Oyo: The inspiring Sangó festival
From Jeremiah Oke, Ibadan
August is synonymous with the àngó Festival which highlights the wealth and diversity of Yoruba culture. The celebration of the 1,000 year old àngó festival seems to be getting better with each passing year, as it is becoming one of the most celebrated traditional festivals in Yoruba land. It brings together all the àngó worshipers across the world to the Oyo Alafin in Oyo State. This year’s celebration was celebrated with pomp and pageantry writes our correspondent.
After Ile-Ife, Oyo is the second home of all Yorubas. It has many tourism centers, starting from the palace of the Alafin, .
As early as 9am on the 27th of August, the day of the grand finale of the 10-day àngó festival celebration, the palace of the Alafin was full to the brim when our correspondent arrived to cover the celebration of this years àngó festival.
Tourists from every part of the world who dressed in red and white attires were already seated, waiting for arrival of the paramount ruler of Oyo empire, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi and other dignitaries. Members of the Oodua People’s Congress were waiting to receive their national coordinator, Otunba Gani Adams. There were jubilations and live performances by the Yoruba singers in one part of the palace, while foreign tourists were sitting in other parts to observe as the event unfolded.
It is a special day used to celebrate àngó, a popular Yoruba deity who was believed to possess magical powers. The festival was rebranded as World àngó Day by the Oyo State Government to signify its international spread. The festival plays host to visitors from all over the country ,and followers from foreign countries like Cuba, Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean.
According to the Yoruba history, àngó was the third Alaafin-(king) of old Oyo empire. He took over from his brother Ajaka who was regarded as weak. During his reign he was constantly fighting battles with other towns. He mistakenly destroyed his palace with lightning which brought about the end of his reign.The crowning of the Alaafin is usually done at the shrine of àngó in Koso. However, as part of tradition, the Alaafin must not sight àngó Koso while on the throne. The only time they have access to each other is during the Alaafin’s coronation.
It is a significant event for the Alaafin, because without wearing the crown of àngó, he is not yet regarded as an Alaafin. The crown gives him the right to rule from the old Oyo Empire to the present Oyo.
àngó is widely referred to as the god of thunder. He ruled Oyo kingdom for seven years and married three wives Oya, Oba and Oshun, according to history. He is worshiped on the fifth day called Ojo Jakuta in Yoruba language.
àngó is a popular Orisa in Yorubaland, as such his festival plays a very important traditional and cultural role among the Yoruba .It is regarded as one of the founding fathers of the present Oyo State. It makes Yoruba people reconnect with each other and showcase the rich cultural heritage of the Yorubas such as drumming, dancing and singing.
The festival dates back over 1000 years when àngó mysteriously disappeared from the palace. He was believed to have committed suicide after he was challenged by one of his powerful chiefs, who ordered him to leave the palace. Since then the festival has been celebrated by the people of Oyo. It is a significant event for the Alaafin, because without wearing the crown of àngó, he is not yet regarded as an Alaafin. The crown gives him the right to rule from the old Oyo Empire to the present Oyo
Alafin gives a cash donation to Egungun Sango
Sango fires an arrow
Alafin receives gift of a T-shirt