Moremi season: Ooni celebrates Edi/Moremi festival

…unveils Moremi pageant final contestants
2018 edition of the famous yoruba Edi festival popularly known as Edi/Moremi cultural festival in remembrance of the Yoruba heroine, Queen Moremi Ajasoro, was marked with fanfare in the palace of Oonirisa, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ooni of Ife.

The annual ceremony held on Wednesday, October 31 is precisely the 3rd celebration since Oba Ogunwusi mounted the throne of his forefathers.

Amidst pomp, the famous cultural festival also coincides with the prayer session to mark the beginning of a new Oduduwa cultural calendar season.

This witnessed the usual traditional prayers and incantations to usher in the new year with goodness, rich harvest and prosperity for the people.

Also, Edidi king, a symbolic spirit of badluck cladded with leaves sauntered fiercely into crowd straight to the shrine for prayers.

According to the Palace source, the significance of his appearance indicates that the ill luck of the year past has ended. The crowd prayed feverishly, casting out bad luck, poor harvest and ill fortunes that might have befallen them last year.

After the prayers and the Itewa royal dance by the palace chiefs, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Ogunwusi led the crowd including the final selected Queen Moremi Ajasoro cultural pageant contestants to light the symbolic candle at the statue of Queen Moremi which is the most significant aspect of the festival.

The ceremony also saw the unveiling of the selected Moremi pageant finalists that will be in camp for the final contest slated for December 2 in Abeokuta, Ogun State.

Speaking with beauty and culture experts who handled the audition earlier, His royal majesty, Oba Dr. Michael Odunayo Ajayi, the Elerimo of Erimo, Ijesha, Osun State noted that it was a wonderful experience seeing young brilliant and upwardly mobile ladies who are confident, courageous to understand the culture of the Yoruba.

“As a royal father, my interest and focus is to ensure that our culture doesn’t die hence, encouraging these young girls to embrace it with all modesty and commitment,” Oba Ajayi said.

The kabiyesi also stressed need to transfer culture to the youths. “You can see that there is a specific age profile in this competition because we are talking about a young heroine; somebody that was brave, courageous and beautiful, bold enough and selfless.

This is the values we need to teach our girls to be selfless to make a change in their own era,” Oba Ajayi added.

Kabiyesi however, bemoans lack of cultural values in the present day children as a result of infiltration of foreign culture. He said; “My advice is for them not to forget where they are coming from.

There is a saying in Yorubaland that only a bastard will use a left hand to point to his home. Yoruba culture is very rich, diverse and versatile that has remained indelible from creation. I will encourage the youths not to imbibe foreign lifestyle and jettison the culture that we are brought up with.”

In the same vein, Prince Adegboyega Ogunwusi, elder brother to Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi charged parents to strictly imbibe the traditional culture of the land into the youths, saying that today’s youths are fast trashing our rich culture in acceptance of alien orientation.

He noted that he was disturbed by poor knowledge of basic tradition and culture, noticeable in some of the contestants which he believes will change if adequate attention is paid by parents.

Prince Ogunwusi who was impressed by the confidence exhibited by the intending queens at the audition also advised them to live up their billings while in camp because the essence of the competition is not only to crown a queen but to encourage young girls to know more about culture.

Both Ambassador Morounranti Ashabi, cultural ambassador to Ooni of Ife and Oluwatoyin Bayegun, alias Woli Arole who are audition judges affirm that culture is truly lacking among youths.

They however, were optimistic that with the introduction of the cultural pageant and camp training, reviving and instilling the Yoruba culture in the youths will be far fetched.

Meanwhile speaking with Princess Ronke Ademiluyi, Global Cultural Ambassador of Queen Moremi Ajasoro cultural initiative and representative of the Oduduwa Foundation, she noted that celebrating the heroine is a worthwhile thing to do as a mark of respect and remembrance of someone who did well for the Yoruba people.

“For me, if Moremi was a Christian, she would have been called ‘Saint Moremi’ for what she did. To celebrate and appreciate the ultimate sacrifice she made, the Edi festival wouldn’t have been enough too, hence, the establishment of the Moremi cultural pageant and the musical drama to keep her legacy afloat,” Ademiluyi said.

Barrister Adewumi Adediran, Chief Operating Officer, Oduduwa Foundation also noted that the expectations from the girls is high looking at the previous efforts.

“The girls will be going to camp and in the house various culture facilitators will put them through tasks to equip them with the knowledge of the Yoruba culture, after which the best among them will be selected for the crown.

The rest are not losers anyway, as they will be cultural ambassadors of the Oduduwa race, showcasing the rich Yoruba culture wherever they go,” Adediran said.

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Chuka Francis

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