FeaturesSouth-west Magazine

Mother of all festivals

• OPC, stakeholders celebrate God with 21-day Eledumare carnival

From Lukman Olabiyi

It was a 21-day event in 21 different locations of Lagos State. It featured Yoruba quiz competition, cultural competition, harvest of praise, children’s day, photo exhibition, day with the widow, festival float, fashion show among others.

Indeed, it was Eledumare Festival. Its promoter and Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams, testified: “Eledumare Festival is the most significant festival on the Yoruba anniversary calendar. It reflects the people’s respect and humility towards the Highest God, the Creator of heaven and earth. The festival is a way of showing gratitude to the Almighty God.”

The festival kicked off on March 27, 2023 and came to an end on April 18, amid pomp at Fagba, Lagos. It was tagged, Mother of all Festivals, promoted by Olokun Festival Foundation in collaboration with Oodua People’s Congress (OPC).

Adams said: “Today is the grand finale of the 21-day programme. And I believe God in His infinite mercy will shower His abundant blessing on us as we draw the curtains on this year’s festival.

“Let me begin by expressing my appreciation to our royal father and host, Oba Oyeyinka Fatusi, for being part of this programme. I appreciate all our guests for finding time to celebrate the grand finale of Eledumare Festival with us.

“When the festival began 21 days ago, I told our guests that Eledumare Festival is the mother of all festivals. It is also the biggest festival in our anniversary calendar.

“This is the truth because it is only God that deserves the honour to be celebrated uninterruptedly for 21 days and even more. I am happy this festival has offered us the opportunity to celebrate God in the most special way.

“For the 21 days that the programme lasted, we engaged the public with various programmes and activities. We started with prayer to Almighty God. And we proceeded with other interesting programmes including fashion show, visit to the motherless babies homes, sport competitions like Taekwondo, table tennis, football, Ayo Olopon, boxing, photo exhibition, harvest of praise, Yoruba quiz competition, cultural display, widow’s empowerment programme and festival float among others.

“Interestingly, all these programmes were organised on daily basis in different locations across the state. I believe we have played a significant role in our effort to fulfil our part in the promotion of Yoruba culture and tradition.

“Apart from this, we have injected several millions of naira into making this festival a success. We look forward to a future of abundant reward and blessing.

“Our organisation, OPC, is not a religious organisation. We have our members who are Muslims, Christians and many others who are traditional religious believers.

“So, issue of religion is not a barrier in our organisation. We have a better understanding of how to praise God in our little way. Let me state it clearly God has been the only reason for our progress.

“There’s no better way to praise and appreciate God than to roll out the drums in celebration of His blessings and grace on us as individuals and as a socio-cultural organisation.

“Therefore, the reason for celebrating Eledumare Festival is for us to appreciate the highest God. We are celebrating Eledumare Festival because He is the Supreme Being, the Alpha and the Omega. It is a reflection of our respect and humility to the Highest God, the Creator of heaven and earth.

“Another important reason for dedicating 21 days to the celebration of this festival is to bring life to our cultural promotion activities.”

He pleaded for religious harmony and tolerance. He urged all to shun religious fanaticism to avoid crisis in the land.

He charged the people to return to the immediate past era when both Muslims and Christians lived together in peace and celebrated and shared during festivals. He decried what he termed commercialisation of religion by the new generation of evangelists: “Government needs to partner with Muslim and Christian clerics in fervent prayers for the country.”

Other traditional rulers, present included Onifako of Ifako Kingdom, Oba Oyeyinka Fatusi, represented by his wife, Olori Taiwo and Oba of Aguda, Oba Akeem Agbaosi Saibu.

Special guest and the eldest daughter of the late Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, Princess Sade Adeyemi, said: “Apart from my late father, Oba Adeyemi and Ooni of Ife, I don’t think there are other traditional rulers in Yoruba land doing what Aare Onakakanfo is doing in the areas of tradition and culture promotion.

“I am imploring our traditional rulers to emulate Aare Onakakanfo.

They are the custodians of our tradition and culture. There is the need to preserve our heritage for future generations.”

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