n South-West Nigeria, there is one celebration that everyone anticipates: the Ojude-Oba Festival. The event always takes place on the 3rd day soon after Sallah (eid el-Kabir) celebration. The famed event began in 1892 when the then-Oba Adesumbo Tunwase granted Muslims lands in exchange for the construction of a Mosque. He also offered British missionaries the opportunity to teach Christianity in Ijebu Site, including the land where the first church in Ijebu, St Saviours, Italupe, was built.
The event is a gathering of Ijebuland natives who congregate at the Awujale palace to pay tribute to the Awujale of Ijebuland, the sitting King of Ijebuland. It is a colourful event full of parades with a lot of pomp and grandeur to top it all up.
It was a tiny gathering of supporters and disciples of the Islamic religion way back before the Ojude-Oba Festival became an all-inclusive occasion. The event began more than a century ago when the first indigene-turned Muslim in Ijebu-ode paid homage to the Awujale of Ijebuland in gratitude for allowing them to practice their newly found faith freely. Today, however, the celebration has crossed religious barriers, attracting individuals of all faiths as well as tourists from Nigeria and elsewhere.
It is a day of the year that the people of Ijebu-Ode, who are known for their unsatisfied likeness for partying, look forward to since it allows them to commemorate their heritage and gather with family and friends once a year.
Muslims are allowed to savour and celebrate Sallah with their families, friends, and well-wishers on the two days leading up to the Ojude Oba Festival. However, dignitaries, tourists, Muslims, Christians, and even visitors alike flock to the Oba Sikiru Adetona Golden Jubilee Centre on the Festival’s third day to watch and experience the glitz and glam. If you happen to be in Ijebu-Ode, you should not miss this sight.
The Ojude-Oba’s goal is to honour the people of Ijebu Ode’s rich cultural and historical legacy. This is demonstrated through magnificent traditional costumes, adroit coiffures, gastronomy (ifokore), and the replication of uncommon ethnic dances that can only be seen at such a large celebration.
Over 45,000 people attend the century-old celebration, which includes singing, dancing, and drumming, as well as paying tribute to His Royal Highness Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona, Ogbagba Agbotewole II, the Paramount Ruler of Ijebu-land. The Oba’s subjects and the age grades take turns to pay tribute to the Awujale of Ijebu-land by giving various delicacies and other goods.
The two activities you should not miss during the event are horseback riding among the many horse riding families and male/female dance ensembles. The many horse-riding families outfit their horses and demonstrate their riding abilities to the delight of onlookers. Meanwhile, men and women from various age groups known as Regberegbe will demonstrate their dancing prowess in the dance competition. Cash prizes will be awarded to the best-dressed Regberegbe and horse-riding family. Intermittent gunfire can be heard during the celebrations.
In the main arena of the event, peers of various ages sit in groups to watch and participate in the celebratory activities, which begin with such glitz and glam. Peers of several age groups then take turns paying homage to the king. Various groups of men and women perform dances to the accompaniment of singing and drumming.
The festival celebrates the Ijebu people’s culture and tradition. It is marked by excellent cuisine, stunning ethnic dances, and horsemanship.