At about 2pm on July 8, the Osun Osogbo 2014 programme unveiling took off on a high note when Managing Director, Infogem Nigeria Limited and Chief Festival Consultant for Osun Osogbo, Ayo Olumoko, picked the microphone to welcome guests, royalty, artistes, corporate representatives and members of the media at the corporate forum heralding the festival this year at Eko Hotels and conference Centre, Lagos.
Remarkably, the arrival of the Ataoja of Osogbo, Oba Jimoh Oyetunji Olanipekun and his entourage, comprising his Olori and High Chiefs, added colour to the programme.
Speaking, Oba Jimoh Oyetunji, said the Osun Osogbo Festival had continued to grow bigger each year with new programmes and exciting events being added every year.
“And this year, it is definitely going to be bigger in terms of attendance, packaging, sponsorship and others for the year 2014. I can tell you that there are many indications for this assertion. For instance, in my travelling around the world in recent times, I have met people who told me they would be coming for this year’s edition of the festival,” Oba Oyetunji said.
Emphasising the enthusiasm with which some of the Africans in the Diaspora speak concerning the Osun Osogbo festival, the traditional ruler added that “some people even showed me a river they intend to refer to as their own Osun River but I was frank enough to let them know that Osun cannot have a duplicate anywhere in the world as only the Ataoja and top chiefs know what the festival entails each year and the spiritual process that goes with it which can only happen in Osun.”
Hon. Ladi Soyede, special adviser to Governor Rauf Aregbesola on Tourism and Culture, said the renaissance of Yoruba culture remains a priority of the Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola administration in a way that encourages industry and expertise in combination with a celebration of culture.
Soyede said: “Solid progress has been made in this regard in the past three years and has culminated in Osun Osogbo Festival becoming the biggest festival in Nigeria. From our records, the 2013 edition of the festival recorded 21,713 domestic tourists including 123 international tourists while Abuja Carnival 2013 recorded 19,015 domestic tourists and 113 international tourists.”
According to him, activities being promoted by the Government of Osun and which are aimed at promoting and enlarging the scope of the festival include the Tourism Ambassadors programme, Osun Osogbo festival trade fair, festival marathon walk, festival concert and the Osun Osogbo food festival.
Earlier, the festival coordinator and Asoju Oba Gbodofon of Osogbo, said: “All forms of socio-cultural developments have some attributes of celebration and thanksgiving to the almighty God. Festivals are, therefore, regarded as important socio-cultural means of supplications to the Supreme Being, at most times though His intermediaries according to individual beliefs.
Consequently, the month of August of every year has become a unique month among the people of Osogboland. It is the month of celebration, traditional cleansing of the city and cultural reunion of the people with their great ancestors and founders of the Osogbo kingdom. The celebration of Osun Osogbo Festival is a period of stocktaking and assemblage of all sons and daughters of Osogboland and most especially Yoruba-speaking people both in Nigeria and Disapora.”
Listing pre-festival events as including a corporate forum, Iwopopo (traditional cleansing of the city), Ataoja Football Challenge, festival musical concert, Ataoja Golf competition at Miccom Golf Resort, festival art exhibition and others, organisers announced other events for the week-long festival finale.
Billed to begin on Monday, August 18 and ending on Saturday, August 23, events to be part of the grand finale include Iboriade (Ataoja’s crown assemblage); Arugba’s berth/Association of Nigerian Thearte Practitioners performance night; Susanne Wenger’s sacred colloquim; closing of festival art exhibition; Osun Children cultural fiesta; HIV/AIDS promotional campaign and Sisi Osun cultural pageant. Others are the Osun Osogbo Festival procession and Ataoja’s invitational reception as well as Osun Trade Fair.
Olumoko who also spoke at the event, said the essence of the festival is now very visible as he urged corporate organisations to partner with the Osogbo traditional stool and State Government of Osun towards celebrating Osun Osogbo even more
The quality of the activities put together to whet the appetite of the guests and make the grand finale of the festival a must watch.
The 15-minute display by a cultural dance group practically electrified the hall. The group, made up of delectable ladies with enchanting voices brought out the best in African dance.
Representatives of the sponsoring corporate organisations whose presence were felt by all include Nigerian Breweries Plc, MTN, Kasapreko, makers of Alomo Bitters and Seamanship Schnapps.
For the second year running, Goldberg Lager Beer, brewed by Nigerian Breweries, has been adopted as the Official Beer of the Osun Oshogbo Festival. Oba Oyetunji commended Goldberg for its steadfast commitment and support to the festival and the Yoruba culture. “It goes without saying that the Osun Oshogbo Festival is regarded as a very important festival, not only in Yoruba land and Nigeria, but also in the world. The event is a huge tourist attraction that lures the global community to Oshogbo in Osun State. Goldberg’s identification with the celebrations shows the brand’s commitment to the customs and values of the Yoruba people, and we are happy about it,” he said.
On his part, Edem Vinda, the Brand Manager Nigerian Breweries Plc, represented by Kufre Ekanem said the brand was very happy to be associated with this age-old Nigerian festival that is very dear to the people of Oshogbo and the western region in general.
According to him, as Nigeria’s premier and largest brewing company with a portfolio of high quality brands, Nigerian Breweries has partnered with this festival over the years and for the second year running, the Goldberg brand is proud to be part of the Osun Oshogbo festival.”