December? Nay, It’s ‘WUcember

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The Owu National Convention has come of age. Hooray!

At 21, it has come back home to roost…where it started its journey 21 years ago!

An annual pan-Owu fiesta, it is usually hosted on a rotational basis among all Owu communities in Nigeria and the Diaspora on or about the first weekend of December, or is it Owucember?

This year Owu-Abeokuta its originator will host the annual convention on the 7th and 8th of December at the Gateway School festival grounds at Ita-Iyalode.

The highlight event for Friday 7th December is the Gala Night which kicks-off at 8pm for an all-night musical frolicking session attended by a live band, after an earlier business-as-usual going to the mosque and official meeting of all Obas and the RUOP Executives.

Saturday 8th also starts early with a church thanksgiving session, and then, the big stuff – The Convention proper – which promises electrifying cultural displays and drama, among other mind-blowing features and extras like scholarship awards and free medical diagnostics for all comers!

The convention brochure for this 21st outing also promises to be a true departure from previous ones – a true memorabilia of the Owu people that will glow forever in your reference library!

Oh! For the records in advance, the National Convention of Owu People was the brain-child of the late Balogun of Owu-Abeokuta, Barrister Akin Olugbade, which was taken to greater heights and permanently entrenched by his successor, Balogun Olusegun Obasanjo, the ex-President and Commander-In-Chief of the armed forces of Nigeria.

By the way, if you were to attend the venue in the custom-made adire uniform designated for the event (costs N2,000 for 6 yards), you may just be one of the lucky winners of certain surprises that may be lined up by the organizing committees!

A concise history of the Royal Union of Owu People (RUOP) and the complete convention time-table shall soon be posted here.

Further information available through the Secretary, Local Organizing Committee (LOC), of the 21st RUOP Owu National Convention – Tel : +2348033377642.

Odun Omo Olowu 2012

Olowu Adegboyega Dosunmu enters the arena

The 2012 edition of the annual Owu Abeokuta ‘oktoberfest’ has been…and gone.

Accompanied with the now characteristic pomp and pageantry, this years’ event also featured its own unique attributes – For instance, the ‘Isan (pronounced; e-shan) Dance’ which had withered into obscurity and stayed dormant over the past 42 years was resuscitated, and contested strongly with the ‘Igesu’ (Yam Cutting) ceremony for the highlight slot of the whole fiesta!

As explained on page 23 of the Festival Brochure, the Isan Dance was devised primarily to mark the longevity of the reign of the Monarch, as he is presented with one Isan (whip) at every Odun Omo Olowu festival, which he is expected to keep in a safe corner of the palace and serves to enumerate the number of years of his reign. It was a form of ‘abacus’ basic counting device and calendar for logging the King’s reign.

When a dancing youth presented the Isan to the Olowu who was attired in a pastel blue shaggy costume and a tall white domed crown frilled with hanging face beads, he rose in all his majesty from his throne, defied the heavy downpour of rain and danced like a pro with all royal dignity to centre stage where the whip was received from him for storage. Little wonder that the last known Olowu to perform the Isan Dance, Oba Salami Ajibola abandoned the ritual some 2 years to the end of his reign when he became too feeble to perform the demanding royal dance with the Isan whip!

The 2012 Odun-Omo-Olowu festival had started under the characteristic canopy of blazing sunshine when suddenly during the Isan Dance, the heavens broke, and showers, nay, torrential downpours of torrents of blessings cascaded down from the firmament in the semblance of rain! Believe me, if anything at all was disrupted by the altered mood of the weather, it was for the better…because the roaming wanderers, sellers and beggars who were obscuring visibility in the centre piazza rapidly scampered for shelter and enabled a clear visibility for the dramas staging on stage!

As events proceeded under the downpour, the ‘Igesu’ rituals were staged when the Olowu had to dance to centre stage to perform the cutting of the new yam flanked by brilliantly attired cultural dancers. Here too, complicated dance steps were witnessed from the chief Arugba, who despite her heavy stock build and girth performed some near impossible complicated foot movements as she danced with her offerings of yam to the throne of the monarch in order to invite His Royal Majesty to come and cut the new yam.

At the inception of the ceremony, a dramatic, choreographed entry of the major chiefs of Owu viz, the Olowu accompanied by his Coronet Obas, Owu Baloguns, Cabinet members, the Olori and Iyalode and Ologun Chiefs had taken place, each group making their entries through the gateways of the well crafted Royal Hut staged at the entrance to the event Piazza. Particularly entertaining here was the dancing of the Monarch and later his Baloguns in front of the huge Royal ‘gbedu’ drums.

