In Osogbo, Osun State, the natives obviously are aware of one very fact that their major festival – the Osun Osogbo, is synonymous to rain, and if this year’s festival is anything to go by, the rain that fell on Friday, August 19, attested to this argument. Although the last year’s edition of the festival may not have experienced this usual rain that normally accompanies the event as an abysmal sun, which lasted till seven in the evening, rented the atmosphere, giving room to speculations that something must have spiritually gone amiss, it has been the tradition that the rain must fall as a sign of purity.
Like other river goddesses – Oya, Okota, Osun for ages, according to her worshippers, does not only put smiles on the faces of women by giving them children, but ensures that the children remain healthy at all times.
Speaking at the event, the National Coordinator of the Oodua People’s Congress, OPC and Chief Promoter, Olokun Festival Foundation, Otunba Gani Adams said that the river goddess is described as beneficent and generous, noting that her love for children is unrivalled and surpasses all other loves.
“Osun is not a goddess to be called upon lightly; she is a goddess that demands you to be strong, honorable and true to yourself.”
One thing that distinguishes Osun festival from others like Oya and Okota however is the large population it draws, as many of its enthusiasts from far and wide visit the groves, and the last was no different. This consequently brought about financial gain for the people. In his submission, Adams charged the government to richly invest in culture and tourism, as it would significantly contribute to the economic development of the country.
“Cultural festivals no doubt contribute significantly to the cultural and economic development of a country. Therefore, the government of Nigeria should seize the initiative to create a platform that can be annexed to draw the attention of the world to our potentials as a people, as well as every other thing that is good about us,” he stated.
In the same vein, the Olokun Festival chief promoter further lauded the contribution of the royal father, the Ataoja of Osogbo Land, Oba Jimoh Olanipekun and the people for their doggedness in ensuring that the Osun Osogbo festival continues to thrive.
“For more than 100 years, the people have consistently organised this beautiful festival despite the growing difficulties our people face from foreign religions and interests.”
He however lamented the poor attitude of many Yorubas to their cultural heritage.
“I am particularly worried that more than 100 years after our forefathers started the fight to free themselves from the shackles of slavery our people still wallow
in self-pity and ignorance about their heritage.
“While it is true that the early European colonialists, out of ignorance and a deliberate effort to denigrate the black man, derided the culture, custom, religion, political organisation, science, commerce, and everything about the so-called “primitive” peoples of the world, but we have continued to sink deeper into ignorance and bigotry.
“For beginners, it is very important that you realize that culture plays very important roles in the daily life of a man.
“It is for this reason that our elders regard a man without culture as a dead man. What this means is that culture is life. It is the way we live, the way we eat, dress and work. Adams further enjoined the gathering not to allow the Yoruba cultural heritage go into extinction, urging the people – as true sons of Oodua, to rediscover its sense of values.
“We must begin genuine effort to teach our children about the history and culture of their forefathers so that we don’t get lost in the wilderness,” he counselled.