•EBUMAWE Of AGO-IWOYE, Oba ADENUGBA Reveals What To Expect
Every year, Ago-Iwoye indigenes celebrate their own Ojude Oba Festival. Right now, they are set to host the 2019 edition of the Ago Iwoye Ojude Oba annual festival which holds every 3rd day of Eid-el-Kabir (Ileya) festival, just like it is done in Ijebu Ode, where they also celebrate Ojude Oba. Ago Iwoye is not new to the celebration of Ojude Oba. The history of Regberegbe has been in existence since the 18th century. But the celebration took a new twist when Oba Abdulrazaq Adesina Adenugba became the Ebumawe of Ago Iwoye 15 years ago. He started with Egbe Bobakeye in Ago-Iwoye. Why did Oba Adenugba resuscitate the Regberegbe culture & Ojude Festival? Last week, City People Publisher SEYE KEHINDE & Senior Editor, SUNDAY ADIGUN interviewed the Ebumawe of Ago-Iwoye on the forthcoming Ojude Oba Festival.
Kabiyeesi, Ojude Oba is around the corner, what do we expect at the Ago Iwoye Ojude Oba?
Alhamdulillah Rabbil Alamin. The festival has come, as it has been ordained. It has been an annual event for all the good people of Ago Iwoye both at home and in the diaspora, to converge and pay homage to the king. It is very important for me to go back to the past; the past in the sense that, the originator of Ojude Oba is from Awujale of Ijebu Ode, whereby in those days, all the people of Ijebu will go and pay homage to the king, because that is the point of authority and the head of Ijebu Nation, so to say. All of us do go there. When you talk of Regberegbe everything started and manifested from Ijebu Ode, whereby whoever count himself to be an Ijebu person, wherever you are, you must come home for Ileya. That name! Ileya alone means a lot. In Al-Quran, Prophet Ibrahim (SAW), when he wanted to make his son as the sacrificial lamb as promised, that if God should give him a child, he would be happy and sacrifice him back to God, and in the course of fulfilling his promise, he took his son, the bush for the sacrifice. As he was about to slaughter him, almighty Allah sent an angel to replace that son with a white ram. Looking up to see the ram, with joy in his heart, he called his son and said Ileya. That is where we got that word from. And it has since been mandated in Islam, that wherever you are, anywhere in the whole world. You’ll see everybody wants to go home, especially we the Ijebus; we don’t joke with Ileya festival. And to let the people know that you are around to celebrate Ileya, on the 3rd day, everybody will now dress up in fine attire to pay homage to the Kabiyesi, which is the Awujale. That was where it all started. With the development and social expansion, everybody now came up with his own. I started my own Regberegbe groups in Ago-Iwoye which everybody now sees as a point of unity to rally round for the Development, Progress, and Contribution to the community growth, as well as paying homage to the palace. I give glory to Allah, when I came on board as king, I was opportune to have a befitting palace. God gave me that opportunity. My inspiration was also to do what my role model, Oba Sikiru Adetona Awujale of Ijebuland is doing; i.e.what Baba is doing and everybody is happy and cherish in the whole world, let us see how we can replicate such idea. I started with my Regberegbere; from my own mates, Bobakeye, and before I knew it all others follow. At least we have 15 Regberegbere in Ago Iwoye now, though some are registered while some have not yet registered. But to encourage them, I allow them to participate in all we are doing so that it will be more colourful.
In Ijebu Ode, everything is standardised. If you are Bobakeye, if you are Gbimo, there is a certain amount of fee you must pay before you can be paraded at the Pavilion. You will find out that, there is no Regberegbe that will pay less than 2 million before you can feature in the parade. But in our own case in Ago Iwoye, I see that we have just started, and I did not want to burden them because we need to encourage ourselves. But the only thing I adopted is that every year; initially, I started it myself before I passed it to Regberegbes. One Regberegbes is sponsoring the activities of Ojude Oba this year. There is a plaque they will now handover to the next Regberegbe, and seeing the joy in what they are doing. So any Egbe that is going to be the next will start warming up and see how they can supersede their predecessors. Having said that, whatever anything we generate, we will use it to develop the community.
