Glo Heritage Series: Oke ‘Badan

Globacom has over the years gained wide acclaim as a company which prides itself on its support for the cultures and traditions of the Nigerian people, and has consistently contributed its quota to the promotion of the country’s festivals.

The Oke ‘Badan festival of Ibadan, Oyo State, is the newest addition to the number of festivals which Globacom sponsors. The brand’s support for Oke ‘Badan raised the profile of the festival which was held early March, as no corporate organisation had ever thrown its weight behind the festival until this edition.

The company has sponsored the Ojude Oba festival of the Ijebu people of Ogun State for nine years without a break, while the brand’s collaboration with Ofala festival of Onitsha and Lisabi of Abeokuta have spanned five years. These festivals have received significant boosts with Globacom’s involvement and have become major tourist attractions.

Oke ‘Badan, the youngest of such collaborative efforts in Globacom’s kitty, is the age long festival of unity celebrated annually in Ibadan land. It emphasises the gallantry of past warlords of Ibadan origin who were known to have fought many internecine wars without losing a single one. This is the basis for the widely-sung musical line: ‘’Omo Ibadan kii seru enikankan, ogun o ko wa ri” which means “Indigenes of Ibadan are slaves to no one, we have never been conquered at battle”.

The festival is the most significant in Ibadanland as it brings sons and daughters and inhabitants of the city together to celebrate the successes on the battlefield of Basorun Ogunmola, Basorun Oderinlo, Lagelu and others in their ilk whose love for fatherland gave bearing to the ancient city which is one of the largest in Black Africa. The seven hills of Ibadan provided refuge for the citizens during the wars as their traducers were said to have beaten a retreat once they could not navigate the hills. The festival, therefore, began as a way to celebrate the gods of the hills for providing protection to ‘’their sons and daughters’’ and the warlords for their commitment and tenacity.

According to Chief Fasola Ifamapowa, the Aboke of Ibadan land who is the direct custodian of the festival, Oke ‘Badan is celebrated in commemoration of the life and times of one of the forebears of Ibadan land, Lagelu, as well as the noble roles of the early rulers of Ibadan including Labosinde, Maye, Oluyole, Oderinlo, Opeagbe, Oluyedun and Lakanle among others.
So for over one week last month, the city of Ibadan literally turned lemon green as the celebration featured a seminar and football competition, a town-parade during which fun-lovers who followed the Aboke, Chief Ifasola Ifamapowa, poked fun at one another in the free spirit of the festival devoid of violence and rancour.

A musical fiesta which featured Ibadan-born ace Fuji musician, Saheed Osupa, brought excitement to the festival and pulled a massive crowd of fun-lovers from the student populace round the Trans Amusement Park, Agbowo, Ibadan, where the event was held and fun lovers from all walks of life. The musical fiesta was heavily spiced up by DJ Top who was on the juke box, while Gbenga Adeyinka, compeer of the show took the audience through a journey of entertainment.

Osupa serenaded the crowd to his popular songs, leaving the ecstatic audience dancing and screaming for more. The ace fuji crooner indeed lived up to the billing as attested to by some of the guests. Talented singers were also drawn from the crowd and given the opportunity to showcase the stuff they were made of at the end of which twenty-four –year old Olalekan Akinkunmi, won the singing competition and was accorded the rare privilege of performing alongside the main artiste, Saheed Osupa.

Oke ‘Badan is similar to the Lisabi festival which celebrates Lisabi, agbongbo Akala, the forebear of the Egba people of Abeokuta, Ogun State. Much older than these two festivals is the Ojude Oba festival which takes place the third day of Eid el kabir, but is now celebrated by Muslims and Christians of Ijebu origin. It has been celebrated for over 100 years since the first set of Muslim converts thought it fit to visit the then Awujale to express gratitude to him for giving them free rein to practice their new found faith. They also seize the opportunity to pray for his long life and prosperity of the town. At the turn of the 19th century, the Ijebu people came into wealth by virtue of their diligence and industry and this further led to the systemic internalization of different age grades into its social fabric. Each of the groups comprises people born within the same age bracket of three years. These groups have, in time, crystallised into instruments of social cohesion and mobilization for the development of the Ijebu nation.

Ofala is a cultural extravaganza marking the climax of New Yam celebrations in Igbo land. The three-day event is usually celebrated annually in the second week of October, with the highlight being the emergence of the Obi of Onitsha from five days of seclusion during which he offers prayers for the wellbeing of his people and attends to his domestic needs himself. All the chiefs representing the different quarters that make up Onitsha then take turns to pay homage to him.

The company’s sponsorships of the events have transformed them into an enviable tourists’ delight which attracts people from all walks of life and from other parts of the country.