It was the 2018 edition of the Lagos Boat Regatta on Sunday. Lagos is known for its water body and that is what makes Lagos to be the iconic city it is.
The water ways contributes a lot to the economic development of Lagos thus making it the economic capital of Nigeria. Lagos is similar to New York city with its combination of Islands. While New York is made up of Boroughs of Islands, Lagos is divided into mainland and the Island with different communities formed on the Island. The three main Islands in Lagos are, Lagos Island, Victoria Island and Banana Island. Lekki, Ajah and the other water front axis are also part of Lagos Island. The exploration of water tourism is a must for Lagos.
There are many water communities with unique tradition, culture and way of life that contributes to the tourism ecosystem of the state.
The Boat regatta showcase these communities to the people, teaching them about their tradition and customs.
A set of criteria was used to judge the competitors with a winner at the end of the event. Contestants were judged on
1) Boat decor: How beautiful their boat was decorated
2) Deity and History: Some boat has a deity on board which is very important to the community.
3) Group Choreography: The performance by the group aboard the boats
4) Orderliness and routine by each group
The group from Lagos Island stood out for their costumes and boat decor. It was fun to see and i really wished there more boats to see.
Later in the evening we went on the #LagosTourismCruise of the waterways from Lekki to Victoria Island. It was a breathtaking view.
Africans are known for their festivals which are mostly linked to their native religion and culture. Over the years these festivals have become a source of tourist attractions to non-natives of the areas who are curious to know more about the culture and religion of the people.
History of the Voodoo Religion
History has it that when Africans, especially West Africans were taken as slaves during the trans-Atlantic slave trade era, they took their religion with them. Irrespective of the White man's introduction of their own religion which is Christianity and the Arab Slave Trade era which introduced the Islamic religion, some West Africans still took their native religion and culture seriously.
Voodoo is one religion that was taken serious by the slaves. The early origins of Voodoo, also spelled Vodou, Voudou and Voudon, likely came from the West African country of Dahomey, now called Benin Republic.
In the Fon language(Benin Republic Language), the world ''voodoo'' means ''spirit.'' One of the places the West African Slaves were taken to was Haiti, a Caribbean island.
Voodoo is believed to have started in Haiti in 1724 as a snake cult that worshiped many spirits pertaining to daily life experiences. It developed as a blending of their traditional beliefs and customs with the practices of Africans from other regions and the influence of Catholicism.
When the Haitian slaves fought back against their captors, a revolt lead by Voodoo priests called hougans and priestesses called manbos, drove the French out of Haiti. Some of the French fled to New Orleans and brought some of their slaves with them. These slaves brought Haitian Voodoo. While many slaves in New Orleans practiced their own variation of Voodoo, it was not as influential as the quickly spreading Haitian Voodoo.
CELEBRATING OLOJO DAY
The whole town is agog with celebrations that morning, many merchants were on the streets announcing their presence in the town in support of the Olojo festival. Getting closer to the palace, roads are condone off with police cars and different security outfits controlling the traffic. Erected in the square opposite the palace where the statue of Oduduwa is stands a large stage with music equipment and the live streaming gadgets are been set up. The stage is the entertainment arena for the festival.
Another stage with steps is set up with stairs and chairs not too far off from the main gate of the palace. This is where the Ooni will seat with his guests while the different displays and parades of the different deities pay obeisance and display their performance to him.
Going into the palace ground, there is a tent for medical checkup for the elderly by the left hand side and different groups are streaming into the palace to greet the Ooni before he steps out with dance and drums.
At about 12noon, the Ooni step out of his residence followed by his Emese's, the palace aides and other dignitaries. He goes into a small building not too far off from his residence for about 10 minutes and from there onto the stage that is set up not too far from the palace gate. After settling down, the main parade starts with the recitation of adulation to the Ooni and explanation of the heritage and why Olojo day is celebrated by the compere.
This is followed by the parade of people representing the main group of the 401 deities found in Ile Ife. Some represented deities are Obatala, Moremi, Esu, Obaluaye, Orunmila, etc. There was fire display by Sango worshippers while two sects chants 'rain, rain' and the other group chanting 'sun, sun', suddenly the cloud changed like it wanted to rain, there was a little shower but it was predominantly sunny throughout the day.
