FESTAC 77: UNESCO, CBAAC To Celebrate 40th Anniversary

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in partnership with the Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilization (CBAAC) would mark the 40th anniversary of FESTAC 77 to push for the preservation of images captured across the globe for posterity.

UNESCO’s National Information and Programme Officer in Abuja, Mr Olushola Macaulay said in a statement to mark the World Day for Audio Visual Heritage.

He said that the event would come up in Lagos from Nov. 6 to Nov.11. FESTAC 77, also known as the Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture, was held in Lagos
from Jan. 15 to Feb. 12, 1977.

It was a celebration of African culture, music, fine art, literature, drama, dance, and religion. FESTAC 77 placed audiovisuals in the spotlight, and UNESCO, at its 21st

General Conference on Oct. 27, 1980, agreed to safeguard and preserve the images and consequently initiated the World Day for Audio Visual Heritage.

According to Olushola, people still capture moving images across the world but lack the ability to preserve them.

“Everyday, all over the world, people capture moving images to record all facets of life, from science to culture or to education.

“Some of the images depicting different events and situations of life are lost due to inappropriate preservation.

“The World Day for Audiovisual Heritage, therefore, provides a platform for preserving and promoting our heritage.

“Not only does it provide a platform for highlighting audiovisual preservation, it also provides an avenue for building dialogue around it.

“As a conserved material, audiovisual archives form a cornerstone for the memory of the world and preserve recordings for future generations.

“UNESCO in collaboration with CBAAC celebrates the 40th Anniversary of the Second World African Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC 77), holding in Lagos from Nov. 6 to Nov.11,” he said.

“FESTAC 77, places in the spotlight, the role of audiovisual preservation in ensuring that the memory of FESTAC 77 is kept for future generations to see,” he said. He added that the celebration would feature panel discussion with the theme

“The Historic-cultural Importance of Audio-Visual Preservation, and the presentation of the Archive Digitisation Project.’’

See Why U.S. Withdrawn From UNESCO

The United States has withdrawn from the United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) citing the organisation’s “continuing anti-Israel bias”.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Washington would establish an “observer mission” to replace its representation at the Paris-based agency.

The United States was angered in 2011 when UNESCO members granted Palestine full membership of the body, despite opposition from its ally Israel.

Washington opposes any move by UN bodies to recognize the Palestinians as a state, believing that this must await a negotiated Middle East peace deal.

But US President Donald Trump’s administration is also reviewing many of its multilateral commitments, pursuing what he calls an “America First” foreign policy.

Nauert said the State Department had notified UNESCO’s outgoing Director-General Irina Bokova of their decision earlier Thursday.

“This decision was not taken lightly, and reflects US concerns with mounting arrears at UNESCO, the need for fundamental reform in the organization, and continuing anti-Israel bias at UNESCO,” she said in a statement.

“The United States indicated to the director-general its desire to remain engaged with UNESCO as a non-member observer state in order to contribute US views, perspectives and expertise on some of the important issues undertaken by the organization, including the protection of world heritage, advocating for press freedoms and promoting scientific collaboration and education.

Aregbesola Remains One Of Nigeria’s Best Governors, Says Group

By Chike Iroanya

Inspite of owing some categories of workers salary in arrears, the Governor of the state of Osun, Rauf Aregbesola has been described as the best governor that continues to be a reference point of human capital development by the international community.

 

A United State’s economic consultant made this assertion in Lagos on Wednesday.

He was speaking on “Media and Diversity Reporting” organized by journalists in Lagos.

“Osun and Lagos States remain the most cited examples of good and quality leadership among the 36 states of the federation in international economic and political circles in terms of management of human and material resources in West Africa.

 

Osun is of particular importance because it is an agrarian state with little resources, dwindling national income but yet has been able to provide enviable records in terms of human development index”.

 

Chief Segun Ajibulu a tax consultant with the United States and President of South West Professional Forum, (SOWPROF) wrote in an address sent to the organisers.

