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Ojude Oba: The Ijebu Grand Cultural Festival

Ojúde Ọba, which translates as “King’s Forecourt” in English, is a grand cultural festival celebrated by the Ijebu people of Southwestern Nigeria.

This vibrant event, which takes place annually, showcases the rich cultural heritage of the Ijebu kingdom, honouring their traditional ruler, the Awujale and Paramount Ruler of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Adetona, for his purposeful leadership.

The 2024 edition of this festival of colour took place at the Oba Sikiru Adetona Pavilion in Ijebu-Ode, Ijebu-Ode Local Government Area of Ogun State, on Tuesday, June 18.

Ojude Oba
Governor Dapo Abiodun, the Awujale and others

The festival consisted of different cultural age groups known as regbe regbe, which are composed of indigenes, their friends and associates, parading at the front courtyard of the king’s palace on the third day of Eid-el-Kabir, popularly referred to as “Ileya” in Yoruba.

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Sponsored by Glo, the 2024 event included various competitions, with the highlight being the best-dressed awards for both male and female categories, with prizes to be won.

Ojude Oba
A cross-section of participants

For the male category, Egbe Bobasete Okunrin Omooba was the best-dressed age grade. Egbe Bobagunte Okunrin Akile Ijebu and Egbe Bobamayegun Okunrin Asiwaju came out as first and second runners-up, respectively.

In the female category, Egbe Bobagunwa Obinrin Omooba was first, with Egbe Bobagunwa Obinrin Asiwaju and Egbe Arobayo Obinrin Akile Ijebu as runners-up.

History of Ojude Oba

The origins of Ojude Oba can be traced back to the 14th century, when the Ijebu kingdom was established. The festival was initially celebrated as a way of paying homage to the Awujale, the paramount ruler of the kingdom. Over time, Ojude Oba evolved to become an integral part of Ijebu culture, showcasing their music, dance, art, and traditions.

Ojude Oba
A cross-section of participants

At one time, a Muslim who helped expand Islam in Ijebu-Ode, Mr Alli-Tubogun, influenced Chief Balogun Kuku to convert to Islam. As a result, Chief Kuku could no longer participate in older festivals such as the Odeda festival, which focused on traditional religions like Sango and Egungun. To conform to his new faith, Chief Kuku created the Ojude Oba festival.

 

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Cultural Significance

Ojude Oba is a celebration of Ijebu culture, heritage, and identity. The festival is a testament to the kingdom’s rich history and the resilience and strength of its people. During the celebration, the Ijebu people come together to honour their ancestors, celebrate their traditions, and reaffirm their cultural values.

Ojude Oba
A cross-section of participants

The festival is characterised by vibrant processions, music, dance, and drama performances. The Awujale is the centrepiece of the celebration, receiving homage from his subjects. The event also features traditional Ijebu dances, such as the Bata and Oge, performed with precision and grace.

Ojude Oba represents several values integral to Ijebu culture. It celebrates the unity and solidarity of the Ijebu people, showcasing their ability to come together and honour their shared heritage. It highlights the importance of preserving traditional values and customs and emphasises the role of community in maintaining cultural traditions while extending renowned hospitality to visitors and strangers.

Preparations for Ojude Oba

Preparations for the festival begin several weeks in advance, with the Ijebu people working tirelessly to ensure its success. The palace of the Awujale is decorated with colourful fabrics and ornaments, while the streets are cleaned and adorned with festive decorations.

Ojude Oba
A cross-section of participants

The Ijebu people also prepare traditional dishes, such as jollof rice, egusi soup, and ìkọ́kọrẹ́, which are served during the festival. The town is filled with the sweet aroma of traditional delicacies, adding to the festive atmosphere.

The festival embodies the essence of Ijebu culture and heritage, showcasing the kingdom’s rich history, the resilience and strength of its people, and its vibrant culture and traditions.

Ojude Oba Gains Government Support

The Nigerian Minister of Culture, Art and Creative Economy, Hannatu Musa-Musawa, revealed on Tuesday that the Federal Government would begin plans to list the annual Ojude Oba Festival as one of those approved and supported by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

The ministry plans to meet the vision called ‘Destination 2030’, which considers the prospects in arts, culture, and the creative economy in terms of their ability to create economic expansion.

“Our ambitious goal is predicated on this drive, which is capable of yielding over $100 billion, an increase in gross domestic product by the year 2030,” she said.

The festival gains an annual breakthrough on social media every year due to the fashionable and colourful attires portrayed by the various age groups. It showcases Yoruba culture to the world and highlights the significance of the festival as a symbol of unity, identity, and community.

Ojude Oba remains an integral part of Ijebu culture, ensuring the continuation of their cultural values for generations to come.

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