2021 Olojo Festival: Celebrating An Auspicious New Dawn In Yoruba Culture

Olojo Festival is an annual gathering of relative Yoruba cultures to showcase the stream of the blessed heritage of mankind by the gods of the land. Designed to propitiate, cleanse, and intercede for peace, growth, and development for all the progenitors of Oduduwa, Olojo Festival is globally revered as one of the sacred festivals in the world. This is evident as people across the globe usually throng the festival to be partakers of its abounding blessings.
Ile-Ife, Ife Oodaye, Ife Lagbo, is considered the cradle of the Yoruba race, hence the ancient city is the hub of this traditional festival.
2021 Olojo Festival is not without its glitz and glamour to the fascination of every individual that attended the festival. This year’s Olojo Festival started its grand celebration on Saturday, September 25, 2021, although it is a week-long festival.
Like with the tradition, this year’s Olojo festival commenced with the announcement of Gbajure by the Owa Eredumi of Ife.

The chief notified the people of Ile-Ife of the beginning of the festival, which also signified the entry of the Ooni into seclusion in Iledi House in Iremo Quarters to perform traditional rites, for seven days during which he communed with the ancestors and prayed for peace, unity, and development of the town.
In the Olojo mysticism, it is said that the night the king first appears to the people, whatever he says will come to pass as he will be highly spiritually possessed by the Irumole and the gods. Various groups from across the world waited with bated breath as they expected the exit of the king.
This is the ancient, sacred crown inherited by the king and it is the only physical symbol of authority the Ooni of Ife.
The crown is believed to be the original crown used by Oduduwa during his reign in the classical era of Yoruba history.
Myth has it that the holy Aare crown is made of over 149 undisclosed objects such as cutlasses and hoes and weighs, conservatively 100 kilograms.
This crown holds great significance in the Olojo celebration, as the Ooni of Ife is the only person spiritually enabled to wear it during the cultural feast.
Historically, it is believed there is a deep tie between the sacred crown and the Ogun deity (the god of iron) due to the crown’s components and it must be brought before the Ogun deity at -Mogun shrine in Ile-Ife on each Olojo Festival season.

Saturday, September 25, 2021 (Ojo Okemogun)
This day was the Ojo Aare featured with a thoroughly entertaining day with over fifty (50) families performing before the king, praying for the king who in turn gifted the families with cash.
Hundreds of visitors gathered to celebrate the significant celebration, with the Executive Governor of Osun State, Adegboyega Oyetola as the special guest of honor represented by his deputy, Benedict Alabi. The governor said he remained committed to anything that could expose the state internationally and he would not relent despite the paucity of funds.
“Our government promised that the Yoruba Museum and the World Heritage Centre, the first of its kind, would be located in Ile-Ife,” the governor stated.
Oba Ogunwusi was at the Emese Court where he was adorned with the Aare Crown and he was greeted with gunshots. He went to Ile-Nla (Big House) around 5:16 pm where they buried all the past Ooni of Ife to pray.
The special event was also well attended by the Queen, Olori Silekunola Ogunwusi, President Muhammadu Buhari, represented by Senator Jide Omoworare, Kogi State Deputy Governor Edward Onaoja, Dele Momodu, traditional rulers, and other personalities attended the festival. All the gods in Yoruba’s historical background were duly represented in performances that lasted for about 20 minutes.
According to the record, there is yearly a push of rain. A specific family that worships the sun will surface their idol and used the idol, which is branded on a vertical rod to direct and disperse the rain out of the palace. However, this year was also not exceptional.

