IWO FESTIVAL: The Ikale Tribe Age-long Annual Festival

Written by on July 16, 2021

Each tribe in Nigeria and indeed Yorubaland has its own observable festivals. Ikaleland is not an exception. Several traditional festivals are celebrated at some specific time, for specific purposes. Such festivals are Iwo festival, Ojoye-J’usu festival, Eje festival, Ere/Okute festival, Ogun festival, Eta’dun festival etc.

Iwo festival holds today 16th July, 2021 in Ode-Ayeka. It has been in existence for hundreds of years. The genesis or the historical background of Iwo festival cannot easily be traced since it is an age-long festival. Iwo Festival is celebrated across Ikale tribe of Ondo State and some parts of Ogun State in Waterside Local Government.

The Ikale people are the major inhabitants of Okitipupa Local Government in Ondo State with more than 90% residents in the region. They are famous for their distinctive dialect, unique tradition, agricultural skills, production of palm oil, latex rubber from their large plantation scared across the Local Government and beyond.

Iwo Festival is celebrated to appease the gods and goddesses or the spirits of the rivers. It is also a festival in which everybody believes that the gods and goddesses of the rivers around the geographical area where the festival is being celebrated will come out to the town. Customarily, it is celebrated around July and August every year. It depends on when the moon is sighted by the priests who are the custodians of the festival.

The most common of the food prepared on Iwo Festival is pounded yam with famous black soup (Marugbo).

In the days of our fore fathers ,1920s-70s, only the adult men of proven integrity and powerful persons in the community would be allowed to come out when the gods of the river are wailing in the town but things have changed now. Mature teenage boys 16 & above are allowed to come out. But children, women and non-indigenes stay indoor throughout the period of the Festival. The directive requiring all the children, women and non-indigenes/settlers to stay indoor will be passed through drumming, dancing and singing round the town by gallant men.

Movement especially for children, women and non -indigenes are restricted on Iwo festival from 9am to 3pm. And it is advised for women to cover their faces with cloth so they cannot see the activities of the Festival if found outside. Vehicular movement is also restricted from passing through the town nor within the town. All doors and windows must remain shut and markets and shops closed until the Festival is over.

Many have argued that the deviations from our culture in the recent past has so many negative impacts directly or indirectly on Ikale towns and villages. The argument is that we need to appreciate what we have a culture and jettison foreign culture. Hitherto, many towns and villages in Ikaleland still celebrate Iwo festival, however, with some differences in the methods adopted by different towns in the celebration of the festival.

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