The Osun Osogbo Festival is celebrated yearly in the month of August and attracts thousands of Osun worshippers and spectators from far and near. The stage is set for the 2015 edition of the cultural fiesta.
The 2015 Osun Osogbo Festival will be celebrated amid fanfare when the grand finale holds Friday, August 21. This was disclosed by the Chief Festival Consultant, and the Managing Director of INFOGEM, Mr Ayo Olumoko at the Festival Programme Unveiling which held at the Institute of Directors Nigeria (IoD) office situated at 53, Glover Road Ikoyi, Lagos.
Osun Osogbo Festival is a period of stocktaking and assemblage of all sons and daughters of Osogbo land, and most especially, Yoruba speaking people, both in Nigeria and in the Diaspora.
Olumoko, while briefing the media, expressed that various sponsors who have been co-opted in the celebration of the Festival are gearing up to make the occasion an eventful and memorable one.
He said the cultural festival, which is 600 years old, has a two-week programme, which commences with the traditional cleansing of the town called ‘IWOPOPO’ which is followed by the lightening of the 642-year-old points lamp three days after called ‘OLOJUMERINDINLOGUN’.
According to him, this will be followed by ‘IBORIADE’ four days after, which is the assemblage of all the crowns of the past rulers for the blessings, adding that the Festival’s grand finale will showcase the cultural procession of the people to the Osun Groove.
Olumoko disclosed that the Osun Groove was enlisted officially as a World Heritage Site by United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Durban, South Africa on July 15, 2005.
He said to get the UNESCO attention, the National Museum, Federal Government and many others had to be drafted and co-opted into the Festival, as the endorsement of IoD has also been secured.
He added that to gain the international prominence, the INFOGEM came in as the official consultant of the Festival in 2002, and since the recognition by the UNESCO, the Festival has gained international prominence the world over, as the Festival Programme Unveiling keeps being moved from one venue to the other.
Olumoko said further that in a couple of months to come, OsunOsogbo Festival will be listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE). He explained that the reason the festival will be listing on the NSE is because it (the Festival) is consistent, a Nigerian product which generates revenue, and which other festivals look up to as a yardstick to develop. “If our cultures are well developed, our IGR will grow, tourists will be attracted and by this we will have more players,” says he.
Present at the Festival Programme Unveiling are the representative of His Royal Majesty, Oba Jimoh Oyetunji Olanipekun, Larooye 11, the Ataoja of Osogbo land, the Otun Eesa of Osogbo land, Chief MoshoodAdeyemiAremu, the Olori and Chairperson Women Development Ataoja Palace, Mrs Jelilat Oyetunji, the President/Chairman of Council Institute of Directors Nigeria (IoD), Mr Yemi Akeju,Senior Brand Manager, Seaman, Mr Olayinka Amuwo and Marketing Manager, KASAPREKO, Mr Peter Adekho and the Corporate Communication Manager, Mr Patrick Olowokemi.
Speaking on the sponsors, Olumoko said the Festival always associates with sponsors of proven record and brands that are consistent. The selected sponsors for this year are the Nigeria premiere brewery, Nigerian Brewery Plc (Golberg brand) for the third year running, Grand Oak Ltd (Seaman’s Schnapps, Royale), KASAPREKO (Alomo Bitters), IoD and UNESCO among others.
Some of these sponsors while responding at the forum expressed that they will all be available to add glamour to the occasion with the presence of their brands. In the words of the Senior Brand Manager, Seaman, Amuwo, “Seaman will be at the groove to be part and parcel of the blessing that the people of Osun will partake of”, while the Marketing Manager, KASAPREKO, Adekho, said his organization will bring “Alomo Bitters” to the event, as the Corporate Communication Manager, Nigerian Brewery Plc Olowokemi, expressed that his organization will do a lot to uplift the town of Osogbo with exiting communication materials. “We will create a beer village in Osogbo, involve in entertainment and increase trade transaction at the village to impact positively on the entire Osogbo people,” he said. The President of Council IoD, Mr Yemi Akeju expressed that IoD will always identify with the Festival.
The origin of Osun Osogbo Festival can be traced to the legendary encounter between the early settlers/founders of Osogbo with OsunOsogbo deity. In about 1370 AD, the founder of Osogbo, Oba Gbadewolu Larooye and the great hunter Olutimehin settled in the sacred Osun forest to establish the kingdom and actualize a pact of association and togetherness with the River Osun deity.
The festival is to retain the African and traditional heritage of the Osogbo people. Speaking on the event, Seun Akintola an indigene of Ososgbo lauded the organizers for their contribution to the festival. He said “the festival is one that brings to bear the cultural pride and traditional legacy of the Osogbo people. In the age of globalization, so many people have lost their communal identities due to lack of preservation of cultures and traditions that will always appeal to our uniqueness as Nigerians from different traditional societies. It has become essential to keep the momentum of this kind of traditional festival in order to preserve our unique identities and still maintain our affinity to the values and traditions of our ancestors”.
Another person Mr Kenneth Ojoh a scholar in African Studies stressed on the importance of Osun Osogbo Festival stressing that the festival is a big legacy and inheritance to Africans in the face of what he termed as “the extinction of African Cultures”. He cited example Oriental countries that are great today because they refused to be westernized. He said “China today is great because they refused to dispose their cultural uniqueness. There are other issues that have made them great but the preservation of their culture is one of the outstanding reasons”.
The festival is one of celebration, traditional cleansing of the city and cultural reunion of the people with their ancestors and founding fathers of the Osogbo Kingdom.