At about 5:30 pm that day, the Lokoloko, who are the soldiers of the king was seen with canes on both hands paving and clearing the way for the king as he symbolically walked out of the palace to the Ogun shrine, popularly called the Oke-Mogun shrine, in all-white apparel. The mammoth crowd jubilated ecstatically as the Ooni, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi wore the sacred ‘Are Crown’ for the seventh time since his enthronement in 2015.
The head of the hunters, Mr. Olafioye, shared a twenty-one-gun salute, which will relieve the heaviness of the Aare crown.
Adjacent to the Oke-Mogun shrine is the Aje shrine which the Ooni also visited to pray for the wealth and prosperity of the land.
Having fulfilled these traditional rites as the grand emissary and custodian of Yoruba culture, the Ooni then walked back to the palace being guided and guarded by the Lokoloko.
The highlight of the evening didn’t douse without the entertainment of guests classed with style and beauty courtesy of Iyalaje Oodua, Princess (Dr.) Toyin Kolade, who in her gesticulated ambiance treated guests to an evening of razzmatazz with a serenading exuberance from the musical band.

Sunday, September 26, 2021 (Ojo Ajoye)
The Ojo Ajoye, which took place after the Ojo Aare was the day of the festival solely set aside for the Ooni to meet, greet, and be done with people. This day is described as the grand royal invitational reception. Distinguished individuals, captains of industries, traditional rulers across Nigeria amongst others arrived in Ile-Ife to wine and dine with the Ooni. The day was lit up with the spectacle of musical performance by multi-award-winning gospel tungba music sensation, Yinka Ayefele (MON) and his musical band. With an enthralling atmosphere of singing and dancing to eulogize the Ooni and dignitaries in attendance, chilvaries didn’t but go to the Iyalaje Oodua, Princess (Dr.) Toyin Kolade was the show stopper at the Ojo Ajoyo. Yoruba Nollywood veteran thespians in the person of Pa. Here Paimo and others also graced the special day of celebration.
The party of the day which started at 3:25 pm with musical dispositions sparkled the hall all through to 7:30 pm when Yinka Ayefele brought his performance to a stop for the start of Dele Bravo’s performance on the stage.

 

Monday, September 27, 2021 (Ojo Ibile)
This day was characterized by observing the Oonirisa ancestral traditional propitiation and the finale of the cultural entertainment hunt.
The event of the day which started a few minutes past 5 pm saw the Ooni, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi returned to the Oke-Mogun shrine to perform the last traditional rites for the revered festival. From the shrine, the Ooni walked to his ancestral home at Giesi compound, a royal compound in Ile-Ife to pay homage to his father, Prince Aderopo Ogunwusi, and members of his immediate kindred. In his traditional outing, he was cladded in all-white regalia. Joining him in the walk were the traditional rulers around the Ile-Ife suburb, members of the council of chiefs in the Ife Kingdom, and the Iyalaje Oodua, Princess (Dr.) Toyin Kolade.
However, the Ooni returned to the palace with his entourage at 6:25 pm to cap up the cleansing and prayers for Ile-Ife and the world in general.

The grand finale of the cultural entertainment hunt kicked off at 8 pm the same evening. The evening event saw His Imperial Majesty, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, the Ooni of Ife, his wife, Olori Silekunola Naomi Ogunwusi, traditional chiefs, including the Iyalaje Oodua, Princess (Dr.) Toyin Kolade is in attendance.
With over 50 participants, the crowd was treated to a fascinating and stupefying show of vocal energy, stunts, and artistic performances from every contestant. In the magnanimity of the Ooni and Iyalaje Oodua, every contestant went home with an envelope of cash to encourage their trance and dreams. Contestants came from different parts of Yorubaland, Owo, Akure, Oke Igbo, Osogbo, Lagos, Ibadan, etc to a part of the cultural entertainment hunt.
One of the highlights of the traditional event was the offering of scholarships to four (4) kids by the Iyalaje Oodua after their mind-blowing performances on the stage of play. Also, the Ooni gave a car gift to a performing group who yearned for such a gift after their captivating miming.
It is noteworthy that different gifts and sponsorship were won to corroborate the exploits of budding youths in their respective endeavors.
Following the environment of the palace at Enuwa Square set agog, the curtain of the Ibile Night was drawn at about 3 am on Tuesday, September 28, 2021, with royal blessings from the Ooni.