Oba Adefehinti addresses controversy surrounding this year’s Ijesu festival


Gentlemen and ladies of the press, it is my pleasure to have you here this afternoon; I welcome and thank you all for coming.
I have called this press briefing to address the unfortunate incident surrounding this year’s Ijesu (Yam) festival held on 13th September, 2019 in our town, Ilara-Mokin. There have been various reports on the incident which need to be straightened out.

Ijesu festival is the most important annual celebration in our community. It is a period set aside to thank the Almighty God for giving the people the grace to plant, nurture it to fruition and to harvest, especially yam. The festival is so important that our sons and daughters from various parts of the country and outside the shores of Nigeria do come home to celebrate. It is like an annual get-together even more important than our Mokin Day, being full of cultural displays and festivities! We are reputed for celebrating nine (9) different festivals in a day and we are therefore referred to as, “omo a k’oro mesan se l’orijo”; it is unthinkable, but that’s the reality.

Having anticipated two major changes in the celebration of the festival this year, I held several meetings with my chiefs and other leaders of the community earlier in the year on the possible changes. The changes became inevitable for obvious reasons. Firstly, as I am advancing in age, I informed my people that I may not be able to lead them through the marathon dance round the town as the festival demands, which I have faithfully done over the past 21years! Secondly, we had to change the location of the spot for the ‘idasu’ (yam harvesting).

The reason for this is that the location we used to perform the ritual belongs to an individual who would want to use his land for building purpose! The land had been in the bush before; but physical development has caught up with it. Now that we have got a new palace of ours, I advised we can be doing the ‘idasu’ within the palace premises, which serves as permanent site till the world ends. All the Chiefs agreed to the obvious changes. We called a town hall meeting of the community on the 11th September, 2019, two days before the festival to inform all of the new development! In fact, after listening to the reasons for the changes, they all applauded them and even danced away from the venue.

We had thought the proposed changes had gone down well with all, but some youths were raving with anger on the festival day as they came to the new palace. The celebration started well from the temporary palace but was hijacked by the irate youths when they realized that I was not in the crowd leading the dancing aspect. Meanwhile, I went to the new palace ahead awaiting the dancing and celebrating crowd led by my able chiefs. Unfortunately, some youths embarked on mayhem to my consternation. The Olori and some innocent individuals including chiefs were hit by the stones throw by the irate youths; part of the palace was torched; while several windows and the main entrance glass door were broken.

The policemen were invited but we asked them to keep a distance and that no arrest should be made!
Later, I had to go to a private hospital at Akure to treat myself and the Olori, who was bleeding profusely on the forehead hit by stone! I returned to the town a few days ago.

We have decided to keep the peace by not asking for police investigation into the incident! We are very conscious of the fact that the miscreants are still our children. We therefore do not want to confine anyone into detention as a result of the crisis. However, I wish to use this opportunity to appeal to the concerned youths to caution themselves against a repeat of this incident.

We are all witnesses to the peace, development and progress in Ilara-Mokin to date; we shall not allow anything evil to disrupt them!
Gentlemen and ladies, I thank you all for coming! God bless you!

Oba Aderemi Abiodun Adefehinti, FCA
Alara of Ilara-Mokin,
Ondo State

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