Every year, the Ife people celebrate Olojo Festival. The Ooni of Ife, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Babatunde Ogunwusi usually leads the celebration.
What is the significance of Olojo Festival? It is rooted in the history of the town.
ILE IFE is no doubt the cradle of human existence. History, Science with empirical knowledge, Biblical and Koranic facts on creation, dated back to several centuries ago, ascribed the ancient town, Ile-Ife, with its symbol of authority as the SOURCE OF MANKIND. The only spot on earth where the day of creation THE OLOJO FESTIVAL is commemorated.
AUTHORITY is the major attribute of Almighty God’s favourably endowed “Land of expansion-ile to n fe”. OLOJO FESTIVAL is a celebration of the first dawn, the first afternoon and the first night in creation:
1. Science explains creation through “The Big Bang” theory. A massive explosion resulting in the galaxies moving in different directions. Scientists still site UFOs today as the vehicles of extra-terrestrial figures visiting from distant galaxies.
2. The Holy Quran states about creation in chapter 29, verse 5 thus “He has created the heavens and the earth with the right (proportions). He makes night to succeed day (in a cycle), and He makes day to succeed night (in a cycle), and He ordained for the Sun and the Moon that each runs on for a specific time term.”
3. The Holy Bible in the book of Genesis 1 verses 1-5 “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day”. All these assertions is what God-Olodumare deposited in the land of expansion, Ile-lfe as our divine heritage. THE DAY – Ojo -ti -ojo -di ojo.
OLOJO Festival commemorates the descent of Oduduwa to Ile Ife and it is historically tied to Ogun the quintessential Deity of Iron and truth who is the father of modern science; the Yoruba Deity of Iron is the pathfinder. The Yoruba cosmology informs that Ogun charted the way to Earth for Oduduwa, (the progenitor of the Yorubas) and other Deities. The Festival is therefore meant to commemorate the period Oduduwa and other spiritual Deities descended on the earth.
We witness today and forever in ILE-IFE, landmarks predating the existence of mankind; signaling the establishment of mankind on earth, through the source-ILE-IFE, the land of expansion. ILE-IFE bears the mark of existence during the coming to the earth in spirit form the very first time. IFE OYE!
To flag off this colourful and fun-filled cultural celebration tagged OLOJO FESTIVAL which has a two week (including seven sacred days) programme of events scheduled for September is the IDIJO (determination of sacred dates) which is done during the first week of August, (Osu Ogun) – the month of the pathfinder Deity, this is followed by GBAJURE (signalling the commencement of Olojo Festival) a week before the actual date of Olojo fiesta. Two days after, the Oonirisa goes into a state of seclusion (physical and spiritual communal with his ancestors, the esoteric beings and Almighty God) for five (5) sacred days during which he does not interact with mortals. The Oonirisa comes out of spiritual solitude on a Friday OJO ILAGUN, a day of earth cleansing with Oonirisa’s terrestrial message to the world. The earthly symbolic conviviality is usually on Saturday, the OJO OKEMOGUN which is the day that the Oonirisa adorns the AARE -The sacred beaded crown.
The AARE is an ornamentally embellished sacred and symbolic crown which the Oonirisa wears once in a year during the Olojo Festival’s cultural procession. The sacredness and authority of this beaded Crown can be traced to the first king that ruled the whole world. He is called NIMROD – by the Hebrews, LAMURUDU as known by the Yorubas or ARAMPHAEL – as called by Arabs. He ruled the whole world ruthlessly with the exhibition of the power of the Sun and Fire and without recourse and respect for OLODUMARE, the Almighty God. Consequent upon Nimrod’s confrontational attitude to the Almighty, God raised Oduduwa – the Deity of prayers (ti oba inaja, o da ina, o ba oorunja, o da orun) he fought fire and conquered fire, fought sun and conquered sun. Qduduwa is called Dua by Arabs, Adura by Yorubas and Adua by most ancient tribes of the world. He neutralized subdued, conquered and totally eliminated Aramphael.
