Archives for category: Sights, Sounds and People

JAKES WEDDING 1030

 

It feels far away but the strains are close enough for me to make out the shrill voice of the female soprano and the strident choir.  Sunday.

It all feels rather melancholic in an almost over-familiar kind of way. Perhaps the shrillness is a deliberate part of the Sunday serenade, determined to get me up one way or another.

The sounds are all around me,  seemingly coexisting quite organically outside my bedroom window. Impossible to deny, they march stubbornly into my thoughts, nudging me to life. Each sound with its own distinctness, it’s own singularity of purpose, each telling a story of the different lives fused effortlessly in this auditory Sunday morning offering in the ancient town of Ife.

My plan though is to have a lie in and thus  I try to subsume these sounds into my consciousness. Deep, bass thumping, rhythmic and constant like a heartbeat from somewhere in this  soundscape. Drumming perhaps. Another church certainly.

From the balcony next to my window,  two hearty voices  sing out some snippets of “Eleda Mi O”-and the echo is carried by more unseen voices. The sounds of splashing water from the apartment next door reminds me the Sunday morning stream of consciousness is on the move. Church is on.

All in all, I could probably have managed my lie in except in comes a very different beast. The “Igwe” ensemble have joined into the symphony of sound  and considerably racked things up.
It’s intense. This choir of revving and spluttering generators at the starting line is completely unrehearsed;  a rising fracas of sound pushed to the  limit.

My cue is complete. Get up I must. This is Nigeria.

There was the other kind of pain. 

The one that nobody could see, no telltale trail of red where the gash screamed in copious relief. No darkened  scabs  easily soothed and softened  by  careful rubs  fortified with  creams . No.

This pain lay siege. It waited in his veins for his mind to be clear again, a stealthy shadow lurking on the fringes of  his  dreams. Kabir  readied himself as the fear consumed his senses  and just like that it took over. 

Only he could feel the waves of unvariegated greyness seeping in. His heart laid bare, frozen  entirely by something  beyond himself; he became that child again, seeking only the softness of safe hands. 

Kabir .  Osupawordpress 2015

Ile Ife  in Osun State Nigeria continues to hold on to its cultural relevance as seen in its annual festival Olojo.

 

The Olojo festival is a must to see for all cultural enthusiasts.Over  the last few years, the festival has drawn tourists from all over the Yoruba diaspora including Brazil, United States of America and Cuba.

Chief Egbeji Elesinje of Ife

Chief Egbeji Elesinje of Ife on his way to the Ooni`s palace to pay homage.

The climax of the festival takes place at Enuwa Square outside the grand palace of the the Oòni (King) of Ife-counted first among Yoruba kings.

 

The clock Tower in Enuwa Square outside the Ooni`s palace where the celebrations take place.

The clock Tower in Enuwa Square outside   the Ooni`s palace in Ile-Ife  where the celebrations take place.

 

 

Why Is Olojo Celebrated?

Olojo is celebrated in remembrance of Ogun– the Yoruba mythological god of Iron. Ogun was the first son of Oduduwa, the legendary father of all Yoruba people.

A  bronze sculpture depicting Oduduwa

A bronze sculpture depicting Oduduwa

Ogun is a fiery god worshiped and revered by many indigenes of Ile Ife including farmers, blacksmiths hunters, and smelters who  all traditionally make their living using iron implements.

 

Iron implemets used by  traditional artisans in Ile-Ife

Iron implemets used by traditional artisans in Ile-Ife

Traditional Rites

The exact date and timing of the festival is one that is considered carefully and depends on the movement of the sun from west to east in the 9th month of the lunar year.

The Ooni with his entourage

The Ooni with his entourage


The decision as to which weekend in October will be the weekend of celebration is the sole responsibility of the Olojo chief priest.

As part of the build up to the grand celebrations, the Oòni  hibernates for seven days in complete seclusion, not communicating with anyone except the ‘spirits’.

During the festival and only for a few hours, the Oòni appears, wearing a special beaded crown called Ade Are” .

Ile Ife traditional ceremonial crown of the Ooni

Ile Ife traditional ceremonial crown of the Ooni

He leads the crowds to Ogun`s Shrine-  Okemogun to pay homage and make traditional sacrifices  and prayers for the town and it`s indigenes.

shrine of the god of Iron - Ogun- Oke mogun

shrine of the god of Iron – Ogun- Oke mogun

 

The Lokolokos

One of the most fascinating sights at the Olojo festival  are the Lokolokos. These are the bodyguards of the Oòni who get a chance show off their prowess  and fierce demeanor during the festival.

