The indigenes of Ero- Okeliwo Community, Ijebu Ife Ogun State, on Saturday, gathered people from all walks of life to their town for the celebration of Ero – Okeliwo Festival 2017.
In what was branded as ‘Celebration of Our Ancestors”, the indigenes of the community who trooped out in their multitude, happily and in high mood expressed their pride as put succinctly by the Baale elect, Chief Adeleke Oyesanya as he said, “we are happy today as we celebrate with our vigour and might, with our resources injected, the rich cultural – tourism assets bequeathed to us by our fore fathers. We are happy to celebrate and flaunt these inestimable heritages and will not be tired doing this every year. “The spirit of unity of purpose which exists in the community was exhibited when Reverend Deyi Aiyegboyin, was called upon to pray and did this faithfully as if it was a church programme and it was embraced by all.
Mr Wale Adedayo, a prominent son of the community in his welcome speech revealed that “We decided to revitalise, resuscitate, renew, re-invigorate, enhance and revive the cultural heritage which is not only unique to this town but of immense value to the socio – political history of this area, the town, the state and Yoruba land in general”
He revealed, “What we are doing today is not exhuming a dead culture or raising up from the dead a primitive tradition , but we consciously are revitalising , re-awakening and retuning our minds to the economic values of our traditional festival and culture . It is the time for our people to know the benefits that are inherent in celebration of our traditional festival and culture which is beyond dances, merriment and entertaining.”
Mr Adedayo said, “It is on this mind process that we chose the theme of this year to be ‘Using tourism to revive our economy ‘and we got Wale Ojo–Lanre, Associate Editor , Nigerian Tribune, who is eminently qualified with years of field experience to do justice to this topic . And we are happy he is here “
Ojo–Lanre in his paper titled ‘Using Tourism to Revive Our Culture, ‘commended the indigenes of the community for rising up at this time to pick the topic as its theme of this year’s festival at this point in time that the nation was searching for alternate revenue sources and ways out of the present economic recession.
He enumerated the economic import of tourism and exposed how some developing nations had used tourism to transform to developed nations
Ojo–Lanre called the attention of the community and the guests to the fact that this year’s Okeliwo Festival celebration which brought a lot of visitors to the community also brought a lot of money as the visitors would have purchased or spent money on one item or the other.
“When a deluge of tourists visit a place for a day or more than a day certainly they will spend money in that community, the money which they would not have spent there if they had stayed in the various places where they are domiciled “
Ojo–Lanre called on the Federal government to separate the Ministry of Culture and Tourism from the Ministry of Information and Culture pointing out that “no serious nation which is desirous of planting a robust tourism economy will bury the driving organ under another Ministry”
He also called the nation to learn from Malaysia , a country of 28 million population which shares similar attributes and geographical features with Nigeria but has utilised these features in building its tourism revenue and which lured over 27 .5 million tourists to the country last year”
The event showcased Okeliwo as a paragon of traditional culture, arts and heritage inherited from their ancestors which emphasised on unity, brotherhood and convivial relationship.
The guests which included the representative of Otunba Gani Adams, National Cordinator, Oodua Peoples’ Congress, OPC and Global Convener, Oodua Progressive Union, OPU, Ogun State Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Anbai Akeem Olatunji, who is also an indigene of Okeliwo and who came with a powerful delegate, Mr Steven, Goodwill Adedamola, were visibly excited by the various cultural stunts packaged for the events.
These stunts include the puppet show of unity, an act which revealed the fact that Africans are the originator of puppetry which was only packaged and branded by the European.
According to Hon Tayo Odusanya, Counsellor representing Okeliwo at the Local government, “You can see the puppet show. This is one of the heritages left for us by our ancestors. The whole package of the puppetry depicts life in this community, whereby you can see the Muslim, the traditional believers, all relating peacefully without any tiff.”
If the puppet show was super, the appearance of a 200 years old crocodile which crawled majestically out of an enclosure set jubilation among the indigents who danced, sang and recited prayers.
According to Mr Samson Adebayo, “Oh! We are happy; we are excited, for being able to add value to the heritage of our ancestor. We are excited for being able to satisfy the quests of our ancestors who might be thinking that we are prodigal. Ero is happy that the inherited crocodile is not only alive but still vibrant as of old. We have to thank all, especially, Wale Adedayo for being a good son of the soil and others who have ensured that this festival holds”
The Okeliwo Festival 2017 also brought out the act of creativity in the youths of the community as one of them stunned the guests with spectacular stunting acts with the motorbike which he manipulated and manoeuvred in different heartbreaking displays.
The festivals programmes of events also showed the level of cooperation and relationship in the community as every segment of it had a package to showcase for the guests; the young ladies had a wonderful show while the young girls’ dazzled all with china which refused to fall from their hands despite the frenzy of spinning and the guests would not forget in a hurry the waist beads (bebes) stuff ‘of the ladies group.
Icing the event was the awesome performance of the Sango show and the wonderful magical feat and wonders wrought at the event by the young men of the community
The Sango, which ate coal of burning fire life and also displayed an unbelievable power as a mortal was put on her flat chest with a man pounding ceaselessly without the Sango baiting an eyelid. This was buffeted by the magical power displayed by another group which did many unfathomable acts!
Mr Adedayo in joyful mood said “You can see what we have. You can see what we own. You can see what we can offer. You can see what we inherited. A proud heritage. Should we allow these to go into extinction because of ignorance, imported culture or civilization? No, we are looking beyond all the cultural colonial stereotypes but forging ahead by enhancing these, promoting these and enabling our people to make money out of these. I thank all who have contributed to the success of this event. I thank Ojo – Lanre for his brilliant lecture, grateful to Otunba Gani Adams for the representation. On behalf community, we promise a bigger show next year.