Thousands of Osun Osogbo devotees, indigenes, groups, associations and ethnic nationalities, at the weekend, trooped out in their large numbers to participate in the Walk for Osun, a carnival procession of stakeholders in Osogbo to herald the 2019 Osun Osogbo festival.
The Governor of Osun State, Mr. Gboyega Oyetola, leading the walk from Better life – Ahmadiya – Oja Oba junction – Obate – Sabo junction – Balogun Agoro – Isale Aro – Jolayemi – Isale Osun to the Ataoja palace, said the state government would provide adequate security during the celebration of the festival, assuring that the government will continue to continue to support and enhance the quality of Osun Osogbo festival and bring in more people to participate.
A statement issued in Ibadan by Tunde Muraina, the Lead Consultant, Esquire Global, the Official Marketing Firm of Osun Osogbo Festival 2019 and made available to journalists yesterday, quoted Oyetola as disclosing that record shown that the festival attracts different people from near, far and wide and in the diaspora, noting that the government has brought new tourist product, Karaole Odua which will be used to bring Yorubas in the diaspora to Yorubaland so that they will come home to know their source.
Oyetola who was represented by the Supervisor in charge of the Home Affairs, Culture and Tourism Ministry, Dr. Obawale Adebisi, said, “our effort is to plan strategically to bring them (Yorubas) home on annual basis between 10-21th of August during the celebration of Osun Osogbo Festival. It will enhance the quality of Osun Osogbo and bring in more people to partake. “
Oyetola reiterated that he would drive the state economy with tourism and his administration would continue to take active part in the annual Osun Osogbo festival and other festivals, stating, “what we are doing today is to ensure that we give necessary support to the community and we also get maximum support in return for government programmes and policies.”
“The festival every year brings millions of Naira to Nigeria. Though not directly to the purse of the state government but we are planning on capturing more data and register participants so that it can bring in revenue to the purse of the state government,” he said.
The Ataoja of Osogbo, Oba Jimoh Oyetunji, while receiving the participants of the walk at his palace, said the insinuation that Osun deity had been sold was fallacy, explaining that the Walk for Osun was to create awareness for the people that the Osun Osogbo festival 2019 was around the corner.
Oba Oyetunji said, “Usually, the celebration of Osun Osogbo festival commences by cleaning of the town calledIwopopo whereby citizens of Osogbo and tourists gather to do the task. But this one is a special occasion, special in the sense that it is awareness to the public that the alleged stolen spirit of Osun is fallacy. Osun deity remains there and we started this year’s own with Walk For Osun, where everyone regardless of the ethnic group came to me and we moved round Osogbo to tell people that Osun remains where she is.
“Osun Osogbo is a very significant festival. There is the involvement of UNESCO, which has made the site a World Heritage one. This places Osun Osogbo on the world map as a tourism destination and the federal, state and local government have shown enthusiasm in promoting Osun Festival. The state government is nearer to me and the celebration of the festival is not done only done by the Ataoja, its custodian, and its people but in collaboration with the Osun State Government and they have been upright.”
The Managing Consultant of the firm managing and marketing the festival, Mr. Toye Arulogun, on his part commended the Federal and the State governments for their relentless efforts of improving on the security situation in the country, pointing out that the insecurity was not terribly bad as being painted.
Arulogun said that the Walk for Osun was an element of contemporary that was introduced into the celebration of the festival this year, explaining, “today, thousands of people walked with us to herald the celebration of 2019 Osun Osogbo festival. The walk signifies peace and unity between different ethnic groups. What we are bringing in is an element of contemporary, as we cannot do anything about the tradition.”