The Osun State Commissioner of Culture and Tourism, Dr Sina Obawale, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Eniitan Ogunwusi, the Olowu of Kuta, Oba Adekunle Oyelude Makama and the Araba of Osogbo, Chief Ifayemi Elebuibon were unanimous on defence of Yoruba traditional institution, calling on all Obas to adhere to their oath of stool as custodians of culture and tradition.
Obawale, who stood in for the Osun State Governor, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola, at the first edition of Ijo Orisa (Interpretive Dance) festival, hosted in Kuta on Tuesday supported Oba Makama’s earlier remark in which he berated traditional rulers, whom he said, had penchant for insulting Yoruba cultural heritage.
The commissioner encouraged the Olowu to be more vocal in promoting culture with a view to making it an attraction to foreigners, especially at this time when the nation’s economy, he stressed, needs alternative sources of revenue.
He recalled a recent trip of Osun State delegates to the UK, where their cultural performances scheduled for two days eventually earned them additional 28 days during which more money went into account of their hosts.
“They performed inside a hall of 120,000 capacity and a ticket to watch the performance went for 100 Pounds. The amount made at the end of one month was over a billion. This is telling us that there are untapped resources in culture and tourism.
“What do they sell in Saudi Arabia and Jerusalem each year other than their culture? We have also calculated what those countries earn annually and realized why they will continue to be rich and rich,” he noted.
Obawale revealed that Governor Oyetola was unrelenting in encouraging the Karele Oodua concept because, according to Obawale, it’s a potential source of huge revenue from the diasporan Yorubas who would be coming to their ancestral home to witness that festival.
“I want to implore our traditional rulers to join hands with the Oonirisa in this campaign for restoration and expanding fortunes inherent in our culture,” he said.
Oba Makama had, in his welcome speech, thundered that it was misnomer for traditional rulers to play up other cultures at the expense of Yoruba through which they were installed, calling such traditional rulers to order and vowed to continue in his promotional drive because, according him, he was not made the Olowu in either mosque or church.
“It is appalling seeing some traditional rulers matching on our culture when none of us is here on the throne without having passed through the same culture preserved by generations of our forefathers. We are neither installed in mosque nor church. We are Oba made from Yoruba culture. So, it is hypocritical for anyone to claim otherwise.
“What we have today is a test run, next year is going to be better. Anlugbua, the Kuta festival has got a compliment now. I thank the commissioner of culture and tourism who is representing the executive governor. I thank all traditional rulers and the Araba Elebuibon,” he noted.
Representative of the Ooni, the Alade Okin of Oriade, Ile-Ife, Oba Olalekan Faseesin also corroborated Oba Makama and said Oba Ogunwusi had set the ball rolling for the Yoruba cultural renaissance, recalling his experience in the US, where foreigners happily identified with Yoruba culture.
“We should be wiser now that what we have is even more superior to what was brought to us through different means. That is why the Oonirisa is leaving no stone unturned in his determination to retrieve all we have lost. Our children in the diaspora will start coming to Ile-Ife to reconnect with their root,” he disclosed.
Araba Elebuibon also said that any traditional ruler who failed to adhere with culture was not fit to be called a king because, according to him, the royal stool was too sacred to be disrespected by anyone, including occupiers of the throne.
“For instance, one can be a multi-billionaire; that status does not make him a king. He is only wealthy but not a king. This needs to be said every time to remind our traditional rulers of their status and purposes. At our level, we shall continue to tell them because constantly telling them is our own responsibility,” he assured.
General remarks at the event indicated that it lived up to its name as different invited performing groups such as Ifawumi Agbeke Oje, Eegun Alapo, Eegun Alaba, Efunlade Group, Adedayo Ibile, Osun State Cultural Troupe and others thrilled a fairly large number of enthusiastic spectators from Kuta, Ile-ogbo, Iwo, Osogbo, Ibadan and Lagos.
The organizer, who is daughter of the Alaafin of Oyo, Arewa Folasade Adeyemi, was all over the place, shuttling from tent to tent; table to table, updating the two comperes and troupes waiting to take their turns on dance floor.
Dressed in a while voile lace, Adeyemi was a cynosure of eyes with her demonstrable energy to perform multi-task role with her intermittent and spontaneous response to traditional drums of bata. She exuded air of fulfillment and promised a better outing at the second edition in 2022.
“This is a symbolic one to launch it; by this time next year, you will see us in a better form. I thank Kabiyesi Olowu for his sense of understanding which is the background to what we have here today. I appreciate him for his wonderful support.
“I also thank Governor Oyetola as well for his commitment to promote our culture. I thank all traditional rulers here present and Baba Araba Elebuibon from Osogbo and other participants. They are all appreciated,” she said.
Among traditional rulers that witnessed the festival was the Olu of Ile-Ogbo, Oba Habeeb Adetoyese Agbaje, who also expressed his joy at the variety of performances to which the royal fathers were treated.
Oba Agbaje asserted, “there is nothing to compare with our culture as we have witnessed these performers doing different things here today. I have a strong belief that our culture has come to stay, regardless of foreign influences. Yoruba shall always be ahead in this area.”