The Olojo Festival is a culture festival in the calendar of the Ile-Ife, Osun State which is located in the Southwestern part of Nigeria. It is the celebration of the remembrance of “Ogun”, god of Iron, who is believed to be the first son of Oduduwa, progenitor of the Yoruba people. The festival is held annually in October.
On this day, the Ooni (king of Ife) appears after several days of seclusion and denial communing with the ancestors and praying for his people. This is to make him pure and ensure the efficacy of his prayers. Before the Ooni emerges, women from his maternal and paternal families sweep the Palace, symbolically ridding the Palace of evil.
The Ooni later appears in public with the Are crown (King’s Crown), which is believed to be the original crown used by Oduduwa to lead a procession of traditional Chiefs and Priests to perform at the Shrine of Ogun. The next stage of the ceremony is to lead the crowd to Okemogun’s shrine. Here he performs duties including the renewal of oath, divination for the Ooni at the foot of Oketage hill by Araba (Chief Priest), as well as visiting places of historical importance.
At the shrine, the traditional Chiefs with the swords of office marked with chalk and cam wood, appear in ceremonial attire and dance to rhythms from Bembe, a traditional drum. The style of grum and singing for each Chief is different. Only the Ooni can dance to the drum called Osirigi.
Olojo has remained popular in Ile-Ife because of its myth and history. It connotes the day in the year specially blessed by Olodumare (the creator of the Universe). Olojo can also be literally translated as the “Owner for the day”. Prayers are offered for peace and tranquility in Yoruba and Nigeria. All age groups participate. Its significance is the unification of the Yorubas.
Tradition holds that Ile-Ife is the cradle of the Yorubas, the city of survivors, spiritual seat of the Yorubas, and land of the ancients.
As the Olojo festival climax on Saturday in Ile-Ife, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Eniitan Ogunwusi emerged from seclusion to host personalities at his Ile-Oodua Palace.
The monarch emerged from Seven days seclusion which was dedicated to commune with the Olodumare to cleanse the land of the ravaging coronavirus pandemic.
The event was attended by monarchs from Ekiti, Osun, Oyo and the Republic of Benin has government functionaries in attendance too, including Osun State Governor Adegboyega Oyetola and the APC state Chairman, Prince Gboyega Famodun.
Colour was added to the festival with the parade of different Yoruba deities by Students of the Institute of Cultural Studies of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife and the paying obeisance to the Ooni by the various Ife Monarch, Cults and Chiefs.
The Ooni of Ife, Adeyeye Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, on Sunday moved into Ile Mole, Iremo Quarters, Ile-Ife, for seven-day seclusion as the ancient Olojo Festival kicks off in the city.
The monarch appeared in his usual white traditional attire laced with colourful ancient beads on his way out of the Ile Oodua Palace of Ife.
He told journalists that he will use the spiritual moment of seclusion as a point of contact with God Almighty towards the total eradication of the coronavirus as well as for peace and stability in the country.
Oba Ogunwusi explained that the Olojo is a festival that connotes a strong indication of God’s creation and the day of the first dawn on earth.
“I am going into seclusion; I am going into fasting and prayer in the ways of our ancestors.
“As you know, we’re gradually winning the war against coronavirus and we must indeed be thankful because we are not superior to those countries being crippled by this pandemic.
“After the seven-day seclusion, there follows the climax of it, which is the procession of the sacred Aare crown with which we will pray for the entire nation and humanity.
“Every move of the Aare procession is highly significant, including the junctions of spiritual and historical significance where I would make supplications and prayers to our ancestors.
“The first junction indicates where the first dawn came and that is where we must stop, followed by where the pathfinder deity, which we call Ogun sighted the first dawn and that is Oke-Mogun.
“When I came down from the hill, there was turmoil among the deities because Aare is the first monarchical crown.
“At some point they all converged at Ita Oranfe, where they all agreed that kingship and organisation should commence and that is where the modern day democracy and other forms of government emanated from,” he said.
The ARЀ is an ornamentally embellished sacred and symbolic crown which the Oonirisa wears once in a year during the Olojo Festival’s cultural procession. The sacredness and authority of this beaded Crown can be traced to the first King that ruled the whole world. He is called NIMROD – by the Hebrews, LAMURUDU as known by the Yorubas or ARAMPHAEL – as called by Arabs (Ora Ife onile ina). He ruled the whole world ruthlessly with the exhibition of the power of the Sun and Fire and without recourse and respect for OLODUMARE, the Almighty God.
Consequent upon Nimrod’s confrontational attitude to the Almighty, God raised Oduduwa – the Deity of prayers (ti oba ina ja, o da ina,o ba oorun ja ,o da orun) he fought fire and conquered fire, fought sun and conquered sun. Oduduwa is called Dua by Arabs, Adura by Yorubas and Adua by most ancient tribes of the world. He neutralized subdued, conquered and totally eliminated Aramphael who never wore the sacred Aare crown. But Oduduwa was the first to wear the crown that descended to the earth from Oke Ora hills in Ife.
ODUDUWA’s mandate is to establish structures and make the world a better place for mankind. Thus during his second coming through chain, unlike his first coming as a spirit being in charge of prayers in the presence of Olodumare -“Olu odu to mo Ade Are”. OODUA became the first beaded crown wearing King in the world – THE ARЀ CROWN. Oduduwa hereafter, established the royal ruling system of governance in the world whilst the beaded crown became an inheritance of Oonirisa in Ile to n fe – ILE-IFE. This is IFE OOYELAGBO.
The symbolic elements of the are Crown are as follows:
a. Profile – Shape of a full rainbow – Osumare (Osu to mo Aare)
b. Colour – Full colour spectrum of the rainbow
c. Front Piece – 4 Cardinal points – N,S,E,W
d. Front Surround – Symbolizes day
e. Black support – Symbolizes night
f. Three sections – Trinitarian trials of mankind morning, afternoon & night (Every human being undergoes 3 seasons of existence)
g. Three Feathers – Made of African Grey Parrot tail feathers – symbolizing clarity of vision spiritually
h. Brass – Symbolizes longevity