L-R Chief Executive Officer of Nike Art Gallery, Lekki, Lagos, Mrs. Nike Okundaye presenting a tuber of yam to Ologidi of Ogidi,Oba Rabiu Oladimeji Sule, during the Ogidi Day Cultural and Yam Festival...recently

The Ogidi community in Ijumu Local Government Area of Kogi State recently celebrated the Ogidi Day Cultural and Yam Festival where various groups performed and some eminent persons were honoured, writes Yekini Jimoh

According to history, Ogidi community in Ijumu Local Government Area of Kogi West senatorial district of Kogi State is a Yoruba town and is known for its formations of igneous rock mountains and a traditional art industry.

It was believed that they migrated from Ile-Ife to settle down in present Ogidi.

It shares boundaries with Kabba in Kabba/Bunnu Local Government Area, and three towns in Ijumu Local Government Council namely, Ayere, Iyara the headquarters of Ijumu Local Government Council and Ogale.

The language spoken in Ogidi is the Okun dialect of Yoruba. The men are traditionally farmers and hunters, and the women are renowned for arts, craft and trading.

The traditional ruler of Ogidi community is His Royal Majesty Oba Rafiu Oladimeji Sule, the Ologidi of Ogidi Kogi State.

The vegetation is a mix of forest and savannah. Coffee, cocoa, cassava, cashew, yam, maize, sweet potato, groundnut and kola are some of the popular produce from the town. Livestock–cattle, goats, sheep, poultry and their products–are also available in Ogidi.

The town is traditionally ruled by an Oba like other communities in Ijumu Local Government on a rotational basis between the two ruling houses of Itaji and Okelare.

The current Oba, Alhaji Rabiu Oladimeji Sule, is from the Okelare Ruling House in accordance with the tradition of the forebears, which is duly recognised by the government of the country.

In line with this, it is known that the next king would be from Itaji Ruling House. Notable personalities came from Ogidi community such as Chief S. A. Ajayi (OFR) JP a renowned polyglot and a former minister in the First Republic and an associate of Late Ahmadu Bello.

It is also the home town of Nike Davies Okundaye, the renowned batik artist. The late Police officer, Sunday Bada, an Olympic gold medalist, hails from the town.

However, recently, the rocky community came alive as it celebrated the Ogidi-Ela Day Cultural/Yam Festival with glitz and glamour.

The Ogidi Day Cultural/Yam Festival is a week-long event celebrated annually with cultural performances, presentation of new yam, chieftaincy investitures, and awards amongst others.

Other activities featured also include free medical outreach, novelty match, Jumat service, expedition to the Oroke Oda mountain and a bonfire.

According to Ologidi of Ogidi, Oba Alhaji Rabiu Oladimeji Sule, the celebration of New Yam Festival started many years ago.

He told THISDAY that some group of elders one day came together and said there was need to celebrate New Yam Festival in Ogidi.

According to the traditional ruler, yam is a miraculous plant considering that it germinates when planted and because of that they decided to celebrate New Yam Festival annually.

This colourful and big cultural annual event normally takes place in the month of June as it attracts large turnout of illustrious sons and daughters from Ogidi community both at home and in the Diaspora; members of the diplomatic corps, tourists, high profile personalities and cultural enthusiasts.

During this year’s New Yam Festival, an array of troupes from Calabar, Efik dancers, Edo dancers, Swange dancers from Benue, Aduni and Neferetiti, dancers from Ondo, Osun, Nike Davies Okundaye group and Olaga dancers and other home-based cultural groups were on ground to add colour and glamour to the celebration.

During the festival, people trooped out in their hundreds as early as 7a.m. to the palace of the paramount ruler, the Ologidi of Ogidi to pay him homage before heading for the venue.

However, boys and girls, men and women, the elderly people, traditional rulers, cultural enthusiasts and various groups mostly in colourful cultural attires, began early to file out to the venue of the fiesta.

Before the proper commencement of the festival, the entire community was already agog in celebration, as various cultural groups in ecstatic mood moved round the streets dancing to the tunes of their local drums and gongs, to the admiration of the people.

The arrival of the King to the venue signalled the commencement of the festival as the paramount ruler of Ogidi, Ologidi of Ogidi land, Oba Rabiu Oladimeji Sule, arrived the venue of the cultural fiesta amidst rousing ovation and ululations from the mammoth crowd.

All the traditional chiefs, titled women of Ogidi, farmers, hunters and the Elegbejegbe groups amongst others, led the King to the venue in a colourful way.

At the venue, all groups paid homage to the Oba. They include, the Olokoro/Olu-Otun group, the Orotas, various women and men groups in the community, the Ebira community in Ogidi and also Iyamoye group.

These groups sang and danced in a procession to the point where the Oba was seated and prostrated before him as a mark of allegiance and honour.

While on their procession to pay homage to the Oba, the hunters, who were all armed with guns and other hunting weapons, demonstrated their hunting prowess and shot intermittently into the air as a mark of honour for their paramount ruler.

The Oba, on the occasion prayed for blessing, peace, progress and development of Ogidiland as he called on illustrious sons and daughters of the land to continue to give their quota for the overall development of Ogidi.

He also appealed to the state government to come to their need, particularly on the road leading to the community from Kabba which needs rehabilitation. The revered traditional ruler also called on the state government to partner with various interested organisations towards making the Ogidi Yam Festival an international one.

Speaking at the event, the President of Ogidi Development Union, Mr. Kayode Eniolorunda, said the concept of Ogidi Day as the biggest cultural event in the country in the month of June has come to stay.

According to him, it is hoped that in the nearest future, the fame and glamor will go far beyond the shores of the country as he urged all the sons and daughters to come together, bury their differences, bond in unity and join this progressive train already firmly in motion, the destination of which no power can anymore resist.

The President also used the occasion to thank the royal father, the Ologidi of Ogidi and all Chiefs present at the occasion including the former President of ODU, Mr. Tunde Ipin!isho. Also speaking at the occasion, the Onigboho of Igboho, Oba John Bolarinwa Oyetola, Olubiyi 11, said the significance of the festival cannot be over emphasised because of its importance in the annals of Yoruba history.

The Oba noted that there is no ambiguity in relation to the origin of this great Kingdom stressing that Ogidi, the founding father of Ogidi Kingdom migrated from Ile-Ife to settle at the present day Ogidi Kingdom and has his roots firmly rooted in Ile-Ife, hence, a son of Oduduwa and by extension a significant part of Yoruba nation.

“It is therefore significant that no Ifa divination can be completed without mentioning Ogidi, Ogidi malaja, awo Ile-Ife,” he said.

He noted that he has come to realise that the people of Ogidi Kingdom have existed in unity and peace over the years, which has contributed to the development of Ogidi town.

He therefore urged all sons and daughters of Ogidi to continue to live in harmony to give room for further development of Ogidi Kingdom.

The former running mate to late Prince Abubakar Audu in the last governorship election, Chief James Faleke, in his goodwill message commended the organisers of this year’s Ogidi Day Yam festival.

According to him, the festival has reached a climax in terms of international recognition as he called on sons and daughters of Ogidi to come home and develop the town.

Faleke, a member at the House of Representatives also commended the Ologidi of Ogidi and other Chiefs in the Kingdom for moving the community forward.

Those who received chieftaincy title include Chief Oscar Yao Doe from Ghana as Obatoyinbo, Engr. Abubakar Ohere as Bamigboye, Hon. Victor Adewale Omofaiye as Alara of Ogidi land.