This went on for about two and a half hour before the Ooni went back to his residence before going into Ileegbo where the last rites of passage is perfomrd before he wears the Aare crown. He is expected to exit the palace towards sunset.
IFE is referred to as the cradle of human existence according to History, science, Biblical, empirical and Quranic discoveries on the different stories about creation. The ancient town of Ile-Ife is said to be the Source of Mankind and the only place where the OLOJO Festival (Day of Creation) is celebrated.
OLOJO day is asserted in relativity to the Beginning when God created the heaven and the earth. The world been dark and void with the Spirit of God hovering round the earth is said to be what God - Olodumare deposited in the land of expansion, Ile-Ife as our divine heritage.
Ojo-ti-ojo-di-ojo (OLOJO) is the day mankind was established on earth in spirit form the very first time.
EVENTS LEADING TO OLOJO DAY
There are series of events leading to the OLOJO Festival. It is about two weeks, starting with IDIJO - the determination of the sacred dates, done in the first week of August. Next is Osu Ogun, the month of the pathfinder deity, which is immediately followed by Gbajure, which signals the commencement of the Olojo festival. Two days after Gbajure, the Ooni also refer to as Oonirisa goes into seclusion for five days, to have physical and spiritual communal with his ancestors, esoteric beings and the Almighty God.
No one determines the date when the festival will hold during the months of September and October but the Ooni himself after hearing the unseen drums. It is communicated to him when he will enter into seclusion.
The seclusion of Ooni is similar to seclusion observed by the Oba of Benin in celebration of Ague festival, going futher to reflect the link between Ile-Ife and Benin Kingdom, for Oranmiyan was the son of Ogun and Oba of Benin. We are more connected than we think traditionally.
The day started with light showers of rain that went on to become a heavy shower in the morning of Sunday, September 3rd. This however did not deterred the sons and daughters of Ijebu Ode to be gaily dressed and head out for this year's Ojude Oba festival.
Ojude Oba is a festival which takes place annually the third day of the Eid-al-Adha or Sallah. Sons and daughters of Ijebuland with their family and friends gather at the pavilion opposite the palace to pay homage to the Awujale of Ijebuland. This year's theme is Ojude Oba: A Rich Heritage For Ijebu Unity.
They converge in their different age group also known as 'Regberegbe' in their colourful attires from head to toe. The beautiful colours all over the arena makes it a carnival like festival.
The 'Regberegbes' was revived by the present Awujale, Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona, Ogbagba II, for the continuous growth and development of Ijebuland.
As a traveler one of my main goal this year is to document the Durbar festival in the northern part of the country.
I set out to ask my friend, Mohammed who lives in Bauchi State when the Durbar festival will be. We agreed on dates that I will come down to Bauchi.
DEFINING THE DURBAR FESTIVAL
Durbar festival is also known as the traditional Hawan Daushe Durbar. It is part of the activities marking the Eid-el-Fitr, also known as the 'small sallah'celebration. This is an annual festival celebrated after the 30 days fasting by the muslims globally.
The word 'Durbar' is of Persian origin and was first linked to ceremonial parades marking the proclamation of Queen Victoria as the Empress of colonial India in 1877. History has it that the the Hawan Daushe Durbar was introduced to the emirate during the reign of Muhammadu Rumfa in the 1400s. It is also noted that it still takes place in the states that were under the then Sokoto Caliphate with each state having its own emirates ruled over by an Emir.
Some of the States that still perform the Durbar festival are Katsina, Kano, Bauchi,and Kwara amongst other northern states.
In Nigeria,the first Durbar was held in 1911, subsequent ceremonies were held in 1924, 1925, 1948, 1960 and 1972. The Durbar festival was prominently present at the 2nd World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture, also known as FESTAC 77. Since then it has been celebrated once a year, after the muslims fast.
CELEBRATING THE DURBAR
The festival is usually observed a day after the 'sallah' day which sees the Emir riding on horse back with his title holders to pay homage to the State Governor and the prominent families in the State. This year's Durbar started on the 25th of June with the emir making his rounds across the State. You can sight small groups of horse riders Following him with the horses all dressed in colourful attires with some to match colours of their riders outfits. Sounds of gun shots echoed around where the group were. The shots were coming from dane guns that were being fired in celebration. The following day, the 26th was the main Durbar festival where every households will be represented.