Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Traditional Marriage Rites : How It's Done In Hausa Land By Oke Efagene

Hausa bride

The Hausa traditional marriage is mostly based on Islamic rites, and not as time consuming or expensive like the Igbo and Yoruba traditional marriage ceremonies.

The Hausa tribe mainly reside in the northern part of Nigeria , and are predominantly Muslims , while a few are
Christians.

Though a great number of people in this region speak the Hausa language, different tribes among them have their own individual unique dialects.

The Hausa traditional marriage is mostly based on Islamic rites » , and not as time consuming or expensive like the
Igbo » and Yoruba » traditional marriage ceremonies.

However, the process leading up to the marriage is slightly similar to what obtains in the other regions in Nigeria.

When a man sees the woman he wants to marry, he has to first of all seek permission from her parents. The family of the bride-to-be will then conduct an investigation on the background of the man to determine his religious beliefs, ethics, moral and family customs, as well as every important details concerning his upbringing.

The groom-to-be if approved by the woman's family, is allowed to see her briefly but any form of physical contact, romance or courting before marriage is highly discouraged.

Once the woman accepts the marriage offer, the man sends his parents or guardians as well as elderly relatives to formally ask for her hand in marriage.

However, this may not be the same for all the tribes in the Hausa communities, as each of them have different customs regarding marriage rites, though the process mentioned above is the most common method.

On their trip to the bride's family home to seek her parent's consent, the groom's family take along items such as kolanuts, bags of salt, sweets, etc.

It is during this visit that the groom's parents will make their intentions known. Gaisuwais is a kind of formal approval from the bride's family to the groom's. This is where the bargain for the bride's dowry begins.

Usually, the bride price starts from a minimum amount known as ' Rubu Dinar' in Hausa, an Arabic phrase which means 'quarter kilogram of gold piece', to the highest amount the groom can afford to pay.

It is most preferred for the bride price to be as low as possible, because according to Islamic teachings, the lesser the amount paid as the bride's dowry, the more blessings that will come to the marriage. Payment of the dowry is known as Sadaki .

Also, the wedding date is fixed during this visit, by both families. The process of setting the date is called Sarana .
The wedding day itself is called Fatihah, and it is the day of joining the two families.

As part of Hausa tradition, it is the duty of the husband to provide a house for the couple to live in, while furnishing the house is the full responsibility of the bride's family.

At the wedding Fatihah, women are to remain indoors preparing the bride for her new life as a wife, which is referred to as Kunshi. The Kunshi is similar to a bridal shower.

The wedding reception is known as
Walimah, and it is carried out according to the taste of the families involved. It is usually held after the Fatihah, and it goes on for a whole day with food and drinks available for family, friends and well wishers.

At the end of the celebration, the bride is taken to her husband's house after receiving pieces of marital advise from parents, aunts, uncles, parents-in-law.

*Culled from www.pulze.ng

Monday, 30 May 2016

Traditional Marriage Rites : How It's Done In Igbo Land By Oke Efagene

An Igbo bride (center) with her

In many parts of the world, a marriage ceremony is mainly an affair between the bride and groom, but in igboland, parents of the couple, their extended families, villagers and towns people play active roles in traditional wedding ceremony.

In many parts of the world, a marriage ceremony is mainly an affair between the bride and groom, but in igboland, parents of the couple, their extended families, villagers and towns people play active roles in traditional wedding ceremony.

In the olden days, traditional marriages used to be arranged by the parents of the future bride and groom, after careful investigations into the background of both families.

These days, however, young men and women are now free to choose whoever they want to get married to, with parental approval.

Despite the seeming change in the method of choosing a spouse, the igbo culture has been sustained, where traditional marriage is concerned. The process involves different stages.

First, the future groom finds the lady he wants to marry and tells his parents. He is then accompanied by his parents, siblings and close family members, and contacts the family of the bride-to-be. A date is then set for both families to meet. During the meeting, the groom-to-be's father will state their intention.

The father of the groom and his relatives normally will not expect the family of the bride to give them positive or negative answer right away. They then will schedule another date to meet. Before the next meeting, both families normally carry out investigation on each other to see if the families are of good character and morale standing in the society.

On their return visit to the bride-to-be's home, the groom's parents will reiterate their intention that their son wants to marry the girl in question. At this stage, it is expected that the bride-to-be's family must have concluded their investigation and consultation with their daughter and should be ready to give the groom either positive or negative answer.

Some of the items presented to the bride's family by the family of groom during the return visit are; kolanuts, palm wine (local brew), dry gin and soft drinks. Gifts presented by the groom-to-be's family may vary depending on the community or town, since they are not all monolithic. Both families will share the food and drinks.

In some communities, the bride to be is summoned before both families on the return visit and asked if she is interested in her future husband. If she agrees to marry her future husband, they will set another date for the actual marriage ceremony called "Igba Nkwu".

The family of the bride compiles a list of items that the groom's family will bring to the wedding ceremony as demanded by their customs and traditions.

Typically, the list includes the following:

*Gallons of palm wine

*Cash gift

*Bottle of gin

*Kola nut

*One goat

*Packets of cigarettes (optional)

*Bags of rice

*Tubers of yams

*Crates of soft drinks

*Stock fish

*Bundles of George/Hollandis wrappers

*Jewellery

The exact number of items required depends on tradition of each community or town.

In the final stage of the traditional marriage rites, the groom will go to the house of the bride-to-be with his immediate and extended family, villagers and towns people with the above items. Host families will prepare different kinds of indigenous dishes to entertain their guests.
Both families and their extended families including members of their communities will eat, dance and drink together.

During the ceremony, the bride will be asked to give palm wine to her husband, which she will do while kneeling down. The parents and elders in the family of both the bride and groom will pray for the newlyweds and the for success of their marriage.

Afterwards, the bride and groom will dance along with their family members. When the ceremony is over, the bride will go home with the family of the groom signifying that the two are now husband and wife.

In some communities in Igboland, "Idu Uno" is practiced. Idu Uno is when the family of the bride officially goes and visit the home where their daughter will be living. Note that the previous ceremony and meetings took place in the bride's family home.

The bride's family buys cooking utensils, bed-sheets, boxes, sewing machine, bed, pillow cases, plates, clothes and other things newly married couples need to start a life and family.

Also, the bride's family along with their extended families sets a date to visit the couple with all the goods they bought. On "Idu Uno" day, the wife's family will give the newly married couple all the things they bought for them.

This is usually done to give newly married couple a head start by defraying some of their expenses. Marriage ceremonies in Igboland can be a long and expensive undertaking, but they are usually worth every kobo.

*Culled from www.pulse.ng.com

Saturday, 28 May 2016

ZONE 222 A New Comedy Series On DSTV By Olalekan Oduntan

Picture of the Characters.

Watching the preview of ZONE 222, a new comedy series from the stable of Native Media outfit during their Press Conference anchored by Femi Johnson just held recently at Savoy Suite GRA Ikeja is very appealing as this new comedy in town is not only hilarious but educative and informative as well. The comedy which features actors like Kunle Bamtefa as Prof Bos, Tomiwa Kukoyi as Jambito, Papa Sam as Haji Kay, Jaiyeola Muyiwa as Prof, Anthony Igwe as Imported, Vannesa Ogboru as Josephine, Eden Attai as Fatimah and Patrick Diabuah as Fredo. The characters in this production are well coordinated by the director of production in the person of Rogers Ofime who did a lot of excellent work on gesticulation, characterization and good directing. And it is obvious from the excellent directorial approach given to the production by Rogers Ofime that he is from the theatrical background.
ZONE 222 is a comedy series that depicts characters of all sorts on our various university campuses across the country and it is a much watch production for all and sundry.
ZONE 222 soap series were all shot at the University of Ife campus and its environs. Kudos must be given to both the cast and crew of this wonderful project for having done a very good job with the supervision of their director Rogers Ofime.
The production was adapted for television from a book entitled "Love Is Blind" written by Mufu Onifade. This play has been staged severally for NANTAP Arts week and for the university students on our various campuses.
Serializing this book for television is a very good move in the right direction as the audience will not only laugh but will be informed and educated as well. All the characters involved in this project have done justice to their given roles as they have interpreted them very well in terms of characterization.
ZONE 222 will be premiered on the 1st of June 2016 on Africa Magic Urban Channel 153 on DSTV. It will be aired from Monday to Friday at 8:30 pm with the repeat broadcast at 9:30 am local time. While the international time is at 21:30 CAT on the same channel with repeat broadcast at 10:30 CAT.
NATIVE MEDIA has produced other wonderful projects for television in the past which are still currently showing on DSTV. According to Eric Ossai who is the series producer for the company and also for this project, they have done other projects like The Johnsons, ToronGiwa, Hotel Majestic, Hush and this new baby called ZONE 222.
From my own assessment, this project will go very far because of its potentials of educating, informing and making its audience to laugh. The goal behind any comedy is to make its audience laugh which ZONE 222 has already met. Pretty soon, the characters in this production will soon become household names because of the quality of this production.
Conclusively, my thump up for the cast and crew of this wonderful project as i say more grease to your elbows and more feathers to your caps.

Traditional Marriage Rites : How It's Done In Yoruba Land By Oke Efagene (Concluding part)

A couple during their traditional

This is the money given to all female children in the bride's family, Owo Iyawo Ile - N500. this is the money given to all wives in the bride's family, Owo Ijoko Agba - N1,000. This is the amount of money reserved for elders of the bride's family, Owo Alaga Ijoko (amount of money reserved for the MC) - N500.

