The Frills and Thrills of Olokun Festival 2015

…As Prominent Nigerians Honour Otunba Gani Adams

imageEverything good that has a beginning must have an end.

This aptly describes the Olokun Festival, whose theme was “Traditional festival and the prospects of cultural dividends” kicked off on October 1, with prayers to Almighty God at Lagos Airport Hotel, Ikeja and to the grand finale of the Olokun Festival on October 22 at the Suntan Beach, Badagry, Lagos State.

The festival kicked off with Prayer to Almighty God at Lagos Airport Hotel as a way of committing the eleven days event to God’s hand.

The Press Conference was held at White House Hotel in Ikeja to highlight the programme of event while the art exhibition came up at the Centre for Black African Arts and Civilization (CBAAC) in Lagos.

The next event was the Yoruba quiz competition where students from various schools displayed their understanding of the
Yoruba culture to the admiration of guests and participants. Army Children Snr High School, Ikeja Millitary Cantoment emerged as the winner, State senior secondary, GRA, Ikeja came second while Estate Senior Grammar School, Ilupeju Oshodi came third. Also, Miss Onayemi Olamide, an undergraduate of Babcock University defeated 14 contestants to emerge as winner of the Olokun beauty pageant 2015 and she won a car and some money.
Other events that took place include: Beach soccer, Boat regatta, Ayo Olopon, Olosa gala night at Badagry.

During the festival lecture, Dr. Enomhen Sylvester, a Senior Lecturer at Lagos State University, Ojo, and guest speaker, whose lecture titled ‘Cultural heritage and modernity in Nigeria said that culture was the way of life of our people.

“Culture was held in high esteem in Africa, adding that it was people’s ways of life.

He urged the youths to understand their cultural practices and ensure that they abide by then.

Also, Gani Adams, said the lecture was designed to educate people about the various advantages they can confer on the desire for development.

It will also to help identify and highlight the challenges Nigerian cultural development faces in modern time.

“Our choice of theme is also informed by the need to direct our common consciousness to the positive and negative impacts modernity, civilisation continue to have on our culture.

“By our culture and other vultures it is our intention to use this lecture to address not only the cause of this impact.
The Festival Foundation quiz competition was won by Army Senior High School, Ikeja.

The first runner-up was State High School, Ikeja and the second runner-up was Estate Senior Grammar School.

They all went home with N70,000, N50,000, N30,000 respectively and the questions centered on consonants, syllable and Yoruba numerical systems.

Other schools that participated in the competition were Ilupeju Senior Secondary School, Bolade Senior High School, State High School and community Senior Secondary School.

During the meeting between 75 traditional rulers from South West and Republic of Benin at the Olosa gala night of the Olokun Festival, Otunba Gani Adams urged them to protect the culture and tradition of the land and not neglect it because politics or monetary gains.

This act has made some people to disrespect some traditional rulers while some of them have been dragged to court.

“Festivals belong to the traditional rulers in Yorubaland, because it is your responsibility to lift the culture and tradition high in the land.

You are the custodian of culture and tradition should not be thrown away because of politics. “

Oba Ganiyu Adekunle, the Aseyin of Iseyin urged the traditional rulers to take heed to Otunba Gani Adams .

He also urged his colleagues to obey Gani Adams not to relent on his efforts to uplift the culture and tradition of the people.

The representative of Ankra of Badagry, High Chief Agoloto of Badagry revealed that the continuous celebration of Olokun Festival in Badagry by Otunba Gani Adams has brought about many good things to the people of Badagry, such as the largest Sea Port in Africa which was recently located in Badagry, the discovery of Petroleum products and Gas in about five places which will last for more than one hundred and sixty years.

At the grand finale, the chief promoter, Olokun Festival Foundation (OFF) and Oodua Progressive Union, Europe, Otunba Gani Adams said the culture of religious observances and traditional festival celebrations hold a pride of place and are held sacrosanct by the Yoruba people.
“Among our people, the respect for deities are anchored on the belief in their importance permeates all facets of the religious rites of the Yoruba.

Likewise, the veneration of these deities through festivals call for our attention to their significance in sustaining unity, peace and prosperity in our communities,” He said.

