The Ojude Oba festival has been celebrated for more than 100 years. It is a ceremony practiced by the indigenes of Ijebu Ode, a town located in southwestern Nigeria, precisely in Ogun State and environs of Lagos State. The words, Ojude Oba, in English, mean “the king’s forecourt or frontage.”
The festival takes place annually on the third day after the Eid-el-Kabir, a two-day Muslim celebration.
At the festival, the different age groups (known as regberegbe) and the chiefs in the town, while singing, dancing, firing gunshots into the air and riding on horsebacks, troop to the palace of the Awujale, the traditional ruler of Ijebu Kingdom to pay homage and offer him gifts. Throughout the ceremony, the Awujale sits on his throne to receive his people.
The Ojude Oba festival dates back to the 1800s. With the increase of Muslims in the community, the Awulaje in power at that time had agreed for a piece of land to be used to build a central mosque. Afterwards, representatives of the Muslim community went to the king to express their gratitude. This gesture, which was, at first a Muslim affair, has transformed into what it is in present times: a festival celebrated by all members of Ijebuland, both Muslims and non-Muslims.
The festival usually begins with prayers by the Imam of Ijebuland, followed by the Nigerian National Anthem, the Ogun State Anthem, the Awujale Anthem, and then the lineage praise of the Ijebu people.
Afterwards, the parade of age groups kicks off. Each age group displays their uniqueness through their dance styles and the colours and patterns of their agbada, gbariye, dashiki, iro and buba, ipele, caps and headgears, among others.
The festival attracts many indigenes of Ijebuland, as well as corporate organizations, visitors and tourists.
Uzoma Ihejirika is a Nigerian creative writer and journalist. He is an editor for the AfroAnthology Series and a copy editor for Minority Africa and has written for Open Country Mag. He has a short story on Lolwe.