For a very long time the memory of the 2018 Eid – el- Kabir Durbar, will remain in the memory of the people of the Emirate and eminent personalities that came to Ilorin, from all walks of life to witness the colourful ceremony. Oladipo Magaji, Ilorin

The first organised durbar in Ilorin, Kwara state was held on the second day of the last Eid- el- Kabir with pomp and pageantry. Though durbar had been an age long tradition of the people of Ilorin Emirate, those that preceded this year’s event were not organised and not in large scale.

Unlike in the past when durbar was mainly the business of a few traditional chiefs in the Emirate, 500 horse riders participated in this year’s event. Also, few weeks to Eid -el- Kabir celebration, the Emir of Ilorin, Alh Ibrahim Sulu- Gambari had inaugurated a committee led by Engineer Sulyman Yahaya Alapasanpa for the purpose of organising the 2018 Ilorin Emirate durbar.

At a news conference that heralded the Ilorin 2018 durbar, Alapasanpa disclosed that the ceremony would be grand. Alapasanpa who briefed journalists about the significance of Durbar celebration at the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), press centre, Ilorin, said unlike in the past, this year’s durbar will be extended beyond the emir, and royalty.

“Durbar is the unique ceremonial display and cultural procession of well decorated and garrisoned horses usually and beautifully mounted by the royals, chiefs, princes and some other eminent citizens of a given emirate to celebrate an important cultural epoch or religious event or , sometimes ,the presence or visit of an August dignitary.Thus ,the forthcoming durbar cultural festival has no political intention’’, he said.

Alapansanpa said the event was being organised to promote the rich cultural heritage of Ilorin emirate and guard against cultural imperialism that was fast eroding the cultural values of the people.

“Durbar is to prepare the entire Ilorin emirate community against the deep danger inherent in unguarded Cultural dynamism of our contemporary time and the threat of growing cultural imperialism, which if left unchecked may destroy the fabrics, essence and organic foundation of our basis as a unique people within the context of the Nigerian nation.

“The organisation of durbar will also discourage the penetration of foreign culture into the psyche and consciousness of our often impressionistic younger ones, who opened and often exposed to “attractive “ but destructive cultural products of the western world and their allies. With the continuous future and regular organisation and their participation in one way or the other by our growing population they will surely develop affinity for what is ours and do away with what is detestable.

“Durbar will also douse the acrimonious tension and socio-cultural apathy the perennial haphazard staging of baseless, meaningless and pernicious social carnivals by some restive, and poorly guarded youthful groups across the emirate and halt the appalling tendencies of promoting cultural illicities , drug addiction, thuggery and sexual misdeamour that come with it and among participants and which are sometimes visited on innocuous, helpless and innocent young members of our community “, he said.

He dismissed the insinuations making the rounds that the durbar was being organised to achieve political interests.

In his remarks, the national president of Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressives Union (IEDPU), Ambassador Sheikh Abdulazeez , called on the indigenes of Ilorin based outside the town, to come home with a view to at least be part of the event.

And later on the same day that the organising committee held its press conference, the Senate President and Waziri Ilorin, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki donated the whopping sum of N20 million towards the successful holding of the durbar.

The Director General of ABS Constituency Office, Ilorin, Alh Musa Abdullahi said Saraki made the donation to ensure a colourful and hitch-free durbar event.

He said Saraki sent his goodwill message to the organisers of the event and urged residents, the horse riders and spectators to conduct themselves in peaceful and orderly manner before, during and after the Eid el Kabir and durbar celebrations.

On the durbar day proper, many ward chiefs in company of their retainers in full traditional regalia on horseback through routes appropriate to their respective domains, left their various homesteads and converged on the frontage of the Emir’s Palace, Ilorin which was designated as the epicentre of this year’s durbar ceremony.

The ward chiefs are the historical warlords of the emirate with the title Balogun, namely: the Balogun Gambari, Balogun Fulani, Balogun Alanamu and Balogun Ajikobi and the Magaji Are. Each of these ward heads have their own subordinate traditional title holders and territorial sub chiefs with titles ranging from Daudu, Alangua, Magaji and Baale.

