Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Ore yeeye Osun…The pulse of a communal Feast

LOOKING into the faces of many, who were at the palace this Friday morning, a visitor will not miss the feeling of expectation and excitement in the air.
For about a month, the city of Osogbo, capital of Osun State, engaged in diverse socio-cultural events marking this year’s Osun Osogbo Festival. The yearly festival, which dates back to 1370 AD, has moved from a commemorative gathering, where tributes are paid to the founding fathers of the community and veneration of Osun deity, to an international event, attracting huge following, making it one of the most important cultural events in the country’s tourism calendar. The endless wait this morning for the emergence of the Arugba (votary maiden) ended with the shout of ‘ore ye ye osun o!’ from the crowd that had kept vigil at the entrance leading to the room, where she prepared for the festival. Immediately, everybody around started muttering what sounded like incomprehensible chants, while circling their hands over their heads and snapping their fingers. The Arugba, usually a virgin chosen from the royal household, is the soul of Osun Festival. She bears a calabash covered with red cloth that would be used for the ritual later in the day at the grove. The successful execution of the spiritual signification of the festival lays on her hence the importance the people attached to her role, and even the votary maiden herself seems aware of this as she executes her role with high sense of responsibility. With the Arugba sandwiched by the Iya Osun and other devotes, the long procession to the grove began, with the milling crowd thickening. By the time the procession finally made it to the grove, which was listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as World Heritage Site in 2005, different activities were already going on. At the official pavilion, where the Ataoja of Osogbo, Oba Oyewale Iyiola Mantanmi 111; the Osun State Governor, Olagunsoye Oyinlola; the Speaker of House of Representatives; the Minister of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation; and a host of other guests was another kind of celebration. At intervals, the various traditional groups ranging from the chiefs to members of the royal household, paid homage to the Oba amidst dancing and jubilation followed by chanting (oroki) and eulogy of the royalty. Speeches from the Mornarch, minister and governor followed. Thereafter, a formal reception followed at the Ataoja’s palace. However, the end of the formal ceremony at the grove was for many just the beginning of the real celebration as individuals and families played host to different guests. A night-long musical concert ended activities for the 2009 festival. A Call For Tourism Development PRESIDENT Yar’ Adua who was represented at the occasion by the Minister of Culture, Senator Bello Jubril Gada and the governor of Osun State, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, at the festival, canvassed for the development of tourism as a means for wealth creation and employment generation. Both of them highlighted efforts being made to make tourism central to the country’s economic development. While pledging to ensure that festivals in the ilk of Osun Osogbo cultural event are organised in each of the six geo–political regions as a means of economic engagement, the President called on the Osun State government and the private sector to see to the development of infrastructure that would ensure the continual growth of the cultural festival.
A glowing tribute was also paid to the late Suzanne Wenger (Aduni Orisa), who died last year, by both the president and the governor. Until her death, she was the moving spirit behind the resurgent Osun Grove.
While welcoming guests, the Ataoja of Osogbo expressed appreciation of the continued support and patronage enjoyed by the festival. He promised that the community would continue to do everything possible to elevate the festival to the desired level.

NTDC’s Support
THE Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation’s (NTDC) presence at the festival was overwhelming, with its staff providing support services. Of particular note was the donation of over 20 mechanically operated mobile toilets and dustbins to the state government before the event.
They were placed at different sections of the grove thus enhancing the environmentally friendly nature of the grove. The staff were also seen running after visitors in a concerted effort at information and data gathering regarding tourists attendance at the yearly event.

Low Turn Out Of Tourists
FROM indication, it thus appeared that this year’s event fell short of previous one in terms of attendance. Though there was a large presence of domestic visitors, reverse was the case for foreign visitors. he low turn-out may be due to the current global economic meltdown.
However, it is alos clear that the organisers of the event need to do more about promoting it. T
Poor Organisation, Militarisation Of The Festival

OVER the years, the festival’s grand finale has suffered from poor organisation and this year was not any different.
As a matter of fact, the whole arena this year was taken over by policemen and security agents, who accompanied the governor, the minister, Speaker and other personnel. The heavy presence of security agents made people to tag it a ‘military’ affair.
This is one development that the organisers should guard against as this would negatively impact on the festival if it is allowed to continue. There should be a way of keeping the security agents out of the arena.
The result of the militarisation was that many of the people, particularly the foreign tourists who should benefit from the cultural display were sidelined and for lack of nothing to do at the grove turned their

1 comment:

  1. in the today world we can see, that the cultural development has been replaced for the technology world, and I think that is too bad..