The Groom and Bride: Some of the engagement protocols officiated by the Alaga ijoko is carried out in the absence of the groom, the professionals go through a question and answer format were the bride's moderator puts the representatives of the groom through some hoops. At one point the groom's presence is needed and he comes forward and goes through the introduction process to the bride's family and parents. When all requirements are met the groom is led and allowed to seat on one of the two large chairs conspicuously placed in from of the guests. The chairs are artfully decorated in the chosen ceremonial colours by the wedding planner.

The Bride: The bride is then heralded into the venue of the ceremony followed by her friends, all dressed in traditional attires like buba and iro, as they join her in a boisterous dance down the hall. The bride also goes through a few protocols but money is only given to her and not taken from her as in the case of the groom. She is introduced to the groom's family before she takes her place beside the groom. At this stage, they may consider themselves married. The wife displays some wifely traits by feeding the groom some cake and wine, even a kiss to the amusement of the guests.

Conclusion: Yoruba traditional marriage is seen as an occasion for family members to reunite and catch-up on current happenings. They also see find old friends and acquaintances. It is a fun filled and meticulously planned period that announces to the world the union of their loved ones. The couple can choose to include a civil union through a court wedding and also go through a church wedding and a separate wedding reception. Muslims who also form a large number of Yoruba people have a more simplified wedding protocol which involves Islamic scholars and religious leaders who offer prayers to the union followed by merriment in form of a party.

Sources: The Nigeria » , Hub Pages » ,
All Things Nigeria » and Aisle Perfect » .

Friday, 27 May 2016

Traditional Marriage Rites : How It's Done In Yoruba Land By Oke Efagene (Part 1)

A couple during their traditional

Yoruba traditional marriage is not just a time to unite two individuals, but also an occasion for family members to reunite and catch-up on current happenings.

The Yoruba traditional marriage ceremony even though a serious affair, is full of playful banter, rich contemporary Nigerian music, graceful colours and sumptuous meals. Weddings in Yoruba land is an occasion to show your best outfits, handbags, jewelry and even dancing styles.

The traditional wedding is an occasion to alleviate the drudgery of normal life and are greatly anticipated by friends and well wishers.

It is carried out in different stages which will be discussed extensively in this article.

The Introduction: The families of the bride and groom meet long before any engagement ceremony takes place. The groom visits the family of the bride in company of his father and some family members. The occasion is an informal introduction without fanfare but a cordial atmosphere to know each other. The informal introduction does not require much except some tubers of yam and a few bottles of wine; the family of the bride hosts the visitors with a simple meal of their coice. Apart from all round introductions, they might discuss when the event would take place, this is not a hard and fast rule and such discussions might take place later.

Bride's Outfit: The bride's outfit is a reflection of what the female guests will wear, she might choose, damask, lace, Nigerian wax fabric or any fabric that appeals to her. The outfit consists of gele which is the head tie, the buba (the blouse) and an iro which is a large material tied round her waist and is usually ankle length. The colours she chooses reflects the colour theme her family has chosen but should also complement the groom's outfit and look identical. She can wear accessories like gold necklace, beads, bangles, gold earrings and shoes to match.

Groom's Outfit: The groom could decide to wear an Agbada which is a two layered material of heavy dimensions like the Aso-Oke (traditional hand-woven material) , it might be cotton, and damask or he might wear lace or even wax fabric (Ankara). His colour combination should complement the bride's and reflect the colour his family has chosen.

The Traditional Engagement:

The traditional engagement is carried out by a contracted professional called the Alaga ijoko which translated, means the traditional master of ceremony. The professional could be a member of the bride's family or a complete stranger. The Alaga Ijoko is usually a woman and her duty is to properly officiate and coordinate the proceeding so each provision of tradition is strictly adhered too. There are different stages she coordinates and each stage might elicit a collection of cash which the Alaga keeps, various fines are paid and formal introduction of the groom accompanied by his age mates and friends which also involves prostrating to the family of the bride to formally request their daughter's hand in marriage. The groom's family also hire a professional called the Alaga iduro which means the standing master of ceremony, who follows the groom and family to ask for the hand of their daughter. The Alaga iduro is also a professional custodian of Yoruba wedding tradition. She could be a family member or hired for the occasion. Other festivities include the letter reading which is read by a young lady from the groom's family also asking for the hand of the bride in marriage. The bride's family also responds with a letter of their own. The engagement is an integral part of the traditional marriage and as the ceremony proceeds, items listed for the engagement that was given to the groom's family is presented. The items vary slightly in each Yoruba traditional wedding but the general articles are the same.

Items Requested By The Bride's Family:

Some of the items demanded by the bride's family are; bag of sugar, bag of rice, alligator pepper, large number of bitter kola, bag of salt, kola nuts. If they are Christians, a bible, keg of honey and about forty large tubers of yam are included in the items. Non edible items could include expensive materials like lace, several pairs of shoes, wristwatch, a gold engagement ring and head tie.
Bride Price: There is no fixed amount of money for the bride price, as it is usually dictated by the bride's family and is subject to negotiation. However, there are other fees to be paid by the groom/his family (which are also negotiable); Owo Isigba - N500. This is used to open the packaged gift items brought by the bridegroom, Owo Ikanlekun (entrance fee) - N500, Owo Ijoko Iyawo - N1,000. This is the money given to elders in the groom's family, Owo Isiju Iyawo (fees paid to unveil the bride) - N500, Owo Baba Gbo - N500. This amount is paid to ask for the bride's father consent, Owo Iya Gbo - N1,000. This is the amount of money paid to ask for the bride's mother consent, Owo Omo Ile Obinrin - N500.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME

Happy birthday to me!
Wishing myself health, strength and wealth by Olodumare;
Very many happy returns;
Hip! Hip!! Hip!!!
Hurraaaay!!!

Oya - The Dark Goddess of Storms, Destruction and Change of the Yoruba people.

Oya is the Dark Mother Goddess of Storms and Destruction of the Yoruba People in West Africa as well as the Americas. [1] In Africa She is associated with the river Niger and in Brazil with the Amazon whose source She is said to be.

Oya is the violent rainstorm that floods the land and whose gushing waters destroy anything in their path.

Oya is the wind. She is anything from the gentle beeze that ruffles your hair and cools your skin to the fierce hurricane or tornado that rips up trees and destroys houses. Oya is the storm that makes way for Her brother Shango with his fierce thunder and lightening.

Oya is the primeval Mother of Chaos, the destructive force of the Goddess. She is the Wild Woman, the Force of Change. With Her machete and flywhisk Oya rips down the old in order to make way for the new.

Oya is the the Goddess of Revolution, of Upheaval and Sudden Change. She is a fierce Amazon Warrior and Protectress of Women. Oya is the raw, unbrindled, untamed destructive Power of Nature that is followed by creation of the new.

Oya is a Free Spirit, a Goddess unbound by convention and tradition. Although Yoruba women didn't hunt, Oya is an accomplished huntress.

As a Dark Goddess Oya is the Goddess of Death and Renewal. She symbolises both the first and last breath of life. She is the kind and gentle Guardian of the Unborn, who after death She takes with Her to the other side.

Oya is also a Moon Goddess. She is said to have nine children, the number nine being sacred to the Goddess in Her manifestation as the Moon. Oya's sacred animal is the water buffalo with its crescent-shaped horns.

Oya is a beautiful strong black woman. Her favourite colours are burgundy red and purple, the colours of life and wisdom.
As a Dark Goddess Oya is often associated with magic and otherworldly wisdom.

Oya is

Oya-ajere "Carrier of the Container of Fire"
Ayaba Nikua "Queen of Death"
Iya Yanson "Mother of Nine"
Ayi Lo Da "She Who Turns and Changes"
Oya, Mother, gentle breeze, screaming whirlwind, all of these
Bring your winds of change to me,
Mercifully, gently sweep me free
From the folly surrounding me,
Cut the cords where I have bound me
With your healing breath set down me,
On the ground where I need to be
On the ground where I need to be
On the ground where I need to be
Song to Oya channeled by Earil to Joyce January 1999

NOTE

[1] Oya is actually an Orisa or Orisha, which is a spirit or deity. The Yoruba religion is a nature-based tradition that believes in one source of everything called Olòrún or Olódùmarè. The Orishas are the different aspects of Olòrún-Olódùmarè manifested all over the natural world. Essentially Olòrún-Olódùmarè is the Goddess and the Orishas are different aspects of Her.

*Culled from www.goddesssinspired.wordpress.com

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Masquerades and Festivals in Igboland

Igbo Masquerade

Igboland holds many festivities and cultural performances, most notably the masquerades and the new Yam festivals.

Masquerades (Mmanwu) are held in accordance with the community native calendars during festivals, annual festivities, burial rites and other social gatherings. The masquerades are geared in colourful robes and masks made of wood or fabric. Some masks appear only at one festival, but the majority appears at many or all. Masquerades are associated with spiritual elements, as according to Igbo belief, they represent images of deities or sometimes even dead relatives. The identity of the masquerade is a well-kept secret and performed exclusively by men.

In the past, masquerades were regarded as the means for maintaining peace and order and were primarily used as law enforcement agents. The whole village would come out for the ceremony of the colourful masquerades. While entertaining through dances and exhibiting extra-human feats, the masquerades would walk up to certain individuals and loudly expose any bad habits, crimes or misbehaviour of that person. As people would always take corrections from these exposures, the masquerades were effective in keeping up with traditional norms and values in the communities.

With colonisation in the 20th century, masquerades became more relevant as an institution for cultural entertainment. Nowadays, they are used more for tourist attractions when they come out in colourful robes accompanied by traditional dancers and music. The masks are determined by local tradition and beliefs. Best-known are those that represent the spirit of deceased maidens and their mothers symbolising beauty and peacefulness. This masquerade may be accompanied by the elephant spirit, representing ugliness and aggression, which frightens the male spectators away from her beauty. Other characters include the European (Mbeke), a pair of boy and girl (Mba), the boy dressed up as a girl satirising his counterpart, and animals (crocodile, snake etc.) representing various local deities.

