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OSUN-OSOGBO FESTIVAL: How our culture can improve our economic status – Ataoja of Osogbo

Since its commencement over a decade ago, the Osun-Osogbo festival has become a festival that turns Osun state to
another Mecca of some sort for tourists across the world, with economic
benefits; this annual celebration boosts the status of the state now known as the Land of Virtue in
Nigeria.

Described as the
celebration of the birth of the Osun deity by stakeholders, the festival is, to a great number of
Osun devotees and tourists of cross-cultural backgrounds, a celebration of great cultural re-union.
According to the Chairman, Osun State Tourism Board, Mr. Abimbola
Daniyan, the 2017 Osun-Osogbo Festival will have more social content which a good number of tourists from within and outside Nigeria will take advantage of.

Daniyan cited this year’s Sango Festival and the expected participation of the Alaafin of Oyo as well as people from Oyotunji African village, (a big
Yoruba community in North Carolina in the United States of America as highlights of the celebration.
“A good number of tourists are also expected from the state of Florida also in the US and from other Latin American countries,’’ the Chairman told The Daily Times.
Legend has it that the river goddess (Osun) promised the Osogbo
community to bless their women and guaranteed Osogbo people her
protection  seven centuries  ago on one condition: if they would
offer sacrifices to her on annual basis.

As part of activities to kick off the 2017 edition, Oba
Jimoh Oyetunji, Olanipekun Larooye II and The Ataoja of Osogboland, at a press conference hosted in his palace last Thursday, charge traditional rulers to leverage on the tourism potentials that abound
in Nigeria to grow the economy.

Expressing confidence that tourism can be an alternative to oil in an
economy in tailspin, the Ataoja said Nigeria can attain economic
prosperity if traditional rulers partner with government to invest in
tourism. “Currently, there’s austerity everywhere, and if there’s no
money, there won’t be purchase. This ultimately affects effects businesses and,
by extension, our sponsors,” the traditional ruler said and that this is the reason why the state could not get the kind of
support she enjoyed from sponsors in previous editions.

“Nonetheless, the Osun-Osogbo Festival is a huge contributor to the
economy of Osun State and Nigeria. People come from all over the
world to celebrate with us. They are going to land in our airports, FG
will make money, they are going to spend their money here and, as I
speak, there are foreigners among us that have already lodged in our
hotels.
“Therefore, we can improve our economic status if traditional rulers
emulate what we do annually to promote our culture. There’s no part of
Yoruba land that does not have deities or tourist attractions that
can earn revenue,’’ the traditional ruler said.

However, The Daily Times gathered that some rituals have been lined up for the  12-day event  which
starts today, Monday August 7, 2017  and  ends  on the 18th. The event
will kick off with the “Iwopopo Ritual” said to cleanse Osogbo city from evil.
Exactly three days after the
ritual, the “Inaolojumerin ritual”, which involves the
lighting of a 16-point lamp believed to be 600 years old, would be carried out.
For the “Iboriade Ritual”, the current Ataoja of Osogbo, the Yeye
Osun, the “Arugba” and a committee of priestesses will be on hand to
bless the crowns of past kings of Osogbo.

Another ritual that is annually conducted to celebrate the
Osun-Osogbo festival is the “Arugba ritual”. This entails a virgin carrying on her head round the town, a
calabash containing sacrificial materials meant to worship and appease
Osun deity.

Meanwhile, the newly appointed Vice President of the Federation of
Tourism Association of Nigeria (FTAN) and Chairman of INFOGEM (official
festival marketing consultants), Mr. Ayo Olumoko, calls for
cooperation among Southwest states to preserve the people’s culture. “I so much
believe in the synergy among the Southwest states to boost as well
as propagate the economic and cultural integration in the entire
region.
“We so much align with this development; hence we look forward
to partnering and working with the relevant agencies to make this
dream a reality,” Olumoko said.

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