Ogidi Day: Using culture as vehicle for development
The Ogidi Day celebration, a cultural festival of Ogidi people of Kogi State has continued to draw both local and foreign participation. The cultural fiesta, which started in 2007, has become a rallying point for the people and has attracted development to their area, as well as boost the economy.
Once again on June 15, 2019, the people of Ogidi and their well-wishers gathered to celebrate the ancient festival.
Ogidi is an ancient community in Ijumu Local Government of Kogi State. They are Okun Yorubas. The Guardian gathered that traditionally, Ogidi people were stone worshippers, due to the many mountains and caves in the area, which they relied on to ward off invaders.
However, they were said to have accepted Islam through peaceful means, trade and interaction, while Christianity came later with British colonisation.
The area has a mixture of forest and Savannah. Coffee, cocoa, cassava, cashew, yam, maize, sweet potato, groundnut and kolanut are some of the popular produce grown in the area.
Speaking during the 2019 edition of Ogidi Day, the community’s Paramount ruler, His Royal Highness, Oba Rafiu Oladimeji Sule, the Ologidi of Ogidi, called on the people to continue supporting the land’s culture and tradition, as it is only through this the place could develop and enjoy peace. He said as the custodian of the land’s tradition, he has tried to maintain peace in the community.
Also, the National president of Ogidi Development Union (ODU), Kayode Eniolorunda, said Ogidi Day had become an enduring institution the elites were proud of.
He said: “It stands tall as a symbol of our unity. It has and will forever remain so. We, therefore, urge everybody to join hands with us to keep strengthening the institution to an enviable and endurable height. To this end, I earnestly request some of us still outside, who believe they are elites, to please come on board for the sake of this day, which we have painstakingly nurture without prejudice to individual or collective aspiration.
“However, it should be reiterated that the institution couldn’t and shall never be compromised or sacrificed on the altar of clannish, religion, ego or some other consideration…”
He paid glowing tributes to Mr. Tunde Ipinmesho, ODU’s pioneer President, and expressed confidence that the legacy he left behind would last forever.
A visiting traditional ruler, the Ohimege Igu of Kotonkarfi, Alhaji Abdulrazaq Isah-koto, enjoined the people to jealously preserve their rich cultural heritage.
He said: “Sincerely, what I have seen here today is spectacular, even by world standard. There is noting like this anywhere in the country, most especially now that tourism is attracting a lot of patronage. I want to encourage Ogidi sons and daughters of Ogidi to bear in mind that this is what they have, and as such, they should protect it, nurture and preserve it for children yet unborn. We must not do anything that will impede the culture’s progress. We should encourage all kingdoms that this platform, which is not only about Yam Festival, but also about the Ogidi people is the way to go…”
The elated Netherland Ambassador to Nigeria, Marion Kappeyne, promised her country’s support in the development of Agriculture in Ogidi.
She said Netherland, being a specialist in the area of agriculture, would like to invest in Ogidi’s agricultural development to boost food security, as well as create wealth and employment for youths.
She explained that her country would also be interested in the development of windmill, what with the abundance of wind in the community, just like Netherland.
She said: “Coming here, I saw very rich green field that will be suitable for agriculture. My country is a specialist in the field of agriculture and we want to help this community put the land to use in the area of agriculture to develop it and the country.”
She thanked Chief (Mrs.) Nike Okundaye for her interest in the promotion of Ogidi’s rich cultural heritage and the privilege offered her to witness the event.
Chief Nike Okundaye is the Yeyeoba of Ogidi community and the proprietress of Nike Art Gallery in Lekki, Lagos.
Kappeyne continued: “What I’m seeing here today is very special. Ogidi people have a very rich culture, and they are expressing it and teaching it. Chief Nike has been doing a wonderful job of keeping the culture and encouraging younger people to keep it. I will return to my country and tell them how things are going on here, so that many of them can come to see your rich and super culture.”
She maintained that one of the functions of culture is preservation of pride, which Ogidi sons and daughters have displayed annually.
Ogidi Day is also used for new yam presentation to communities and conferment of awards on deserving individuals.
Among those awarded this year was a veteran journalist, Ambassador Wale Ojo Lanre, who is the Director General, Ekiti State Art and Culture.
After receiving his award, Ambassador Lanre said it was his third time of attending Ogidi Day, noting that Ogidi is the most formidable in the country, when it comes to embracing and preserving culture.
“I came all the way from Ibadan to celebrate this festival, which shows that the occasion means a lot to me. The way the day is celebrated is unique and stylish. It has been branded to attract people from outside the state.
“You can see that some families came all the way from Abuja to enjoy the festival, and even Ogidi people living abroad come home for the celebration. The festival has become a source of empowerment and an investment, because the organisers have been using the event to develop the community.
“Ogidi Day is about development, networking and a very simple way to promote brotherhood. The government should encourage this type of festival by rehabilitating the road. The road from Kabba to the community is very bad…”
Also, Rachael Moji Balogun, National President of Ogidi Students Union, said as an educational and humanitarian organisation, ODU had relentlessly pursued the philosophy of peace, oneness and unity in a violence free environment for achieving set goals.
She said: “It is a matter of pride that ODU has spread love for one’s culture across the community through its diverse humanitarian projects on sustainable rural development, women empowerment, particularly through the Nike Art Gallery and education for all.
“The occasion of this Festival is known for demonstrating cultural norms and traditions of Ogidi people. It also offers opportunity for eminent world leaders from different socio/political and business fields to come together to celebrate Ogidi’s rich cultural heritage…”