There is an annual masquerade festival in November organised by Enugu State and involves masquerade groups from various parts of the state.

The other festival with high social significance carried out by most communities in Igboland is the new Yam (Iri Ji) festival, which marks the beginning of the harvest seasons for new yam. The festival takes place usually between August and October, though the time varies from one community to the other. The New Yam festival raises the occasion for celebration while offering special prayers to God for a good harvest. It is marked with colourful display of cultural dances and rites, including roasting and toasting of new yams. Obviously, time for feasting and merry-making.

*Culled from www.igboguide.org

Saturday, 21 May 2016

KURUNMI ; VALIANT WARRIOR

Another man who is also a masquerader, Gafari Ege, corroborated the story and said "Those who stole the regalia became blind, when they faced Ibadan they again faced Ijaiye, again when they faced Ijaiye they faced Ibadan. They became blind and confused. They said strange human cries was coming out from the regalia. No one steals the material and goes scot free. No one steals it and live. It is not meant to be stolen. Those who stole it were later caught and they died afterwards. Other masquerades run away from it."

Undeveloped town

The indigenes are not happy because, according to Pa Tijani, "We are being used, many of these theatre artistes would come here and use these places to shoot films and would later go away smiling to the bank but will not come here to assist in its development. Not only that, some government officials came here few years ago and promised to come back and assist in putting Kurunmi's statue here but they came here and erected only two poles and left .We heard nothing from them again. Many people come from overseas to see all these monuments like the River Ose, the spots of war, the mysterious palm tree that sounds like the booming of gun during the war to ward off enemies, Oponrin-the spot where they waged war and where grass does not grow again, the Ogun Shrines of Kurunmi and many others but nobody speaks about the development of this place. Where we have the monuments of Kurunmi and Bowen's are not properly kept. We are being forgotten and our heroes too are forgotten. If it is in overseas they will appreciate what we have here but here nobody recognizes us. We have been constructing this palace for a long time, nobody comes here to look at our effort and assist."

However, he said "We appreciate people like Senator Femi Lanlehin, Yemi Aderibigbe, who are really trying for us. We need more assistance, we don't want our history to die. They should cooperate and build a monument I remembrance of our hero, Kurunmi."

Ijaiye is spread all over Yorubaland, but this is Ijaiye Orile, the hometown of Kurunmi the warrior. According to Tijani, Ijaiye means "We fought and survived the war (A ja ajaye)". According to him, since the Ijaiye people were warriors and always conquered wherever they fought and on their return would give a public cry that they had survived the war. This is the original source where all other Ijaiyes spring from. All the places known as Ijaiye today left from here to Abeokuta, Lagos, Egba among others, Tijani boasted.

*Culled from www.thenationonlineng.net.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

KURUNMI : VALIANT WARRIOR (PART 3)

At the gate of the school are two monuments, but sadly the two are unkempt as the wordings inscribed on them have faded, and hardly readable.

On Bowen's monument are the following words are engraved

"To the glory of God and in affectionate remembrance Reverend and Mrs Thomas J. Bowen who began Baptist Sunday School work in Ijaye Orile, Nigeria on January 22, 1854".

Sunday School Department, Nigerian Baptist Convention, April 21, 1979

While Kurunmi's own reads

"To the glory of God and the memory of those heroic dead who here on land granted by King Kurunmi in 1852 created the first Mission House established the first church and laid the foundation of Baptist work in Nigeria.

Nigerian Baptist Centenarian, 1850-1950.

According to Fatai, "The two monuments show how these two powerful men came to unite in death for their monuments were placed side by side yet the two believed in different religions. Bowen brought Christianity and built a church which is the very first, First Baptist Church in Nigeria here in Ijaiye while Kurunmi was a warrior who believed in Ogun, the Yoruba god of Iron. It is great to come here and preserve this place as a tourist centre."

Mysterious Kurunmi's masquerade

The room where the Kurunmi's masquerade regalia was kept is dark. In fact, about four people brought out the basket where the regalia was stored. Pa Tijani Salami who is the custodian of Kurunmi's masquerade spent over 50 minutes to unwrap the regalia as pieces of clothes attached to it are up to 3,000 shreds made from local fabrics to foreign ones. Also attached with the clothes are uncommon carved wooden mask, monkey, and baboon's skulls. Fear gripped this reporter as the material was unwrapped when he requested to have a glance.

In fact, the man in charge of the masquerade, Salami, said it was inherited by him because he is from the Kurunmi lineage. He said, "This is Kurunmi's masquerade's regalia and sword he used during his conquests, and I am the custodian of it. If you look at my cheeks you will see my facial marks and that is how Kurunmi had it. One becomes its custodian by inheritance. This material is well over 120 years old, in fact, it was there before I was born. After the death of Kurunmi it was inherited by one Odeyemi, then to Biobaku who was in charge, after his exit it was handed over to Gbileomo and again when he died I took over from there. One of my children will also inherit it when I am gone. It does not go to anybody anyhow, never. The regalia is very heavy and we offer sacrifices like goats, chickens and other things to it all the time. We must not forget to offer sacrifices at all. If we don't do it then calamity might befall this town." That is how strong their belief is in the power of Kurunmi.

He went further, "Nobody can steal it. In fact, it is on record that it was once stolen some years ago and I believe they wanted to sell it to those who needed artefacts but when the robbers got to the Ose River they could not go further again as they were hearing sound and voices of human being coming out from the regalia and they had to drop it."

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

KURUNMI : VALIANT WARRIOR (PART 2)

Pa Adio continued "The war between Ijaiye and Ibadan was heavy with casualties, and according to what we were told here as thousands of Ijaiye died in this war! If you walk eight miles from this town towards East, West, North and South you will discover a lot of clay pots, mud houses and shrines buried there thus evidencing that some people had lived here over two hundred years ago. They were probably buried here. We have excavated a lot."

He added, "The Ibadan war was the heaviest where casualties were many. I remember that over 141 towns defended Ibadan when she waged war against Ijaiye. We were betrayed while Alafin was against us. And you know if one town faces over 141 towns it is a big problem and that was how Ibadan won the war against us. They feared and respected Aare Kurunmi. His five children later died in the war while the skull of one of them was brought to him, thus he was shocked beyond doubt. He became devastated and dispirited."

Basorun Ogunmola ate ashes

Another version, according to Tijani said "Kurunmi captured Basorun Ogunmola alive and he was brought to Ijaiye where he was chained and was fed with ashes in the palace. That is where the Ibadan natives got their panegyrics 'Ogunmola, son of Ibadan who survived death in spite of eating the ashes (Ogunmola omo a la eeru ma ku). The story continued that in the night one of Aare Kurunmi's wives betrayed him as she secretly went to unfetter Basorun Ogunmola and assisted him to escape back home (Ibadan). When Basorun Ogunmola got to Ibadan he went to re-strategize and later invaded with over 141 neighbouring towns who supported him to win Ijaiye in the war. Not only this it was also revealed that the River Ose, a mysterious river which must not be passed through by non indigenes was demystified and the taboo was broken. The secret of its taboo was leaked to the warring enemies (Ibadan) who passed through and demystified the spiritual aspect of the river and since then it began to dry and made Ibadan to conquer them (Ijaiye)," Tijani added

Controversy over Kurunmi's death

While many said Kurunmi out of shame and frustration committed suicide by plunging into river Ose. Another said he was killed by enemies and buried by the Ose River while another said he was killed in the war and was brought home for burial, but there is no burial ground where he was buried up to date. But according to Adio, Aare died in his house after the war and was buried by the Ose river. He explained further, "when they wanted to bury him they had to bury three slaves along with him as the custom was. They used their spiritual power to stop the flowing of the river and after the burial the water was commanded and joined together again."

However, another version said, when he was about to be buried three slaves were selected, while two were beheaded and used as a bed in the grave but the third who could have been used as his pillow ran for his dear life and could not be caught. The escaped slave went to inform the Ibadan people that he knew where Aare Kurunmi was buried and Basorun Ogunmola sent for the head to be decapitated which he wanted to be used as a cup for drinking water but when they got there they discovered that the body of Kurunmi had been removed.
But Alhaji Shehu Tijani disagreed with Adio and said "Kurunmi's body was removed from the river bank to another place in the town and it was the only female daughter he had called Iyagbogbo, who knew where he was buried."

Mystery of the River Ose and Onponrin

At the bank of Ose river, Arawunmi Fatai, a security officer at Ijaiye High School, a native and a masquerader, said, "The river is mysterious, many strange things happened on the river, at times smoke comes up from the river, and a rainbow sign comes up while everywhere would be shaking, one's head would get swollen thus informing us that the powerful Aare Kurunmi is still in the river."

Tijani said, "At Onponrin there are some areas where grass failed to grow till this day, this was because it was part of the spots of war. The war raged on for years and it consumed lives! Till date grass does not grow here again."

Tombs of Kurunmi and Bowen

To many students, the name Kurunmi is synonymous to Ijaiye. About eight students interviewed claimed to know the history of Kurunmi. Adams Owolabi, who is an ex student of the school said the school has the tombs of the two titans, the Kurunmi monument and Bowen's tomb. "We were taught in school that these two people fought war, one used the Bible while the other, Kurunmi used gun. This school, Ijaiye High School, was formerly named after Kurunmi until some years later when it was changed to Ijaiye High School. I think the school should be called Kurunmi High School."

