Using Ojúde Ọba Festival as an Ideology for a New Nigeria - by Seun Sobola - THE BUSINESS PACKAGE


Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Using Ojúde Ọba Festival as an Ideology for a New Nigeria - by Seun Sobola

Let us demonstrate not only the epistemological adequacy of our culture in its totality, but also the fact that culture is socially and historically mediated. Culture is man, man is culture. It represents the shared values, beliefs, symbols, religions, kingships and behaviours of a people. Culture guides their decisions and actions and it is but a tool that unites and aids effective communication among them. 

Such a combination of passion and vigour, of the playwright, Soyinka, all existing in one soul, distinguishes his traditionally-rooted character, Baroka, in The Lion and the Jewel, who finds it needed to bribe the surveyor who came to measure the land for the construction of the railway project in Ilunjinle. But, when all is said, it is still possible to systematise with Baroka’s hybrid remarks that “The old must flow Into the new, Sidi, Not blind itself or stand foolishly Apart” (Soyinka, 1962:54). 

Indeed, it is not only when the totality of literary texts are imputed into the totality of the reality of the nation that the real critical practise comes up, but it is then that a critical discussion can be made to gestate the very critical social reality. The man of culture did not die after all, he merely went abroad for a respite! Therefore, let us freshen our minds with the edifying history of comparative criticism between tradition and modernism. 

T. S. Eliot, we need to remind ourselves, was actually writing as an outsider, that a genuine man is not one who ends up forgetting his root and tradition because true art is not borne out of “personal life of the artist”. It is true to say that I am the artist, you are the artist. And even when “Japa” becomes key context, it is but inevitable that a call for a traditional cultural practice  is primarily a call for its decolonisation from thieving critical ideologies such as democracy, federalism, republicanism, military amongst others. 

Paradoxically, those developed countries we seem to look up to, today, have suitably found succours in one profound ideology or the other. In America, the framework is “lesser government” which means that the government has less control of the citizens, less taxes and more individual rights. In China, it is communism where all the citizens are opened to many civil rights: free speech, press, worships and a shared sense of communality. But in Nigeria, there is  hardly an ideology to talk about.

To go into history is not only to put the issue in proper perspective but to show that there has been a continuous critical problem that needs a sense of urgency and devotion. Even when the National Youth Service Corps, initiated in (1973) was designed to enable the youths acquire the spirit of self reliance and an ideology of promoting national unity and integration, the question remains: Has the National Youth Service Corps truly cushioned the effects of the general impulses of educated youths who are left unemployed? Along similar lines, it would be politely okay to make allowance for those ideals which are contained in the Nigerian national pledge and whether they have been able to retain good values in the young ones. But the answer to the question is left for later. 

Yet it is clear that even those who strive to uphold good virtues of the new nation may not necessarily withstand the strains for a long time. This is why today, Nigerian youths, are captioned under headlines such as “EFCC arrests suspected 34 Yahoo boys in Delta”, in another, “EFCC arrests 21 alleged Yahoo boys in Abuja”. But it must be said that the sensitivity and rigour that must characterise all-round framework of the Nigeria nation is an ideology. This ideology is in our culture. It is rooted in Ojúde-Oba. 

Ojúde-Oba symbolises communality. Ojude-Oba festival is an ancient festival  celebrated by the Muslim people of Ijebu-Ode, a town in Ogun State, Southwestern  part of Nigeria. This annual festival  usually takes  place on the  third day after Eid  al-Kabir (Ileya). It is one of the most spiritual and glamorous festivals celebrated in Ijebuland and generally in Ogun State  as a whole. It is a festival  whereby  different cultural age groups known as indigenes, their  friends,  and  associates  far  and  near, parades  at  the  front  of  the  king’s palace.

Ojúde-Oba’s one-day celebration of culture, fashion, glamour, candour, beauty and royalty as sons and daughters of Ijebuland, advocates for the strengthening of all Ijebuland communities, gives a sense of identity to them and preserves the traditional cultures. Groups come with drums, dances, gifts amongst others to the feet of the King to pray for him and wish him a fruitful tenure and long life.

From Ijebu-Igbo to Imota, Ikorodu, Epe, Ijebu-Isiwo, Ogun Waterside, Iwopin, Lekki in Lagos State, Ijebu-Imushin, Ijebu-Ife, Apunren, Erunwon, Isonyin, Ososa, Odogbolu and Ago-Iwoye, people come out in large numbers to project their local pride and community spirit in culture. Ojude-Oba provides recreational  activities  and  spending  markets  for locals  and tourists. Therefore, to achieve a profound identity with which the totality of Ijebuland can be merged and built for the purpose of social cohesion and togetherness, the call for Ojude-Oba cannot be greater. It is not hard to see why Ijebuland for a greater ability synthesised and combined an ability which comes from deep study and comprehensive knowledge of their culture, have yielded them prudent individuals such as Mike Adenuga, Subomi Balogun, Folorunso Alakija, Oba Otudeko, late Jubril Martins-Kuye, Hon. Adesegun Adekoya, Gbenga Daniel amongst others. It is not hard to see why the royalty, life and culture of the people have remained in full process of totalisation involved in genuine communal creation of Ijebu. And it is not hard to see why those in the Diaspora come home to celebrate the culture’s practices. It is communal. It is our heaven on earth. And in such cultural world, a “self-sacrifice” to the special awareness of the past must be achieved, particularly in Nigeria. 

Seun Sobola, a first class graduate of English, writes from Abeokuta.

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