By Dotun Oyelade
The Oyo State Government has pledged its unwavering support for the annual commemoration of the Iyemoja Festival in Ibadan, with a commitment to ensuring it garners recognition from UNESCO.
Dr Wasiu Olatunbosun, the Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, gave this assurance during the event held at Popoyemoja River Bank in Ibadan to celebrate this year’s festival.
He explained that the government’s backing of the festival is aimed at promoting and preserving cultural heritage while honoring their ancestors.
Dr. Olatunbosun vowed to bring UNESCO approval to fruition, promising that they would meticulously package next year’s Yemoja Festival so that it attracts an enormous crowd adding that this act alone will attract sponsorship from various brands.
In their goodwill messages, Hon. Mrs Michael Olubisi Margaret and Hon. Mrs Olajide Olufunke praised Governor Seyi Makinde for fulfilling his promise of approving Isese day as a means of showcasing Oyo state’s rich cultural values which could be a potential revenue generator for the state.
Earlier in her speech, Yeyelorisa of the Festival -Omitonade Ifawemimo Egbelade- highlighted how important it was to come together as sons and daughters of Yemoja both locally and internationally; not only just to celebrate our past heroes but also plan ways forward towards upholding our beliefs.
The climax of the event was when Baale Iyemoja Omikunmi Egbelade dived into the river after performing symbolic sacrificial rites aimed at appeasing deity goddess Iyemoja.
Finally, prayers were offered by all present for both government officials and citizens alike.
Other highlights included displays by different masquerades such as Ayelabola, Danafojura amongst others alongside performances by the Olorisa Yemoja & Gelede groups among many others who graced us with their presence.