KURUNMI : VALIANT WARRIOR (PART 1) By Taiwo Abiodun

Kurunmi, a Yoruba Generalissimo and a native of Ijaiye, Oyo State, died in 1861 after the famous Ijaiye war with Ibadan. The truth about his death and burial are still shrouded in controversy. Taiwo Abiodun, who visited the town recently, reports.

I jaiye town is about 20 kilometres to Ibadan; it is a small town that has produced many great leaders and leading Yoruba warriors of the 19th century. It is quiet, and mostly agrarian. There is no signpost to welcome visitors or announce the town. Most of the buildings are old and dilapidated. Painfully, most residents all agreed that they have notable people who have contributed little to develop the town.

"There is no signpost here to welcome you to our town. This is Ijaiye town, the historical town of the Yoruba legendary warrior, Are Kurunmi, of which the late Professor Ola Rotimi wrote his play about," Alhaji Shehu Tijani lamented, as he welcomed this reporter to the ancient town.

To many, the story of Kurunmi and his exploits is fiction while others believe it is true with the facts available and of course the monuments and relics of war!

Kurunmi's house

At the frontage of Kurunmi's house are Ogun and Sango shrines while a big baobab tree is standing 'majestically' there as in many Yoruba palaces, showing the symbol and authority of a king and also that a Generalissimo once lived there. Today there are only few of the grandchildren of the late warrior who died in 1861. In the house is a small bungalow where Pa Layiwola Adio, who is estimated to be over 100 years old lives .The centenarian is one of the grandchildren of the great warrior Kurunmi. He is one of the few surviving old men in the town. He still has scanty story of Kurunmi. Talking about Are Kurunmi, Adio said "The Aare was surrounded by many myths. My father told me how powerful Aare was; that he was feared and respected because he was powerful with his juju!"

Another historian in the town lamented the loss or disappearance of what could have been monuments and antiques to signpost the story of Kurunmi. He said, "There were houses without windows and these were where those who erred served their punishment in Kurunmi's palace. There was one that served as the house of Ogun, a Yoruba god of iron. Another too served as spiritual incubation where the great warrior stayed for days communicating with his ancestors! In some of the rooms no man born of a woman dare venture to enter, some of the rooms too are forbidden for any woman while only a lion – hearted man who was sure of himself could go in there. In some of the rooms too one needed to bend down before entering. Today, these are no more."

But Aare's house where his family now live is a structure of a building that is as old as creation. There are mud brick buildings that have fallen and some of the walls have caved-in. The wooden frames have weakened while some of the windows are no more, these are some of the houses in the vicinity of Kurunmi's house today.

Aare Kurunmi's exploits

The late warrior who had a harem full of wives was said to have invaded many towns from where he captured hundreds of slaves and warriors. He invaded towns, and annexed many until he tried Ibadan. According to Pa Adio "We heard that Aare Kurunmi refused to pay homage and give royal gifts to the then Alafin of Oyo, Adelu who succeeded his father, Atiba. When Adele discovered that Aare did not support him he then sent a message to him to choose whichever one that suited him: either peace or war; but Kurunmi chose war. While all the neighbouring towns like Ede, Ibadan, Egba pleaded with him to choose peace but he refused until he was defeated."

Another version said the Generalissimo waged war with the Ibadan who were led by Basorun Ogunmola and he fell in the war. "My great father said when the Ibadan met the Ijaiye, the war became bloody. Then it was recorded that a Christian Missioners Bowen who was the founder of Baptist Church in Nigeria pleaded with Kurunmi not to wage war but to embrace peace. However, Kurunmi came with annoyance and brought out gunpowder and Bible and told Bowen he would pick gunpowder since his generation was noted to be warriors while Bowen picked the Holy Bible and said he was there to establish a church and preach the gospel. Bowen then left Ijaiye for Abeokuta to settle," he added.

Kurunmi was very powerful and so much believed in the efficacy of Ogun, the Yoruba god of Iron, no wonder at the frontage of the house under a big tree are Ogun shrines where he used to worship the god of Iron, the shrines are there till this day.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

CYPRUS HOLIDAYS AND FESTVALS

Cyprus holidays and festivals are based on legend, history and religious occasions, with some originating several millennia ago. Cypriots love to party, with every town holding Carnival just before Lent. For Orthodox Christians, Easter is the premier religious event, even more important than Christmas and celebrated for a full week.

Epiphany

Held in January, the Feast of Epiphany is one of Cyprus's most important Orthodox celebrations. Called the Festival of Light, it's symbolic of the rebirth of the human race and is the day when the demons and evil spirits which arrived on Christmas are chased out of villagers' homes by the local priest's sprinkling of holy water.

Limassol Carnival

Almost all towns in Cyprus hold pre-Lent carnivals in late February/early March, with Limassol's the most ostentatious. For two weeks, parades, masquerades, feasts, and street festivals can be enjoyed.

Orthodox Easter

Easter in the Greek Orthodox religion is a joyous occasion celebrated for a week in April with masses, parades of images and holy relics, and beautifully-painted Easter Eggs. After Easter Saturday's midnight candle-lit mass, effigies of Judas are thrown into bonfires. Easter Sunday sees outdoor meat roasts and all-day festivities.

Paphos Flower Festival

Spring in Paphos is welcomed in with the May flower festival, a traditional celebration going back two thousand years held in honor of the god, Dionysus. Magnificent floats decorated with fragrant flora parade from Poseidon Avenue to the Old Harbor and streets and homes are decorated with beautiful blooms to celebrate man's rebirth in Cyprus.

Bellapais Music Festival

Held during May and June, this music festival is much-loved by fans of classical and modern genres and attracts internationally acclaimed artists, as well as hordes of concert-goers. Set in the beautiful, 13th century Bellapais Abbey with its exceptional acoustics, the performances begin at 9:00 p.m. and sell out fast.

Kataklysomos Festival of the Flood

Derived from ancient Hellenistic ceremonies honoring Aphrodite and Adonis, the Kataklysomos Festival in Cyprus coincides with Pentecost in June and is held over five days. The most spectacular celebrations are in Larnaka, with a grand procession that winds down to the seashore and ends with a communal water-splashing.

Paphos Ancient Greek Drama Festival

The unique experience of watching plays by the Hellenistic masters in a traditional Roman amphitheater is the highlight of a Cyprus vacation for many. The festival runs from June through August and, although the plays are performed in Ancient Greek, it doesn't seem to matter to the international audiences as the action is easy to follow.

Limassol Wine Festival

The first week of September sees the ever-popular Limassol Wine Festival, a celebration of vintners from all over Cyprus. Held every night in the town's Municipal Gardens, the tastings are free and there are traditional dance and music performances, as well as street theater.

*Culled from www.iexplore.com

Saturday, 14 May 2016

MADAGASCAR HOLIDAYS AND FESTIVALS

Pop culture is seen in vibrant Madagascar holidays and festivals throughout the year all over the country, with many events attracting a significant number of tourists. The celebrations are based on a variety of traditions ranging from holy days to cultural rituals and national holidays, with the Santabari festival and Donia Music Festival two of the favorites.

New Year's Day

The Malagasy people celebrate New Year's Day along with the rest of the world from midnight on December 31 through January 1. Family visits, eating out and street parties mark the occasion.

Alahamadi Be

Alahamadi Be is Madagascar's traditional New Year's Day, which takes place in March and lasts for two days. Crowds hit the street in celebration, homes are decorated in lights and friends and family visit to wish eachother well. Traditional music and dance plays a part in the festivities.

Martyrs' Day

Also held in March on the 29th, Martyrs' Day commemorates the 1947 rebellion against French colonial rule which eventually led to Madagascar's independence after thousands of lives had been lost. The day is a public holiday in which the dead are memorialized for their sacrifices.

Easter

The most important Christian festival of the year, Easter falls either in March or April, and is marked by religious services at Madagascar's many churches and cathedrals.

Santabary Festival

The Santabary Festival is ancient in origin, and takes place in late April/early May to give thanks for the year's first rice harvest. Eating, drinking, traditional music and dance are all part of the celebrations, and local customs vary across the country.

Labour Day

Labour Day, held on May 1, is a national holiday, with city folks taking the time to visit the countryside and beaches for picnics and a day of relaxation.

Independence Day

Independence Day in Madagascar is June 26, a national holiday which commemorates the country's final shaking of colonial rule. It's celebrated all across the archipelago with feasting, drinking, music, and dance.

Feria Oramena

The carnival atmosphere of Feria Oramena held in June focuses on Madagascar's favorite seafood, lobsters. Shows, exhibitions and lots of fish dishes are enjoyed by all.

Fisemana

The Fisemana festival, held by the Antakarana people, is a purification ritual taking place every June. The customs go back centuries and are performed by local soothsayers.

Famadihana

This traditional event, known as the turning of the bones, is a three-month family-oriented ritual beginning in June in Madagascar. The bodies of recently-passed family members and ancestors are taken from the crypt, re-dressed in silk shrouds and reburied.

Hiragasy

This much-loved July event is a traditional form of entertainment in Madagascar, first seen in the 18th century. Competing players perform a five-themed spectacle of oratory, dance, music, drinking and eating contests amid much merriment.

Donia Music Festival

Held in September at the Hell-Ville Stadium on Nosy Be Island, the Donia Music Festival is a combination of Malagasy music, sport and cultural events. The festivities last for a full week and draw in over 40,000 spectators.

Madajazzcar

October's Maddajazzcar is a massive, two-week long celebration of jazz held in venues all over the capital. International musicians, singers and thousands of visitors attend the events.

