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Isese: The ‘Unsung’ Osun Holiday Turned Regional Holiday

Isese: The ‘Unsung’ Osun Holiday Turned Regional Holiday
  • PublishedAugust 22, 2023

When the former Governor of Osun State, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola announced in August 2014, that a day holiday has been set aside for traditionalists in the state to mark the annual Isese Day, tongues wagged on the decision of a state government to commemorate the cultural occasion of the so-called “Idol worshippers.”

Many of the critics of the then move saw it as an aberration to the norms of government practice in Nigeria, with some Christians and Muslims expressing divergent views on it.

According to the then Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Sunday Akere, the United Nations (UN) celebrates indigenous religions across the world on August 20.

Some traditional religious worshippers observing rites at a programme, recently

The declaration has been a usual holiday ever since and has been sustained by successive administrations till 2023.

Aregbesola, while justifying the decision behind the declaration of Isese Day – a day set aside to celebrate the virtues and valour of the African Traditional Religion and give those practising the religion a sense of belonging in governance and administration.

READ ALSO: Isese Day: Osun Govt. Declares Monday Public Holiday

He said all religions must be respected as what nations need to develop is not about religion but the commitment of government and the ruling class to fairness, equity and justice.

Isese is the Yoruba word for “tradition”. Isese Day is essentially an umbrella term for different festivals celebrated by traditional worshippers in Yorubaland and in the diaspora. Some of the activities include singing, praying, chanting and offering sacrifices. Common colours worn on the day include white, red and black.

Oro, Sango, Eyo, Osun Osogbo and Igogo are popular festivals which are celebrated in the weeks leading up to August 20 which is the grand celebration known as Isese Day.

However, this year, things moved up a bit as four states in Nigeria’s South West Region declared Monday, August 21 as public holiday for the celebration.

Governors Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos, Seyi Makinde of Oyo, Ademola Adeleke of Osun, and Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State all set aside the day as a work free day.

As of yesterday, only Ondo and Ekiti states were yet to join in the practice.

It is believed that the practice, emerging from a visionary administrator in Rauf Aregbesola, having extended to four states will turn in no distant time to a regional holiday, which may significantly be adopted by the Federal Government in the nearest future.


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