Ulefunta 2019: Welcoming a Royalty from Rest
By Seye Fakinlede
Since it’s an indigenous festival, the Grand Finale of the 2019 Ulefunta Festival was crowned with the presence of some indigenous talents who massively allured the air of the M.K.O Abiola Democracy Park with sonorous renditions, acrobatic displays and pageantry dancing.
The jamboree led every leg to dance, and it began with the blaring song titled “Akure Oloyemekun” by the late Wale Glorious. The air was filled with celebration prior to the main event.
The first set of artiste was Prince Jide Murphy and his band. Jide’s band members were dressed in Ankara, while the leader of the band, Prince Jide, was in the local Adire. They set the speakers on fire with songs from different genres. During their performance, the Muslim women’s group came out dancing, to applaud the musicians with some currency.
After Murphy, there was Ambassador Wale Walata.. “He sings like ;Wasiu Ayinde’,” someone whispered behind me. The voice of this middle-aged singer elated not only the ears of the commoners but also those of lords. And it was at this time that The Olugbo of Ugbo entered with his trumpeters. The true feeling of royalty was conveyed by the songs of Walata as he ushered in the Olugbo. However, this was long before the Deji and the paramount ruler of Akure Kingdom, Oba Aladetoyinbo Aladelusi Odundun II, had kingly sat to commerce the event.
Looking beyond the stage was a cultural group called the Mgbiri Group. They had come to pay their homage to the Deji with their dancing. It was a cultural group of men who were dancing rhythmically to the tune, shaking the small bells attached to their ankles. Viewing these men, one would conclude that, what a woman can shake, a man can shake better.
Also, the Sango Group performance was magical. The entertainment of members of the group was scary yet mind lifting. Their leader, a dark plump man who played Sango, blew out the minds of the festive congregants by swallowing fire and rubbing his body with fire yet coming out unharmed. These stunts should have come with a “ Do not try this at all” sign.
The Hausa and Arewa Community’s stunts added another brilliant colour to the event.
Besides the Hausa community were the Usopo Community masquerades. What would festivals be like without a masquerade display? The Usopo Community had two colourful masquerades, white and the pink masquerades with similar heights of three feet.
The Whip entertainers might not be surprising at all to an indigene of Ilara Mokin in Ondo State, which has a culture and tradition of getting whipped during any of their festivals. However, being whipped must come with a consent from the participant.
At the Ulefuta, a slim man was getting whipped on his bareback, at certain intervals, by another man. The whipped man made some staggering movements at every whip, looked , perhaps to listen to the jeer of the audience , and he gets whipped again. Even though there were visible cane marks on his back, he seemed to enjoy the whips. But the euphoria of entertainment which had clouded his mind would not spare his pains at night.
The Alliance for Democracy Movement, ala the Opomulero Group, was another group of “ready-made” dancers. Their parade was led by some dancing ladies shaking their bodies rhythmically to the tune from their band. Also, the group’s queen, Omoloriaye Omobolanle , wore an overflowing blue gown, smiling as their parade went by, paying homage to the Deji.
Even the parade and homage display was another height of the event, as various groups , associations, trade unions, dignitaries and societies marched passed the Deji and his courteously seated queens, who later danced to the adoration of their seated royal husband.
Ajobiewe, the panegyric, lauded praises to the Deji at some point. Of a truth, there would be no feeling of the splendour of kingship without a praise singer.
However, the Deji and the Paramount Ruler of Akure Kingdom, Oba Aladetoyinbo Ogunlade Aladelusi , the Odundun II, expressed his gratitude to the royalties, dignitaries, indigenes and mostly to the 2019 Ulefuta Committee, chaired by Prince Bisi Gold. He said, “ I am very happy. The people are also happy. I believe within two to three years from now, Ulefuta festival will be celebrated like the Ogunde Oba” .
Ulefuta is a yearly celebration of the Deji of Akureland’s annual leave. And with the array of entertainers, and the parade at the M.K.O Abiola Democracy Park, there was no better way to have welcomed the Deji from rest.