BY ISHOLA BALOGUN
It was really a scintillating occasion as sons and daughters of Epe, Lagos state, trooped out recently to pay homage to HRM Oba Shefiu Olatunji Adewale, Bangbopa Esilokun 1, the Olu-Epe of Epe Kingdom. For the Oba, it was meant to be a low-key event to prepare ground for the forthcoming Kayo-Kayo, another festival known with Epe community but the people immersed in celebration of a popular and amiable traditional leader, they put aside every other thing to pay homage and present their gifts to the palace.
Several clans and quarters clad in different Aso-ebi, danced their way to the Oba’s palace in turn to pay their homage. The elated Kabiyesi blessed them and urged unity amongst all.
Speaking with Saturday Vanguard earlier, the Olu-Epe of Epe said he had used the last one year on his throne to foster unity among the Eko-Epe and Ijebu-Epe. He said: “I’ve been working on bringing unity between the two communities. I’ve not completed it all but up to 70 per cent.
The Ijebu Epe attended my coronation. Both communities were well represented and that gives an indication that there is unity. For instance, the two chief Imams of the two communities were present with their officials and very many other members of the communities. In a way it is a big achievement.
I am trying relentlessly to bridge whatever dichotomy and differences between the two communities. I know God will do it for us. But I must tell you I am satisfied with what I have done within a year. We will improve on it.”
The Obas stressed that in any place where there is no unity, there can never be progress.
The town which is battling for development in terms of infrastructure and economic activities, according to him will have a fresh breath of developmental strides if every body buries the hatchet. He stated: “What caused this in the past was that one community was trying to lord it over the other and because of that government was not willing to do anything in the area, they would rather take it to another place. But all that is now a thing of the past.
He dismissed the notion that politicians in the area have not been doing enough to fast-track development in the area. He said: No, they have been doing a lot but because of the disunity, it makes it difficult. In the past, some factories were to be sited between Ikorodu and Epe, four were cited at Ikorodu and only two were cited in Epe, but the two did not work because of the disunity. For example the Lagos State Breweries was sold and now a home for sachet water even the Milling Industry at Shalla, all the equipment were brought to the site but because of lack of unity, it did not survive.”
Advising politicians, sons and daughters of the town, the Olu Epe of Epe stated that politicians in the two communities should unite in order to fast-track development. They should tolerate each other and shed the toga of ‘I’m stronger or wealthier than you’, everybody from Epe should see himself as Epe and not Eko or Ijebu. We should work towards the progress of Epe” he stated.
Each quarter in the community paid homage to the Olu-Epe led by the chief in the quarter. These are Okebaloguns, Bado-Okes, Bado-Isales, Isale-Agoros, Oke-Posus,etc.
Kabiyesi said: “I wish to emphasis that it is a borrowed culture, it is not our heritage, we did not bring it from Lagos and that is why up till now the Lagos Obas don’t celebrate it. Based on that, I instructed that activities should be scaled down and as the name implies, Ojude-Oba, it must be done in the front of my palace.”
Next month, it will be Kayo-kayo (candle light). This is our real heritage, we brought it from Lagos and we will do it the way it should be done not sparing anything. As a result, I am using this medium to call on all sons and daughters of this town to join hands in making the forthcoming Kayo-Kayo a memorable one. That is why I ordered that activities should be scaled down in order that we may be well prepared for Kayo-kayo coming next month. It is a state festival, we have worked hard for it to be approved and it has so been approved as a state festival. But I want us to improve on it so that the celebration will justify the name Kayo-Kayo.
He noted that Epe, Ibadan, Abeokuta started about the same time, citing that with several communities in Abeokuta and Ibadan development is not stagnan. He advised the people of Epe generally to bury their hatchet, embrace one another, unite so as to usher in development.
The ojude-oba was an evening of good menu, an infectious atmosphere of chumminess by those who waited behind.