By Femi Siyanbola
It was a gathering of mammoth crowd of lovers of tourism on the April 21, 2018, as Oranmiyan Group, the political group of the Governor, State of Osun graced the crowd-pulling ‘Ladunwo’ at Gogongo Festival, Imesi-Ile.
The spirit of ingenuity that often characterize the life and power of great ancient humans that later became deities was the same spirit that founded Ladunwo when Adegbuji Otuoko of Ile- Sango, Imesi-Ile brought Ladunwo to the town at about 300 years ago.
Ladunwo used to be a righteous masquerade which anointed Aremo who held the spiritual structure of the Alaafin, employed to entertain his reigning father Alafin while on the throne. A certain recurrent trivial controversy had existed over the wish of Otuoko that people of Imesi-Ile should help him propagate his festival which he brought from Oyo as the grandson and Aremo Alaafin Abiodun Atiba without imposing their modification on the Otuokos. The misunderstanding of this admonition is generating furore every 3 years in this activity at Imesi-Ile by diverse stakeholders. The Obe, the Odunmorun and the Otuokos were the founder and earlier settlers at Imesi-Ile.
Apart from this, one of the ingenuities made Oranmiyan to perform miracles, and one of which was the use of his staff to perform wonders while using his staff to do so many things when he was fighting wars to create the Yoruba empire then. The same ingenuity made Sango to ooze fire from his mouth as a symbol of power. If the ingenuity and the way the festival was coordinated should be modified, it should always be at the instance of the Otuokos.
That is what brought developmental phases and the metamorphosis of followership trend that had surfaced since then at Imesi-Ile. The Imole Ladunwo activities that were resisted first to Orikuta, Igbo igbale, gradually moved to Otapete and later to Aafin. It was getting to the point of garnering support from the state that Otuoko house got divided, the youths in the town were adamant, as the Isese people refused vehemently that the bar that was supposed to be raised was not necessary. It was after 9 years that the Otuokos had wanted the festival to be recorded by media people, government and foreigners to take pictures but up till today the forces of unfaithfulness still reject this option which would have been in the best interest of the people.
The most significant thing is when ‘Ladunwo’ was deified, it was the only deity that was envisaged that would walk, talk and move to the astonishment of the people who often had the mindset that other deities who can never walk, move or talk can’t be compared with Ladunwo. Since the 17 century when Imole Ladunwo, (the duo) came to Imesi – Ile, they have been walking every 3 year designated for the festive period, they have been moving and offering prayers which often bring testimonies for adherents who come from Africa and diaspora. Ladunwo crowd is huge which necessitates the need for the government to recognize and admit it into government tourism gazette.
The fear that had reared its head overtime was that, if the huge crowd that were getting uncontrollable at Imesi-Ile’s festival happened to host foreign media and they have to take photographs, and one of the foreign media personnel is killed at the scene, wouldn’t it lead to forceful submission when the inevitable investigating personnel and media will be directed to take photographs at will. I hope it should be understood therefore that if festival like this is generating huge crowd of people every other year and government should wade-in in the future, our people should cooperate and allow them to take pictures. We should not let ignorance becloud our sense of reasoning. The people’s world would have passed the Neolithic and barbaric age.