July 19, 2024

Ojude Oba: The day after

  • June 22, 2024
  • 3 min read
Ojude Oba: The day after

By Oyindusola Abiodun Faleye

THE jamboree has ended. The rich and the poor have returned to base (everywhere in the world). The horses have returned to the stable. The Rolls Royces, Horse-drawn Gold-plated carriages have departed. The flowing Girike agbadas are on the way to the Alagbafo. The tailors and the Italian gold/French costume jewelers are smiling and must be appreciative of the Ojude Oba-related business. The Itale environ has regained normalcy. So what next? What has Ijebu-Ode gained from this annual onslaught of fashionistas parade?

Without the aid of a poll, I would say not much. Most of the pilgrims came into town with their foods and drinks (which shop will carry the exotic brands of Champagne and other liquors in the town anyway?). And because the hotels that abound are yet to learn how to attract the pilgrims with tailored programmes to make them stay over, by 7pm on the Ojude Oba day, most of the pilgrims were on their way out of the town. Someday, the hotels and event centres in the town will learn how to win these huge human mass of Ojude Oba pilgrims to stay over.

My focus is, however, about the impact of the annual Ojude Oba jamboree on Ijebu-Ode and how the town has been missing the opportunity to making this annual event a popular tourist destination. After all, foreign tourists flock to lesser events around the world that do not offer better spectacles than the Ojude Oba. The only difference is that those other global tourist attractions are meticulously planned to deliver value for tourists.

For instance, the UK 2-day Notting Hill Carnival will not hold a candle up to the Ojude Oba if properly planned and packaged. How about an agency to package a 3-day tour preceding the Ojude Oba with visits to the Agemo grove (open to all when the Agemos are not in session), the Bilikisu Sungbo grove (the possible burial place of the legendary Queen of Sheba – BBC), the Eyinfun and Oluweri Spiritual Springs? What of a meeting with Tami, the head of the 16-Alagemo, at his domain in Odogbolu?

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These and other tourism attractions could be packaged with room, board and various forms of entertainments to make a memorable 3-day stay at Ijebu-Ode with its attendant commercial benefit. Perhaps, the governments (local and state) will not have the shame to leave the town in the present state of environmental degradation and waste if they know foreigners will be attending the events?

At the current state, for me the annual Ojude Oba remains what it is, a fashion jamboree of no consequence to the welfare of the host and the environment. It is just an extension of the innate Nigerian thing such as “My Mercedes is Bigger Than Yours!” – not a penny more. Visitors and indigenes alike flock to the town in a pilgrimage to show off colour without a thought for the environment and the welfare of the indigenes. What stops each Regberegbe group throwing up three scholarships annually for indigent students in the town? Boreholes, health centres (drugs for existing ones), adoption of roads or even simple palliative programmes to the poor in the town?

Count on my widow’s mite if we are ready to rebrand the Ojude Oba to become a blessing to Ijebu-Ode going forward, but as presently constituted as a fashion jamboree simpliciter, I will always reschedule my visits to my hometown to the next day after!

Long may the Awujale live!

Faleye is a media and tourism expert

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