Ita Osun festivalThe annual celebration of this year’s Ita Osun festival, in Ile-Ife, did not only provide another ample opportunity for the teeming worshippers of the Osun River goddess within and outside the shores of Nigeria to converge on the historical city, it also created another leeway for the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi to promote and export the rich and fascinating heritage of the Yoruba nation.
This year’s festival was not only unique with aesthetics and glamour that coloured the event, it also boosted the social and economic activities of Ile-Ife as local and international tourists visited strategic places, public facilities and institutions domiciled in Ife.
Oba Ogunwusi, Ojaja II—whose peace advocacy and agenda for unity among the Yorubas of the South West, including the entire nation and the Diaspora have attracted global accolade—emphasised the need for the government to put cultural tourism into priority as a veritable tool for economic growth of South West states.
Speaking during the festival tagged, “Ita Osun 2018” on Saturday at the Osun shrine in Ile-Ife which served as the first settlement of the Osun goddess from where she moved around the world, the monarch maintained that “tradition is the root of Yoruba’s heritage, Nigerian government and all the states in Yoruba land must invest in cultural tourism.”
According to him, “to productively drive economic growth, as this is the case in Isreal, Saudi-Arabia, Brazil and other tourist destinations in the world, we must know that they use pilgrimages which can be said to be a lucrative economic tourism. Public leaders at the helm of affairs should be more committed to fund the tourism sub-sector.”
Cultural tourism my focus as Aare Ona Kakanfo —Gani Adams
Oba Ogunwusi, who also doubles as the co-chairman, National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria, used the occasion to preach peaceful co-existence among Nigerians. “Nigeria will survive during challenges only if the people maintain peace with one another irrespective of religion and ethnicity.
“As the custodian of the sacred throne of Oduduwa, the progenitor of Yoruba people worldwide, the Ooni is one of the 401 deities sent by the Almighty God to form the world from Ile-Ife then known as Ife-Oodaye. While Oduduwa, Ogun and Kori were in charge of prayer, iron and children respectively, Osun was made a deity that has to do with water which should always be celebrated as no one can function without water,” he said.
Oba Ogunwusi maintained that Nigerians must uphold their cultural heritage and traditions by showcasing deities like Osun saying “water is an essential commodity that is necessary and compulsory for humanity. No one can be enemies with water. We should therefore celebrate and always remember this deity that has to do with productivity and multiplication