Cultural displays and variety shows of sorts were interspaced with the whole event from beginning to the end, much to the delight of the large and diversified crowd recorded this year, much to the credit of the Planning Committee who had gone that extra mile to tour the rural areas during the formative stages of their planning to mobilize the rural Obas, Baales, local chieftains and citizens. That grassroots endeavor which was the hallmark of this year’s presentation is also depicted in the make-up of the event brochure which is available on owulakoda.com for full and free download. Calendar Almanacs commemorating the festival and souvenir carrying bags were also freely distributed at the event.

As a footnote, perhaps the main recognizable disruption of the rain was to corrupt the major photo files of the digital camera we used in recording the events…so we shall have to rely on 3rd party sources to illustrate the festival in due course.

Candomblé – An Afro-Brazilian Religion

Candomblé (Portuguese pronunciation: [kɐ̃dõˈblɛ]) is an African-originated or Afro-Brazilian religion, practiced chiefly in Brazil by the “povo de santo” (saint people). It originated in the cities of Salvador, the capital of Bahia and Cachoeira, at the time one of the main commercial crossroads for the distribution of products and slave trade to other parts of Bahia state in Brazil. Although Candomblé is practiced primarily in Brazil, it is also practiced in other countries in the Americas, including Uruguay, Argentina, Venezuela, Colombia, Panama; and in Europe in Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain. The religion is based in the anima (soul) of Nature, and is also known as Animism. It was developed in Brazil with the knowledge of African Priests that were enslaved and brought to Brazil, together with their mythology, their culture and language, between 1549 and 1888.

The rituals involve the possession of the initiated by Orishas, offerings and sacrifices of the mineral, vegetable and animal kingdom, healing, dancing/trance,and percussion. Candomblé draws inspiration from a variety of people of the African Diaspora, but it mainly features aspects of Yoruba orisha veneration.

Overview

In many parts of Latin America, Orishás are now conflated with Roman Catholic saints. This religion, like many African religions, is an oral tradition and therefore has not been put into text throughout the years. Only recently have scholars and people of this religion begun to write down their practices. The name Batuque is also used, especially before the 19th century when Candomblé became more common. Both words are believed to derive from a Bantu-family language, mainly that of (Kongo Kingdom).

Candomblé may be called Macumba in some regions, notably Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, although Macumba has a…

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Bahia, Yorubaland of Orishas in Brazil

Orisha statues on lake

Orisha statues on lake

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SALVADOR DA BAHIA, Brazil—Come into the heart of this city, the capital of black Bahia, and there is Dique do Tororo, a picturesque, landscaped lake made awesome by a pantheon of Gods.

A dozen colorful sculptures —each 22 feet tall, two tons in weight and representing a powerful orisha of Brazil’s African derived religion Candomble— are arranged on the lake’s perimeter and grouped in a circle out on the water.

Tororo packs the emotional punch of the Lincoln Memorial housing instead a seated Malcolm X or Mount Rushmore picturing a Black Jesus. The male and female orishas, wearing their characteristic colors and carrying often lethal weapons of choice, are bold symbols of African power— this in a country where the Black population strives mightily to overcome a legacy of racial repression and where, not long ago, Candomble and the African martial art Capoeira were illegal.

The orishas, like the fiery Shango waving his axe or fearless Ochossi gripping his bow and arrow, provide bold silhouettes in the sun. At night, when lit from below, the fiberglass resin and iron forms appear to dance on the water in a circle, just as their worshippers here dance at ceremonies here in their honor. As an introduction to the city, Tororo gives the…

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The Afro Brazilian Religions

The African slaves especially those from the west, carried along their Yoruba religion with them when they were brought to Brazil, Candomblé as Afro- Brazilians term this religion is one which seeks harmony with nature. The worship of this religion is carried out in religious centres called terreiros. At the hem of affairs are priestesses, known as mães de santo (mother of saints) or priests, pais de santo (father of saints). Gigantic statues of all kinds could be noticed around these Candomblé temples. They are called the orixás ( African gods) that accompanied the slaves from Africa to Brazil.

Most Afro- Brazilians cherish these gods that they have preserved and worshipped for over 500 years. They fought to realize the fusion of Catholicism with their worship, doctrines and beliefs. In the religious ceremonies, practitioners dress in the colors of the orixás and place food at the altar before singing special songs and…

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