Christmas Day

The second major Christian festival in Madagascar, Christmas is a time of church services, Yuletide parties and family festivities across the country.

*Culled from www.iexplore.com

Olokun : The Yoruba goddess of the Deep Dark Sea (Concluding Part)

Olokun, Maferefu!

Vast and deep is the sea as it flows,
where it goes no-one knows.
Olokun,
Keeper of Treasures, Secrets and Dreams – cast Your silver net to bring stability, wealth and knowledge to me!
I respect Your awesome powers and mysteries, Olokun.
Preserve me always from danger in the ocean of this life.
Olokun, Olokun, how beautiful, strong and unfathonable are You – who brings abundant life from the sea.

I praise Yemaya, the Great Mother. The mighty ocean is the cradle of the Earth.

Hail to Yemaya, the nurturer of all!

– Invocation to Yemaya-Olokun from alocubano.com

NOTE
[1] Olokun is actually an Orisa or Orisha, which is a spirit or deity. The Yoruba religion is a nature-based tradition that believes in one single source called Olòrún or Olódùmarè. The Orishas are the various manifestations of the different aspects of Olòrún-Olódùmarè across the natural world. Essentially Olòrún-Olódùmarè is the Goddess and the Orishas represent Her various aspects.

Olokun is both female and male and in a way neither. Some see Olokun as being female, while others consider Her to be male. I have chosen to interpret the Orisa Olokun as being female, as it fits much better with Her attributes, those of a Dark Moon Goddess of Death and Renewal.

*Culled from www.goddessinspired.wordpress.com

Olokun : The Yoruba Goddess of the Deep Dark Sea (Part 1)

Olokun is the Goddess of the Bottom of the Ocean of the West African Yoruba People. [1] At one time She was the Goddess of all Waters and all of the Oceans, for Her name means Owner (Olo) of Oceans (Okun). Today, especially amongst the New World Yorubas, Olokun is generally associated with the dark and cold bottom of the sea, while Yemaya, the Goddess in Her life-giving aspect, is linked to the light top of the ocean where plants thrive and photosynthesis takes place.

To understand Olokun's nature we need to look at the nature of the bottom of the sea, a vast mostly unexplored dark habitat. The Abyssopelagic or Abyssal Zone lies 13,000 to 20,000 feet (4,000 to 6,000 metres) below the surface in perpetual darkness. The Hadal or Trench Zone lies deeper still. No sunlight ever gets down there. The pressure at such depths is phenomenal, about 11,000 psi (for comparison the atmospheric air pressure at sea level is 14.7 psi). Temperatures are just above freezing and nutrients are scarce. The bottom of the ocean is scattered with underwater geysers that belch forth poisonous sulfides at temperatures of 400ºC or 750ºF.

The deep sea floor is a seemingly hostile environment and yet life thrives down there. In fact scientists believe that there is more life in the dark abyss of the Earth's oceans than in all of the tropical rainforests put together. The only way to survive at such great depths is either through chemosynthesis, hunting or scavenging.

The Realm of Olokun is the Land of the Dead. All animal remains eventually drop down to the bottom of the ocean as so-called "marine snow". The bottom of the Abyssal Zone is covered in white flakes that provide sustenance to thousands of sea creatures. Due to the vast pressure at such great depth most of the life forms are severely distorted and look quite monstrous from our point of view. Of course we would look quite scary to them, too! There are also many varieties of huge invertebrates such as giant worms and almost plum-sized single cell amoebas.

To this day Olokun's world remains Her Dark Queendom of the Untold, as only one millionth of Her realm has ever been seen by human eyes.

Like Her world, so is Olokun the Keeper of Secrets. Anything that falls to the bottom of the sea floor remains intact forever more, never to be laid eyes on by anyone other than Herself and Her underwater children. Olokun is believed to hold the secrets of the past, the present and the future. She knows all and guards that knowledge well. New World Yorubas believe that Olokun holds the key to the mystery of exactly what happened to their ancestors on those fateful journeys across the Atlantic. Many didn't make it and thus entered the Realm of Olokun. For that reason still today their descendants in the Americas give baskets of food to the sea.

Olokun is all-knowing, She is the Keeper of Wisdom and Divination. She is the Goddess of the Unknown, the Darkness, the Realm of Dreams and the Unconscious.

Olokun is the Goddess of Death: Her Domain is the Graveyard of the Earth, its cold and dark nature being the perfect environment for the suspended animation of Spirits.

Olokun is also the Goddess of Rebirth and Renewal: At the bottom of the deep sea from Her Dark Watery Womb new life springs forth every moment, contributing to a vast and incredibly adaptive ecosystem.

Olokun is associated with great riches, She is said to be a Goddess of Wealth and Abundance. Women pray to Her to conceive a child as well as for good health and worldy possessions.

Olokun is often depicted as a beautiful black Mermaid.

One of the animals that symbolise Olokun is the mudfish, an amphibian that burrows deep into the mud to survive the dry season.

The Goddess Olokun is also linked to the red coral, a beautiful red gem-like colony of tiny animals that are joined together through the skeletons of their dead ancestors. As corals grow they form reefs which purify the water, provide shelter for other sea creatures and encourange the growth of wildlife habitats beneath the sea.

In the New World, especially amongst the Lukumi people in Cuba, Olokun and Yemaya are seen as different aspects of the same Goddess. Yemaya at the surface of the ocean is exposed to sunlight and the pull of the Moon. She is the Goddess's life-giving and nurturing side, while Olokun in Her impenetrable abyss is the Goddess's mysterious, dark and unknowable aspect.

Yemaya-Olokun is said to have a violent nature and is associated with wisdom and the Realm of Dreams. Some say She is a most powerful Goddess that can only be communicated with in Dream Space and through Trance.

*Culled from www.goddessinspired.wordpress.com

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

AYO OLOPON: RIVIVING A DYING CULTURAL HERITAGE By Maureen Azuh

Many aspects of Nigerian cultures are gradually fading out. The most common feature, which is language, is even the most affected – with many young people now finding it 'trendy' to say they do not understand their language.

But efforts are also being made to revive some of these cultural elements. Ayo olopon, a popular traditional game in Yorubaland and indeed some other tribes, for instance, is in the class of such traditional values that may be 'redeemed'. It is a game played on a wooden board with two rows of six holes by two to four competitors, and revered for its entertainment values.

Also called tota tope, it became popular when it left the confines of the household and community. It became a part of the Osun Osogbo Festival about 16 years ago. Ever since, it has not only remained a permanent feature, but is also gradually finding its way into other festivals.

According to the presenter of the game at the festival, Kayode Adewoyin, who spoke with our correspondent, the aim of making it a part of the festival is to keep the game alive in the minds of Nigerians.

He says, "Since the inception of this festival and the game, this will be the first time the Oba will be a part of it as a participant. This shows that it is getting better awareness. We also play the game in over 70 other Yoruba festivals. Most boys, these days, believe in foreign games such as football. In the past it used to be those traditional games that our forefathers used to relax at the end of the day's work. Then, they had time to exchange village gossip and other events. But what we have today are snookers and play stations, which are alien to our culture."
Adewoyin also says there are efforts to incorporate the game into national sports festivals where contestants will represent their states.

"When we started this game in Osun Osogbo in 1996, we did not know it will grow up to this length. Now we have even been to the eastern part of the country where we also found out that the game is not strange. So we are currently exploring all avenues at reviving it. It is our cultural heritage. We are already working with the National Sports Council for a competition in October, where people will represent their states after zonal contests. We don't want this traditional game to just die down," he says.

*Culled from www.nigerianbestforum.com

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

GEORGIA (CAUCASUS) HOLIDAYS AND FESTIVALS

Georgians are big on cultural and religious celebrations when towns come alive with festivities and activities. Georgia's rich traditions are manifested in festivals that commemorate national unity and other milestones in history (such as Victory Day), along with other secular Georgia (Caucasus) holidays that are lovingly observed by high-spirited locals.

New Year's Day

New Year's is the favorite holiday of almost all locals and is often an extension of the festivities of Christmas time. It is celebrated with lots of food, free-flowing drinks, Georgian dances, choir performances, and the lighting of the midnight sky with colorful, flashing fireworks.

International Women's Day and Mother's Day

Celebrated on March 8 and March 3 respectively, these holidays show the Georgian's high regard for women. City streets are buried in flowers which locals purchase to honor their mothers, wives and grandmothers. There are plenty of festivities, shows, concerts, charity events, and folk festivals.

Victory Day

March 9 marks Georgia's Victory Day, which celebrates the country's freedom from fascism. In Tbilisi, Victory Day takes place in Vake Park, where exciting programs are held from dancing to brass band playing, plus the laying of flowers at the foot of the park's eternal flame and memorial. It is also a day for remembering war veterans and heroes.

Love Day

In addition to St. Valentine's Day, Georgians celebrate Love Day on April 15. This April observance is marked by gift-giving, romantic evenings and all things red.

Tamaroba

Held on May 14 each year, Tamaroba is the celebration of the reign of one of the greatest Georgian monarchs, Queen Tamar, who lead the country into its golden age. This day of remembrance is honored throughout the country, but the main festivities are held in Akhaltsikhe and Tbilisi.

Independence Day

While Georgia's independence was really dated March 31, 1991, locals celebrate their freedom on May 26, which when the country became its own state. Traditionally, a military parade is followed by a huge gala concert and the festival of flowers in Vardobistve takes place. This event transforms the Bridge of the World into a big, colorful ark of flowers.

Ninooba

Ninooba means the Great Church Holiday, which is dedicated to the arrival of Saint Nino, who first converted Georgians to Christianity. The celebration is held on the first day of June, when believers go on a pilgrimage following in the footsteps of Saint Nino that passes through the Mtskheta-Bodbe route.

