The Queen of Ife Kingdom, Her Majesty Olori Wuraola Ogunwusi has charged Africans to proudly embrace and showcase their traditions and cultural heritage to the rest of the world.
A statement issued by Comrade Moses Olafare, Director, Media and Public Affairs, Ooni’s Palace, said the Olori Ogunwusi gave the charge at the weekend during the annual Olokun traditional festival held at the Olokun shrine located at Oke-Atan area of Ile-Ife.
It said this year’s Olokun festival attracted devotees from abroad and across Nigeria. Devotees from the Niger Delta areas of Benin in Edo state, Ijaw in Bayesa state, Itsekiri in Delta state and Ilaje in Ondo state came in their hundreds to celebrate Olokun who they referred to as the real god of unity.
Olori Ogunwusi said that the annual celebration of Olokun festival is a way of resuscitating tradition and sustaining culture that can boost Nigeria economy.
“What we are doing is to create awareness, it is not barbaric, we are showcasing the tourist aspect of the country and to let our people understand that we must embrace our cultural heritage”, she said.
According to the Yeyeluwa of Ife, “everyone is entitled to be a devotee of Olokun as the practice of Olokun is not restricted to a particular set of people.
“If you drink water or use water, you must understand the importance of Olokun, because all other waters flow from the sea and Olokun is the goddess of the sea.
She further said “that is why Olokun is a deity that should be celebrated for she is the source of water we all use for domestic activities”.
The Queen described Olokun as a deity of wealth, commerce and life, calling on all to appreciate Olokun and always celebrate her as whosoever takes water already partakes in the event.
Hon. Mike Eholor, one of the tourists who, on the queen’s invitation, travelled from Benin to Ile-Ife to grace the festival appealed to all and sundry to upkeep the traditional growth.
“I am here as invited to grace the occasion of my sister, it is nice thing to witness this and to resuscitate our tradition and cultural heritage, for it is a historical monument” he stated.
Eholor appealed to Nigerians to respect their culture and tradition. He called for persistent celebration, saying this will sustain the culture especially on the interest of unborn generations.
In the same vein, the custodian of Olokun shrine who is also the Walode of Ife Kingdom, Chief Kolawole Omotayo called on the Yorubas in the diaspora and all Africans to come back home to jointly celebrate their tradition.
Omotayo urged people to cherish their traditional festival and celebrate them as at when due rather than capitalise on foreign religions such as Christianity and Islamic religion.
An Olokun devotee from South Africa, Dr Mbele Maparatutu described Olokun as a deity of absolute beauty, wealth and commerce.
His words: “I have done series of researches into the African deities and have come to realize Olokun as not only the goddess of beauty, but also the goddess of wealth and commerce. She is well known in the North America and the Caribbean countries as a deity of wealth and commerce that deserves to always be celebrated”.
Another tourist from Angola, Antonio DK Bandiki said his findings have shown that Olokun was a beautiful woman sent by God to come and take care of the mankind with her water which is why no one irrespective of religion can function without water.
The highpoint of the Cultural event came when the Queen was later joined by the Ooni of Ife, His Imperial Majesty, Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi who offered some prayers to Almighty God who he referred to as the only King of Kings and God of gods for the total liberation of the Africans from the abject poverty caused by economic stagnancy.
Comrade Olafare’s statement described Olokun as “one of the Yoruba’s 401 deities God sent to Ile-Ife to start the mankind. While Oduduwa ,Ogun, Sango, Alafere are the deities of prayer, iron, thunder and wind respectively, Olokun is in charge of the oceans”