Ogidi New Yam Festival: A vast tourism potential

Mrs Nike Okundaye presenting new yam to Ologidi of Ogidiland, Oba Rabiu Oladimeji Sule

Mrs Nike Okundaye presenting new yam to Ologidi of Ogidiland, Oba Rabiu Oladimeji Sule

The dexterity and resilience of the sons and daughters of Ogidi to project its tourism potentials for development is setting the serene settlement in Ijumu Local Council of Kogi State apart as a shining light in a state that its communities suffer from infrastructural deficit.

This is because Kogi State has been lagging behind in terms of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) having depended solely on federal allocations for its upkeep, but with the downturn in the economy and dwindling revenues, it is finding it difficult to meet up with its financial obligations.

The state realised it could key into the Ogidi Day cultural fiesta, which is adjudged to be Nigeria’s biggest cultural event in the month of June, as a tool for intercultural mix that cuts across the globe, bringing unprecedented development to the people through its tourism potential.

More than two dozens foreign nationals graced this year’s version opening the community and the State to possible foreign investors going by the peaceful and successful way the festival went without security issues.

The Chief Executive Officer of Nike Art Gallery, Lekki, Lagos, Mrs Nike Okundaye, who happens to be the female Oba, paramount ruler of Ogidi land, has been using her connections to put the festival on the world map.

The popularity of the festival has gone viral, as it had always attracted the high and mighty including ambassadors, foreigners, senators and other government officials.

The contributions of Chief (Mrs) Okundaye to the development of the community has built a high profile of achievements in the preservation, projection and the presentation of the culture of Ogidi people.

Hence the Ogidi day celebration is fast gaining ground among cultural festivals in the country, as its socio-economic relevance is beginning to yield the desired results.

The 2016 version attracted a large turnout of illustrious sons and daughters of Ogidi town, both at home and in the Diaspora; sons and daughters of Okunland at home and abroad, members of the diplomatic corps, foreign tourists, high profile personalities and cultural enthusiasts.

The rocky, sleepy community came alive as it celebrated the 5th edition of the Ogidi-Ela Day cultural/yam festival with ecstasy and pomp.
The week-long event commenced on Sunday, June 12, 2016 and climaxed on June 18 with the grand finale which featured diverse cultural performances, presentation of new yams, chieftaincy investitures and awards, among others.

The drivers of the annual event have skewed it to attract national and global attention to the rich cultural heritage of Ogidi and through that, draw attention to the parlous state of Ogidi.

They found an anchor to their creative enterprise in the yam festival, which is already attracting tourists from across the globe with the hope that very soon the same tourists would arrange their holidays to visit Ogidi.

At this year’s event Okundaye had foreign diplomats on her train that include the Ambassador of France to Nigeria, Amb. Denys aGauer, the Honorary Consul of the Kingdom of Belgium, Mrs Paulette Gondry-Van Trier and the CEO, CIG Motors Nigeria Ltd, Mrs Diana Chan, among others.

Rhe Honorary Consul of the Kingdom of Belgium, Mrs Gondry-Van Trier, praised the development spirit of those behind the cultural festival and thanked the people for the chieftaincy title of Yeye-Iyalode of Ogidi land, conferred on her over 10 years ago.

The Yeye-Oba Nike who was also the ‘Mother of the Day’ at the fiesta, is credited to be the brain and strong pillar behind the prominence which the Ogidi cultural festival has assumed in recent years.

Those conferred with chieftaincy titles at the event include an expatriate, Mrs Diana Chan, who happens to be the CEO of CIG Motors Nig. Ltd. She was bestowed with the title of ‘Yeye Gbeluro of Ogidi’.

In her address after her investiture, Chief Diana Chan expressed gratitude to the community for the honour done to her and promised to be part of the development of Ogidi.

Her title and investiture prompted a donation of N2 million to the community, which she would want to be used in boosting education and other infrastructural needs of the community.

The solidarity from the array of cultural troupes from Edo, Ekiti, Osun, Lagos kept the guest and cultural enthusiasts entertained as even the Eyo masquerades were part of the show.

Other activities that featured during the week- long event include free medical outreach by the Ripples Foundation as well as a novelty match, Jumat service, expedition to Oroke Oda mountain and bonfire ceremony.

The youths, attired in colourful cultural outfits, switched on the festival as young boys and girls filed out first followed by the men and women groups, the elderly, traditional rulers and cultural enthusiasts.

The procession moved to the Ogidi Community Ground, venue of the fiesta.

To add glamour to the occasion sounds of traditional gunshots intermittently boomed.

The cultural event commenced proper, when the chief celebrant, the paramount ruler of Ogidi, Ologidi of Ogidi land, Oba Rabiu Oladimeji Sule arrived the venue of the cultural fiesta amidst rousing ovation from the mammoth crowd of participants.

Colorful performances and displays by the various cultural troupes took centre stage immediately after homage was paid to the Oba.

The Oba on the occasion prayed for blessing, peace, progress and development of Ogidi Land just as he called on illustrious sons and daughters of the land to continue to give their quotas for the overall development of Ogidi.

He did not mince words when he showcased his community as a peaceful one in need of investments, adding that their lands are free for grabs by such willing investors.

Highlights of the event included the investitures of Chieftaincy titles and conferment of awards on some personalities.

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