By Dayo Johnson, Akure
The Olowo of Owo, in Ondo state, Oba Ajibade Gbadegesin Ogunoye, has said that the 800-year-old lgogo festival, in the ancient town, would be galvanised to produce an economic impact of one billion dollars yearly.
Oba Ogunoye, while addressing newsmen in his palace, ahead of the 17 day festival in the ancient town said that ” it is my desire to give the Igogo Festival a 21st Century outlook by making its processes and activities richer.
He described the festival as the “largest and oldest cultural festival in the history of the Sub-Sahara Africa.
The monarch, unveiled the Oroshen Beauty Pageant, the Owo Annual Festival Market and the Oghwa Lopo events of the annual Igogo Festival during the ceremony.
According to him ” our ultimate goal is to galvanise the festival to produce an economic impact of one billion dollars yearly.
“We are dead serious about its effect and target. Talks are on with our Diaspora sons and daughters to explore the low hanging commercial fruit and advantages which the festival portends for economic boom of our people.
“Even though, there is no single manufacturing industry in Owo, the Igogo festival will be exploited by attracting huge visitors to pour in and spend their money, thereby boosting the local economy.
“When this happens, happiness will permeate the society, tourism will grow and the economy will improve, thus providing job opportunities for the youth.
“Expectedly, the entertainment industry will also showcase the diverse cultural heritage of the Kingdom and lighten up her social activities. I am using this medium to invite private and corporate sponsors to partner with us in this laudable project.
The Igogo Festival will open wealth creation avenues, upscale our small-scale businesses of cloth weaving and artistries and promote general uplift of the socio-economic development of Owo Kingdom.
“Under my watch, the Igogo Festival is to witness a rebirth in content and package to attract over 500,000 people yearly at its peak.
“We intend to build it gradually and aggressively to attract foreign
visitors, Nigerians and Owo sons and daughters in diaspora.
“This year in particular, there will be the reenactment of the Udan dancers in beads. These are maidens who, in the olden days, usually
form part of the train during the Igogo Olowo procession.
“Also, it is my desire to give the Igogo Festival a 21st Century outlook by making its processes and activities richer.
“To this end, some complimentary events will be added to the year 2024 Igogo Festival celebrations as they will be unveiled today.
“The major events to be added to Igogo festival, starting from the Year 2024 edition, are: the Oroshen Beauty Pageant, which will herald the festival and throw up the Oroshen Icon that will reign for a year; the Festival Market that will take place during the festival where assorted goods and services will be exhibited; and the Oghwa Lopo. ceremony, which will bring the Igogo festival to a close, yearly.
“During the Ogwa Lopo ceremony, His Imperial Majesty, the Olowo of Owo will be seated in his full royalty to relate with his subjects, visitors, tourists and well-wishers in an open place.
“The occasion affords him the opportunity to bless the people of Owo Kingdom and thank all for participating in the festival.
” I am, therefore, using this medium to invite tourist all over the world to the largest and oldest cultural festival in the history of the Sub-Sahara Africa to feel and enjoy the hospitality of the Owo people as this season of love promises to be a period of funfair for all.
“The security of all and sundry during this celebration is assured through the continued cooperation of the various security outfits put in place by the government.
Giving the history of the festival, the monarch said It’s a festival of the love life of the Olowo Renrengenjen and his Queen, Oroshen, formerly known as Queen Uwa, a heroine, paragon of beauty who in all sense was another human/spiritual being – was born. The festival commenced with Ologho Renrengenjen and it has so been, till date.
The chairman of the Owo cultural heritage organisation, Dr Yemi Mahmud, said that the “goal of the organisation is to showcase the cultural heritage of Owo Kingdom, so numerous to mention: the Igogo Festival, Owo drums and dances, Owo music, Owo cuisine, Owo clothes among others .
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