Wole Balogun, Ado-Ekiti
In Aramoko-Ekiti, headquarters of Ekiti West Local Government Area of Ekiti State, there are tales of strange customs that will shock anyone. One of such is that one of the kingmakers who must have taken active part in the process of installing a new king, would, on the day of the Oba’s installation, become his lifetime enemy.
Not only that, the said kingmaker, whose identity would not revealed, would invoke supernatural powers and place some curses on the newly crowned Oba and swear never to meet him face-to-face again. The Oba would reciprocate by equally placing curses on the said kingmaker on the same day and that would be it. The two would never set eyes on each other again.
According to Oba Adeyemi Adegoke-Olu, the Alara of Aramoko, the reason for this and how the said kingmaker is selected remain a mystery, while other kingmakers shall continue to support the new Oba: “It is in our tradition that the newly-installed monarch must not seeeye-to-eye with this particular chief (a kingmaker) who was part of the election and installation processes of the new Oba. That is how we met it. ”
When asked what would happen par-adventure the monarch and the chief mistakenly meet, the monarch recounted a strange encounter that would have occurred: “It was when one of the former monarchs and a chief unknowingly attended the same function in the town. When this chief heard that the Alara was at the same function, he ran like a hunted antelope that sighted a hunter in the bush. This action caused a stir and amused as well as embarrassed the people who were present at the event.”
The Alara, however, revealed that the strange cultural practice has been modified: “Today, we have modified the system. This chief and the newly installed monarch would exchange prayers and shower blessings on each other before they finally depart and would not see eye-to-eye again for the rest of their lives. We have stopped all these curses and replaced them with prayers and blessings.”
Oba Adegoke-Olu stated that during his coronation, the chief in question did not only congratulate him but also prayed for him for a successful reign:
“This chief in question congratulated me and advised me to uphold the Aramoko heritage on the day of my coronation when tradition was to separate us forever. He urged me to consolidate the position of the ancient town in Yoruba land.
“The chief also urged me not to allow Western culture to erode the traditional values of our dear town. But immediately after the prayers session, we went our different ways never to meet each other forever.
“In Aramoko-Ekiti, it is a taboo for anybody to parade the streets with a bunch of plantain, it must be in pieces. It is against Aramoko tradition to roast yam for sale. Keeping this tradition has its many advantages. It has made our town to be peaceful and everybody goes about doing his own businesses.”
Oba Adegoke-Olu is a Muslim, but he copiously quoted from the Bible, Quran and some traditional sources as he spoke. He had copies of the Holy Bible, the Quran and artifacts that represent the traditional institutions in his palace:
“As Oba, I identify with my people equally, regardless of their religious affinities. Though I am a Muslim, I am well versed in the Bible and Christian doctrines. And as a Yoruba man, who appreciates the origin, I am at home with traditional ethos of the Yoruba nation.
“We should not forget too that primarily, an Oba should oversee the welfare of his people as well as act as the custodian of their culture. A traditional ruler needs all these diversities to be able to carry all people along. An Oba should be able to deal with the
Christian the way a Christian should be treated, same for Muslims and even the free thinkers.”
With this cultural background, the people of Aramoko -Ekiti celebrated the annual Aramoko Heritage Festival, christened Arahfest 2018, with pomp and pageantry.
There were also carnivals at the four quarters of the town; namely Isasa-Ijowa, Anaye-Ikunato, Oke-Oja and Isao, arts and crafts exhibition and homage to Alara. Various cultural groups used the platform to showcase the heritage of the town by advertising her core values as well as traditional connection with Ile- Ife, the ancestral home of the Yoruba nation.
In the parade that took the groups round the town in their regalia and cultural costumes, non-indigenous groups such as the Igede, Hausa and Urhobo communities resident in the town also joined in their traditional outfits to add colour and glamour to the procession. At the end, winners emerged and prizes given.
The weeklong event kicked off with a public lecture entitled: “The place of Aramoko in the history of Yoruba race” delivered by Professor Ishola Olomola. The don revealed that Aramoko belongs to the royal blood of the Yoruba progenitor, Oduduwa. He said Aramoko translated to mean people who belong to the patriarch of the house or the husband, is a land of people who are direct descendants of Oduduwa.
Members of the organizing committee included first Professor of dance in Africa and director of the festival, Professor Bakare-Ojo Rasaki, now Dean, Post Graduate School, Federal University, Oye-Ekiti; Dipo Aladeloye, president, Aramoko Development Association (ADA); Mr. Sesan Okere, vice president, ADA and Foluso Alade, general secretary ADA.
According to Aladeloye, one of the many objectives of the Arahfest “is to put Aramoko conspicuously on the world tourism map, and attract investment into the local economy of the town. We can proudly say that there are palpable evidences that this dream is coming to reality albert slowly but steadily.
“In recent times, questions are being asked about investment opportunities and terms of economic collaboration with our community.
We are unquestionably ready to provide environment for genuine entrepreneurs that will provide employment opportunities for our youths.
“Arahfest has further rekindled in us the sense of inclusivity as a common benefit to community growth and development. We want to become bigger than we have been. More courageous, greater in spirit and larger in outlook.
“We want to become members of a new race, and a new order. We are gradually overcoming petty prejudices, owing to our ultimate allegiance to our fellow men and women within our dear community.
“The visits that we have made to over 14 villages and camps along up Aramoko kingdom and to our various leaders and tribes therein, in preparation towards this year’s festival, is an eye opener on the benefits that inclusiveness can bring into development and growth of rural communities.”
Ojo listed the aims and objectives of the festival to include, “achieving the capacity of the community for sustainable entrepreneurial activities and economic empowerment in the culture and tourism sector; creating avenues for social interaction through organised entertainment modes and encouraging economic and business growth both in Aramoko and neighbouring towns.”