The address was read on his behalf by Mr Victor Fatunla, an official of the SOWPROF and the Managing Director of Factors Insurance Brokers, who represented the group at the event held at M Square Hotel in Lagos.

In the address, he said he was impressed that international community continues to show interests in what is going on in Osun State for various reasons.

 

According to him, the media needs to probe deep into what he described as a “revolution in politics and economy” that has taken place in Osun in the past close to seven years.

He urged journalists to engage Osun State constructively so as to rediscover the real story of the state’s success instead of depending on press statements from the opposition.

He said “beyond the false narrative that Osun has not been paying workers’ salaries, it is important for journalists to understand how the state manages to pay workers on levels seven downwards full salary till date inspite of the lean resources. We should find out how the state manages to pay 75 percent of workers’ salary for those on grades seven and below. We should find out how political office holders including the members of the State House of Assembly decide to earn only 50 percent of their pay, how the governor decides not to be paid any salary since assumption of office and above all how the state was able to build secondary and primary schools of international standards in the face of learn resources.”

He said the media has been concentrating on press releases by the opposition figures who take delight in demonizing the state saying that independent observers and members of the international community continue to do independent reports on the state of Osun which puts the state ahead of many of her peers in terms of sustainable development.

 

“It should interest journalists to know while UNESCO, the world bank and various international institutions continue to partner with the State of Osun. It shows the moral integrity of the leadership of the state.”

He said “It amazes many in the global world how 150,000 computers were given to students, how 500 rural roads were constructed and how the state political leaders make sacrifices for the utilitarian good of the greater society.”

 

He said diversity reporting means that journalists should deal with substance instead of allowing shadows to assume lives of their own.

He said “This man won the most difficult election in modern Nigerian history. He was the first progressive government to stop the advance of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) in the build up to the 2015 Presidential election. The most vicious military and security machines were deployed against him, having identified him as the leading icon of the incoming government.

 

“There were security reports that the Federal Government led by PDP needed to demolish Ekiti and Osun States in order to clear the hurdle for 2015 Presidential election. Ekiti fell like a pack of cards. But in Osun, it dazzled the PDP and their agents how Aregbesola fought literally with his blood to bring the PDP on her knees. What led to the victory was the conviction of Osun people that Aregbesola and his team was a better alternative.”

He said the defeat of the PDP in Osun paved the way for the eventual loss of the Federal government by the PDP machine.

 

Ajibulu said “The Federal Government decided to borrow the school-feed programme from Osun. This is remarkable. If the National Assembly can make sacrifices by taking half of their salary as the political leaders in Osun do, Nigeria will be able to save about 50 billion every month.” No fewer than 35 journalists from the print, electronic and social media attended the event.

The Time To Celebrate Our Root Is Come

By Olatujoye Olumoroti

Marcus Garvey founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League(UNIA-ACL) once said;

‘A people without knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots’

This knowledge of past history and culture is what the state of Osun is most popular for. The Osun-Osogbo festival is one of the most celebrated African festivals in the world, and the time has come to once again to celebrate roots and pray for a future yet unknown for the people of Osun.

According to history, this festival evolved from a yearly celebration of the river goddess who serves as the protector of the community. It was said that a group of people lead by hunter Olutimehin, settled at the bank of the river to escape the famine in their former dwelling place. Osun, the water goddess was said to have appeared to Olutimehin and requested him and his group to move up some bit to higher ground – the present Osogbo town. The river goddess had promised to protect the people and bless their women and land with fruitfulness, and in return a yearly celebration to her was to take place every year.

Centuries after this the Osun-Osogbo festival has become even bigger than the people of Osogbo ever envisage it would be, and it has often been recorded that the river goddess has been blessed visitors as well as indigenes with fertility.

The Festival is a two week event that starts with “IWOPOPO” a three day ritual to cleanse the land from evil and also said to reveal the schemes of evil doers in the community. Followed by this is the lighting of the 600 years 16 faced lamps called “Ina Olujumerindinlogun”. It is said that this lamp must all through the night without going off at any point.

