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Ọdun Ọba Festival in Ondo Kingdom

The Odun Oba which comes up in July each year seems to suggest a total subjugation of the people of Ode – Ondo to the Osemawe and his hordes. The Odun – Oba in Ondo normally lasts for seven days. Nine days before the festival, an official announcement is made. The announcement itself is a festival. The Etutu drums are beaten in the palace and royal regalia, with the beaded crown, are enthroned outside his palace. As the royal drums beat, the chiefs sit according to their rank on the left and right hand side at the open courtyard.
After sometime, the war drums take over from the royal drums and the Elegbe (war chiefs) approach to greet the King (Osemawe). They dance to the Oba wielding ceremonial swords or staffs in warlike gesture. Usually each dancer steps up to the Osemawe, and with clenched fist stretches his right arm towards him three times while simultaneously greeting the Oba with some of his (Ekiki) praise name. After the Elegbe, the Ekule follows by greeting the Oba in the same fashion.

The Iwarefa who are the most senior of the chiefs appear with their drums and huge orchestra of gongs. The two most senior of Iwarefa, the Lisa and Jomu, pay a special homage to the Osemawe on this day. Clad in white, they dance together slowly up to the Oba, Three times they kneel down, putting sand on their foreheads. On the first day of the festival, the Osemawe is enthroned at Oreretu Street. Opposite the Osemawe some sixty meters away sits the Logbosere and the Out chiefs. The Out chiefs dance in turns to pay homage to the Osemawe. The last of the Otu chiefs to pay homage is the Jomughatu. After this, the Osemawe in company of the chiefs dance to Oyenren River by Okelisa Street, where he performs traditional rites. He dances on to Idim’Sora where he performs traditional rites. Thereafter, the Osemawe dances back to the palace.

On the second day of the festival, the Ekule chiefs dance to the palace with their gifts of goats to the Oba’s palace. There, they pay homage to the Oba. In return the Osemawe feasts the chiefs by killing some goats. In the evening, the Oba is seated in the shrine of Airo to receive presents of sheep from the Iwarefa chiefs. Gaurded by the war chiefs who line up with their swords and ceremonial staffs, the Iwarefa then pour libation for the Oba. One of the sheep is then sacrificed in the shrine of Airo, where the Osemawe makes sacrifice to his ancestors.

On the third day of the festival the Osemawe holds another procession round the town. As he dances slowly through the streets, people come out of their houses, pay homage to the Oba and present him with gifts. Thereafter, he returns to the palace. At the palace, the Osemawe is enthroned and the Opojis who are a set of female chiefs present him with cocks and kolanut. The Osemawe’s wives and children come from inside the palace to pay homage to the Oba. The Osemawe then kills ram to feast his wives and children. This is called Ikumo.
The last three days of the festival, the Ekule chiefs feast the entire minor chief under them in turns. Odun Oba has become an important festival like other festival in Ondo town. It has served as a unifying platform for the King and his chiefs on hand and Iwarefas and the people on the other hand.
Source From: Extract from the 1938 Thesis of Rev. Canon M.C Adeyemi for his M.A Degree at Cheltenham College, England.

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