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Ile-Ife comes alive for Moremi

•Yoruba girls need heroine’s values — Elerinmo

By Chris Onuoha, Ile-Ife

The 2018 edition of the Edi/Moremi Cultural Festival in remembrance of the Yoruba heroine, Queen Moremi Ajasoro, was marked amid fanfare in the palace of Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, the Ooni of Ife.

It was the third celebration since Ogunwusi mounted the throne of his forefathers.

The event coincided with the prayer session to mark the beginning of a new Oduduwa Cultural Calendar Season. The occasion witnessed traditional prayers and incantations to usher in the New Year with goodness, rich harvest and prosperity for the people. Also, Edidi king, a symbolic spirit of bad luck, clad with leaves, sauntered fiercely into the crowd and headed to the shrine for prayers.

According to a palace source, the significance is that the ill luck of the year past has ended.

The crowd prayed feverishly, casting out bad luck, poor harvest and ill fortunes that might have befallen them last year.

After the prayers and the Itewa royal dance by the palace chiefs, the Ooni led the crowd, including the finalists of the Queen Moremi Ajasoro Cultural Pageant, to light the symbolic candle at the statue of Queen Moremi which is the most significant aspect of the festival.

Unveiling

The finalists for the Moremi pageant, who will be in camp for the final contest slated for December 2 in Abeokuta, Ogun State, had earlier been unveiled.

Speaking with beauty and culture experts who handled the audition earlier, the Elerinmo of Erinmo – Ijesha, Oba Michael Odunayo Ajayi, noted that it was a wonderful experience seeing young, brilliant and upwardly mobile ladies who are confident, courageous trying to understand the culture of the Yoruba.

“As a royal father, my focus is to ensure that our culture doesn’t die, hence we are encouraging these young girls to embrace it with all modesty and commitment,” Ajayi said.

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The monarch stressed the need to transfer the culture to youths.

“You can see that there is a specific age profile in this competition because we are talking about a young heroine; somebody that was brave, courageous, beautiful, bold and selfless. These are the values we need to teach our girls to be selfless to make a change in their own era,” he added.

Ajayi, however, bemoaned the lack of cultural values in the present day children as a result of the infiltration of foreign culture.

He said: “My advice is for them not to forget where they are coming from. There is a saying in Yorubaland that only a bastard will use a left hand to point to his home. Yoruba culture is very rich, diverse and versatile, and has remained indelible from creation. I will encourage our youths not to imbibe foreign lifestyle and jettison the culture that we are brought up with.”

Prince Adegboyega Ogunwusi, elder brother of Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, also speaking at the occasion, charged parents to imbibe the traditional culture of the land into youths, saying that today’s youths are fast trashing our rich culture in acceptance of alien orientation.

He noted that he was disturbed by poor knowledge of basic tradition and culture, noticeable in some of the contestants which, he believed, will change if adequate attention is paid by parents.

Adegboyega, who was impressed by the confidence exhibited by the potential queens at the audition, advised them to live up their billing while in camp because the essence of the competition is not only to crown a queen but to encourage young girls to know more about culture.

Morounranti Ashabi, Cultural Ambassador to the Ooni, and Oluwatoyin Bayegun, alias Woli Arole, who were audition judges, affirmed that culture is truly lacking among youths. They, however, were optimistic that with the introduction of the cultural pageant and camp training, reviving and instilling the Yoruba culture in youths is on course.

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Worthwhile

Meanwhile, Princess Ronke Ademiluyi, Global Cultural Ambassador of Queen Moremi Ajasoro Cultural Initiative and representative of the Oduduwa Foundation, noted that celebrating the heroine is a worthwhile thing to do as a mark of respect and remembrance of someone who did well for the Yoruba people. 

“If Moremi was a Christian, she would have been called ‘Saint Moremi’ for what she did. To celebrate and appreciate the ultimate sacrifice she made, the Edi festival wouldn’t have been enough too, hence, the establishment of the Moremi Cultural Pageant and the musical drama to keep her legacy afloat,” Ademiluyi tols Sunday Vanguard.

Barrister Adewumi Adediran, Chief Operating Officer, Oduduwa Foundation, also noted that the expectation from the girls was high, looking at the previous efforts.

“The girls will be going to camp and in the house various culture facilitators will put them through tasks to equip them with the knowledge of the Yoruba culture, after which the best among them will be selected for the crown. The rest are not losers anyway, as they will be Cultural Ambassadors of the Oduduwa race, showcasing the rich Yoruba culture wherever they go,” Adediran said.

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