Michael Olanrewaji, Ilorin.
As plans are underway for the annual “Ijakadi Festival” in Offa, Kwara State, the organisers says the annual cultural event has been fully transformed and it’s capable of promoting the country positively on the international tourism map.
Mr Maruf Ajenifuja, the National Public Relations Officer of Offa Descendants Union (ODU) made this disclosure during an interaction with newsmen in Offa, Kwara State on Monday.
According to him, the 2019 Ijakadi Festival, which is the 8th in the series, will commence on Tuesday Dec. 24 with environmental sanitation and a special prayer in the community.
The festival, with the theme: “A Cultural Revival for Economic Growth”, will climax on Saturday Dec. 28 with the symbolic cutting of yam and a royal novelty wrestling bout between the Olofa of Offa, Oba Muftau Gbadamosi and his Second-in-Command, Eesa of Offa, Chief Yunus Bukoye.
Ajenifuja said the over 600 year-old festival, which symbolises equality and fairness, had continued to promote the growth, progress and socio-economic development among the people of the community.
He said the festival had been transformed with unique side attractions, through private patnership participation, in adding the desired colour and glamour as an international tourism destination.
He added that the Central Working Committee of the 2019 festival had unveiled new logo as a way of projecting the community and showcasing innovations that can unlock investment opportunities.
Ajenifuja added further that the festival like other recognised cultural events such as Osun Osogbo, Eyo Festival in Lagos and the Argungun fishing festival in Sokoto are veritable platforms toward diversifying the nation’s economy, if fully harnessed.
“The festival has brought an amazing sense of belonging among Offa indigenes and neighbours for cultural and socio-economic Interaction, fostering unity and cohesiveness.
“The Ijakadi Festival of today is a clear departure from the yesteryears, it’s fully transformed in attracting the desired international recognition, investment and economic boost.
“In order to spice up Ijakadi festival, it has now been transformed “bigger and better” with a combination of colourful activities that will trickle our cultural fantasies.
“The Ijakadi annual event now features Cultural Parade by the six districts of Offa (Eesa, Ojomu, Balogun, Saawo, Asalofa and Igbodun) in their fabulous and arresting colours;
“The Arewa Offa Beauty Pageant competition; a Food Expo to showcase different food produce and products available in Offa Kingdom especially sweet potato (the staple food of the Offa people),
“Sport Competitions, Moremi Play, excursions to historical sites, Rara Sisun; and Traditional Wrestling competition.
“Other icings of the cake of the Ijakadi festival are exhibitions by various cultural groups, paying of homage by district heads and their lieutenants to the Olofa.
“This pseudo wrestling bout between the Olofa and the Essa, his second-in-command, is a demonstration of the 14th century phenomenon that happened between the two brothers who engaged each other in a prolonged wrestling bout.
“On that fateful day, two brothers were returning with 6 tubers of yams from the family farm in the then outskirts of Offa, and needed to wash the yam and also took their bath at Enji river on their way home.
“In the end, one of the tubers of yam was washed away by the river and this triggered controversy between the two brothers as the elder brother announced the sharing formular as 3:2 in his favour, adding that the yam tuber taken away by the river belonged to the younger brother.
“The younger brother protested against the sharing formular and subsequently, a wrestling bout erupted like volcano between the two of them and lasted for long hours which attracted the attention of an old man who took then to the then Olofa to make truce between them.
“At Olofa’s Palace, Olofa in his high wisdom shared two yams to each of them and invited his marksman (Odofa) to cut the fifth yam into two equal halves while being blindfolded to ensure equity.
“Afterthis episode, Olofa asked the feuding brothers that: ‘se mo laare (did I share it equally)’ and they responded to Olofa: ‘e laare (you shared it equally).
“What has come to stay out of this circumstance is the eulogy, Laare, buure, ikan ko gbodo j’ukan. This ‘Laare’ (equity) mantra has been adopted by all sons and daughters of Offa as a guiding philosophy in their daily lives,” he said.