The splendor of Ojude Oba festival

Ojude Oba festival
Ojude Oba festival

Regular visitors to the Ojude Oba festival were not disappointed at the 2018 edition. It was a cultural extravaganza wrapped in the grandeur of a king’s ball, the glamour of a fashion fair and the thrill of a durbar. The verdict: The epic Ijebu festival lived up to its billings.

On this day, as it is the tradition, patriotic Ijebu sons and daughters paid their annual homage and renewed their pledge of loyalty to the paramount ruler, the Awujale of Ijebu Kingdom, Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona.

The yearly fiesta, which traditionally holds on the third day of Eid el-Kabir came up on Thursday, August 23 at the King’s Pavilion in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State. On a day drenched in drizzles, the significance of the fête was acutely highlighted, as a rallying occasion for the Ijebu nation and a festivity that transcend religion and politics.

Ojude Oba festival
Ojude Oba festival

As a major festival, Ojude Oba (“the king’s forecourt”) is over 100 years old. It has evolved into carnival-like celebration of the traditional, cultural, spiritual accomplishments and other values of the Ijebu nation. A cultural synod of the Ijebu descendants in Nigeria and diaspora, the one-day fiesta features various age groups (known as Regberegbe), indigenes, friends and associates from far and near, finely garbed, who throng the palace of the paramount ruler of Ijebuland to pay homage to him.

As a cultural festival, Ojude Oba is one of its kinds––one of the finest example of a cultural practice that has transcended time to fit snugly into modernity. It is also a platform for the Ijebu illustrious people to showcase their industry and fashion sense.

This festival, themed, “Celebration of Rich Cultural Heritage”, got underway at 9:38 am with the recitation of the national anthem, followed by Ogun and Ijebu anthems. March past, starting promptly by 10 am, was kickstarted by the male Bobagunwa group. Male age grades and their female counterparts took a turn to file out, dancing to music coming from Musiliu Ishola and made their way to the King’s side of the pavilion where they present their gift, prayers and pledges to their king.

The second aspect of the festival, the display of horse riding by the Balogun (warlord) families, revved up the festivity. The mock war added a rodeo effect to the day. While it lasted, the air reverberated with gunshot and the atmosphere was peppered with gunpowder. A banner-waving frenzy was accompanied with an adrenalin-pumping horse-riding display.

Those at the venue had a glimpse of the cream of the society. Eminent politicians graced the 2018 celebration. The Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, the special guest of the occasion, came with an entourage that included Senators Ben-Murray Bruce, Dino Melaye, Shaaba Lafiagi and Buruji Kashamu.

In keeping with tradition and trends, the groups presented themselves in the finest of raiments. If there is anything like “Ijebu haute couture,” that is what is showcased at the Ojude Oba –– a tapestry of sartorial elegance made out of a mosaic of ofi, damask, etu and other types of fabric.

In keeping with tradition and trends, the groups presented themselves in the finest of raiments. If there is anything like “Ijebu haute couture,” that is what is showcased at the Ojude Oba –– a tapestry of sartorial elegance made out of a mosaic of ofi, damask, etu and other types of fabric.

They did not appear before the king empty-handed. They came bearing gifts.

Ojude Oba is a festival staunchly supported by corporate organisations. First City Monument Bank (FCMB) is one of the pillars of the epic festival. As a major sponsor, the financial institution continued to play a significant role in ensuring its success. This year, it played a yeoman part and brought smiles to the faces of participants. Its founder, Otunba Michael Olasubomi Balogun ––the Otunba Tunwase and Olori Omo-Oba of Ijebuland––is not just a son of the soil. He is an active participant at the yearly fete.

Of its significance, Otunba Balogun explained that the festival provides the children and subjects of the Awujale the opportunity to gather and “pay homage and demonstrate their affection for a very unique monarch,” who is not just the paramount ruler of the Ijebu kingdom but also a father figure that has endeared himself to his people.

Ojude Oba is about renewing the pledge. One can take a cue from Otunba Balogun’s goodwill message to the Awujale: “Apart from being the Olori Ebi (the head of the family), as your Olori Omo-Oba (the head of princes and princesses), I will continue to lead the way in showing our appreciation by being very close to you and showing my total loyalty to you.”

At the end of the day, the “swag show” at the king’s forecourt is a competition among age grades. And the winner is: The female group, Bobamoyegun Obinrin Asiwaju. The male group Bobagunte Omooba and the female counterpart Bobagunte Obirin Gold were first and second runners-up respectively.

In the horse-riding categories, the Kuku family came first, followed by Balogun Shoye and Balogun Odunuga families.

On what has become informally known as their “National Day”, the Ijebu did not disappoint. Again, they proved the point. They are a people uphold and revel in their culture and tradition.

As noted by the Group Chief Executive of FCMB Group Plc, Ladi Balogun: “For all true sons and daughters Ijebuland, the Ojude Oba Festival is more than an event for us. It has become a long-standing yearly tradition we look we look forward to as a unifying platform and tourist attraction.”

Now internationally acclaimed, Ojude Oba has become a vehicle for the promotion of the people’s cultural heritage. The Ijebu collective recognized it, according to Balogun, as a “catalyst of cultural diversity and a guarantee of sustainable development.”

The occasion was colourful. Picturesque. It was a day for picture-perfect photos. The merriment, however, did not end with the pomp at the king’s pavilion. On Oju-Oba day, the city of Ijebu-Ode is a bubbly cauldron of merriment. As they filed out of the Oba Sikiru Adetona Golden Jubilee Centre, they headed home to commence the real partying.


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