Mckhetoba-Svetickhovloba

This large spiritual feast is celebrated by Georgians every October 14. It is based on the miraculous acquisition of the country's greatest relic—Jesus Christ's tunic—which was the reason for the establishment of the Mtskheta Cathedral. A festive service and a mass christening are held at this time.

St George's Day

Annually on November 23, Georgians remember Saint George the Victorious, one of the most legendary characters in the history of Christianity. On this day, churches ring their bells and believers pray for peace, welfare and health. Locals prepare festive meals and families sing traditional songs.

Christmas Day

Christmas sees churches begin solemn liturgy as early as the night before Christmas Day (December 25) with services beginning in festive parades called alilo . Believers and priests walk down the street carrying icons, crosses and banners while singing about Christ's birth. On Christmas Eve (December 24), candles are lit in Georgian houses and festive dinners are served.

*Culled from www.iexplore.com

Monday, 9 May 2016

Olojo Festival of Acient Ile-Ife By McPhilips Nwachukwu & Appolos Ibeabuchi Oziogu

*Beaded Crown worn by the Ooni at the festival.

The people of ancient city of Ile-Ife are mostly traditionalists who still uphold the religious practice of their forebears. They worship a lot of deities and as a result they celebrate a great many traditional festivals to propitiate or pacify or appease the deities.

Some of these deities are: Orisa Oko (deity of agriculture); Ogun (deity of iron); Obatala (deity of creation); Esu Elegbara (trickster deity); Osanyin (deity of medicine);Ifa (deity of divination), Erinle (deity of forest); Orunmila (deity of fate) etc.

There are also prominent ancestors that are also deified and worshiped like Oduduwa, Oranmiyan and Oluorogbo . There were 401 deities that resided in the ancient city of Ile-Ife. Thus, the Ife people have diverse cultural festivals that they celebrate annually, which among them is OLOJO festival.

Olojo festival is an age-long tradition of the ancient city of Ile-Ife which is celebrated by the indigenes of Ile-Ife. It began during the reign of the third Ooni of Ile-Ife. Though the date of Olojo festival inception has not been determined, but it is said to be between 11th and 15th century and the celebration usually begins in the middle of October each year.

It is celebrated in honour of the revolutionary deity, Ogun (the god of iron).Th festival is celebrated to commemorate the importance of Ogun; to exhibit the solemn belief of the Ife people on Ogun deity to usher in prosperity and abundance of agricultural products, as well as the well-being of the people for the year.

Olojo literally means "Owner of the day". The Olojo festival is a programme, marked with great pomp and pageantry. It is celebration occasioned by prayers, songs, dancing and merry-making. However, before the festival commences proper, the sitting or reigning king, Ooni of Ife would go incommunicado or into seclusion for a period of five days to communicate with the 401 deities that resided in the ancient city of Ile-Ife.

He engages himself in special prayers and ritual sacrifices along with seven high priests. Within this period, the Ooni will not eat any natural food, but spiritual food and alligator pepper with kola nut. During this period also, the high priest will be coming to see the Ooni to perform some rituals, turn-by-turn for consecutive five days.

Olojo festival is a three-day event. The first day, which is normally Friday, is called "Ilagun" day. The second day, being Saturday is called "Olojo proper while the third day being Sunday is the grand finale and for merry-making. Thus, before the commencement of the festival on the first day, the Ooni of Ife would first of all emerge wearing the sacred beaded crown "Ade Aare" which was believed to have been empowered by the deities. After that, the chief priest, Osogun with other chiefs including the priest and a representative of Ooni would immediately proceed towards the Okemogun (the shrine) to prepare the Ogun shrine before the Ooni would come out in the open. There, the chief priest would make some incantations while the other chiefs that accompany echo "Esei" (meaning, Amen).

At the shrine, a dog is tied, while the Osogun and other seven chiefs move round the shrine seven times before the Osogun (chief priest) would finally cut the dog into two halves. Immediately after the ritual killing, the entire people of Ife around will shout "Ogun yee" (meaning, the ritual has been accepted).

The totems for ceremonial ritual include: dog and kola nuts (which are to be shared among the people at the shrine). Other items are salt, palm oil and palm wine. During the festival different songs are sung in praise of the Almighty God for a peaceful festival and for the reigning Ooni.

*Culled from www.vanguardngr.com

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Masquerade Carnival Closes Badagry Diaspora Festival 2015 By Anote Ajeluorou

It was a carnival of masquerades that gave full expression to the rich culture of Ogu people at the closing of Badagry Diaspora Festival 2015 two Saturdays ago at Badagry Grammar School playground. It signaled the end of a week long festival that called attention to closer ties between Africa Diaspora and the motherland. Haitian revolutionary military genius Toussaint L'ouverture was the festival's patron saint, as he was duly remembered for freeing Haiti in 1804 and so triggering freedom struggles from colonial domination amongst black peoples all over the world.
In deed, the Mr. Babatunde Olaide-Mesewaku-led Africa Renaissance Foundation (AREFO), organisers of the festival, was a rallying point for all Badagry people and their cultural expressions. Not only was the culture colourful, it was also magical, or even scientific in the African traditional sense. In a rare display, Zangbeto, a signal masquerade of Ogu people, was set on fire in the open playground and incarnated in another mask to continue dancing. Not a few were stunned by the sheer magical stunt enacted before them.
Zangbeto's reincarnation was the height of the displays, but that after Sato royal drums had been beaten by as many as six drummers at once to thrill the mammoth crowd. Beating the Sato drums, man and wife, is a delight to watch, with its ritual dance and atonement that starts from a distance, as if beseeching the drums to yield to the drummers' sticks during impact.
But first the quarters that make up greater Badagry had to pay obeisance before their His Majesty De Wheno Aholu Menu-Toyi I, the Akran of Badagry, who was represented by Jengen of Badagry Kingdom High Chief Onuosekan Gbewa I. Jegba startd the quarters' procession, then to Whlakoh, Posuloh, Boekhoh, Asagoh, Ahovikoh, Awhanjigoh and Dale-Whedakoh. Others were Topo, Ganho, Yafin, Ganyigbo-Topa, Ajara, Ajido, Gbaji and Joforo quarters. They danced before their Akran in colourful costumes.
Apart from Zangbeto, other masquerades that added to the spectacle were Igunnuko masquerades with their red, white, brown and green tassels that towered into the sky. Others included Ofe, Paje Polobi, Koori, Ogun and Esu. One major feature of the festival was the role women and children played. They were a major feature of the festival in all the quarters; this, according to the master of ceremony Mr. Ovi Manuel, was to ensure continuity of the rich heritage of Badagry people into the future. From Zangbeto to Sato drummers, children were the main attraction, as they showed zeal and craftsmanship having learnt the ways of their forebears.
Inability of Olaide-Mesewaku to secure better sponsorship for the 16-year old festival apart from MTN did not dampen the excitement of Badagry people who heartily embraced a celebration that has come to give full expression to their culture that would have otherwise remained unacknowledged.
But it was a source of concern for Olaide-Mesewaku who lamented, "The festival has always been occasion for creativity and glamorous display of African tangible and intangible cultural and natural heritage. The basic objective of this festival is to expose the socio-economic potentials of Badagry and Lagos State to the international community and thus attract investors to Badagry, a tourism haven waiting to be tapped… This year's festival was faced with a lot of challenges, especially with regards to funding. Organising a festival of this magnitude is always capital intensive.
"All the commercial banks operating in Badagry community failed woefully to respond to our letters of assistance asking them to place adverts for just N30,000 on the programme brochure and so failed in their corporate social responsibility to the community. Even at this stage we have already run into deficit".
Nevertheless, it was the hope of Olaide-Mesewaku that support, both from government and corporate bodies, would improve next year so the festival becomes bigger and better to achieve its aim of linking Africans at home and those in the Diaspora.

*Culled from www.m.gurdian.ng

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES HOLIDAYS AND FESTIVALS

Over the last 10 years, the local government has implemented several festivals and events across the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to increase tourism. Sporting competitions, like the Dubai Desert Classic, have added to the visitor numbers and improved exposure on the global scale. United Arab Emirates holidays and cultural events, like the Abu Dhabi International Jazz Festival, highlight the importance of music and art in the country.

Dubai Marathon

In January, the Dubai Marathon takes center stage. There are 1.8 mile (three km), 6.2 mile (10 km), and 31 mile (50 km) races, with the winners receiving large sums of money. Thousands of participants come to the UAE to join, with an increasing number of runners every year.

Dubai Shopping Festival

Shopaholics need to remember to breathe because the Dubai Shopping Festival is a month-long event. Every mall in the city reduces its prices during January and February, attracting thousands from around the globe. There are concerts and entertainment as a backdrop.

Dubai Desert Classic

Every year, the best golfers from around the world make their way to Dubai, where the Desert Classic takes place. The prize money allures the best of the best and spectators if they can get a hold of the highly coveted tickets. The tournament is held at the Emirates Golf Club in March.

Emirates World Series Horse Race

The Emirates World Series of Horse Racing concludes in Dubai, where the world's richest race takes place. Held in April, the Dubai World Cup Horse Race welcomes thousands of spectators, along with the best jockeys, trainers, and horses from the world over. The event is run from the Nad Al Sheba Racecourse, which provides memorable entertainment and a social atmosphere in the UAE.

Abu Dhabi International Jazz Festival

Huge crowds flock to the most-populated city in the UAE for Abu Dhabi's International Jazz Festival. This beloved May event lures thousands of music lovers, where amazing performances are given by some of the world's leading jazz artists. The festival began as a two-day event, but now spans more than a week.