The “Iboriade Ritual” comes next. This is a ritual that requires all past kings (Ataoja) to come for blessings by the present Ataoja, the Arugba, Yeye Osun and a group of Osun Priestesses.

The “Arugba Ritual” is the highest part of the festival. The Arugba is a young virgin who carries the sacrifice to appease the goddess round the community before taking it down to the river.

 According to tradition as the Arugba moves round with the sacrifice, the people seeing her as a representative of the goddess, cast their problems on her and say prayers.

To the people of Osogbo and Osun at large, this festival is not just about the rituals of thanking the river goddess and committing the coming year into her hands, it’s about a reminder of their heritage and an opportunity for family reunions.

The festival has become a worldwide event that many tourists from different parts of the world see as a rebirth of cultural rejuvenation. Tourists come in their hundreds to see the rich culture and tradition of Yoruba nation which has been described as epic.

Osun Osogbo Festival: Celebration Of Treaty Between Man And Goddess

Osun Osogbo Grove has been recognised as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), having gained popularity within and outside Nigeria. Noted for its rich cultural, economic and religious values, Osun Osogbo festival is annually celebrated by the people of Osogbo, capital of the State of Osun and the world at large. SHINA ABUBAKAR traces the background of the festival and its place in history.

Centuries ago when the founding fathers of Osogbo were reaching a treaty with the water goddess over the rightful owners of the land space within the Osun groove, little did they know that centuries after, the treaty would eventually become an annual rite which would be embraced by the entire Yoruba race thus, leading to the adoption of the space by the United Nations as a world heritage site, thereby launching the host community, Osogbo into universal map and attracting tourists annually.

The treaty over space between the human and mermaid brokered peace and laid the foundation for the annual Osun Osogbo festival, as most of the agreement reached then include; helping the women to be fertile, making readily available the scarce water that was making the populace to suffer and helping protect the community from any aggressive invasion. The people in return dedicated a period to celebrate the peaceful co-existence between man and mermaid.

In the early times, the celebration is just a mere ritual revolving around two individuals, the Ataoja of Osogbo, who was a beneficiary of the treaty and the virgin-maiden, who bears the calabash to and from the shrine. However, many of the tourists or visitors only understand the festival to be a one day event which is the visit to the river, but the festival is a one month event which covers, spiritual, traditional and cultural activities. Besides, a deep involvement in the festival further showed that it did not just revolved around two individuals, but the stakeholders include many compounds and several other personalities. The remarkable events that precede the visitation to the river are given adequate attention and discussed to familiarise all with what the celebration involves.

The Odun-Ifa Oba

For initiates, Osun-Osogbo festival is heralded with the celebration of the corpus of the Ataoja, where priest would embarked on the clearance of Ifa Shrine after which the Araba Awo would lead the other Ifa Priest to the monarch’s compound to embark on divination for him, bring the divine messages of the gods for the year and further bath his corpus before celebrating the new year message. This usually happen in the absence of the monarch who is represented by the King’s Hands and Chiefs in the palace. Prior to the celebration, afterwards, his wives would go to the compound bearing calabash with kolanuts for divinity and later dance back to the palace, escorted by the priest with a view to conveying the gods’ messages to the palace. The Araba would later lead the priests back to the palace in the night for other rituals to keep the monarch cleanse for the approaching festival.

This singular celebration which is preceded by the Ilagbe is a major event celebrated by all Ifa priests in Osogbo and it is made obvious by the Aso-ebi that is usually chosen to celebrate the event. Once this commences, in the mind of all initiate, the Osun Osogbo is fast approaching and the Araba becomes busy hosting priests for different propitiation for the development of the town. One conspicuous fact is that the destiny of Osogbo is always tied to the Ataojas going by the various traditional rites that priests embarked upon for the royal father.

This celebration is followed by the Osun devotee procession all clad in white attires moving round major markets within the palace vicinity with the approval of the monarch. This is a means of hosting other devotees from within and outside the state that would remain in the shrine throughout the duration of the festival.