We have a Committee that I’ve never ask them how they spend any money. They will just give me a report of what they realise and the project we are spending it on. Every year, they do one thing or the other to develop the community. Initially, all the horse rider always receive a token amount from us, to encourage them which does not happen in Ijebu Ode. In Ijebu Ode any Balogun who can not conduct good behaviour will be punished or banned from coming next year. Furthermore, in Ago Iwoye; we are one, both the Christian, Muslim and traditionalists. Everybody will make sure that they are at Ojude Oba to partake in what they are doing. It’s not only a Muslim affair. This time around it’s everybody. Why we are lucky in Ago Iwoye is that, in our own belief, there is Unity of relationship; If you get to where Ago Iwoye started, we have Mosque, we have Church, and we have Sango Shrine at the same place. There is no crime or any enforcement in any kind of religion you belong to. If you are a Christian, enter the church, and pray, if you are a Muslim enter your mosque and pray, and if you want to worship Sango, gather yourself together there. We believe that all of us are worshiping the same God. That explains the kind of blessing we have in Ago Iwoye. When a Christian is doing something, you’ll see all the Muslims there, women in there hijab will be there, we don’t discriminate about religion. So Ojude Oba is more or less like a great opportunity, where we try to come together to showcase the love for each other, to the community as well to the monarch.
Did you start the Regberegbe the same year you ascended the throne?
Yes, I started it immediately I ascended the throne. And the reason being that before I became an Oba, I was a member of Egbe Bobakeye Akile Ijebu, even up till today, Every morning on that Ojude Oba day; by 6 am, I will be with my Giwa, Otunba Abiodun Onanuga in Ijebu Ode for our Egbe Bobakeye Ojude Oba BreakFast, from there we’ll now move to Ojude Oba to pay homage to Awujale. So, immediately I pay my homage to Awujale, I’ll return back to Ago-Iwoye to start my own Ojude Oba. So, I’ve been doing it and I have seen the advantages of having Regberegbe in any community because we always see ourselves as one. We can always beckon at each other for favour. When I came to the throne, I was welcomed with a crisis, but immediately Regberegbe was established, everything became normal. Some Regberegbe have saddled themselves with the responsibility of painting the palace. They decided that the Palace must look new every year. The advantage of Regberegbe goes a long way. Each Egbe wants to see what they can do as their contribution to community growth.
It’s 15 years now that you ascended the throne of your forebears, how has it been so far?
It’s been great to the glory of God. Initially, it was very tough. I had it very tough, but today, glory be to God. Though Rome wasn’t built in a day, but I know I started it very rough and tough. Like Baba, Awujale used to say “there is no school or Institution where you go and study or receive a certificate before you become an Oba. You have to learn on the throne, and you just have to tolerate, when I begin to tolerate people, accommodate each other, I began to make friends and they started giving me the respect I deserve as the Ebumawe of Ago-Iwoye. Thank God, I’ve sojourned in life before I came to the throne. I’m the kind of person that is very straight forward. My official rendition gave me the opportunity to know how to deal with the public. I’m doing that and I’m enjoying it. At the same time, we were trained and nurtured by Baba Awujale, to be honest, and to be straight forward. When you say something before you say it, try and weigh it and when you say it doesn’t change your mind, no matter what anybody says. As an Oba, when you speak, you speak with authority. As an Oba, it’s only when you are good to your people that is when you will be happy to yourself. I see myself as a messenger to my people, that God put me in this position to serve my people, and I don’t see myself as their Lord.
As an Oba, if you want to enjoy the throne, don’t make yourself the Lord to your people, make sure that you accommodate them. With my 15 years on the throne, I know my people and my people know me. That is why I said, at the beginning, it was very rough, but Peace, development, joy, and happiness is now coming in.
How does it make you feel each time you look back and see the different faces of development and growth in Ago Iwoye?
The glory is to almighty Allah, nobody is perfect except Allah wants to give you perfection. You may be trying in your own way, but when God is there for you, the rest is the story. When I came, all I knew was that I have to be closer to God, and every day I call him and I always see the blessing, that God is there for me. That is why you can experience peace, joy in the land. And when the community is peaceful definitely a lot of good things will come in. That is why you see people trooping in here every weekend to come and relax. The commercial activities in Ago Iwoye is improving every day. With the presence of Olabisi Onabanjo University that is also experiencing peace. Ever since I’ve been on the throne, there has never been any issues. For the past 10 years now, they’ve been running their session, no protest, no crisis, no closure of the school, no rally. And these are the things that are making the commercial activities to continue booming because of the good patronage in terms of commercial activities that we have are the students. That is why they also love to stay back in the community whether they are on holiday or not because there is peace.