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.

The Grand October Yamfest – 2011 Odun Omo Olowu

 

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The cutting of the yam

Olowu cuts the New Yam

They did it again!

These Owu people have done it again!

The Kangunere mobile dynamic circus was at its best once again, and this time committed a mass ecstasy ‘genocide’ by successfully electrifying and suffocating all and sundry with their high voltage exposé.

Have you ever heard of the masochistic phrase ; ‘I wanna die, come get me’? That is exactly what everybody, both indigenes and guests, fortunate enough to be present at the Ita-Iyalode venue of the Odun-Omo-Olowu Grand Finale on October 8 seemed to be saying – nay, shouting, with their teeth grating together feverishly in a wild orgy of excitement as they were tantalized relentlessly till the bristles of their hair stood stiff and erect!

That day was a glorious Saturday. Truly tropical. It flaunted a faultless clear sky with silver clouds interposing the bright azure blue matrix of the firmament. Blazing hot it was too…and on this particularly blessed day, the rain gods chose to take a nap! So it was that the stage was set both in the celestium, and here on earth at Ita-Iyalode in Abeokuta, Nigeria where on one end was erected the royal tent on an extended platform, and at the other end, a pedestal with a double balloon-like structure which I best leave to the photographs to depict.

At both sides of the vast expanse which separated them were the clustering of canopies specifically tagged for individual communities, both rural and urban, within the Cosmo-regional structure of the ‘Owu Republic’ of Ogun State…

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Oba Odeleye speech

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The Creation Of Owu Townships:

YOU ARE WELCOME: GOD BLESS YOU AS YOU COME

INTRODUCTION

Once again August of another year has come. You all have heeded our clarion call to come home to Owu, Abeokuta. You are WELCOME. God bless you as you come to the 3rd Owu-Day Festival Celebrations.

Billboard of Oba Odeleye at Sokori Township, Abeokuta

When we ascended the exulted, throne of Owu Abeokuta in October 1993, our one prayer wish was that God should mercifully renew OWU KINGDOM and its people, in all its ramifications. How God was going to do it, we did not know, but we had the deep and implicit faith that our prayer had already been answered at the “inner realm”. We give all glory and adoration to our God of love and light.

The previous two Festivals in the years 2000 and 2001 were very successful and rewarding. This 3rd Festival has surpassed the previous ones. For this we are grateful to God, and to you beautiful sons and daughters of Owu, and our numerous friends and well-wishers.

We pray that the grace and blessings of God will be your double portion, in the precious name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

WHY OWU-DAY FESTIVAL

On our ascension to the throne nine year ago, we were saddened and dismayed that many family houses and compounds were desolated, dilapidated and overgrown with weeds. Many young and able-bodied persons had deserted Owu Abeokuta for Lagos, Ibadan, Kano and other major cities of Nigeria, either in search of employment opportunities or in fear of the myth of being killed by wicked or envious neighbors. The resulting desolation was awesome and pitiful.

We decided to establish a non-religious, but all embracing socio-cultural gathering that can attract our sons and daughters back home every year:-

i. To engender and promote fellowship;

ii. To encourage the rehabilitation or reconstruction of family houses and compounds;

iii. To encourage the establishment of cottage and small-scale industrial ventures;

iv. To promote the expansion of commerce and business activities;

v. To alleviated the pervading level of poverty through family support and encouragement; and VI To engender, re-kindle, and promote civic pride in the advancement ofOwu nation and people.

THE RESPONSE SO FAR

Olowu Odeleye

Olowu Adisa Odeleye

Our people’s response to our clarion call has exceeded our imagination and expectation. Owu people all over Nigeria and the diaspora have responded with glee. They come from Lagos, Ibadan, Warri, Port Harcourt, Kano, Sokoto, Benue, Benin Republic; indeed from everywhere including London and Texas in the United States of America. The response this year is obviously greater.

Also, the rehabilitation and reconstruction of dilapidated family houses or compounds have commenced in earnest. A typical case in point worthy of emulation is the complete rehabilitation and expoansion of the Latasu Family Compound at Owu Ogbe Town, Abeokuta by Olootu Gbolahan Ogo-Oluwa Bankole, of Premier Paint fame. Several other eminent sons and daughters are renovating, rehabilitating or expanding their family houses to contemporary modem standards.

We are pleased indeed for this enthusiastic response to our call to RENEW OWU physically, morally and spiritually.

THE RE-STRUCTURING OF OWU TOWNSHIPS

An essential step forward in the renewal of Owu Abeokuta and its people is the physical and administrative restructuring of Owu Townships.

When we arrived Abeokuta 168 years ago (in 1834), we were classified as 3 Townships; VIZ: Owu, Erunmu and Apomu. Over the years, this classification gave the wrong impression that we are the smallest group of the federating units. There were two fallacies in this conception:

  1. Because we were the last to arrive, only a comparatively small space was available for our teeming contingent and a larger majority of Owu People found space in the numerous towns and villages established far and near from Abeokuta;
  2. Because the Owu people are largely homogenous, no cognizance was taken of the number amidst of Owu family compounds among which there was family differentiations. Owu was therefore wrongly assumed to be one township.