Eid

At the end of Ramadan, the cities of the UAE celebrate with parties and feasts. Both visitors and locals can share in the spoils as Dubai and Abu Dhabi throw social events for several days to mark the end of the Islamic fasting period in September.

International Film Festival Dubai

The Dubai film festival takes place in November and attracts not only thousands of cinema enthusiasts from across the Middle East and Europe, but famous producers and Hollywood stars for screenings all over the city.

National Day Festival

Commemorating the formation of the UAE and the independence of the region from Britain, National Day is celebrated across the country in December with performances and events in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Accommodations are hard to come by at this time, so book well in advance.

*Culled from www.iexplore.com

Friday, 6 May 2016

EWEKA I & THE BEGINNING OF OBA ERA (1200AD-1235AD)

After the banishment of Owodo; the last Ogiso under the {Ogiso periods} for misrule Evain who had earlier distinguished himslf as a brave man by destroying the man-eating Osogan, was appointed as an adminstrator who ruled Benin for nearly 40 years. At his old age, Evian nominated his son Ogiamien as a successor. Unfortunately, this nomination did not go well with the Edo people who maintained that succession to the the throne is always applicables to kings and not to commoners to which class Evian belonged. Spear headed by Oliha, there was a serious agitation to bring back the monarch.The nation was thrown into a state of internecine war and as a way out the elders {led by Oliha} went on a search party to look for Ikaladerhan {the barnished son of the last Ogiso Owodo} who had for some time taken refure at Uhe {or Ife as is now known}. The seach party reached Uhe to meet Ikaladerhan already enjoying the status of a king. The Edo people could not persuade him to reture home. nevertheless
he Ikaladerhan now known as Ododuwa agreed to send his son if only the Benin could take care of him.

This is how Ododuwa sent his son Oromiyan to Benin. To test whether the Edo people would care for their king, Ododuwa gave the Edo people three years to nurse the common louse. On their success, the great Ododuwa was convinced that the people really would care for their king.

Oromiyan was thereafter sent to Benin in 1170AD.He came into Benin amidst the serious opposition of Ogiamien who refused him entry into the city which was still under the firm grip of his administration.

Oromiyan was therefore forced to settle at Usama which was an outskirt of the city State . There he remained under the political support of the elders {Edion} headed by chief Oliha. Oromiyan had both language and cultural handicaps because of his Yoruba backgrounds. Although he had a Benin father {Ikaladerhan} yet he was really born and bred in yoruba land which was then the adopted kingdom, a refugee prince who had now found a new home at Ife.

When Oromiyan could neither speak nor understand the Benin custom, Unable to bear the animosity for very long renounced his position and labeled Edo land [Benin kingdom] lle Ibinu meaning land of annoyance and vexation and declared that only a child of the soil educated in the culture and tradition of the land could rule the kingdom. He thereafter returned to Uhe{IIe Ife} On his way back home he stopped briefly at Ego where he pregnated princess Erimwinde the daughter of the Enogie of Ego who bear him a son.

In his early years couldn't talk when his father who by now established the Alafin dynasty in Oyo had of his son predicament, sent his son's mother Ehendiwo seven marbles. While playing this marbles with other children one of his throws hit the target in excitement screamed Owomika {I have succeeded} which was Corrupted into Eweka.

For a period of over 30 years, the administration of Benin City was virtually in the hands of Ogiamien family until 1200 AD when the "Boy-King" Eweka I as a young king ruled the kingdom with the assistance of his maternal grandfather Ogiegor.

Oba Eweka I stated the reign of the Obas.Hitherto, the kings were known as Ogiso but when Eweka I came as a king, he was referred to as Oba. Some people said that the word oba is a yoruba word which means king. Others said the word Obaa meaning it is hard or difficult or probably from an abbreviation of the original name of the first Ogiso {Obagodo {Oba godo}-Oba king; godo-high : High King}. Wherever the word is derived from one can only say that it really came into use as connoting kingship during Oba Eweka I in 1200 AD.

Oba Eweka reigned for 35 yearss at his demise , his rival children ruled in succession.

*Culled from www.edoworld.net

OBITUN : PUBERTY INITIATION CEREMONY IN ONDO KINGDOM By Victor Akinkuolie

They might be Abiku believed to have lived several lives or Emere believed to be souls wandering in and out of the spirit world thereby causing sorrow and distress to their relations in the physical world of the living.

Thus, if a married woman was barren or giving birth to Abiku children or if she was subject to strange behaviour or prone to inexplicable illness, she could be made to go through her Obitun propitiation rite to appease the spirit believed to be troubling her because she did not perform the Obitun rite as a maiden or because it was not properly done.

However, whether it was for a maiden or for older woman, the Obitun ceremony followed basically the same ceremonial pattern. Having been dressed up with the appropriate body markings and accompanied by their relatives, the Obitun first proceeded to the house of the nearest female chief to propitiate the goddess of wealth and fertility, because each Opoji in Ondo kingdom is expected to have Aje shrine in her house.

In the evening of the first day of the initiation ceremony, all the initiates and their relatives gathered in the house of the person organising the ceremony where they would dance and sing to a special type of drumming known as "Esi" The special rite was also performed by offering Kolanut and monkey leg on the sacred drum.

After this rite, a mock betrothal ceremony called "Ayegbe" would follow, during which a stand-in spouse would now come in, prostrate before the Obitun's father asking for her hand in marriage.

The father in-law would send him back to bring two gourds of Palm wine, as betrothal gift to the Obitun's father, when he brings the palm wine, the would-be "father in-law" acquiesces to the match and admonishes the bride to be of good behaviour as a good wife and good ambassador of her family.

He would also warn the groom to take good care of her and never maltreat her. Then prayers are offered for her fertility and marital happiness. This aspect of the Obitun ceremony which is called mock betrothal is not carried out in the case of a married woman, but in the case of a maiden, it is an essential part of the initiation process.

The prayers offered at this stage are based on the very strong traditional belief that a girl who was not wayward and who received these prayers from her father would fare very well in marriage.

As part of this ceremony, the bridegroom does a special dance to publicly identify his bride, the groom would dance and seizes the hand of his chosen bride from among the initiates to the applause of the crowd.

The next step after this ritual drama was the "Egbee Song Session" a group of people who had been initiated for years back would gathered to sing and dance for the initiates. They will contained explicit instructions to prepare the maiden for her new role as an adult and as a wife.

As the Obitun was more or less a public declaration by the family that the girl was available for marriage, Egbee songs were also used to instruct her on family and societal ethics as related to the new marital life the young maiden was about to enter.

The songs contained warning against extramarital relationship with her in-laws. She must also show respect for her co-wives especially those senior to her. As part of the preparation for womenhood and to give her a foretaste of her duties at home, the Obitun was expected to prepare the pounded yam exclusively on her own at one point during the ceremony.

On the third day of the ceremony, rites were performed to drive away the familiar spirit from the body of the Obitun and from her future life. This duty is performed by an aged woman in the house, touching the head of the Obitun with three kolanuts, three akara balls and the hind leg of any bush animal.

On the fourth day, this stage is almost delighted to witness by the young boys, a morsel of pounded yam dipped in local Okro sauce would be offer as sacrifice to the familiar spirits to leave the Obitun, the pounded yam would be serve to everybody that attend the programme.

The same rituals were also performed on the seventh day with the number of the ritual objects raised to seven. On the ninth day also the spirits were again propitiated and driven away finally from the life of the Obitun. The girl then moved out of the inner room and walked outdoors until they got to a cross road where they carried out the final rite.

At the cross roads, the final rites were performed with kolanut and walnuts. The Obitun then comes out and must not look at the back until she gets home, the goddess of fertility was again worshipped on her behalf.
The ninth day was the outing ceremony, beautifully attire would be worn by the Obitun as on the first day. The Obitun's danced round the town, as newly initiated maidens ready for marriage and other adult duties.

OBITUN : PUBERTY INITIATION CEREMONY IN ONDO KINGDOM By Victor Akinkuolie

During the dance, they stop at intervals in some important places like in the houses of their relations where they would be offer congratulatory messages and gift. They would also stop at some important shrines, such as Ogun lei, and Ogun Aisero in Ododibo and Odojomu respectively.

In the late evening, each Obitun returned to her own home where her parents would sacrifice a fowl to her guardian spirit. The maiden is now fully initiated and ready for marriage and the demands and privileges of adulthood.

If she was not yet earmarked for any spouse, her parents bore the full cost of this expensive ceremony. However a girl whose future husband was already known would expect the fiancé's family to bear part of the cost.
In its purely traditional form Obitun has been edged out by such performing group are called Obitun cultural troupes. And they do the dancing without the accompanying rites since their dances are now merely for entertainment.

*Culled from www.thehopenewspaper.com

Thursday, 5 May 2016

OBITUN : GIRLS PUBERTY INITIATION CEREMONY IN ONDO KINGDOM By Victor Akinkuolie

Obitun ceremony is a puberty initiation ceremony performed in the olden days by the Ekimoguns for the girl child prior to her marriage.

The Obitun ceremony is quite different from Obitun cultural dance performed these days as entertainment or gala shows during public functions. Though the ceremony in this traditional form is almost completely extinct, due to the introduction of western education, Christianity, church baptism and other religious beliefs. Yet its legacy is reflected in the much watered down form of cultural dances performed during chieftaincy conferment ceremonies or other state occasions.

The real traditional Obitun rite, that is the puberty initiation for both boys and girls child was designed to mark that turning point in life, when the adolescent blossomed into adulthood.

In Ondo kingdom, the ceremony was such an important landmark in the societal organisation, in such that it was considered very derogatory for a girl child not to perform Obitun ceremony. In those days, it used to be shameful for a girl not being initiated into Obitun.

