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Olojo Festival: Ooni goes on retreat, prays for Nigeria

The Ooni of Ife, His Imperial Majesty Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi (Ojaja II), has gone on a 7-day retreat as part of a long-standing tradition that precedes the month-long Olojo Festival.

Riding in a motorcade and trailed by a crowd of jubilant indigenes, he set out from the palace in Ile-Ife at dusk on Sunday 20 September; he arrived at the Ile Mole (Ancient Traditional Supreme Court) a few minutes afterwards.

He will remain here for the next week, during which he will have limited access to the outside world.

A time-honoured tradition

“The next seven days, we will be praying and I will be consulting with my ancestors,” he said just before he left the palace, cheered on by a crowd of performers, singers and drummers. Also present were some chiefs and several Ife indigenes.

His departure to Ile Mole is one of the highlights of festivities scheduled for the annual Olojo Festival, which grand finale holds next weekend (Saturday 26 September). That’s the day the Ooni will be seen in public for the first time since his seclusion.

The high point of the day is his much-anticipated cultural procession with the revered Aare crown (Ojo Okemogun), believed to be the first crown ever worn by a monarch in Yorubaland centuries age.

During the procession, which is linked to the story of creation, the Ooni makes customary stops at different landmarks in honour of various deities as he goes.

“Every move of that procession is significant, because we are remembering the work of God Almighty and who we are as Yoruba people,” Ooni Ogunwusi said while addressing the gathering. “It is a day of authority that we will pray for our nations for things to be corrected, for things to be better. We will keep doing it the way that our ancestors gave us. We believe that things would be better.

 “It is a pace for the pathfinder to set and it is something that we cannot joke about, because we have to uphold our heritage, and we keep praying about it.”

The other activities included in the Olojo Festival include: a cultural trade and art exhibition, the Ayo Olopon traditional game (24 Sept); Olojo Festival Ankara Carnival (25 Sept); and Ojo Ibile/ Ancestral traditional propitiation (28 Sept)  

Prayer for the pandemic

The king also used the opportunity to speak about the Covid-19 pandemic, saying he was happy that incidences of the disease had “drastically reduced” in Nigeria and that it was gradually nearing zero.

“I am very assertive that the prayers we made to our ancestors have been answered, to the glory of God. And we are very thankful to God that He has answered our prayers, because He knows that we don’t have anything as a nation,” he said, while cautioning that “we shouldn’t be celebrating yet.”    In closing, Ooni Ogunwusi said: “The message that I want to hold onto is for us to be together in peace and peaceful co-existence, and God will be with us all.”

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