by Tunde Ogunmola
The Chief promoter of the Olokun Festival Foundation and National Coordinator of Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), Otunba Gani Adams, in a brief chat with Happenings, reiterated his belief, that there is absolutely nothing wrong with engaging in the worship and offering of sacrifices to divinities and spirits, as they are all creatures of God.
The OPC Chieftain said this, in response to the ongoing controversy surrounding the issue of worshipping nature spirits in the country and the fact these worshipers were being despised and persecuted as a result of their belief and worship of these divinities.
According to him, the godheads, present in the Yoruba belief system, are primordial, thus they are deified, because of the exceptional quality of their lives while on earth. Accordingly, their symbols such as rocks, rivers and trees are merely representations of the greatness of Olodumare (God).
He goes further to say that, their spirits are representatives of the almighty God, therefore, worshipping them or organizing festivals in their honour are avenues to court their blessings and prevent their wrath. Despite the importance attached to these nature spirits, their worship is condemned and their followers are often despised.
Otunba Adams in strongly making his point says that before persecuting worshippers of traditional deities, it is important that we as a people have moments of introspection in the fact that despite the proliferation of faith by the dominant religions in Nigeria, the problems in the nation are yet to abate.
Notwithstanding the increasing number of churches and mosques in the society, corruption and other vices are still persistent in the country and the world. According to him, it is easier and convenient for followers of these dominant faiths, to ridicule these traditional religious beliefs, that may pave way for social change and rebirth, while hiding behind the idea that there are repercussions that follow sinful behaviour and conducts
The chieftain called for a need to correct these negative impressions towards traditional worship, by contributing meaningfully to the on-going discourse on value re-orientation, through a drastic change in our socio-political and economic lifestyles. This need, according to him informs the Olokun Festival Foundation’s decision to institute the continuous celebration of annual festivals in the country.
The festivals celebrated by the Olokun Festival Foundation annually are: Oodua Festival in Ile-Ife; Grandmother Festival in Lagos state; Olumo Festival in Abeokuta, Ogun state; Obatala Festival in Igangan; Oranmiyan Festival in Oyo state, Ifa Festival in Lagos state; Okota Festival in Arigidi-Akoko in Ondo state, Osun-Osogbo Festival in Osogbo; Oro Festival in Iseyin; Olokun Festival in Lagos state; Oya Festival in Ira, Kwara state; Ogun Ajobo and Elegbara Festival in Ikorodu, Lagos state.