By Chukwuma Ajakah
Despite the heavy downpour of Monday, July 11, 2022, Ijebu Ode was agog as the ancient kingdom celebrated the famous Ojude Oba Festival after a two-year break occasioned by the global coronavirus pandemic.
In an interview with the media, Founder of First City Monument Bank, FCMB, Otunba Michael Olasunbomi Balogun reveals what the festival meant to the people and why the bank continues to play a major role in sustaining the age-long tradition:
Ijebus are very resourceful
Every Ijebu person is so proud of the Ojude Oba Festival that wherever we are we always make time to come and pay homage to the Oba, the Awujale of Ijebuland. The Ijebus are very resourceful people. I’m one of them. We are very proud of our cultural heritage. We believe in showing off in opulence and style when you make the money and become a success in your endeavour.
Why FCMB associates with Ojude Oba
It’s patriotism. Although the bank is not motivated by financial considerations, the people see it as their own and invest in it. Apart from Ijebu Ode, other towns have obas, but we have a long history of celebration dated as far back as 1892 when Oba Tonwase, my progenitor, received the British and allowed their missionaries to present Christianity to the people. Christianity was preceded by Islam, but before both religions came into the kingdom, the people were traditional worshippers. The homage being paid to the Oba involves us all.
Horse riding during Ojude Oba
Although I don’t ride horses during the Ojude Oba Festival, occasionally, you see me on horseback. I support those that ride horses. In those days when I was in college, I would come to watch them display. My father, his own father and grandfather also rode horses as Baloguns. I’m very much emotionally involved with family’s participation. As the Balogun arrives to pay homage, I get more excited. You saw those wearing blue, they came second during the last event. This year, they aspire to emerge the overall best. For years now, I have been wearing white due to my position. I’ve not worn the blue in recent years.
New technology, Ojude Oba & prospect of museum
Technological advancement has created more rooms for wider participation. You observed that there were people filming and recording the event. My grandchildren who could not come will watch it at different venues. Moreover, I have opened a museum where people can view elements of our culture.