In the heart of Abeokuta, the capital of Ogun State, the Egba people come together annually to celebrate the eponymous Lisabi festival in honour of the Egba legendary warrior and liberator, Lisabi Agbongbo-Akala, who freed the people of Egbaland from the servitude imposed on them by the Oloyo.
The one week-long Lisabi festival showcases the rich history and cultures of the Egba people and also reflects their opulence and merrymaking spirit. The Egbas are known to be one hardworking and fun-loving tribe with breathtaking skills in indigenous arts and crafts. The festival commences at the legendary and famous Olumo rock with gunshots reverberating through the axis of Sodeke, ostentatious masquerades displays, different traditional dances which include the ‘woro’ dance and many outdoor & indoor games.
The streets of Abeokuta cannot but come alive during Lisabi festival. Markets are closed to allow and encourage full participation of the people in the festival and to prevent heavy traffic. Sons and daughters of Egbaland in the diaspora return home to their families for the glamorous celebration. It is worthy of note that Lisabi festival has attracted big sponsors of which among are telecommunication companies such as GLO and corporate bodies such as Olukun Festival Foundation.
The traditional ruler of Egbaland, Alake, and his Olori (queen) receive important dignitaries from Nigeria as well as the world. The Alake also graces almost all the events held during the Lisabi festival such as Miss Olumo beauty pageant, Quiz competition for schools, football competitions, road rallies and most importantly, the walk to Lisabi forest located between Maroko and Abatan villages in Obafemi Owode Local Government Area. Lisabi was believed to have vanished into the earth in the forest after liberating the people of Egba and the forest has since then been regarded as his home.
The history of Abeokuta or Egbaland has it that Lisabi Agbongbo-Akala was originally a farmer before he took to arms. It was in the 1930s during the autocratic reign of Oloyo who commanded thousands of warriors from different towns under his rulership. When the elders of Egbaland had given up and surrendered to the Oloyo, Lisabi Agbong-Akala mobilized some men and went to war against the Oloyo. Even though Lisabi’s men were no match with Oloyo’s men in numbers, he strategically won the war and thus liberated Egbaland.
Lisabi festival which is celebrated in every month of March has attracted tourists from far and near, and this generates worthy revenue for the State government and also boosts the tourism sector of Ogun State. Lisabi festival is currently one of the most colourful festivals celebrated in Abeokuta/Egbaland.
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Photos Credit- GLO World
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