By BASHIR ADEFAKA
The atmosphere at the ancient kingdom of Owu was filled with festivity as prominent Nigerians gathered at the Gateway Secondary School, Ita-Iyalode, Abeokuta for Odun Omo Olowu, a new yam festival celebrated by Owu people.
The Odun Omo Olowu has a routine that is followed annually, which was precisely what happened this year except for the additional programme of dedicating a church built by the monarch. It started with activities such as road show, the popular Ayo games, visits by the Olowu to traditional and historic places, special jumat service and sports all culminated into the grand finale, which took place on Saturday October 5 with all the glamorous cultural and traditional beauties that made the Odun Omo Olowu a standout.
The event proper was set aglow with cultural displays, which started with a lineup of Owu warriors, dressed in black traditional war attires each bearing lifeless guns in his hands and dancing to catch the interest of the Olowu, who was flanked on his right by former President Olusegun Obasanjo and on his left by his wife, Olori Bosun Dosunmu.
Ostensibly ecstatic the way he looked, Oba Olusanya Dosunmu waved his irukere to the performing troops from his high seat as they danced and sang their cultural war songs, just the way it used to be in the early days of Owu warriors.
There were also the masquerade dance, female harvesters’ dance, the Isan dancers shows and the king’s cutting of yam into slices, an activity that was rousingly applauded and the yam slices passed round to attendees to share. The Isan dance was a dance of nine men dressed in traditional attires. The men who appeared from both sides of the high stage danced round a pot wrapped round with white cloth and nine thin rods (Isan) bearing spirals on it. Each dancer danced round the stage and returned it into the pot and disappeared until they completed nine, indicating the number of years the king had spent on the thrown.
This year’s edition of the festival had come and gone but the glitters that came with it would never be wished away in a hurry. It was the 14th of such festival to happen in the Owu Kingdom, Abeokuta, Ogun State but nineth to been held under Dr. Olusanya Adegboyega Dosunmu, who is the Olowu and Paramount Ruler of Owu Kingdom and in whose reign the new yam festival was rebranded as Odun Omo Olowu.
The royal father’s arrival on the celebration ground was welcomed with very loud ovation, songs and praises. This year’s celebration was not an exception as the it burst into thunderous applause with arrival of the Olowu and paramount ruler of Owu Kingdom, the Olowu Kangunere, Amororo II, Oba (Dr.) Olusanya Adegboyega Dosunmu, at about 1.00pm. Accompanied by the 18 Obas and their Baales from across the various towns under his rulership ; the paramount ruler’s majestic step-by-step dance towards the red-carpeted high stage became a thing that thousands of people present fell on one another to have a glimpse of.
Already on ground to welcome him to the colourful ceremony were the crèmes de la crème of the Owu Abeokuta community, including former Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Prince Bola Ajibola, SAN; former Military Governor of old Ondo State, Brigadier General Ekundayo Opaleye; Chief Emmanuel Osunbiyi; Chief Bolu Akin-Olugbade and several others. His traditional chief warrior (Balogun of Owu Kingdom) and former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo joined him later.
Clad in an elegantly embroidered agbada made of white and black stripes material and a pair of shoes to match with his splendidly beaded white crown, the 81-year-old monarch was greeted with explosive songs and drumming composed by ladies dressed in Aso Oke with white lace on the top and men dressed in same stuff with traditional eleti-aja caps, respectively, as he made his way one step after another towards his high seat on the stage.