Saturday, 22 August 2009

Osun Osogbo: The rites return

FROM tomorrow, Osogbo, the capital of Osun State, will be the scene of communal celebration, as activities marking the yearly Osun Osogbo Cultural Festival reach their climax. Activities started last month and the grand finale is Friday, August 14, at the Osun Grove. First celebrated in 1370 AD, it has grown to become a big festival attracting patronage from across the globe. For the Ataoja of Osogbo, Oba Iyiola Oyewale Matanmi 111, and his followers, it is a period dedicated to honouring their forebears, while at also celebrating the goddess of Osun River, who is regarded as the soul of the festival. It is to this goddess of fertility and prosperity that many devotees and acolytes from the nooks and crannies of the world come to pay obeisance and to renew their loyalty. Beyond its spirituality, the festival has become a social event of great import for the people of Osogbo — at home and in the Diaspora — who dedicate their time and resources to celebrate. Aside the musical concerts featuring different Nigerian artistes, there will be rich theatrical performances; costumes display; oratorical and poetic renditions; traditional folklore; dance and music; as well as magical art. THE commercial appeal of the festival is also another interesting element to watch out for, as it enjoys sponsorship from many corporate bodies. Besides, the commercial activities you are also going to encounter vendors of different items competing for space and attention alongside the huge human traffic. The Managing Director of Infogem Nigeria Limited, Mr. Ayo Olumoko has assured that this year’s festival promises a lot of excitement and adventures for people. He stressed that a number of new social activities have been added to the list of events to add colours to it. Speaking on the late Aduni Orisa, Susanne Wenger, the Austrian artist responsible for the resurgence of the grove, which in 2005 was named World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), he said her death would not lessen activities at the festival. Olumoko, who is both consultant and marketer of the festival, said her demise would rather increase the inflow of tourists to the town and festival as many people would want to explore the grove and her resident, which has now become tourist attraction among places in the town. As part of efforts at immortalising her, Olumoko also revealed that certain aspects of the festival’s events have been dedicated to her. One of such is the Susanne Wenger sacred colloquium that would hold on August 13, a day before the grand finale. This, he said, is to raise awareness about her and her immense contributions to the rich culture of the people and the festival.

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