Iwopopo

Another major event that precedes the grand finale of the international festival is the Iwopopo, a procession that can be likened to the triumphant entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem, symbolised by holding palm frond during the procession. In the case of the festival, the Ataoja temporarily relocates his palace to the Gbaemu ruling house. All the ruling houses come over to pay homage to him, ditto, the chiefs and some of the high ranking traditional compound in the town. Here, the Ataoja is the cynosure of all eyes with other princes celebrating with him singing and dancing. The route of the procession is the main route into the major town square in the olden days and it remain the traditional route for the procession while the Gbaemu was the main entrance into the square as it existed. The Iwopopo is the time of ritual to cleanse the path for those coming for the festival to ensure safe entry and return to their various destinations. For the host community, the safety of devotees, tourists and visitors is paramount, hence, there popular belief about Osogbo being a female land and it as such shows great concern to the welfarism of her inhabitants.

Atupa Olojumerindinlogun

This literarily means 16-point lamp which saved the great hunter Olutimehin from demons and the belief among the Osun worshippers is that it has the power to wade off evil spirit. The ornament, according to historian is aged 642 years and in the custody of a particular compound called Oluwin. The night is a sort of a festival encompassing all sort of activities, it brings together adherents, admirers, tourist and lovers of tradition within the same square celebrating in style and glamour. From the moment the lamp is lit around 8pm, it ushers-in hustling and bustling within and around the palace square. While those outside the palace basked in the euphoria of the festivities, those inside the palace, particularly around the lamp are busy with religious rite singing prayerful verse to seek protection over the town and its inhabitants:

Ko gun maja

Ko gun maja L’oroki

Irawo sa sa ogun oja L’orun

Ayan ki ko ogun jalu

Irawo sa sa ogun oja L’orun

Alamu ki ko ogun jalu

Irawo sa sa ogun oja L’orun

Ewure ki ko ogun Jale

Irawo sa sa ogun oja L’orun

Another particular prayerful song popular for the night goes thus:

Iku maya lo

Arun Maya lo

Ofo Maya lo

Igbin O ma nile olojo ya

Ati ki lo fun e ma wo ile yi wa

Ninu Igbo lo ma esi n sun o

While these songs are going on, the monarch, his wives and chiefs dance round the lamp three times and return to the palace after which the Osun devotees come out to dance round the lamp like the monarch did before the virgin calabash bearer in company of her maids take their turn going through the same routine. The same routine is repeated later in the night at about 11pm and in the early hours of the second day at about 2am. After every round, other people also dance round the lamp while the priests keep vigil on the lamp all through the day.

Another busy spot is the Osun deity abode within the palace, the deity is dressed in white, red and gold coloured garments such that even a first time visitor would know Osun is actually in a festival mood, while her devotees sit round the deity offering prayers for those in need and in some cases receive offerings from those who sought to redeem their pledges. This spot could be likened to a mosque or church where clerics and worshipers meet and discuss spiritualism, but the difference is in mode of commuting with the Supreme Being, because for the Osun devotees, it is all about drumming and dancing.

The Procession to the Groove

Like every religion rite, this is the climax as every traditional religion devotees converged on the Ataoja’s palace square for procession to the Osun Groove, where the treaty was made and the first settlement where the people of Osogbo first lived before moving out to a new space for the sake of the mermaid and family.

The procession is a mere celebration of the treaty; the main religion rite is performed on the eve of the finale between three major actors; the Ataoja, the Arugba and the Aworo Osun. The Ataoja goes to the shrine to pray for the peace of Osogbo and its inhabitant and the Arugba joins him there to perform certain rituals on him including cleansing him for the festival. While the Monarch and the maiden virgin return to the palace, the Aworo Osun, who is also a custodian of the shrine heads to the site and the two emissaries must not meet each other either at the shrine or along the route. The Aworo is also to perform certain rites at the shrine before dawn.

