Ojude Oba is an annually celebrated festival in the heart of Ijebu- Ode, the capital of the whole Ijebu nation, with an estimated population of 30,000 attendants. The colourful and glamorous festival is celebrated on the third day of the Muslim’s Eid-El-Kabir festival, otherwise known as ‘Ileya’ among the Yoruba people. The festival is used as a medium of uniting the sons and daughters of the Ijebu nation at home and abroad.
The origin of the Ojude Oba festival can be traced back to the period, over 100 years ago, when the newly converted muslims of Ijebu land thought it was the best time to show their sincere gratitude to the then Awujale (Ijebu king), for allowing them to practice their new religion.
During the Ojude Oba festival, numerous people gather as early as possible at the venue to witness all the opening events of the festival. Every sight is an amazing one to view as different participant showcase what they have to offer. The local drummers showoff their drumming prowess and acrobats display their stunning skills. The masquerades, horse riders and the long legged ‘Agere’ also paint the scene with awe and excitement. The streets are filled with people who are definately in festive mood, exotic cars, and canopies with music blaring underneath. It is always a rare display of opulence by the people of Ijebu. Several roads are blocked, the traffic is always heavily congested and exhilarated children gambol up and down the busy streets of Ijebu Ode. It is a sight tourists will never dare to miss.
The Regberegbes (age grades) also steal the show with their group attires and different individual style and combination as each group will always want to out-show the others. Each of the Regberegbes take turn to pay homage to the Awujale of Ijebu land who in return shower his royal blessings on them. There are over 30 regberegbes (age grades) with an average of 60 members each in Ijebu Land. The age of an individual determines the age grade he/she will belong, for instance, those born between 1932 and 1934 belong to the Egbe Mafowoku age grade. The current Awujale of Ijebu land, Oba Sikiru Adetona, belongs to the Egbe Mafowoku age grade. Other age grades in Ijebu land are Egbe Bobaniyi, Egbe Bobajolu, Egbe Gbobaniyi and so on. The outstanding age grade will be awarded N1Million and a trophy by one of the sponsors of the festival, Globacom.
This year, 2015, the egbe Bobakeye (female Double T) took the first position in the female category with a prize of N500,000, while egbe Gbobaniyi Obirin Olori and Egbe Jagunmolu Obirin took the second and third position and was awarded N300,000 and N200,000 respectively. In the male category, Egbe Obafuwaji took the leading position winning N500,000, while Egbe Jagunmolu Akile and Egbe Obaleke took the second and third positions with the prize of N300,000 and N200,000 respectively.
The boisterious Ojude Oba festival attracted more sponsors every year. Recently, organizations like First City Monument Bank (FCMB), Fan Milk, Multichoice, Seven-up stepped in as sponsors.
After the parade of the Regberegbes, the descendants of Ijebu warlords, known as the Baloguns, troop in with guns booming intermittently to announce their arrival. The families of the warlords, the likes of Kuku, Otubu, Josin, Odejayi, Osobe, Alatishe etc., display their battle prowess, like horse mounting, shooting and battle dance in a drama-like way.
So many other activities takes place after the parade of the Baloguns.
In order to make the festival more lively, Globacom added other events like beauty pagent, art exhibition and Musical concert featuring popular Nigerian musicians like D’Banj, Korede Bello, Alabi Pasuma and so on.
The Ojude Oba festival is one of the leading cultural Festivals in Nigeria.