Whereas the family compounds making up units of many Egba Townships were

Akin-Olugbade Social Center, Abeokuta

Akin-Olugbade Social Center, Abeokuta

relatively few’ (often  ranging between 10-20), in Owu there are over 300 compounds, in Erunmu 19 and in Apomu 8.

Surely, this anomaly calls for a re-structuring to correct previous mis-representation, and to allow for proper decentralization of the administration of urban infrastructures and facilities, and social units.

This re-structuring exercise had engaged our attention for the past two years culminating in the intensive efforts of the Owu Central Committee charged with the actualization of the project. This, Central Committee, working for the past nine months has produced a re-structuring plan indicating 19 Townships for Owu, 1 for Erunmu Owu, and 1 for Apomu Owu. This gives a total of 21 Townships for the Owu section of Abeokuta urban area. See Appendix A for the list of the new structure.

All Owu villages and towns in the Abeokuta North Local Government, Ewekoro Local Government, Ifo Local Government, and Ado-Odo/Otta Local Government areas can trace their family compounds to these 21 Towns in Abeokuta.

Today, we thank God that an anomaly, which had persisted for 168 years is now being corrected for the proper edification and development of the Owu domain in Egbaland. Now that the administration of the Owu people in Egbaland is being decentralized by the appointment of leaders and Chiefs for each of the 21 Townships in Owu, we expect a rapid transformation of our domain for the economic, social and physical benefit of our people.

Long live the 21 Township, Long live Owuland.

DEVELOPMENT OF OWU CENTRAL MARKET ABEOKUTA

Another effort at the Renewal of Owu is the desire for Economic Enhancement.

Last year we made an effort to Launch a Development Fund for the Construction of Owu Central Market at Ita-Iyalode, Owu, Abeokuta. Obviously, a project of this magnitude cannot be started and completed with funds raised at only one launching activity.

Some of the N3.5 million (Three Million Five Hundred Naira Only) realized last year is being expended towards the acquisition of the site, and the preliminary preparation of the project’s technical documentation.

We have proposed a project estimate of some N100million (One Hundred Million Naira only) for the phase one of the CENTRAL MARKET. You will all help us to actualize this dream if you donate generously towards the project fund. It is my earnest hope that nobody leaves this arena without honouring us with a donation, however little.

We pray that God will abundantly reward you for you thoughtful, kind and generous contribution to the Fund.

I again heartily bid you WELCOME and wish you a happy and enjoyable OWllJ DAY FESTIVAL, and at the end travelling mercies home.

God Bless You All

His Majesty

OBA (DR.) OLAWALE ADISA ODELEYE, Lagbedu 1

The Olowu of Owu, Abeokuta.

An address by Olowu Lagbedu 1 on the occasion of the 3rd Owu-Day Festival Celebration on 24th August 2002 at the Coronation Ground, Ita-Iyalode, Owu, Abeokuta.

Omo Olowu Festival Kicks Off In Grand Style

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Omo-Olowu Festival logo

Omo-Olowu Festival logo

On friday 8th an Saturday 9th of October 2010, a new chapter in the annals of Owu Kingdom history unfolded with the rejuvenation of a long discarded ancient festival of the  Owu people, the Odun-Omo-Olowu… And this time it came back to life amidst fanfare and high profile chieftaincy bestowment to top business moguls and functionaries from the Nigerian Presidency including the Vice President, the Chief of Staff and the Minister for the Niger Delta, in a who-is-who parade which also featured the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuade as the Royal Guest of Honour.

Of course the ‘Ebora Owu’ himself in the calling of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, the Balogun and Prime Minister of Owu Kingdom couldn’t but be there to receive all the dazzling and head-spinning visitors from Abuja, Ile-Ife and sunder!

The current Olowu, Oba (Dr) Adegboyega Dosunmu, tagged with the royal salutations of ‘Kangunere’, ‘Akobi-Oodua’, ‘Amiwo-Aja’, seemed bent on jolting the memory of the world that he was groomed as an entertainer, a TV producer and a dramatist, away from his pastoral and royal callings, by staging a highly dramatised and entertaining festival, amidst a pronounced pomp, and pageantry!

The annual traditional Owu Day Festival has given way to this revitalized Omo-Olowu festival which shall henceforth replace the previous festival every October. Much like the world renowned German Oktoberfest, the Carnivals at Rio and Trinidad & Tobego, the Junkanoo of Nassau in the Bahamas and the local Eyo festival of nearby Lagos, the Odun-Omo Olowu is poised to launch the people of Owu Kingdom into the realms of annual global cultural entertainment if  the pace of this inaugural edition is in anyway sustained!

Kudos to the organizers. Kudos to Kangunere – He really did shook the Buffalo by the horns this time around!

Be on the look out for the full featured report coming soon on these pages and on our twin site under construction but open, Owulakoda.com!