There was wild jubilation in Ile-Ife on Saturday as the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, appeared to the waiting mammoth crowd with the historical and sacred Aare crown on his head which he wore for the first time since his enthronement late last year.
The crown, which spiritually weighs over 70kg, is always worn once in a year by the Ooni during which major gods in the city are appeased.The Aare is a special crown made of 151 items, part of which is cutlass and hoe. The crown is expected to be worn during the annual Olojo festival in the ancient city.
The festival, which is believed to be a celebration of the creation of the first dawn, the first afternoon and the first night in creation of mankind, witnessed the presence of dignitaries, artists, traditional rulers and government officials.
As the Ooni walked out with the Aare crown, thousands of viewers, whom are indigenes and non-indigenes of Ile-Ife were praying and hailing the king.
Dressed in all white apparel, Oba Ogunwusi, who had been in seclusion for seven days, left his residence for Oke Emese(Emese court) within the palace premises, around 4: 00 pm to perform final rites before he wore the mystic Aare crown.
At exactly 5pm, Oba Ogunwusi came out with Are crown on his head and a white dove, praying for the peace and progress of the ancient city and the black race.
He subsequently proceeded amidst prayers and several gunshots to Oke Mogun(Ogun shrine) and Idi Aje two major ports of call during Olojo Festival where rituals and prayers were said for the peace of Nigeria and Yoruba race.
On the procession of Ooni to Oke Mogun were former Governor of South West and Are Tobalase of Ife Admiral Akin Aduwo, Cuban Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Carlos Tredjo Sosa, former President Nigeria Guilds of Editor, Mr Gbenga Adefaye, a Special Adviser to Lagos state governor, Mr Kehinde Bamigbetan, Senator Babajide Omoworare, Hon. Rotimi Makinde, Professor Adeyemi Aderibigbe, Leader of OPC, Dr. Frederick Fasheun, Minority Leader of Osun state House of Assembly, Hon. Safiriyu Akinwole, some royal fathers led by Ajero of Ijero kingdom, Oba Adewole Joseph, Ife chiefs, priests and members of Oodua Peoples Congress, OPC, as well as indigenes and tourists from different parts of world.
Before Ooni commenced the trip, his traditional emissaries known as Emese, who wore only shorts, wielding coated canes performed the symbolic sprint to Oke Mogun shrine three times to clear the route the monarch would take.
Meanwhile, traders have affirmed that they made more sales during the festival. One of them identified as Madam Joy expressed surprise over the large turn-out by the people.
“We were initially scared that the current economic recession may affect the turnout but it didn’t. We made a lot of sales. We are happy and even wish this should be done everyday,” she added.
Chairman of National Union of Road Transport Workers Mini Bus commuters, Mr Isiaka Olatunbosun, added that the festival boosted their businesses.
He said, “The community festival has become the most veritable avenue for boosting domestic tourism in Ife and its environs. There has been increase in patronage. Masses were trooping in large from near and far.”
As the festival progresses, the Lowa Adimula of Ile-Ife, High Chief Joseph Ijaodola, commended youths for maintaining a peaceful coexistence. He congratulated the Ooni for witnessing his maiden appearance and wearing of Aare since his investiture to his forefathers’ stool.
Also, the Lowa Ate of the Source, High Chief Adebowale Olafare, expressed that Olojo festival signified peace and unity.
“We did not have troubles neither did we record any disaster during and after this festival,” he added.
The high Chief subsequently called for support for the Ooni in uplifting the town, promoting peace, unity and to take Ife to its promise land.
The historic Olojo 2016, which started on Monday had witnessed many events among which are Gbajure Cultural Carnival; Ooni’s Football Challenge; inter-school debate; quiz competition.
Others are Ayo Olopon traditional game, Yoruba cultural entertainment night, music concert, omodon (Sisi) Olojo Cultural pageant, and fashion show. It be climaxed on Monday with the grand finale royal outing when the Ooni is expected to move round the town visiting some specific places especially his ancestral Giesi compound at Agbedegbe.