Talking about Olokun Festival, the promoter of Yoruba culture, had this to say: “ Olokun is derived from oni-okun (the owner of the sea).
Olokun is the sea-god of “lord of the sea”. Olokun is the chief god of not only for fishermen and everyone whose livelihood is eked from the sea; he is the principal deity of everyone that lives close to the sea.

He is the Orisha entrusted with the care of the sea which is a major source of water and economic survival for mankind.”

In his words: “Part of the reasons we celebrate this festival is the name, Olokun, which is universal.

In Edo language, Olokun is Olokun while in Urhoboland, particularly Okpe, Olokun is Olukun. Among the Igbos, Olokun is Mmuo Mmili or Eze nwaanyi Mmili.

It is Ndem Mmo among the Efik and the Ibibio while in Gaa language in Ghana, it is Farr Ingmo.

Beyond Africa, Olokun festival is celebrated in the Diaspora and it is among the belief treasures of the Yoruba that survived among the descendants of enslaved Africans in the Americas.”
On the theme of the festival, Gani Adams reiterated that cultural and religious tourism can augment and provide alternative source of revenue for our economy because Nigeria is blessed with abundant resources.

Part of these resources are our religious and cultural festivals which are capable of drawing tourists, which in turn would translate in attracting the foreign exchange required for economic growth and development.

Dean of Arts, University of Lagos, (Unilag), Prof. Muyiwa Falaiye, in his lecture on the theme noted that festivals are mostly celebrated to propagate the cultural heritage of a people and they come in various forms.

“When a festival is a national one, it aims to imbue in citizens of that country the spirit of patriotism and solidarity.

When it is religious, it promotes amongst the diverse adherents of that religion a feeling of brotherhood and universal affiliation relative to the other world.

Festivals could be international when they express the commonness of humanity through the promotion of existential ideals.
In the celebration of any of these festivals, interpersonal barriers and structures imposed by existential divides as well as the rules and norms of everyday life are suspended.”
The university don quipped that festivals irrespective of their kind, are meaning-creating events.

They are social points where openness of mind and representation of the world are evident.

They enable people reach out to, and appreciate, their history, by making them appraise their past and see how it affects their present, manage their past through critical reflection and visionary action, and thereby prepare them for their future.

The Director General, CBAAC, Sir Ferdinand Anikwe said, I am a great lover of the Yoruba culture and what Gani Adams has started other Nigerians should emulate him.

It is good that when you attend other carnivals in the world, you would observe that those carnivals took off from Nigeria.

The DG commended Gani Adams for playing a role in the cultural sector in the country and that he should extend the culture to other ethnic groups in the country.

“We have beaten the white man in our culture and we must continue to do it.

We are trying to lead the world through our culture and our best is yet to come because culture will improve the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country” he said.

Also, the DG, Nigerian Tourism Development Commission (NTDC), Sally Mbanefo added that culture contributes to the GDP of any country and tourism is the greatest employer of labour.

Festivals like Sango festival is celebrated in over 40 countries in the world and Yoruba culture has been exported to other countries in the world.

“Let us not forget our language and where ever we find ourselves, parents should teach their children their language because it is their cultural heritage.

A country without a culture is a country that has no history she said.
Theatre groups like Theatre Centrik, Oodua Cultural Troupe, Ajan gbodi cultural troupe from Badagry, thrilled the audience with their cultural dances while Wasiu Alabi (Pasuma) thrilled guests with his songs.

Fuji music maestro, Alhaji Wasiu Alabi aka Pasuma Wonder, treated the very enthusiastic crowd to scintillating Fuji tunes, leaving the crowd to ask for more.

Guests in attendance include Oba Joseph Adeoye, Owa Ajero of Ijero kingdom, Oba Ganiyu Adekunle, Aseyin of Iseyin, Oba Yisa Olanipekun, Zaki of Arigidi Akoko and over seventy Obas in Nigeria and Benin, Amb. Yomi Fash Lanso, Chief Victor Mobolaji Adewale, Deputy Coordinator, OPU Europe and other representatives of OPU worldwide, Maria Rodrigo from Spain, Iyanifa Ifatoun Marla from Brazil, more than thirty Arewa Youth Consultative Forum and Igbo Community in Lagos, Badagry council of chiefs respectively were present.

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