From 7.00 AM, the palace had started witnessing human and vehicular movements while banners mounted at various spots at the palace with portraits of the Emir and other dignitaries, welcomed thousands of indigenes of Ilorin, who came in as participants or special guests.

With water tight security within in and outside the palace, security personnel and local vigilante were strategically positioned at different locations and kept eagle eye while the event lasted.

Horses and camels used for the event, were neatly assembled at the palace in readiness for movement across designated routes within the Ilorin metropolis.

Sounds of locally made dane guns rented the air as the Emir made his way out of the inner chambers around 12:17 PM, after playing host to eminent personalities, who had come to pay royal homage to the foremost monarch.

The Emir decked in royal robes in company of horsemen from different ward chiefs homesteads, moved from the palace to Isale Oja to Surulere, General, Taiwo, Emir’s Road, Balogun Fulani and back at the palace. As the monarch made stopover at various spots, he was acknowledged with cheers from the people.

There was also no dull moment at the palace as poets, local traditional musicians dished out old poems such as ‘waka’ and other melodious songs, which resonated the old times and consequently held thousands of spectators, who gathered spellbound.

In his remarks, the Chairman, Durbar Committee, Engineer Sulyman Yahaya Alapansanpa, explained that the durbar ceremony was not new to the emirate but only that it was organised to revive the age long tradition.

He assured that the event would henceforth be held annually, pointing out that the committee he headed was working towards securing sponsorship for its celebration from corporate organisations.

“Durbar is not new to Ilorin community. In fact, one can say without contradiction that durbar in Ilorin is as old as the town itself but perhaps its celebrations in past Durbar, it would be recalled, began as a military parade to determine the status of Emir’s Calvary preparedness in the olden days for defensive and offensive purposes.

“Specifically, history has it that it was first introduced in Northern Nigeria by a onetime Hausa Emir of Kano, Sarki Muhammed Rumfa, some 500 years ago to determine the fitness status of his army. Succeeding Fulani Emirs adopted the practice, which continued till the present day in most part of the North as ceremonial display and other important ceremonies.

“It is perhaps in the recollection of this important tradition that our royal father has decided that we should revive the age-long tradition of Durbar celebration yearly, to showcase our culture for the children who do not have its knowledge and are gradually as well as steadily wallowing in negative foreign cultures.

“Secondly, its revival is to let our local and foreign friends know our dexterity in horsemanship and finally to make it permanent feature for those coming behind”, Alapansanpa said.

Also speaking, a member of the ceremonial committee, Dr Abdulkadir Salman Solagberu, said the event was organised at the instance of the Emir of Ilorin as a way of reviving cultural heritage of the emirate.

Solagberu, who is founder of the proposed Darul-Kitab University, Agbeyangi, described the durbar ceremony as a unifying force, which brought everyone together irrespective of ethnic and political leanings, adding that participation was also devoid of religious consideration.

At the grand ceremony were the President of the Senate, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki; Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara State represented by his Chief of Staff, Alhaji Yusuf Abdulwahab; Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Dr Ali Ahmad; former Minister of Sports, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi; Director General, National Broadcasting Commission, Isiaq Moddibo Kawu; former acting National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje; captains of industry, members of business community, politicians and top dignitaries from within and outside the country.

Meanwhile, the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu Gambari has said that this year’s durbar has further demonstrated the love and unity that existed among sons and daughters of the Emirate.

Sulu – Gambari stated this in his palace when he received the committee of the grand durbar led by its chairman, Alhaji Sulyman Yahaya Alapansanpa.

The Emir who thanked members of the committee for a job well done, noted that the festival had brought all sons and daughters of the Emirate under one umbrella irrespective of their political leanings.

Sulu- Gambari described the turnout of people for the event as unprecedented in the history of the emirate and a thing of joy and great achievement to the people of Ilorin.

The Emir added that the grand durbar had again shown the uniqness of Ilorin Emirate amongst other communities across the country.