Jimoh Ahmed, Owo.
Cultural festivals and tourist attractions remain potential to transform our rural areas and boost the Nigerian economy if properly harnessed.
Owa Ale of Ikare Akoko, Oba Adeleke Adegbite Adedoyin, stated this during the 2023 edition of the annual Olokemeji Takotabo festival in Ikare Akoko.
Oba Adedoyin therefore, appealed to government at various levels to assist traditional rulers in developing cultural heritage and tourist centres in their communities to accelerate rapid growth and economic prosperity in the rural and urban areas.
The monarch who stressed the need for royal fathers and government at all levels to preserve cultural heritage, said he would do everything possible to ensure that values and cultures bequeathed by his progenitors do not go into extinction but rebranded to attract tourists and investors.
He advised residents of the town to always embrace peace and coexist irrespective of the religious divide for the socio-economic development of the area.
Owa-Ale, who used the occasion to call for more prayers and support for the State Governor, commended him for transforming the sunshine state with massive projects and living up to the expectations of the people.
Oba Adedoyin said, “Olokemeji Tako Tabo Hill is a place of interest that attracts tourists both locally and globally due to its natural, cultural values, historical significance, beauty, and its offering of leisure, adventure, and amusement”.
“This festival holds great importance as the people of Ikare are known as ‘Omo Olokemeji Tako Tabo’. From the ancient times, we had both male and female mountains here. In fact, we were told by history that during inter-tribal wars, our people relocated from the lower side to the hilltop, allowing them to repel the invaders”.
“The festival is of significant importance, akin to the Ojudeoba festival (in Ijebu land). People come from as far as the US and the UK to participate in this our festival, leading to a two-week period where accommodations in the town are fully booked. It also serves as a source of income for hoteliers, as they contribute to local taxes and traders are also getting high patronage during this festival here and increase business activities.
“The issue we face in this country is that we have traded our heritage to the Western world in exchange for religions, which may not be entirely beneficial. By the grace of God, the State and Federal Ministries of Culture will be visiting next year, just as they did last year”.
A famous Yoruba Poet and Ifa Priest, Araba Yemi Elebuibon, who attended the festival, charged all yoruba sons and daughters to wake up to their responsibilities of preserving their cultures and traditions irrespective of their religious backgrounds.
The highlights of the festival celebrations that lasted for four days included the visitation of the Owa-Ale to strategic places in his domain especially to the aged and cultural exhibition.
Dancing and presentation of awards to some distinguished Nigerians at the monarch’s place was also part of the event.