By Ayodeji M. Owolabi
Igbara-Oke, Headquarters of Ifedore Local Government Area of Ondo State is a peaceful and viable town. The serene town was on Monday 12, August, 2019 pervaded with excitement and carnival-like celebrations when the revered monarch, the Paramount Ruler and Prescribed Authority, Olowa of Igbara-Oke kingdom, His Royal Majesty, Oba Dr. Francis Adefarakanmi Agbede, Ilufemiloye, (Ogidi III) celebrated the 2019 edition of Ijesu Olowa Festival, otherwise known as Olowa Yam Festival in Igbara-Oke.
Ijesu Olowa is one of the most celebrated festivals in the town and it has always been a moment of excitement when the people of a community gathered to celebrate their Ilufemiloye as he goes to farm to harvest new yam which marks yet another celebration of a New Yam season.
Igbara-Oke is a community with sixteen viable satellite towns and villages which are headed by Baales. It has forty-three quarters, and these quarters are being supervised by Olori-Omos.
This kind of celebration is a custom in Igbara-Oke, and New Yam festival is a norm in Yoruba land, which marks the beginning of the time set to eat yam. The time of this celebration may differ as it concerns different towns and communities. Nevertheless, the New Yam festival is never without traditions.
This year Yam festival started with high expectations in the early hour. The people of the town had prepared themselves very early in the morning to accompany His Royal Majesty to the farm. The Palace and the chiefs have set everything on top gear for the success of the festival. The Baales of these sixteen towns and villages and their subjects were also in attendance and the Olori-Omos of these forty-three quarters were also present.
The event which started around 7am from the Palace of the Olowa of Igbara-Oke kingdom, saw His Royal Majesty, Oba Dr. Francis Adefarakanmi Agbede, Ilufemiloye, (Ogidi III) stepped out in a grand style in all white regalia to embark on a walk to the farm to harvest the new yams. The people, both the indigenes and non-indigene residents of the town expressed their love and affection for their own “Ilufemiloye”. Businessmen and women, traders and artisans, even members of the transport unions and commercial motorcyclist were not left out from among the people that accompanied His Royal Majesty to the farm.
As these were not enough, the Hausa traders were among the large crowd that joined in this celebration. Cultural groups, dance team, hunters and different shows was put to play during the over 3km walk to and from the farm. It was a display of Yoruba cultural heritage at its best.
The role played by the Oloris (Queens) and Omo-Owas (Princes and Princesses) from the Ruling Houses in Igbara-Oke cannot be over emphasized. The Council of Chiefs too were not left out at putting on their best efforts in the process of making this year Ijesu Olowa a success.
Year after year, there had been significance improvements and the gain this festival has brought to Igbara-Oke is immeasurable. Without gainsaying, this celebration cuts the attention of everyone in the town, including the passersby and people who were on transit had a stop-over to gaze at the display of our cultural heritage.
The Ijesu Olowa also came with different attractions as put together by the vibrant youths of the town. Traditional and Cultural dancers, Bikers, acrobatic stunts, among other display of our traditional heritage were showcased.
Many, who could not hide their emotion, expressed their feelings that there has been improvement of activities from the previous years. Some people also affirmed that previous celebrations have never been like this, and they are optimistic that the reign of Oba Dr. Francis Adefarakanmi Agbede will usher in more goodies for the entire good people of Igbara-Oke, particularly, in the areas of agriculture.
There is no need to be surprised with the large crowd that accompanied Oba Agbede to the farm. This shows that the name and title “Ilufemiloye” (the people of the town want me on the throne) was really given to him by the good people of Igbara-Oke, who believed that the reign of Oba Dr. Francis Adefarakanmi Agbede is indeed a Dawn of a New Era.
His Royal Majesty, Oba Dr. Francis Adefarakanmi Agbede, while at the farm performing the traditional rites as the custom of the land, also, took time to pray for the town, her indigenes, residents and visitors. He also prayed for the continued peace, love and implored everyone to unite in the interest of the continued progress and development of the town.
While addressing the Media at the farm, Oba Agbede reiterated the importance of the Yam festival. He said the period is to appreciate God for bountiful harvest, and the process of the celebration is from time immemorial. The monarch said the new Yam festival is being celebrated all over the world, including the western countries, which we believed brought globalization to the entire world.
He said there is need to take cognizance of our culture and traditions, which he believes teaches morals and other good virtues. Oba Agbede said the place of religion stands, but our culture and tradition must not be discarded.
Oba Agbede said he is his committed towards the development and repositioning of Igbara-Oke kingdom. He urged the youth to venture more in agriculture and see it as a viable means of employment, and advised them to take advantage of numerous intervention and agricultural empowerment programmes that have been put in place by the government to improve their wellbeing.
He said he could not hide his joy that people could come out like that in their numbers despite the day being a market day and felicitate him on this great occasion. He said the reason for this new yam festival was to strengthen the bonds of unity of the indigenes and non-indigene residents of Igbara-Oke, and to seek the continued and unhindered peace, progress and prosperity.
He enjoined the youth to eschew all forms of violence and hatred, and embrace peace, unity and love, and see themselves as one family.
He therefore called on sons and daughters of Igbara-Oke in the Diaspora to always remember home with the ultimate goal of rebuilding and repositioning Igbara-Oke particularly in the area of culture and traditions, which is one of the resources we have that we can show to the world.