Offa Descendants Union (ODU), the organisers of the annual `Ijakadi Festival’ in Offa, Kwara, on Monday said the annual cultural event had been fully transformed and capable of promoting Nigeria positively on the international tourism map.
Mr Maruf Ajenifuja, the National Public Relations Officer of ODU, made the assertion in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency in Offa, Kwara.
NAN reports that the 2019 Ijakadi Festival, the 8th in the series, will commence on Tuesday Dec. 24 with environmental sanitation and a special prayer in the community.
The festival, with the theme: “A Cultural Revival for Economic Growth”, will climax on Saturday Dec. 27 with the symbolic cutting of yam.
There will also be a royal novelty wrestling bout between the Olofa of Offa, Oba Muftau Gbadamosi and his Second-in-Command, Eesa of Offa, Alhaji Yunus Bukoye.
Ajenifuja said the over 600 year-old festival, which symbolises equality and fairness, had continued to promote the growth, progress and socio-economic development among the people of the community.
He said the festival had been transformed with unique side attractions, through private partnership participation, in adding the desired colour and glamour as an international tourism destination.
According to him, the Central Working Committee of the 2019 festival had unveiled a new logo as a way of projecting the community and showcase innovations that can unlock investment opportunities.
The ODU spokesman said the festival, like other recognised cultural events such as Osun Osogbo Festival, Eyo Festival in Lagos and the Argungu Fishing Festival in Kebbi, were veritable platforms toward diversifying the nation’s economy, if fully harnessed.
“The festival (Ijakadi) has brought an amazing sense of belonging among Offa indigenes and neighbours for cultural and socio-economic interaction, fostering unity and cohesiveness.
“The Ijakadi Festival of today is a clear departure from the yesteryears. It’s fully transformed in attracting the desired international recognition, investments and economic boost.
“In order to spice up Ijakadi festival, it has now been transformed “bigger and better” with a combination of colourful activities,’’ Ajenifuja said.
According to him, the Ijakadi festival annually features cultural parade by the six districts of Offa (Eesa, Ojomu, Balogun, Saawo, Asalofa and Igbodun) in their fabulous and arresting colours.
“The Arewa Offa Beauty Pageant competition; a Food Expo to showcase different food produce and products available in Offa Kingdom, especially sweet potato (the staple food of Offa people),
“Sport competitions, Moremi play, excursions to historical sites, poetry; and traditional wrestling competition.
“Other icings on the cake of the Ijakadi Festival are exhibitions by various cultural groups and paying of homage by district heads and their lieutenants to the Olofa.
“There will also be presentation of trophies with cash awards to the winners and runners-up in all competitions as well as participating districts.
“The zenith of the festival is the symbolic wrestling contest between the Olofa (King) and his deputy, the Eesa,” he said.
Edited by: Adeleye Ajayi