyo Oba Lamidi Adeyemi. Other distinguished sons and daughters of Ijebu such as the founder of FCMB Chief Subomi Balogun were also present.

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Though the 2019 Special Guests of Honour, Chief Adebutu Kessington couldn’t make it in person, he sent in a representative alongside his son and also made a public donation of N20 million. Meanwhile, Ogun State Governor Prince Dapo Abiodu and former governor Gbenga Daniel, were all present to witness the celebration of rich Ijebu culture.

Dressed in flamboyant outfits that distinguished each group from another, they created a colourful ambience, with extreme pomp and pageantry. Not even the rain could stop them from showcasing their rich cultural heritage. And for the people of Ijebu-Ode, who are known for their insatiable love of parties, it was an opportunity to have a once in a year meeting with family and friends.

For regulars, who participate in the colourful feast spiced with music, dance and spectacular horse rides, Ojude Oba has become a major item in the country’s event calendar. Amidst heavy singing, dancing and drumming, each Age Grade (Regberegbe) took turns to pay homage to the paramount ruler of Ijebu-land, by presenting him with different foodstuffs and other items.

Both men and women belonging to different Regberegbe also displayed their dancing prowess.
Particularly, horse riding among the various families (Baloguns) and male/female dance groups were the highpoints of the festival. Amidst intermittent gunshots, the families, riding on beautifully dressed horses, exhibited their horsemanship to the admiration of spectators.

Christmas and Sallah may be the two most popular celebrations in Nigeria, but to an average Ijebu man, there’s nothing compared to the yearly Ojude Oba Festival. The festival, which means in Ijebu dialect means, “the king’s forecourt or frontage,” is a major celebration that began over 100 years ago. It brings together all sons and daughters of Ijebu-land in Nigeria and diaspora for a carnival-like celebration of the traditional, cultural, spiritual accomplishments and other values of the Ijebu nation.

Addressing the gathering, the Awujale warned against what he describes as “politicisation” of the stool after his demise. The 85-year-old monarch, who was installed in 1960, said he did not know whether he would still be alive till next year Ojude-Oba or not, warning that the process of selecting his successor after his demise must not be politicised.

Speaking in Yoruba, the monarch also enjoined the kingmakers to call on God for direction before the selection of his successor, adding, “When I eventually go, please, go for a capable successor.
“Reject any candidate that will put Ijebu Land into retrogression.
“Do not politicise the process of selecting my successor.
“Do not go for people that will draw Ijebu backwards.
“If the next ruling house does not present a viable candidate, please, reject him, and go for the next ruling house with capable candidate.

“Do not go for moneybags that will destroy the achievements Ijebu Land has recorded so far.
“Call on God for direction when picking my successor. Ask God to guide you.”
He added, “My prayer is that Ijebuland will continue to grow from strength to strength.”

Meanwhile, governor Abiodun, who prayed God to spare Awujale’s life till next year’s Ojude-Oba, assured that the state government will do everything possible to uplift the festival.

Meanwhile, FCMB, one of the lead sponsors for the festival, has reiterated its commitment to support activities that promote and add value to Nigeria’s culture and heritage, which are also capable of boosting tourism, trade and the hospitality sector.

In a goodwill message to the Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba (Dr.) Adetona, the Founder of FCMB Group, who is also the Olori Omo-Oba Akile Ijebu, Otunba (Dr) Olasubomi Balogun, expressed his gratitude to the paramount ruler for his selflessness, distinguished and exemplary leadership for the 59 years he has been the paramount ruler of Ijebuland, which makes him one of the longest reigning monarchs in Nigeria.

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In the message delivered on his behalf by the Group Head, Corporate Affairs of the Bank, Mr. Diran Olojo, Otunba Balogun said, “as your children and subjects, the period provides us the platform, and the opportunity to pay you homage in demonstration of our affection for a very special and exceptional Father. As our Paramount Ruler, who has continued to endear himself to us, his people and who by divine grace, renews his strength annually, in unison, all Ijebus say, ‘Kabiyesi k’ade pe l’ori, Ki bata pe l’ese.’ We pray your reign will continue to bring joy, inspire prosperity and engender togetherness in abundance to all of us, your children, the entire Ijebu race, at home and in the Diaspora”. I cannot but sing our famous song, “O ye ka dupe, O ye ka dupe, Ara san, Ategun fe, Iji ja, ko gbe wa lo, O ye ka dupe,” he stated.

Balogun also noted that, “being the Olori Ebi (the head of the family, by the grace of Almighty God), and as your Olori Omo-Oba (the head of princes and princesses), I will continue to lead the way in showing our appreciation to you. As you extend yourself to our people’s different requests and yearnings, I wish to reiterate that the annual paying of homage should not be the only occasion we should show our appreciation. This is because you have consistently earned our affection and our adulation, Kabiyesi.”

In the same vein, the Group Chief Executive of FCMB Group Plc, Mr. Ladi Balogun, congratulated the monarch for upholding the values of Ijebuland and raising the status of the event over the years, adding, “the Ojude Oba Festival is a rallying point to promote the sustainable growth and development of our community. We recognise that celebrating our heritage is an important part of our national identity, a means of educating visitors and future generations about our history and an opportunity to measure our growth, development and sustainability. Hence, for us at FCMB, the Ojude Oba Festival is not just another event. It is a pride to us; being a major platform through which we reaffirm our commitment to the community and promote our nation’s cultural diversity. We will continue to support all activities of the State with focus on the economic and social development. We are committed to the longevity of the Ojude Oba Festival and are proud to be associated with its grandeur.”

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