For the young Ondo maiden, Obitun was a celebration of life and living, a rite that could coincide with the burial of an important member of the family. In the more recent past, as the ceremony assumed greater importance, it became associated with chieftaincy installation ceremonies.

As part of the ceremony, it highlighted the status of the person being buried or installed a chief, as well as that of the parents of the girls involved. Any number of girls could perform the ceremony together and they need not be the biological daughters of the new chief or the person being buried.

In this regard, whenever the occasion arose for the Obitun ceremony, those girls who had attained the age of puberty within and outside the immediate family circle would be informed, and their parents would start to make elaborate preparations ahead of the ceremony.

They would get ready plenty of food stuffs, choice traditional clothing, ornaments, tubers of yam for pounded yam, ingredients for Okro soup, as well as other essentials for the various aspects of this very elaborate ceremony.

The Obitun ceremony which normally lasted for seven days and for the maidens, it was always a memorable occasion and never-to be forgotten once in a life time experience. For the duration of the nine days in which the ceremony would last, the maiden would always deck out daily in varieties of her family's choicest attires and beads.

On the very first day of the outing, the special dressing for the maiden is called "Eto" in local parlance, while the girl hair style would be done up in a special bonded style and decorated with beads. In those days, if the girl is a special class of maiden such as princess or the daughter of a chief or community leader, she would have extra special coral beads added to her hair style.

As part of the dressing mode, the Obitun also had the black flat beads called "Bebe" in local parlance, the black flat beads will be set in zigzag form to cover her body right from the hips up to her chest. Another interesting part of Obitun dress is the beautifully beaded sash worn diagonally across each shoulder to fall on the opposite side of her body.

On the Obitun face, back, chest and legs, intricate decorative marks were made with a blackish herbal paste called "Osun" (camwood) and white chalk, the Obitun would dance beautifully around amidst drumming and singing and would be bestowed with gifts in cash and kind.

Throughout the duration of the ceremony, the young lady would not be called by her name, she would be called Obitun, prepared and well fed in a manner reminiscent of the traditional fattening room of the Calabars. Her meals were specially prepared, her bath water was fetched daily before anybody fetches from the well, borehole or source of water for the village in those days.

On rising in the morning, she must not step on unswept floor, her bead had to be changed daily, even the bowl of water with which she washed her hands before and after each meal was held up for her by a special maid servant appointed to serve her for the nine days period of the ceremony.

Obitun ceremony in Ondo kingdom, apart from its social implication of the emergence into adulthood, it is an initiation ceremony which had a number of cleansing rites built into it. In fact, it was sometimes performed for older married women as a propitiation rite to appease or ward off familiar spirits which might be troubling such a woman in her business or family life, even in respect of child bearing.

Though, to some family in Ondo kingdom it is believed that this propitiation rite at times is not necessary, if the Ifa oracle or any deity from their family did not prescribe it, particularly because women were believed to have strong links with the spirit world.

AJE FESTIVAL IN ONDO KINGDOM By Victor Akinkuolie

Preceding the day of the celebration, elaborate preparations are made by the Opoji for a festival splashed in honour of her Aje. Relatives are informed and items for feasting are got ready. On the morning of the day, the Opoji dresses up and prepares her Aje for the evening outing. The Aje will be displayed and placed in the front of the house of the Opoji chief, while spectators view it for their admiration.

In the evening of the celebration, the Aje will be placed on the head of a young virgin, for the efficacy of the prayers and rites, the Aje carrier (votary maid) must be pure. The girl herself would be beautifully attired with choice traditional wears and beads, covering her body from the thighs to her chest.

She wears the Yata and other trappings of traditional affluence, very important that the Aje carrier is expensively attired, because both she and Aje are on display, as a reflection of the status and social success of the Opoji concerned.

With the Aje carried by the young virgin, the Opoji dances to the appointed assembly at a spot in Okedoko street in Ondo, accompanied in a joyous procession by her children, neighbours as well as other relations and well wishers, mainly women. Naira of different denominations would be pasted on the body of the young girl.

When all the female Chiefs might have assembled, each Aje is placed on a stand in front of the Opoji. The female Chiefs then hold a mock marketing session to symbolize the importance of economic activities in Ondo kingdom and the key role of women in the commercial life of the society.

As the ceremony proceed, in a highly delightful manner, the Opoji pays homage to Lobun, who is the leader of the women Chiefs in the city, this exercise would go round in a hierarchical order, very similar to what the male Chiefs do during Ugha, a traditional meeting spot within the Palace of the Osemawe.

The whole ceremony is perform in a square called Enuowa, a spot near the Old Town Hall, behind the palace of Osemawe. The ceremony is a special forum for women. It is the high point of Ondo tradition, it is a most enthralling sight full of gaiety and colour.

During the celebration, the very depth of Ondo culture is reflected in the women's dressing, singing, ceremonial dancing, traditional prayers and exchange of ceremonial greetings to mention a few.

However, the main thrust of the ceremony is for prayers to be said for communal peace, success in business and continued prosperity for the entire kingdom in general, and the Opojis in particular.

This celebration involved the Opojis in Ondo and the Chiefs from Udoko led by the Sasere who would arrive later in the evening to partake in the elaborate celebration, the Chiefs from Udoko community would offer prayers foe each of the Opojis, praying for their success in trade, prosperity and long life.

The Udoko Chiefs would also offer prayers for fertility among Ondo women and the safety, happiness and well-being of all children born into the community, during this prayers each Aje is touched with the priests, while "ase" meaning Amen would rent the air.

After the rite the Udoko chief would depart, amidst drumming and dancing, while the Opojis would also leave the venue in hierarchical order, in company of their drummers, this aspect of the celebration is always a delight to watch as everybody present at the venue would be happy to be part of the annual celebration.

The accompanied friends and relatives would be cleared on their returns to the Opojis house, while the Aje is returned to its special place on a conspicuous stand in the house to await another year's outing.

If however, the Opoji herself is unable to accompany her Aje to the venue of the celebration as a result of illness, old age and demise, her children and other relations will perform the outing on her behalf.

In the alternative, she may display the Aje in front of her house, where she herself will sit, well dressed in a festive mood, while all her relatives would dance to the admiration of spectators, the virgin girl who has the honour of carrying the Aje is showered with cash gifts and valuable items.

The virgin girl would also be given a hen and kolanuts to worship her guardian spirit and pray that she too may grows up to be a woman of substance in the society. When the virgin girl grows too big to carry the Aje or gets married, another carrier has to replace her.

*Culled from www.thehopenewspaper.com

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

AJE FESTIVAL IN ONDO KINGDOM By Victor Akinkuolie

Odun Aje in Ondo kingdom is literally referred to as a festival of the goddess of wealth and fertility. The festival is one of the over 44 traditional festivals annually celebrated with pomp and pageantry in Ondo.

The festival is dedicated to Aje, the Yoruba goddess of wealth and fertility, it is another very special and impressive female angle to the Ondo traditions.

Odun Aje festival in Ondo city is an annual festival usually performed by the Opojis, that is the female Chiefs, the festival is usually held on the eve of Odun Moko, a special festival usually performed around November by the Udoko community, where women are barred from public glare.

The festival in Ondo kingdom is usually referred to as the goddess that controls women's success in business, and extends their wealth, Aje, is normally regularly propitiated by Ondo women, especially the market Chiefs and the Opojis.

The special annual festival and the worship is however vested in the Opojis, who perform the rites on their own and on behalf of womanhood, and the entire people in the kingdom.

According to a former Commissioner for Education in Ondo State and the Mayegun of Ondo city, Chief Mrs. Olufunke Iluyemi, Aje is worshiped annually in the city, so that fortune will continue to smile on all women and the townsfolk in general.

She explained that each Opoji in the city is expected to have her own Aje, which is a kind of movable shrine, dedicated to the Yoruba goddess of affluence and fertility.

The shrine consists of the Aje itself which is placed in a big clean and white bowl, usually of brass and in the bowl are placed several items symbolic of wealth, enhanced social status and fertility.

The items include Aso-Oke, the Ondo traditional cloth, owo eyo, (cowrie money) Iyun (red beads) awo (China plates) irunkere, (horse tail) and decorative mirrors as well as gold ornaments to mention a few.

The items which are artistically and daintily arranged in the white bowl and topped with horse tail is a symbol of prestige, status, ease and affluence. It could also be topped with white doll, which also symbolises western civilisation in which Ondos are noted for.

The Aje in Ondo kingdom is the Opoji's symbol of position and elevation in the society, it reflects her position as a woman of substance and respectability without which attributes she could not have been made a chief.

Other women around her or her own relations may also have cause to propitiate the Aje on their own behalf for success in their individual business in life's endeavours.

For example, at the beginning of the Obitun ceremony celebrated for puberty initiation performed by the Ondos for girls prior to marriage, the girls involved will have the Aje near them or that of their relation who is an Opoji worshipped on their behalf.

The usual materials for the Aje rites are kolanut and cold water (Ugba Omi Titu) in local parlance, elo (marched yam without palm oil) among others.

Apart from this private worship of the Aje, which is usually around November, precisely on the eve of Odunmoko, a special outing for each Opoji with her Aje. This is called Odun Aje, a unique outing for the women Chiefs to perform publicly the worship of their Aje to seek fortune and favour, not only on themselves, but also on the entire kingdom, including the Oba, Chiefs and all his subjects.

The Aje ceremony in Ondo kingdom also involves the Udoko priest Chiefs whose duty it is to perform the rites on the Aje to seek for success and prosperity in the entire kingdom.

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