The Council of Obas and Chiefs in the Ikorodu Division of Lagos have jointly endorsed the Asa Carnival, which is scheduled to hold later this year at Ipakodo, on 2nd November.
They signalled their support at the festival’s new logo unveiling which was held at the palace of The Ayangburen of Ikorodu, Oba Kabiru Adewale Shotobi.
At the gathering on Friday 26 July, the royals emphasised the significance of the Asa (aka The man on the stilts) tradition as one of Ikorodu’s foremost cultures and one that had been forgotten until recently.
“All the traditional institutions here, we are giving you all the necessary support,” Oba Shotobi said in his remarks. “Anytime you call us we shall be there for you. We will answer your call.”
Apart from Oba Shotobo, some of the other royals in attendance at the logo unveiling were: Their Royal Majesties Oba Ajibade Agoro, the Ranodu of Imota; Oba Semiudeen Orimadegun Kasali, the Adeboruwa of Igbogbo; Oba Akkeem Oyebo, Obateru of Egbin; Oba Bashir Sotonwa, Sekumade of Ipakodo; and Oba Richard Ogunsanya, the Olubeshe of Ibeshe.
The revived Asa Carnival was celebrated in 2017 but the 2018 edition could not hold because it fell during an election season.
The arrowhead of Asa Festival Honourable SOB Agunbiade — lawmaker representing Ikorodu (Constituency 1) in the Lagos State House of Assembly — who led his team IREP (Ikorodu Rebirth Foundation) to the Ayangbure’s palace for a logo unveiling ceremony, said the 2019 edition will be an improvement on that of 2017.
“This year, we are celebrating Asa (the festival) and Asa (the culture),” Agunbiade said to the press, likening Asa to the Mardi Gras Carnival in Brazil.
“And this year, we are going outside Ikorodu town to invite those who have the same cultural background as Ikorodu (like Remo) to participate.
”We have traced the history to the point that we found out that those who practice Asa festival outside of here, like in Dublin and caribbean countries, have their roots in Africa and in Nigeria. So we are trying to publicise this Asa Carnival because it means a lot of things to the people. It brings them together and it’s a unifying factor as far as Ikorodu is concerned.
”And we are expecting participation from Ikorodu indigenes in the diaspora as we had them do in 2017. We really want to propagate the festival so that it will be one of the foremost in Lagos State.”
Oba (Dr) Ade Oriyomi Oluwasesan Oyebo, the Obateru of Egbin Kingdom, said the traditional rulers have jointly put their weight behind the festival because it will promote the heritage of Ikorodu generally.
“Apart from the Asa masquerade itself, we are going to use the carnival to promote other aspects of Ikorodu culture, in terms of costume, language, music and percussion,” he said in a chat with journalists. “For example, we have what is called Apepe, a musical instrument made out of bamboo that is not very common in yorubaland.”
Ultimately, he added, Ikorodu is seeking to make Asa as popular as other masquerades in Lagos State, like we have the Eyo Festival. “Our target is that we want to level up with other indigenous communities in the state and Nigeria as a whole.”
Meanwhile, Oba Shotobi is unhappy that all efforts by Ikorodu to get recognition for some of its festivals and other traditions have yielded little fruit, in spite of their best efforts.
Additional reporting by Olanrewaju Abari
The Lagos State government — through the Ministry of Tourism, Art and Culture — he said is yet to incorporate some of Ikorodu’s notable cultural festivals into the state’s sponsored events.
“If Lagos State is showcasing the state’s arts and culture, you will never see any from Ikorodu Division, Epe Division orthat of Badagry,” the Ayangburan said. “If you see anything from Badagry, may be one or two places.”