For the love of cultural heritage

For a community, which has long existed in anonymity and suffered a gross shortchange from government, it is not entirely a shock that sons and daughters of the community would be upbeat at a traditional ruler who is showing a strong commitment to break away from that sorry past.

That was the principal mission of the Eburu of Iba, a serene community in Ifelodun Local Government of Osun State, Oba Adekunle Adeogun-Okunoye long before he stepped forward for the contest to the stool of the Eburu after the transition of Oba Ibrahim Adediji Bamgbade.

Serving and bringing Iba to the limelight was Oba Adeogun-Okunoye’s headache even when he was not raised in the town.

In the lifetime of his immediate predecessor, Oba Bamgbade, Oba Adeogun-Okunoye had returned home from his US base where he was a Professor of Computer Science and a university lecturer.

Each day in the US, he was monitoring political development in his state of origin as it affected his hometown. He wasn’t pleased.

He was engaging in an intense and basically critical thought and research on the role he should play in changing the fortune of his town.

He made up his mind with a justification that if the best keep away from politics the worst will rule the best. He returned home and picked a form to contest for a seat in the House of Representatives under the umbrella of the then governing Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

His political interest to serve his town almost cost him the throne; the power had changed. The then All Progressives Congress (APC) was in power to decide who became the next Eburu.

“The ruling party said I was a PDP member who should not be supported to the throne. It took grace of God that my letter of appointment was eventually signed,” he recalled.

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That experience further fired him into action to vindicate his supporters to the throne, hence his total devotion to every cause of Iba and its growth.

Between December 15 and 16, 2023, on one hand, and on December 30, 2023, on the other hand, Oba Adeogun-Okunoye was the chief host to a convergence of important dignitaries who arrived Iba to witness and participate at the Iba Mountaineering Day 2023, the Oriki Yoruba Festival and the Iba Day.

It was a leisure to behold watching the Eburu, spotting a T-shirt and knickers, climbing the Mountain Olomokunrin, which is said to be about 2000ft above sea level.

Lovers of nature, on their feet like soldiers training for a major war, followed the Eburu from his Iyaniwura Palace through a tropical forest to the base of the Olomokurin Mountain from where the climbing took off after a lunch was served all the participants.

The Olomokurin Mountain is said to be one of the 21 mountains sitting majesterially on the landscape of Iba.

A former Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) broadcast journalist, Prince Fatai Adiyeloja, also on the voyage to the mountain, attested to the Eburu’s passion to sustain the tempo of his desire to open up Iba to the world through the Mountaineering and the Oriki Yoruba Festival.

“I am becoming familiar with this festival and beginning to understand Kabiyesi’s agenda for his town better. Whenever I arrive here, I feel some natural sensation that shows why government should develop countryside. Kabiyesi has just shown them the way to this cool prosperity,” he noted.

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After the last person had descended, return journey to the palace commenced during which work was ongoing on the field of the Iba Community High School expected to host the Oriki Fiesta in less than 18 hours.

And as the following day, December 16, broke, all attention shifted to the school compound where cars were parked at different spots near the field.

Even though the programme started behind the schedule, the body of the proceeding was worth the waiting.

It was an action-packed afternoon featuring old and youngsters who were trying to outdo one another in the art of Oriki chanting and cultural performances.

Students of the Abolarin College, Oke-Ila performed before their school proprietor, the Orangun of Oke-Ila, Oba Adedokun Omoniyi Abolarin who watched them with intermittent smiles.

Winners of the oriki competition were rewarded while runners up were also compensated. Friends of Oba Adeogun-Okunoye at home and in diaspora showed love to him through their individual contributions to the success of the festival.

A popular thespian and university lecturer, Dr. Kola Oyewo was in attendance and went home with a prestigious Yoruba Legendary Award. He slightly betrayed emotions in his acceptance speech, expressing his surprise by his choice for the award.

Among the traditional rulers, that witnessed the festival, was the Oloba of Oba Ile, Oba Adekunle Asamu Oyeyemi who commended the Eburu for his seriousness and consistency in his mission to propagate Yoruba culture and tradition.

“One doesn’t need to be told that the Eburu really mean business with his efforts in bringing out these talents coming from different places,” he said.

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More than 50 kings were gathered in Iba with members of the Network of Rural Kings also present. The Olororuwo of Ororuwo, Oba Qamarudeen Adeyemi also attended the festival.

Governor of Osun State, Senator Ademola Adeleke was represented by Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Mr Abiodun Ojo while Professor Duro Adeleke of the Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo was Guest Speaker. Professor Siyan Oyeweso, who facilitated the attendance of the guest speaker, arrived a bit late but his presence made an impact.

The Araba of Osogbo, Chief Yemi Elebuibon, in his remark, admonished traditional rulers to adhere strictly with their oath taken during their installation rites.

He frowned at monarchs who allegedly matched their legs on Yoruba custom and tradition and described them as a misfit to the throne.

“No oba was installed in the mosque or church. Yoruba tradition must, therefore, be accorded its respect. Whoever insults the tradition insults his forefathers,” he fired.

Yeye Alaragbo Oodua was in attendance. The eldest daughter of the late Alaafin of Oyo, Princess Folashade Adeyemi and the popular Taiwo and Kehinde Oguntoye supervised the oriki contest among the kids.

On December 30, 2023, Oba Adeogun-Okunoye again hosted the Iba Day at the frontage of the palace to wrap up the eventful year 2023.

“I can’t but thank God and thank all those God used to make 2023 another successful year for me and my town. When one’s mind is clear about something, it shall come to this reality we have recorded in all our outings this year,” Oba Adeogun-Okunoye concluded.

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