In Africa, the approach of a festival can be likened to the coming of a bridegroom. The month of August is around the corner. The preparations for four major Nigerian festivals are on top gear. All hands are on deck and the clouds are gathering for these events. Festivals are ways of commemorating and celebrating Africa’s rich cultural heritage. They also strengthen the sense of belonging and community. Here are the four festivals lined up for next month.
Ojude Oba Festival
This is an annual cultural celebration for the Ijebus, located in Ogun State. It holds three days from Eid-el Kabir (Muslim) celebration. History has it that the festival was originally an Islamic festival, where a small number of Islamic devotees paid homage to the ruling monarch, “the Awujale” for his magnanimity. In 1982, the reigning monarch was said to have presented a gift of landed properties to the Muslims to build a Mosque. So, Ojude Oba was organized in respect to this.
The festival has, however, transcended time and space. Today, over 250,000 Nigerians, especially Ijebus -home and abroad- attend the festival. The carnival-like, one-day event features dance parade by different age groups among others. The dance has a general connotative meaning. It is a way of renewing their loyalties to the king. What more, lots of eating and drinking, with more than a thousand cow going to the slaughter.
Osun Oshogbo Festival
Osun Oshogbo festival is one of the biggest Nigerian festivals that had more 235, 518 tourist visit in 2014. It is a two-week long festival that holds annually in Osun State, Nigeria. it is born out of the yearly sacrifice to a river goddess, who is believed to protect the entire clan. The festival has since turned into a tourist attraction event. It holds at the eminent sacred Osun Grove, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005.
The festival features four different ritual activities, namely the Iwopopo ritual, Ina Olujumerindinlogun ritual, Iboriade ritual, and Arugba ritual. All these rituals have different functions. The first cleanse the clan from evil. A 16-point lamp believed to be 600 years old is lighted in the second ritual. Past crown kings are blessed by special squad (ruling monarch, Osun priestess, and “Arugba”) in the third ritual. The last ritual involves the carrying of the holy calabash containing sacrificial materials around the town. A chosen virgin carries this on her head and leads the procession to the river bank.
New Yam Festival
This is for the Igbo community in the Eastern part of the country. It celebrates the gods for good farm harvest. The festival is deeply rooted in the rural Igbo society where yam is the yardstick for wealth measurement. It also proclaims the yearly harvest sessions.
Typically, Igbos do not eat new yam until the festival which is a sign of consumption approval. The festival opens with the offering of yams to the gods. Thereafter, the chiefs roast whole yams publicly and share with the community. That is when members of the community can begin consuming new yams without incurring the gods’ wrath. It also features dances, performances, masquerades, designs and clothes parades. Today, the festival is an opportunity for Igbo sons and daughters home and abroad to assemble in their villages to renew their commitment to community development.
The northerners celebrate this annual festival at the zenith of Muslim festivals Eid-al Fitr and Eid-al Adha. Durbar festival was first introduced in the Hausa land in the 14th century by Sarki Muhammadu Rumfa of Kano as a way of validating his military skills before going to war. It has since morphed into a festival that gives faithful followers an opportunity to honor the king (Emir).
The festival begins with the Muslim prayers and immediately followed by a parade of the Emir and his supporters on horses through the town, which is the main activity. Music players accompany this entourage and all the way to the palace. Durbar festivals are organized in ancient cities like Kano, Katsina, and Bida. It provides an opportunity for sons and daughters of the land to come home.
Over the years, these Nigerian festivals have attracted tourists who are particularly interested in learning about African culture. This summer provides the opportunity to visit Nigeria and have firsthand experience with these festivals. You wouldn’t want to be told what you missed.