For the adherents of Osun Osogbo deity within Osogbo, Osun State, Nigeria and the Diaspora, this year’s festival with the theme, “One Tradition, One Heritage and One cultural fiesta”, which grand finale came to a sensational conclusion recently, was one that would linger in the memory for a long time to come.
It was a convergence of Osun goddess devotees, masquerades culture buffs, traditional religious heads, traditional chiefs, royal fathers and foreign tourists from Brazil, Venezuela, Cuba, Japan, Europe, decked in local attire, all paying homage to the Ataoja of Osogbo, Oba Jimoh Olanipekun.
With the residents claiming that the crowd was unprecedented in the history of the festival, the crowd control was effective with no report of ugly incidence for the period that the grand finale lasted.
The festival which is synonymous with Osogbo, the Osun State capital, witnessed many activities around the city a night to the grand finale while on the d-day the road to the groove was filled with people thronging to the groove to be part of the epoch making event.
A highlight of the grand finale was the claim by some callers to the groove of appearance of a mermaid which was last seen seven years ago, a claim corroborated by the Ataoja of Osogbo, Oba Jimoh Olanipekun and some Osun devotees. However the climax was be the grand entry of the Arugba, a girl who must be a virgin, into the groove, with the crowd trying to outdo each other to catch her glimpse, while praying to the Osun goddess, for what they want her to do for them.
At the festival, Governor Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State assured that his administration will support the development and promotion of Osun Osogbo festival to enhance its tourism potentials and sustainability, stating that the state was seeking partnership with the federal government to optimally tap into the tourism benefits that the festival provides.
Oyetola represented by the Supervisor of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Dr. Babawale Adebisi, said he was honoured to attend the festival for the first time, disclosing that the festival was important to his government and his administration intends to transform the annual event to a foreign exchange earner for the state.
According to him, “the festival is a bond between Osun the river goddess and the people in need and the lesson in this festival is faithfulness which we need to imbibe for peace and development of the state. The Osun-Osogbo festival is important to the government and people of Osun as it is a common cultural heritage and our window and voice to the world. We are aware of the power of tourism to market our culture to the world, foster cultural communication and harmony and engender national and international peace and cooperation.
“This festival has blossomed into an international event witnessed by about a million tourists all over the world. It is our intention to develop, promote and project the Osun-Osogbo festival to global prominence to compete with other world-renowned cultural festivals. We shall transform the festival to a foreign exchange earner and a major driver of our economy through tourism.
“This festival is very important to the government and the people of Osun as it is our cultural heritage and remains the most popular and the most regonised by UNESCO. The government has done the renovation of the groove and we are constructing a car park to conform with the UNESCO standard. We urged our indigenes in diaspora to partner with the government to promote and project the festival for global recognition.”
The governor then congratulated the custodian of the festival, the Ataoja of Osogbo, Oba Jimoh Olanipekun and the indigenes of Osogbo for the successful hosting of this year’s festival.
Speaking, Ataoja of Osogbo, Oba Jimoh Olaonipekun dispelled the rumour that he had sold the Osun-Osogbo deity, attributing the ugly trend to mischief being orchestrated by his enemies. He thanked all the partners and sponsors, who made the festival a success as well as dignitaries, royal fathers and people, both from Nigeria and abroad, who participated in the cultural event.
#The monarch as the chief custodian of the festival went down memory lane to tell the story of how Osogbo, as a town and city, was established and how the first king was the first Osun deity worshipper.
Mr. Toye Arulogun, Managing Consultant, Osun Osogbo Festival in his speech said, “The festival worked in accordance to its theme of One Tradition, One Heritage and One cultural fiesta as people came from around the world to participate in the festival. The crowd was enormous and our crowd control mechanism worked perfectly. We are going to improve on this edition. You will see that the tradition has not been distorted despite the innovations of communicating to the global audience which led to many foreigners participating in the festival.
“We introduced the Walk for Osun to sensitise the people about the festival and it worked as people from across the country and diaspora came to participate enmasse due to effective and efficient communication. We also had effective engagement with the stakeholders, sponsors, partners and the people of Osogbo. We can all see that tourism has viable economy potentials. However, we need improvement in the area of infrastructure and security. We are going to improve on this edition and making the festival more attractive and economy spinning. We thank all our sponsors and partners for their support.”