They  run up and down in the centre of the town square brandishing long canes to remind  young men in the crowd to “behave”.

 

The Lokolokos are strong, fierce and loyal to the  Ooni.

The Lokolokos are strong, fierce and loyal to the Ooni.

 

The Lokolokos thrill the crowd and quite honestly bring an added element of drama to the event.

 

 

 

Many women groups came out to celebrate- each group in its matching outfits.

Many women groups came out to celebrate- each group in its matching outfits.

Olojo festival is full of colour, pomp and ceremony.

Groups of traditional craftsmen and women, Ile-Ife chiefs and their court, children and grand children of the royal families all troop in with music, gunfire and full traditional dress to mark the day of celebration.

 

It is a proud day Ile-Ife indigenes. They come out in strong numbers to pay homage to the Ooni in his palace.

It is a proud day Ile-Ife indigenes. They come out in strong numbers to pay homage to the Ooni in his palace.

It is a day not to be missed if you have an interest in Yoruba culture or traditional ways  of celebrating ethnic and cultural identity around the world.

 

 

Read more about Olojo here Olojo Festival in Pictures

Read more about the history of Ile-Ife  here 

 

 

In a most luminous palette

the colors of tradition

splash across the perfect sky.

Blistering blues

lustful whites and browns

the coral chroma blaze

as fluid humanity drift  in,

gather in kindled expectation,

delirious

at the call of numinous lore.

( From Olojo Festival– KOS Poetry Collection by Oluwatoyin 2014. Click here to read more )

 

 

Beautiful, traditional  and very classy- Ife royalty

Beautiful, traditional and very classy-out to impress at Olojo festival

 

Proud Ife Indigenes stepping at Olojo- everyone  is proud to be part of the celebrations.

Proud Ife Indigenes stepping at Olojo- everyone is proud to be part of the celebrations.

 

Matching outfits  was one definitive way to identify specific groups.  Its a big festial for Ile-Ife indigenes.

Matching outfits was one definitive way to identify specific groups. Its a big festival for Ile-Ife indigenes, young and old alike.

 

Singing and drumming. The traditional Yoruba drums-Gangan and Bata.

Singing and drumming. The traditional Yoruba drums-Gangan and Bata.

 

 

A cross section of Ife celebrants at the Olojo Festival

A cross section of Ife celebrants at the Olojo Festival looking their traditional best.

Two sisters dressed in the colourful Yoruba Gele and matching outfits

Two sisters dressed in the colourful  traditional Yoruba Iro, Buba and  Gele –  matching outfits

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read more about Olojo here Yoruba Festivals Olojo

It’s 5.20am. It’s humid, warm, my back aches and I need the loo but the line for ” Nigerians” stretches about a mile.

Yes, I’m at MMA waiting to be ushered through immigration.
Maybe it’s just my luck, but having a Green passport and being in the queue for Nigerians seems to be my undoing right this minute.
However, quite delightfully, the air conditioning is blowing some seriously cool air and yet again,
I am reminded of how this is indeed a country of many, most striking contradictions.

But I have to ask.

Why do we as Nigerians in Nigerian always seem to get shoved the short end of the stick especially in our own dear country?
Why for crying out loud must our line be the slowest, most tedious one?

I try not to scowl too hard as I watch ” non Nigerian” passport holders breeze through with relieved smiles.
They were much closer home than I certainly was, standing still in a line as long as the eye can see.

Something else is amiss.

If getting the 177 from Thamesmead to Peckham on a good day is anything to go by, Nigerians are usually an animated bunch.

Indeed , you might even risk a rebuke and say Nigerians can be just plain loud. But you would`nt think it standing here looking at the many tired, strained faces.

I can`t help but notice the many elderly men and women, half bent over, desperately in need of a seat anywhere if only for a minute.
And the young children running amok, temporarily abandoned by their bedraggled mums and dads.

It strikes me as decidedly odd that that there is not a word of protest …from anyone.

Maybe it’s the time of the day, maybe it’s just not worth the effort of having a moan anymore. I can tell you though that the line is suspiciously quiet for a whole line of Nigerians.
I mean I hear more animated retorts in Yoruba and Igbo on the 53 bus from Woolwich to Westminister.

What “gwan”? I ask incredulously.

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