Again, shops and markets would be closed down for the celebration of a traditional festival in Akure, the Ondo State capital. BABATOPE OKEOWO reports that the Amole festival was coming barely a month after the celebration of Aheregbe’s festival when social and economic activities were paralysed because of the celebration
For the second time within a month, all markets in Akure, the Ondo State capital would be shut down today (September 12) on the order of the Deji of Akure, Oba Ogunlade Aladelusi. That is in order to celebrate the Amole festival.
The Amole festival fixed for today is coming barely a month after all the shops and markets in the Akure kingdom were closed for businesses in order for the community celebrate Aheregbe Festival in the city.
The monarch had in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Michael Adeyeye, said the closure of the markets became necessary as part of the age-long tradition in observing the annual Aheregbe and Amole Festivals. The statement, which enjoined residents, market women and shop owners to comply with the directive, revealed that the festival would not in any way restrict both human and vehicular movement.
For the two days that the shops and markets were usually closed down, social and commercials activities were paralyzed in the town as some traditionalists usually moved around the town in order to ensure full compliance with the directive of the traditional ruler.
During the celebration of Aheregbe’s festival in August, a popular electronic shop along Ondo road wanted to attend to a customer before the commencement of the festival. However, luck ran against him as the traditionalists caught him and sealed his shop with palm fronds. He had to pay for the appeasement of the gods of the land before the shop was allowed to open for business even on the second day. A bean cake seller along the popular Oyemekun road had her shop sealed for attending to customers in the early hours of the day. Those who thought their shops and business centres were far from the major streets and flouted the order of the paramount ruler by opening for businesses paid for the appeasement of the gods when the traditionalists enforcing the order of the Deji of Akure caught them.
The fear of confronting the traditionalists and paying for the appeasement of the gods made many shop owners comply with the order of the paramount ruler of the town despite the constitutionally guaranteed right of freedom of religion and association.
These developments made many residents and visitors ask if festivals that usually lead to the closure of markets and shops and paralyze economic activities should be celebrated in Akure, being the state capital.
But the spokesperson of the community and Asamo of Akure, Chief Rotimi Olusanya, said the two festivals among others were necessary for the peace to reign in the land. He said the closure of the markets and shops was to allow the traditionalists to pray for peace in the land. He said two out of 365 days in a year were not too much to sacrifice for the peace of the town.
Out of 24 festivals celebrated in the town yearly, Olusanya, who is one of the kingmakers said only two; Aheregbe and Amole usually lead to the closure of markets and shops.
Giving historical background to Aheregbe’s festival, the High Chief said: “This festival originated from Oba-Ile. The festival was being celebrated at Oba-Ile before. But there was a time we needed an Oba. This Oba came from Oba-Ile because he was a prince at Oba-Ile and at the same time, he was entitled to the stool of Deji of Akure.
“When he was coming from Oba-Ile to rule in Akure, out of the conditions that he gave was that the Aheregbe festival which was being celebrated at Oba-Ile must be celebrated for him annually in Akure. Not that alone, he asked for the permission from the Oloba of Oba-Ile that he should be given some chiefs to accompany him to Akure here. So, out of the chiefs that accompanied him, was Ejemikin, we have Ojomu, they were part of the chiefs that accompanied Oba Obagbiyi from Oba-Ile to Akure. We called the monarch Obagbiyi. So that was how the Airegbe festival was being celebrated here annually.”
Before the actual celebration, Chief Olusanya said some traditionalist known as Onisibi would dance around the town for seven days. Apart from dancing, they also pay for the peace and progress of the town. On what led to the closure of the markets, he said: “It is norm whenever we are celebrating the Aheregbe festival, there will be no buying and selling and we cannot restrict it to Oba’s market alone. Throughout Akure, during that time of the celebration of the festival, there must not be buying and selling. That was the reason for the closure of the shops.
“There are some rites that we used to perform and the rites were being performed by the Onisibi. That very day, there are particular rites they have to perform on that particular day.” The undisclosed traditional rites which usually take place in the Oba’s market and palace during the Aheregbe usually lead to the closure of the markets. He, however, said the bean cakes (akara) are fried and shared between the monarch and the onisibis during the celebration in the palace. They also exchanged drinks as parts of the tradition. Apart from that Aheregbe day, Olusanya said there is Amole festival when there would not be buying and selling in Akure and its kingdom. Unlike Aheregbe which traced its history to Oba-Ile, the Amole festival is celebrated by the blacksmiths, some chiefs and the Deji of Akure.
On the role played by the Deji of Akure during the festival, Olusanya said the onisibi are the custodians of the tradition but had to be celebrated in the palace. On the desirability of the festival considering the fact that Akure is the state capital, the spokesperson of the community said “As far as I am concerned, it is when we have peace that we can talk of economic growth. If we don’t have peace, we cannot have time to go to any market because those festivals that we are celebrating are for the peace and progress of the town. If we have peace, other things will follow. That is the reason they have to bear with us for that two days in a year; that is not too much. At least, there is nothing we can compare with peace.” He appealed to the people to bear with the community and cooperate with the Deji in Council during the celebration of the festivals.
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