Ola Ajayi – Ibadan
Anxiety pervaded Oyo town over the unusual absence of the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi at the grand finale of this year Oranyan Festival.
At the annual festival which was held in the palace of the monarch, the queens stood in for him.
All traditional rulers, Yoruba leaders, different groups, foreign nationals, market men and women, and eminent personalities waited in vain to catch a glimpse of the monarch.
An unconfirmed report had it that the paramount ruler left the shores of the country hastily before the festival.
A food seller, who claimed anonymity said, “I heard that papa left Oyo this morning to attend to an urgent call abroad. We were told that he travelled out, but I don’t know where he travelled to. He rarely misses Oranyan Festival. So, the reason for his absence at this year festival is what I don’t know”.
Some wives of the monarch about seven were on the seat to represent him, while all assignments that were supposed to be performed by the king were done by one of the monarch’s eldest wife.
The mood of some people at the event changed and they became suspicious when the announcement was made that the first-class monarch would not be attending the event because he was not around.
The Aare Onakakanfo of Yoruba land, Iba Gani Adams left the event before the end of the programme, and efforts by newsmen to speak with him proved abortive as he refused to speak with journalists, some monarchs also left the event before it ended.
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Oba Steven Olufemi Oparinde, (the Akinbio of Ilora), who spoke on behalf of Alaafin said that Oba Adeyemi thanked all the sons and daughters of Yoruba for their usual cooperation and support.
According to him, “Alaafin said that any time he remembers Yoruba race, he has peace of mind because of the cooperation and support you have been giving him. He urged you all to always promote Yoruba cultural heritage wherever you are and always remember that Oranyan is our great grandfather.”
In his remark, the coordinator of Oranyan Festival Organisation, Emeritus Arch Bishop Ayo Ladigbolu, pointed out that Oranyan festival was unique because Odede Oranyan has always been celebrated throughout the Yoruba nation.
He noted further that as a warrior and empire builder, Oranyan descendants had transversed beyond Nigeria as a result of the slave trade.
“Oranyan descendants are in Kumasi Ghana, Togo, Benin republic, some even has shrines dedicated for the worship of Oranyan in their respective countries.”
While speaking on the significance of the festival, Ladigbolu said that “for instance, at Ajiroba here in Oyo town, every September, a ram appears in front of Oranyan shrine.”
Also speaking at the event was the founder of One Love Family, Sat Guru Maharaji ji, said, “Blacks are now seen as people to reckon with over the years. This is a festival that everybody, either black or white should be attending to bring about global acceptance needed to meet our peace and harmony.”
Dignitaries at the event included the Aare Onakakanfo of Yoruba land, Iba Gani Adams, Nigeria Ambassador to Benin Republic, Amb. Kayode Oguntuase, Oba Saheed Elegushi, proprietor of Oduduwa University, Dr Abdul Raman Adedoyin, Alajase of Ajase, (Benin Republic), Onilobu of Ilobu, all Oke-Ogun Obas, and the Oyomesi among others.