As you are most probably aware, the Annual Ojude Oba Festival is a very spectacular celebration of the Ijebu of South-West Nigeria, which took its origin in Islam, but it is now being celebrated by all and sundry, that is, Muslims, Christians, Traditionalists and Non-Believers.
This age long cultural heritage of the Ijebu has been in existence for about centuries. The annually celebrated Ojude Oba Festival is indeed a classic example and manifestation of religious tolerance in Ijebuland.
History has it that upon the advent of Islam in Ijebuland, the reigning monarch prevailed on his subjects to give those professing the new religion (Islam) the latitude to operate according to the dictates of their belief. In other worlds, there should be neither war nor rancour in religious matters. Basking on this clement environment, the emerging Islamic Community after observing the Eid-el-Adha, which included the exchange of gifts and the slaughtering of the sacrificial rams came out on the third day to pay homage to the reigning monarch and to thank him for his
kindness, accommodation and the religious liberty he gave them. As time went by, this tradition metamorphosed into what is now known as Ojude Oba Festival and has been embraced not only by Ijebu at home and in the Diaspora, but also by millions of people within and outside Nigeria.
The festival is, indeed, the gift of the Ijebu Nation to Nigeria and the rest of the world being a unique case study in religious tolerance, co-existence and harmony.
The reigning monarch, Alaiyeluwa, Oba (Dr.) Sikiru Kayode Adetona, who was crowned on April 2, 1960 has succeeded in making the festival a Global Brand. The Festival is not only all about equestrian display by the families of warriors who defended the Ijebu nation in the years of yore against any military expenditure and or war, parade of culture and tradition, merry making and funfair. It also provides the Ijebu people and vistors, and their well-wishers the opportunity to supplicate to the Almighty God, take stock of their activities, embark on self-help projects, and reunite with family members and acquaintances. In addition, this festival boosts commerce and trade in its entirety, as commercial and trading activities are at their peak before, during and after the festival. The Festival touches every sphere of life in Ijebuland. All the facilities (hotels, restaurants, etc.), artisans, craftsmen, transporters, professionals, market men and women, among others are fully occupied before, and during the festival.
The grand finale of the 2022 edition currently holding today Monday, July 11, 2022.
THEME OF 2022 EDITION
“The theme chosen for the 2022 edition of the festival after a robust discussion is “THE RETURN OF THE OJUDE OBA”. The theme was borne out of the inability of the Festival to hold for two consecutive years, that is, in 2020 and 2021 due to the prevalence of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, which held the entire world hostage as all social and economic activities were severely affected, hence the prohibition of mass gathering in all public places. The impressive management of the pandemic by the three tiers of government (Federal, State and Local) has culminated in the lifting of the ban on social gatherings by the government, although it is not yet Uhuru (complete freedom from the scourge), hence we are now afforded the opportunity to commence the hosting of the annual festival.
THE AGE GRADES (REGBEREGBE) ON PARADE
“In the pre-colonial era, the Age Grade system was the focus of development and socialisation in Ijebuland. The Age Grade System of Ijebuland has now been rejuvenated, rebranded and internationalised in the last four decades under the leadership of Oba (Dr.) S. K. Adetona, CFR, J.P. Ogbagba II, Awujale and Paramount Ruler of Ijebuland.
This year, about 58 male and female Age Grades are on parade. The first position in each category is awarded a gold-plated trophy and a cash prize, while the first runner-up and second runner-up are also rewarded with cash prizes, courtesy our main Sponsor, Globacom – the Telecommunication Giant. There would be about eight Age Grades that would be making their debut”.
THE BALOGUN/ELESHIN (WARLORDS & HORSE RIDERS) ON EQUESTRAIN PARADE
“No fewer than 21 various families of warlords and warriors who defended the Ijebu nation cum kingdom against external aggression and (internal) insurrection put their horse riding prowess on display. They are expected to file into the main arena for the equestrian display in an organised manner, with the Osi Balogun (presently vacant), current Otun Balogun and current Balogun families taking the rear. Globacom, the main sponsor of the festival will be awarding prizes to the winner, first runner-up and second runner-up in this category”.
2022 SPECIAL GUEST OF HONOUR
“Every edition of the festival necessitates the choice of a distinguished Nigerian as the Special
Guest of Honour. The 2022 edition, marking the re-emergence of the festival is not different. The Special Guest of Honour for- the 2022 Ojude Oba Festival is an illustrious son of this blessed nation and the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu. Apart from being the Governor of our neighbouring State, Mr. Governor is a distinguished Nigerian technocrat turned politician with an eminent record of achievements in both the private and public sectors of the economy. His unblemished record of service bears eloquent testimony to his choice as our Special Guest of Honour. He is a distinguished Akokite “In Truth and In Deed.”
Governor Sanwo-Olu is now joining the league of President Olusegun Obasanjo, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, and other eminent Nigerians who were at one or the other, our Special Guests of Honour. We thank Governor Sanwo-Olu for accepting to honour us”.