By Jimoh Ahmed, Owo.
The ancient town of Owo, the headquarters of Owo Local Government Area of Ondo State was agog on yesterday as the Olowo and the community marked this year’s edition of the internationally acclaimed Igogo Festival.
Igogo is an annual festival in Owo, celebrated in honour of one of the wives of the Olowo, Oroshen.
It reaches its climax yesterday as the Olowo of Owo, Oba Ajibade Gbadegesin Ogunoye III danced round the town.
Dressed in his traditional Igogo attire, Oba Ogunoye, took off from the Ugha Nla Court in his Palace in company of his retinue of chiefs, community members and the large crowd who had come to catch a glimpse of the revered monarch and savour the rich cultural value of the festival.
The Olowo proceeded to Arigidi in Iloro Quarters before heading to Ijebu Owo before coming back to the Ulede Market Square where he prayed for the peace and progress of Owo.
Speaking with The Hope shortly before set out to dance round the town, Oba Ogunoye stated that the basis of the festival is love.
The monarch who said the rationale behind the festival is the love Olowo had for his wife.
He therefore admonished Nigerians to love one another, irrespective of the height and position, tribe or ethnicity, sex or religious inclination.
Oba Ogunoye who said Igogo remained highly place festival among the people of Owo said his resolve to make the festival a cynosure of all eyes is still on course.
The Olowo said the festival which he promised to make tourist attraction is gradually attaining that position.
He therefore charged Owo sons and daughters, both at home and in diaspora to join hands in promoting the festival to attain its right place in the cultural realm.
Similarly Oba Ogunoye called on both the Ondo State and Federal governments to exploit the many opportunities of the festival to generate the much needed foreign exchange by keying in into the tourism economic potentials of the festival.
Speaking on the Festival, the Akowa of Iloro Quarters,Chief Sydney Ogunleye said Igogo being a tourist delight has the potential of making money for the government if properly packaged.
Chief Ogunleye who said the festival has further brought unity to Owo appealed to indigenes to take the festival with all seriousness.
According to him, Igogo is not about religion or fetish said it highlights the rich cultural value of Owo.
In the same vein, a cultural enthusiat, Tunde Onibode described Igogo as a unique festival that has brought fame and relevance to Owo as a place.
Onibode therefore called on all sons and daughters of the town to come out to promote the festival.
Igogo Festival called festival of the maiden or love has been in existence for over 700 years.
It began during the reign of Olowo Renrengenjen in 1340 AD in honor of one his wife, Uwa later known as Oroshen who fled the palace in anger after her co-wives broke her taboos.
Oroshen who was in anger disappeared into the Ulaja forest and sent message to the Olowo that some sacrifices must be made to atone for peace annually.
Olowo Renrengenjen out of his love for Oroshen ordered the yam festival which Owo was known for then shouy be overtaken by Igogo for the fact that the drumming for which the yam festival was known for cancelled and metal gongs should be used in place.