By: Segun Lawal
The Ooni of Ife, Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II has been joined by multitudes of indigenes, tourists and invited guests to celebrate New Yam Festival which has not been so elaborately celebrated in the last 120 years, as he works to fulfil his Cultural Tourism Agenda.
Held at the Ile-Oodua palace, Ile-Ife, citizens from other Yoruba towns thronged the palace to celebrate with him the newly revived festival known as “Odun Isu” in Yorubaland, amid colourful display of culture and traditions.
Ooni Ogunwusi while addressing the mammoth crowd at the festival narrated that a deity called “Oreluere” who was one of the 401 deities sent by God(Olodumare) to establish the world was the first hunter on the planet earth that planted yam before Oduduwa supported him to make on it a success.
The African foremost monarch acknowledged that God had provided all different necessary foods for sustainability of humanity and annual germination and growth of yam for human consumption.
The Spiritual father of Yoruba race worldwide observed that the process of originality of yam production emanated from the cradle of Yoruba’s, (Ile-Ife) emphasising that yam is one of the foods with high carbohydrate that gives energy to the generality.
He stated that Oduduwa collaborated with other deities on how yearly plantation would be guaranteed. He added that “Owo” dynasty also value the celebration yearly maintaining Yam Festival is a very big event across yam belt in the world, saying Yoruba cultural heritage is very keen to this.
“I charge all other neighbouring towns especially Yorubas to emulate the ancient city of Ile-Ife in making the event a continuous exercise.”
“Our youths must go into hufe commercial farming as Yoruba communities are known as producers of yam for the entire world.” Ooni charged
“This belt is called yam belt and these yam belts produce 70% yam for national consumption, while others shared the remaining 30%.
“The plantation started from kingdom of Ife to middle belt of Nigeria straight to Central African Republic and other West African down to Southern Africa.
“Individual has his own capability and strength for production and Yorubas have mastered it and become the experts in yam production.” Ooni explained.
The Co-Chairman of National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria added that the past heroes had suffered for the sustainability of human race, therefore, urged people to crown their efforts in appreciating them by embracing farming.
Earlier, the Vice-Chancellor of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Professor Eyitope Ogunbodede, congratulated Ooni Ogunwusi on the 2018 yam festival, commending him for promoting culture and tradition of Yoruba race globally.
Ogunbodede said that the festival has exposed all to international community, saying people prefers the celebration for it has attracted a lot of visitors not to Ile-Ife alone but to other Yoruba communities.
He added that celebration of yam festival added values to economic benefit of the nation as it will encourage farming and community development.
The Vice-Chancellor appealed to the three tiers of government to ensure improvement of storage facilities of agricultural produce for adequate safety for human consumption.
He called on government to provide infrastructures such as electricity, portable water and good roads for smooth transportation of farm produce from farms to the cities for more patronage.
Ogunbodede lauded Ooni for putting all efforts in maintaining peaceful coexistence on campus of Obafemi Awolowo University and Ile-Ife in general.
“The relative peace we are enjoying in Obafemi Awolowo University Community is the handiwork of God who used Ooni Ogunwusi. As we are enjoying him in Ife and Yoruba land at large, the entire nation are also enjoying him because of his “peace mantra.”Baba Ooni Adeyeye Ogunwusi is always giving us a tremendous support”
“He has severally organised for people from Brazil, Portugal, and Cuba to come to Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife to learn African languages. I here pledge that the school management would not dissapoint him.” Ogunbodede said
The Oba Olopo of Ilode, Oba Oyedotun Akintibubo, commended Ooni for the celebration of yam festival, first in the history of Ife Kingdom.
Oba Akintibubo said that during the past regimes, only his family used to celebrate the festival, before Ooni Ogunwusi elaborated it.
The Olopo of Ilode assured that the community, state and Nigeria at large will experience sulplus over the years, for the farm produce especially yam and corn will maximally grow extensively.
“With this year celebration, people will not experience hunger and hardship again, for the land will strongly produce seeds for the satisfaction of human race” he assured.