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Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Olukere celebrates Olosunta Festival with glee by Wale ojo lanre

Olukere celebrates Olosunta Festival with glee by Wale ojo lanre 

From middle, Olukere of Ikere-Ekiti, Oba Ayodele Ganiyu Obasoyin, Komolese II and Yeye Oba of Olukere, Princess Adeola Ale-Obasoyin and others during the Olosunta Festival.
The town of Ikere Ekiti, was ignited by bundles of festivities on Saturday, August 15, 2015 when the Olukere of Ikere Ekiti, Oba Ayodele Ganiyu Obasoyin, Komolese 11, descended from the historical Olosunta Hill amidst songs, dancing, flurry of prayers and supplication to one of the ancestral progenitors and legends of Ikere Ekiti.

The royal descending procession was the climax of a three-month cultural and spiritual process which has been the order of the day after the mystical disappearance of one Jona Olosunta on a hill, which also shares the environment with Ugele hill which has a big cave that has the capacity to contain over 1,000 people.

According to history, centuries ago, the cave provided refuge for people who sought shelter there in war time. The cave also served as a venue for traditional wrestling in the past.

Every year a festival of remembrance called Jona-Olosunta takes place in Ikere land to celebrate the Ikere warriors who fell in the battle against the Oyo Kingdom.

As part of the rites, palm fronds are tied together and lit up in what is known as Option. Only the Olu-Ikere is allowed to make sacrifices to the rock.

 According to Princess Adeola Ale Obasasoyin, the Yeye Oba of Olukere, “It s the norm, the rites to be performed and the festival which our ancestors planted and have religiously performed according to the tradition as we met it. It is rooted in history of survival of people of Ikere and appeasement of Ojo Olosunta.

She pointed that the  festival is a three month affair which reached its peak with a nine intensive  intercessory supplication and appeasement to Olosunta who is believed to be the moving spirit of the Rock thus making sacred, awed and worshipped every year for nine days  in Ikere-Ekiti.

The Olukere kept vigil on the hill where he performed traditional rites of appeasement and offered prayers for peace, progress and development of Ikere town and its indigenes.

This year’s festival was not only elaborate but hosted with an agrarian passion and commitment of the Olukere at ensuring that it drew thousands of tourists from far and near with mass participation by the sons and daughters of Ikere.

Oba Obasoyin who descended the hill at around 8 30 am on Saturday was welcomed at the foot of the hill by his people with a special drum called Agba amidst dancing and joyous merriment with the belief that their prayers have been answered.

The kabiyesi who in turn waived his horse tail showered prayers unto his people as he danced royally, taken regal steps and making stops at places considered as historical and in fulfillment of the tradition.

The euphoria which was high as the palace was taken over by unique groups displaying different cultural dances and singing melodiously welcoming Olukere to the palace.

Oba Obasoyin revealed that “Olosunta Festival is the symbol of existence of the people of Ikere. It is a festival which has been celebrating by Ikere people from the 12th century. According to palace history, the Olosunta is not the rock, but a human being.

The two rocks were there before as a geographical blessing to the people. The olosunta phenomenon evolved when a certain fierce hunter, warrior, herbalist and Ifa diviner, Ojo Olosun, came to visit his friend, Olukere, the Oba of Ikere. Coincidentally, there was strife everywhere, people were dying of strange ailment, children were diseased and the land was in turmoil.

Having the knowledge of which Ojo Olosun was, the Olukere consulted him and appealed to him to help in saving his people from destruction and land from perdition.

This Ojo Olosun consulted his Ifa which asked the people of Ikere to look for a stranger and appease the god in order to save the land and his people.

Oba Obasoyin revealed that, “but rather for the Olukere and his people to seek out a person, there was the move to use Ojo Olosun himself as the sacrificial lamb.

This plan was revealed to Ojo Olosun who took to his heels in the following morning. “The people of the town pursued him and he ran into the hill, and enters a hole inside the hill.

Not satisfied by this and determined to offer him as sacrifice at all cost, the people then gathered palm leaves and started fanning the hole with fire and flames hoping that such steps will kill him inside the rock. Having satisfied  themselves with the believe that he was dead, as they were leaving , Ojo Olosun ‘s voice rang out from the cave,  called  them to express his disappointment in the people for not appreciating his effort in helping their community  but rather wanted to use him for rituals ,  He  told that he will no longer come into their midst but  if they want peace to reign in Ikere they should organise a festival and be celebrating him at the exact place where they tried to kill him which is now Olosunta.

He told them that in  the course of that festival they will be using fire just like they did that period and that they should be using female cow every year to appease him and if they do this, it shall be well with them.

And that is what my progenitors and fathers have done and been doing and that is what we too have done this year and if the owners of the land permits and grants us next years and years to come we shall not desist in doing this.

Speaking on his plan to make the festival an international festival, Oba Obasoyin said, “I have determined to package, promote and showcase this festival to both local and international audience not only because of his significance but because of the various components of the process. That is why I have invited cultural enthusiasts, tourism and travel practitioners, tour operators, travel agents as special guests this year. And I am happy that they were here and have made positive suggestions on how we can enhance and market this festival for the benefit of my people, Ekiti state and Nigeria in general.

Oba Obasoyin said that it is a fact that the tradition must be kept. Yes, I agree in toot and I will never renege on this. but our tradition must pave the ways for the advancement of progress and development. Thus, the essence of Olosunta Festival must not be lost to tradition alone, but must rub off on my people.”

“Everything about Olosunta Festival is planted on development, progress and advancement. If my people have not made that attempt which has been ordained that they would do, there would have been nothing to celebrate now. But here we are. I have determined not to let it rest at this but to turn it into source of empowerment for my people and revenue generation for the state.

Oba Obasoyin who commended Governor Ayo Fayose for his strides in Ekiti lamented, “it is quite unfortunate that government has not given us the recognition that we deserve by given us staff of office, but we have sent our memo to the government and the Council of Obas and we hope that very soon we shall get a favourable response from the government so that we can incorporate both the state and Federal government into the annual festival programme.

Oba Obasoyin revealed that  he has forwarded a proposal to the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) for the inclusion of the festival into Tourism Festival Calendar.

“I have spent millions in organising the festival and creating abundant awareness without any financial support from the government and any agency. I  have done all these without taken a salary or a penny from the government also.

“It is the responsibility bestowed on me by the throne as the Oba of Ikere and guardian angel of  Olosunta Rock.”

He also called for the development and enhancement of the cave “You need to see the cave. it is natural. it is compelling.

“I am appealing to the state government, investors and private developers to see the potentialities of this Olosunta hill as a blessing and money spinning venture for toruism.