As Nigeria craves boosting its tourism potential, it is no longer news that the Ulefunta 2018 festival, described as the most influential festival in the ancient city of Akure, is set to become one of the nation’s tourist attractions. RUTH TENE NATSA writes on the forthcoming festival.
Ufulenta Festival is celebrated after the five days of Eru Owa, when the princes and princesses present kola to the Deji of Akure, while the Deji in turn, gives them gifts of tubers of yam. Commercial activities of the provincial city at this period will be shut down, while traders take their wares to Toldi Agba over a period of seven days. It is a holiday period for the king and no entertainment is allowed, as the whole town remains silent. It is also the time, when notable Nigerians, who have been seen to contribute to national development, are awarded with varying chieftaincy titles. It is no wonder that the publisher of LEADERSHIP Newspaper, Sam NdaIsaiah, is to be conferred with the title ‘Aare Baaroyin’ of Akure kingdom, by the Imperial Majesty, Oba Ogunlade Aladetoyinbo Aladelusi, the Deji of Akure Kingdom. The monarch, conveyed the decision of the Deji -in –Council, to honour NdaIsaiah, in a letter which was delivered to him, in his Abuja residence by the delegation from Akure, the Ondo State capital, yesterday.
The delegation, led by High Chief Afolabi Fayehun, the Edemo of Akure kingdom said, the Deji of Akure and his Council of Chiefs, considered him for the chieftaincy title based on his unblemished antecedents in the newspaper industry. Chief Fayehun said, “After due consultation, the Deji of Akure discovered that he is a detribalised Nigerian and the Kabiyesi instructed that we should personally deliver this letter to you.” Fayehun, described Akure as one of the oldest state capitals in the country, hence the need to showcase its potentials to the world, particularly during the forthcoming Odun Ulefunta Oyemekun festival 2018. He said, “Akure is one of the oldest capital cities we have in the country and one of the key Yoruba towns that migrated from Ile- Ife. For the past 50 years, we have been celebrating Oyemekun and we are going round this time to media houses to seek their collaboration for the forthcoming Ulefunta Oyemekun festival 2018. Also speaking, chairman of the Ulefunta Festival 2018, Prince Adebisi Adeniyi, described the festival as the most influential cultural event, which had been on for 50 years. The Ulefunta Festival has a historical and cultural significance. The first is being the period that the Deji goes into seclusion. During this period, from ages past, there will be no noise or drum or any ceremony whatsoever. Markets are closed within this period of seven days throughout the kingdom and there is no observance of any activities. When the Deji comes out of seclusion after seven days, there is then a celebration by the whole of the town. Masquerades and all the sons and daughters of Akure are expected to come and pay the Deji his traditional Ulefunta homage after he emerges from seclusion,” He said “Akure has been the old provincial capital of old Ondo Province, even before the creation of states in 1978, and naturally, Akure became the capital. It is the old metropolitan town in Ondo State where everything that happens in the capital is of much concern to everybody. “Because of the cultural affinity to the people, we are now separating the Elefunta when the Kabiyesi will be coming out from his traditional annual leave. And during that annual leave, which is usually for seven days, there will be no beating of drums, markets or commercial activities for that period, until the Kabiyesi comes out and the commercial activities will commence” he said. He noted that this year’s festival, which begins October 3, will start with cultural displays with all traditional masquerades coming out.
On October 4 the Oba’s football competition will commence for the youth and there will be a carnival round the whole town. On the 5th, there will be a lecture, to be delivered by Bishop Mathew Kukah at the Federal University of Technology, Akure and after that, the Friday, Juma’at service would be held. “On October 19, we will be having a night with the Deji of Akure and that is when those to be honoured with chieftaincy titles will be honoured, as well as a dinner/Gala night with the Kabiyesi. The 20th is when we will have the Carnival and all citizens will come around to pay homage to the Kabiyesi. On the 21st, we will now go for the Christian thanksgiving.” Speaking on the essence of the festival, Chief Adeniyi stated that, “every community, especially in Yoruba land, has series of festivals, but the Ulefunta festival, which is one of the core activities of the Kabiyesi himself is binding on all, irrespective of religion. It is a festival that has no colouration, so everybody is expected to be part of it”. “We have all kinds of festivals all over the Yoruba kingdom. In Ife, there is the Olojo festival when the Oba will be coming out until when he goes into seclusion. In Ijebu Ode, we have the royal festival and even Ado Ekiti citizens have their own festival, but the peculiar Ulefunta festival covers everybody.” Speaking on the economic activities of the town within the period, he said, “Nigeria now craves for tourism, and all sons and daughters of the land from all parts of the world will, at this time, come home and they will bring in money. Hotels will be booked and economic activities will be raised.” So, as we all seek for exciting holiday periods, no doubt, Akure is the place to be for all lovers of culture and tradition, in October.
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