The Arugba is the major actor of the event, she does not only lead the procession, she is also the symbol of the celebration. Even in the absence of a monarch, the Arugba still leads the procession but without her, no procession can take place, hence, priority is attached to her person. Her appearance, even from a distance spun the indigenes, tourists, devotees into prayer points, seeking improvement from the previous year’s condition, protection for the new year and also wading off evil from the town and seeking its progress. This is the routine at every major point she reaches. While she leads the procession in company of her predecessor, the Ataoja’s convoy followed closely, but throughout the journey to the groove, she is the major focus and a symbol of the gods and an agent who conveys their request for onward delivery to the gods.

At the groove, she retires to the Osun shrine, where she converse with the gods throughout the duration of all the celebrations that takes place at the square, where the Ataoja receive homage from the other royal houses, the chiefs, the women group, the youth group and other important traditional authorities. International organisations, delegation of the Federal government as well as other tiers of government are always also represented.

After the ceremony at the shrine, the Arugba, Ataoja and other entourage follow the same routine on their return to the palace with the people receiving blessing on foregangers the return of the Arugba and her entourage. She heads straight for the Osun House inside the palace and in the midst of her sighting the sacrifice is taking off her head and she relax ahead of the task in another five days, but the Ataoja changes his attire and head straight to the mosque for the weekly Jumat prayer.

While many of the tourists, visitor and some devotees might have return to their abode, five days later, the Arugba and other Osun devotees head back to the Osun Shrine to return the harvest of the year and redeem the pledge made by many adherents to the goddess. Propitiations taken to the goddess is poured into the river and prayers are offered for the progress of the town, inhabitant and humanity in general.

However, over the years, the economic value that the festival had brought to Osogbo and Osun State in general could not be over-emphasised, as traders, particularly those dealing in traditional materials like bead, food stuff, clothing materials, as well as transportation and hospitality have always bank on the opportunity of the festival to make their sales.

The Ataoja of Osogboland, Oba Jimoh Olanipekun has, during a Stakeholders Presentation Forum organised as part of the programmes to herald the activities of 2017 Osun Osogbo festival, reiterated the significance of the festival to the development of economy in the state, charging government and traditional rulers to partner on rejuvenating, developing and promoting Yoruba culture, heritage and traditions.

This, he said, would not only assist government to develop economy through tourism that Osun Festival represents, but also entrenched the Yoruba cultural value in the younger generation, saying, the disappearance of Yoruba moral and ethical values have contributed a lot to the underdevelopment in the land.

“Though, it is rather, not interesting that we are fast losing track of our culture and heritage. And if we should jettison our culture and focus on the borrowed one, we will never see anything good in what belongs to us. Many youths do not know our culture again. They now promote foreign culture as a result of our negligence, this we must not allow. Our culture is our culture, irrespective of western religious affiliation and influences.

“I hereby challenge other custodian of culture to emulate a programme like Osun Osogbo festival to propel the rejuvenation, development and promotion of our culture, tradition and heritage, which are so rich and highly enviable.”

The usual notable event that had heralded the 2017 Osun Osogbo festival such as, the Iwopopo,(Street Procession), Atupa Olojumerindinlogun (lighting of the 16 Points lamp), Iboriade (assemblage of all the crowns of the past Ataojas for blessing) have been done according to the festival rites. This year’s Osun Osogbo festival grand finale will hold on Friday, August 18, 2017.

Osun-Osogbo: Ooni Tasks Worshippers On Need To Improve Osun Groove

By Toba Ajisafe

The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi has called all worshippers for the improvement Osun-Osogbo UNESCO world Heritage site for cultural tourism.

Ooni Ogunwusi advocated for this during the celebration of Osun festival in Ile-Ife, ahead of the grand finale of Osun-Osogbo festival, which holds on Friday.

According to the monarch, he said,  development of African cultural heritage is capable of liberating the Continent from economic bondage.

He said “the site, if well upgraded has the capacity to contribute largely to the revenue generation of the state and the country in general.

The traditional ruler reiterated that every community celebrating the river goddess in Nigeria and across the globe must come together to improve the standard of the site in Osogbo.

The Groove is a national treasure for the Yoruba race, which must be harnessed for proper recognition and investment, he added.