THE Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Babatunde Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, on Thursday, hosted Octogenarians in Lagos, and called on the Yoruba Traditional Institution to celebrate the elderly.
Speaking at the 2016 edition of the ‘Olojo Festival Corporate Forum’, he said it was imperative for Nigerians to regularly celebrate the Octogenarians. The traditional ruler said: “We are yet to celebrate our elders, we must celebrate them, institutions must celebrate them, not just their children. We know God has given them children, it is beyond their children.
We must let people know about our elders, these are powerful elders in Nigeria. We see them as mere elders, they are not. They have shaped this country one way or the other.” Oba Ogunwusi, who said he decided to invite Yoruba elders, promised to replicate it in other zones of the country. “By virtue of the position God has placed on me, we can now use that position and replicate it in all the parts of this country. but charity begins at home, I must start as the Yoruba father,” he said.
In addition, he said: “the powers of this world belong to God, the next in line are the elders. They (elders) have seen it all. When elders sit together and call anybody and they tell the person the truth and you don’t want to listen, it is up to you and God, woe betide such a person.”
Yoruba leaders present at the event include: former Attorney General and the Minister of Justice of Nigeria, Prince Bola Ajibola; former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Olu Falae; Otunba Subomi Balogun, Otunba Adekunle Ojora, Erelu Ojuolape Ojora, former Minister of Health, Prince Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi; Afenifere chieftain, Chief Olanihun Ajayi and Chief Ayo Adebanjo, founder of the Oodua Peoples Congress, OPC, Dr Frederick Fasehun; Amb Omotayo Ogunsulure, Chief Alex Duduyemi. Others are: Chief Idowu Shofola, SAN, Amb Adekuoye Adeugba, Alhaji Lateet Okunnu, Chief Mosa Omisore and a retired Professor of Economics, Prince Adeyemi Adeoye Aderibigbe Ologbenla.
In his remarks, the guest speaker, who is a Researcher at the Kwara State University, Mr. Oluremi Adebayo, called on people from the South-West not to allow their culture diminish.
Adebayo, who doubles as the Director of Heritage Sites and Monuments, National Museum and Monuments, said that the cultural heritage of the Yoruba man is festival noting that the country’s culture will never diminish even if its oil diminishes. .
His words: “From time immemorial, our forefathers celebrated festivals and most importantly used it for thanksgiving, they used it to praise God and bring communities together; they cherish the love and unity they have established.
“Today, we have lost these because of religion, modernisation and whatever we think we are. Nigeria is crying, the oil is diminishing, the oil will diminish but your culture will never diminish. What we have, we must hold. There are so many festivals in Yoruba land that can be turned around within the Yoruba region, within Nigeria to boost the economy.”
“Olojo festival is just one of it. We have heard a lot about the festival and we know the importance of the celebration, but how much of economy have we brought out of our festivals?. We have been shying away from our responsibilities because we felt it must sit at the back. The Yoruba nation must not sit at the back, we must be at the forefront of development and the only thing we have is to use our culture to develop. We must rally round the obas and project our culture to be one”, he said.
Speaking further, he said, “Nigeria is in distress because everybody is running after oil, oil is in the soil, but culture is on the surface. Whatever is higher will always be higher and whatever is lower will always be lower. If our culture is higher why don’t we project our culture? Every community in Nigeria has its culture, there are so many countries of the world that do not have oil, they rely on their culture to promote tourism.
“The only way we can promote tourism as a nation is to emphasise our culture, there are more than 200 deities being worshipped in Ile-Ife but how many are left, most of the cultures are deteriorating. We have not been decorating them because of religion and education, we need to look back and see what we have lost, it is what we have lost that will bring back the glory.”
On the need to see the Olojo festival as an avenue to boost the nation’s economy, he said “We want to tell the world that we are a powerful nation as Yoruba. If we can invite 10 percent of Nigeria population to the Olojo Festival, imagine what investment that would mean to Nigeria. This is the time to work together and time for unity. Let us exploit our culture and bring back the glory of the Yoruba nation, he said.”