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Ondo – A People Like No Other

I have never stopped to wonder about the uniqueness and superiority of the different aspects of Ondo culture – their traditions and customs., their language, music, songs and dance, ceremonies and festivals, costumes, foods and cuisine.

Now I begin to think that the reasons behind this phenomenon may not be unconnected with the history of the founding of the Ondo kingdom and the life of its founder herself.
The unusual early deprivation suffered by the founder of Ondo kingdom, Pupupu with her mother and twin brother having been sent away from the palace to the jungle immediately after their birth must have acted as a catalyst for their future progress and uniqueness.

Oftentimes early undeserved deprivations such as their’s attract the mercy and favour of Providence and have the tendency of firing people’s ambition to excell against all odds above all others thus bringing out the best out of them.
This can reasonably be explained to be responsible for the Ondo’s exceptional mental capacity and pursuit of excellence in every area of their self expression and endeavour.
Eni da ni l’oro f’agbara ko ni.
If you suffer deprivation at an early age you are bound to grow quickly, you learn to do things by yourself, to be different, to stand out of the crowd, think outside the box and find new ways of doing things. You are ever ready to take risks and never afraid of failure. You do your own things your own way and carve a niche for yourself. That’s what uniqueness is all about!

Lets now see the uniqueness, the richness and the beauty of some aspects of the Ondo culture in brief.
The Ondo dialect is rich in all its forms: lexicon proverbs, idioms and figures of speech.

Consider for example, the richness of the Ondo vocabulary in this way. . At times an object or a creature or a part of the body may be known by different names, the etymology of which cannot be easily traced to any other existing language.
Examples are:
CUTLASS- ada upekun, manyunan, ijebupeyinda
DOG- aja, lokili, kita, pegun
CAT- logbo, loigennen, musuu
SOLDIER ANTS – ejija ijalo
LEG – ose, egie, etipa

Many Ondo proverbs are full of wit and hilariousness such as:
Okoobo ee b’oman s’itosi
(The substance and evidence of a lie are farfetched)
Asa yo pa liwu o b’eyin aa e je
(Those who destroy their offsprings destroy their own memories)
Epe e mu gwe epe in.
(A desperate disease needs a desperate cure)
Ee gba’i d’epan fo.
(He who receives the bashing suffers the pain)

There are also many beautiful Ondo idioms like
O fe ‘a ku
(She is pregnant)
O s’okon-en
(He committed suicide)
O b’aye je o b’o-on se je
(He committed a despicable act)
An-an jo kon’se si sokoto kane
(They are into a serious contention)

Ondo language is similarly rich in figures of speech especially simile and metaphor:
O puo j’abo
(Describing a serial liar)
O le j’ufa
(Describing a drone, a very lazy person)
O d’oko j’aja
(Describing a woman of easy virtue)
O sonon j’eta
{Describing a sadist)
O go j’uso
(Describing an imbecile)

In the area of costume, the traditional, colourful fabrics, the alaai sanmiyan and petuje are well known for all occasions. The fanciful designs in colourful generous embroidery with the various accouterments will readily make any Ondo man or woman when completely dressed a fashionista anywhere in and outside Yoruba land.

I have just written an article titled The uniqueness and sophistication of Ondo traditional music and dance therefore I will not like to bore my readers with that here.

The list of Ondo foods and cuisine, the delicacies and snacks is just amazing.
Most popular foods with their unique traditional cuisine are iyan with obe ila lasepo popularly known as obelodon or with obe egunsi likotokiti, there is also eba puupuu and amala with same soup or a choice of other types of soup such as obe’fun, obe eepo l’oogun, obe efo at’asese, obe gbanon-non and so on. Other types of foods are pekule, a porridge of maize and beans, amuyale and ifooko , boiled plantain or yam eaten with gbonlokoso {garden egg) stew.
Ondo also have an array of snacks and delicacies the chief of which is the never-say-die ason prepared with specially selected parts of goat meat (ekeegbe) served steaming and hot in all kinds of celebrations.
Other snacks include ojojo, lekute, amuyale, ekuu boiled or roasted corn eaten with walnuts or coconut. As a matter of fact the list is endless and will be difficult to match by any other Yoruba community or any other Nigerian ethnic group for that matter.

The Ondo people have many beautiful traditional festivals such as ogun odunmoko, oamufe, odun oba agheegbe and many others. Only the people who have witnessed these festivals before can appreciate their beauty and various dimensions. .
Ceremonies in Ondo are not too different from those of other Yoruba communities but it is the way they are celebrated that make them tick. They include betrothal and wedding, naming, funeral, title taking, house warming.
All of these celebrations always parade the elegant, colourful Ondo traditional costumes and their variety of music, songs and dance.
Definitely the Ondo people are a class of their own. .

Written by: Pa Oluade Akinfemiwa

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