“ODUDUWA’s mandate is to establish structures and make the world a better place for mankind. Thus during his second coming through chain, unlike his first coming as a spirit being in charge of prayers in the presence of Olodumare -”Olu odu to moAde Are”. OODUA became the first beaded crown wearing King in the world – THE ARE CROWN. Oduduwa hereafter, established
• The royal ruling system of governance in the world whilst the beaded crown became an inheritance of Oonirisa in lie to n fe -ILE-IFE. This is OYELAGBO.
OLOJO’s ceremonial cultural Grand Finale is on the next day, Sunday. This is a day for general celebration during which Obas, High Chiefs, Priests, various Family’ Compounds, Youths, Women and various Groups in the town rejoice and pay homage to the Oonirisa with traditional dances and cultural pageant displays, exchange of gifts and receipts of Royal Awards to the admiration of the populace and most especially international tourists. His Imperial Majesty, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Babatunde Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, The Oonirisa of Ile-Ife will be celebrating his second Olojo Festival since his ascension to the throne of his forebears. He is, herewith, inviting the entire human race to the bowels of ILE-IFE, “ibi ti oju mo tin mo wa”, to celebrate the day of creation. The Olofin Adimula has carried the flag of ILE-IFE and the Yoruba race to distant shores as the world’s Ambassador of peace and unity. The Oonirisa has conceptualised a community, national and international standard fiesta that projects ILE-IFE’s cultural heritage as a world tourism hub using the Community Public Private Partnership (CPPP) strategy.
To attract more and better participation, the Oonirisa has already had unity visits to the various Obas of the South-West Nigeria coupled with his international visits to propagate the essence of African culture especially to international tourists. The Olojo festival promises to be a turning point in promoting African culture and business initiatives through Nigeria’s domestic tourism as well as further showcasing the image of the Yoruba raceas peace loving people.
LETS TELL YOU ABOUT THE SACRED AARE CROWN
The Sacred Aare Crown is the only physical symbol of authority the Ooni of Ife inherited from his ancestors. It is believed to have been made from many items, such as cutlasses, hoes and 149 (One Hundred and Forty-Nine) other undisclosed objects that descended from heaven for the formation of the sacred Aare Crown.
The Ifa oral tradition reveals that the Aare crown is very heavy and it is believed that the Ooni of Ife is spiritually empowered to wear it during the Olojo festival; the crown is too heavy for him to bear on any other day. Historically it is known that there is a strong relationship between the sacred crown and Ogun deity; the pathfinder and deity of iron, due to the crown’s iron components. The crown must be brought before the Ogun deity at Oke Mogun shrine during the annual Olojo Festival celebration in Ile-lfe.
According to Ifa oral tradition, the crown is believed to attract people and nature to itself when the Ooni wears it. During the Olojo Festival people often troop out to behold the crown and on sighting the crown, they offer prayers because the presence of the sacred crown symbolizes peace, unity, blessing and prosperity. Also the nature around feels the presence of the sacred crown anytime it is out during Olojo Festival.
History dictates that the reigning Ooni must not look inside the crown because any attempt to do so, would result in him joining his ancestors. It is believed that when the Ooni wears the mysterious crown, He is instantly transfigured into His true nature, Orisa (Deity) whose visage has been said to become too dreadful to behold. The crown serves as a traditional legacy from one reigning king to another and this particular sacred Aare Crown was the inheritance of Ooni from his progenitor, Oduduwa. All other reigning kings in the Yorubaland have their distinctive crown assigned for social functions; but none of them possess the powers of the Aare Crown. The Aare Crown is very unique and symbolic in the sense that its components are too spiritually inclined.
The sacred Aare crown is kept in a separate room in the palace under the watchful eyes of the Chief Priest and sacrifices to Olodumare are offered on regular basis as tradition calls for it.