Egungun festival begins today in Ogbomoso – and the danger of gangsterism

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Egungun festival begins today in Ogbomoso – and the danger of gangsterism

Femi OGUNLANA

Egungun festival will commence in Ogbomoso today with Olukotun staging an outing.

The chairman of Egungun association in Ogbomoso, Chief Akinyemi Omofowowe, informed ogbomosoinsightonline.com that the one and a half week-long festival will kick off as is the practice with a display by Olukotun, the Egungun trailblazer in the community.

Olukotun

Meanwhile, Chief Omofowowe appealed to Egungun supporters to eschew violence and other criminal activities during the festival.

It is recalled that in 2021 the festival was characterized by lots of violence perpetrated by hoodlums who hijacked the process leading to brutal deaths of some followers.

It was as a result, contemplated that the festival be banned.

Investigations revealed that a move was afoot to restrict egunguns to their immediate areas thereby banning processions by the various “heavenly beings” which often take them, their assistants and followers in toe, through Okelerin, the popular Egungun hangout.

“This was a measure considered last year before the demise of the late monarch, Oba Oladunni Oyewumi Ajagungbade III, to forestall further violent exchanges among rival Egunguns and their supporters on one side and street urchins on the other,” a leader of Egbe Omo Ogbomoso Parapo Agbaaye, Alhaji Saka Bello Aremole, disclosed last year.

Amid the pandemonium, which is becoming a permanent feature of the once interesting festival that used to attract people from far and near, Okelerin indigenes are also turning against the micro-community continuing to serve as rendezvous for the unruly adherents of Egungun.

In his biography launched earlier in the year, the traditional ruler of Okelerin, Aale, Oba Samuel Babatunde Amao, pointed out that he had instituted a religious programme tagged, “Okelerin for Christ,” to replace the tempestuous festival.

Ajomogbodo

“Okelerin for Christ,” achored by a retired Baptist cleric, Rev’d Dr John Adetutu, held last year was a week long crusade attended by many Okelerin citizens.

Aside this, Okelerin residents generally are becoming increasingly averse to the pandemonium that now annually trails the festival and so now drive away troublemakers by pelting them with stones.

“What we were used to (in the past) was two rival Egunguns squaring up to each other relying solely on supernatural powers for the confrontations amid cheering followers.

“This was always a sight to behold but today hoodlums wield guns and other dangerous weapons with which they inflict injuries on themselves and spectators,” an elderly man who gave his name simply as Kasali told ogbomosoinsightonline.com.

 

Danafojura

He lamented the youths of today have destroyed the foundation of Egungun as is the scenario in other spheres.

“They now follow Egunguns flaunting hard drugs and alcoholic drinks, which stimulate them to turn belligerent and wreak havocs,” Alagba Kasali added.

What should have metamorphosed into a tourist attraction avenue bringing revenue into Ogbomoso in view of the several ancient, metaphysical, spectacular Egunguns is now losing its allure, and down the drain is the prospect of swelling the economy of the city with foreign exchange.

Egunguns like Danafojura with its balls of fire, Ajomogbodo with its space-sitting prowess, Kongba with its unequalled ability to pull unbelievably huge crowds, draw rain and attack enemies with bees, Ayilere that wallows in puddle of muddy water, Arenugbongi with its protruding mouth like beak of birds, Lobanika with its energetic displays, Lembe with its vast charms, Gbadebo Olokuneran, the one restrained by goat’s twine, Awodagbese with its magic of misfortune and fortune and so on, were real crowd pullers in the past.

But bad times constituted by modernization, Christianity and Islam, and now hooliganism have caught up with the festival and is now being reduced to a festival of miscreants and never-do-wells.

 

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