The all-white massive edifice of Ile Odua, Enuwa Ile-Ife, palace of Ooni Adeyeye Babatunde Ogunwusi, Ojaja II was the venue of a recent classy dinner organised for African ambassadors, members of the diplomatic corps and tourism enthusiasts.
Ile-Ife has continued to attract interest across the globe with high profile personalities visiting and holding court with the newly installed Ooni of Ife whose towering influence and impressive performance since claiming the throne, especially his passionate drive for the unity of the Yoruba race and promotion of cultural tourism have put Ife back on global tourism stage.
Typical of events in the palace, praise singing, photo sessions and exchange of gifts started the day in the king’s reception before proceeding to the colorfully-lit garden were guests were treated to music, food and a relaxing ambience.
From traditional poems to lyrical praise singing to Jazz master pieces by Wole Sax, there was no boring time. Add sumptuous Chinese dish and exotic drinks to the mix and no doubt it was a good evening.
But it was no ordinary dinner; the quest to make the second largest continent in the world (Africa) united is the reason behind this.
The visitors were hosted to a private dinner by the Ooni, who is also the grand patron of Motherland Beckons, an organsiation founded by Otunba Wanle Akinboboye, the president of La Campagne and Also the consultant and adviser on tourism to the Ooni.
The African ambassadors present were from Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Senegal and South Africa.
The visit afforded the Ooni and his guests the opportunity to exchange ideas and pledge cooperation in the area of cultural and tourism promotion between African countries.
Oba Ojaja II took time to educate and expose his visitors to the rich history and tradition of his people and the supremacy of Ile – Ife. He debunked the migratory theory about Ile – Ife and declared that Ile – Ife is indeed the cradle of mankind and not only the Yoruba. He also talked about the Ile-Ife Grand Resort and Leisure site, a 156 hectare of land, which on completion will house a N7.6 billion resort. A baby of the Ooni, The resort will provide employment for hundreds of people and open up the tourism economy of Ile-Ife, which clearly elated his guests.
He said Olodumare, the creator of the universe, controls the world from Ile – Ife, as evidenced by the mysterious Igi Nla, White Forest, Ark of Noah and Tower of Babel, all domiciled in Ile-Ife. He elaborated on the significance of the 201 deities created by Olodumare and their relationship with mankind, right from the days of Adam and Eve days.
Interestingly, Akinboboye, and stakeholder in the industry share this same belief. “Our not being united has cost us growth and wealth.
The traditional rulers are key in propagating this. They promote oneness and growth. This is the first of this kind of evening but many more will come. There is a movement towards this and the ambassadors have chosen the monarch as the head of it which seems perfect because in the three months of his ascension to power, he has done nothing but foster peace everywhere. Ile-ife is the cradle of civilisation.”
The quest to see this happen was continuously reiterated all night by the monarch in his speech. “Today is a honourable day for me. I greet you all from the depth of my heart. I am always very passionate when I am talking about Africa. We are the first in everything yet we lack the best, the first civilisation in the world was in Bronze age before Christ. But today there is much disunity and discord amongst us but we are one. I am proud to say we are one. Many of us have never seen each other before but we are very similar in the way we do things, are losing more by being apart, simple things like the food we eat to the patterns of our fabrics are a testimony to that fact. What we did wrong is that we forgot our forefathers. God blessed us, we are the centre of the world with the best weather and natural resources,’ the monarch said.
The ambassadors represented by Lulu Lungani of South Africa in his speech agreed with the monarch, reiterating the need for unity in order to foster tourism. “The need to begin to transcend all obsequies and see ourselves as one is now. Through culture, we have been able to discover ourselves, so it’s imperative we promote tourism amongst ourselves,” Lungani explained.
DG NTDC, Mrs Sally Mbanefo, one of the dignitaries present and a domestic tourism advocate in her speech was elated with the monarch’s drive towards UNITY of the continent. “Africa cannot become a Destination without unifying and only the help of monarchs like the Ooni of Ife can put Africa on the map, in terms of tourism and it takes a lot of courage to leave ones comfort zone to take up such service and I commend him for that.
And also, we must not forget the sweat of our brother, Otunba Akinboboye. We have so much tourism products that we have no business fighting each other. We need to open up our borders to offer both domestic and international tourists our wonderful natural and man-made products. Tourism is life, tourism is everything,” she added.