Late Sir Olateru-Olagbegi, Olowo of Owo at a 1960s Igogo Festival dressed in the traditional effeminate dressing for the festival: pleated hair, a beaded top and big skirt!
Picture source unknown but I had three Olateru-Olagbegi school mates/friends: Kemi, Clementina & Olamide while I knew a few others; it could have been from any of them or I could have bought it as I did attend an Igogo during the 1963 long holidays, and spent holidays there with a brother who headed a secondary school.
This is a blast from the past! I did not want to lose this beautiful picture when I found it last December during leisurely holiday period as I went through a bunch of old pictures.
I posted it immediately so that I would not lose it, and have left it on the blog meaning to say something about it but never have! I’ve warned readers over and over again with my dinosaur-era mindset trying to keep up with cyber-age technology; driving an old run-down jalopy on a 20-lane super highway!
With the stats showing – again – this morning that two people had checked out this picture with no story, I am finally doing something, no matter how little, about it!
The Annual Igogo Festival at Owo is a celebration with a very long history dating back centuries, and today, it continues to generate interest not only from Owo indigenes at home and abroad but even foreigners.
ALL Yoruba MAJOR festivals are usually held around the time of new yam harvest which would mean mostly July/August – or, latest September. It is the same with Igogo.
Here is a clip from Ondo State website. TOLA, April 12, 2013.
IGOGO FESTIVAL [HISTORY]
Six hundred years ago, Olowo, the King, fell in love with Orensen, a very beautiful woman. Unfortunately for the King, she was a goddess who could not live with a human. She was forbidden to see women pounding spices, draw water, or throw a bundle of wood to the ground.
Because of his love for the goddess, and in order to marry her, the King promised her that his other wives, in front of her would follow these same restrictions. After several years, the King’s wives became jealous and revolted. They did everything they were not supposed to do in front of the goddess, who then cast a spell upon the entire kingdom. The goddess promised that people of Owo, would die of famine or sickness if the King and his chiefs did not celebrate every year a ceremony in her honor. The drums should beg her pardon and sing her praises. One also had to offer her a sacrifice of a man and a woman.
This ceremony, IGOGO,[IGOGO FESTIVAL] still exists, but the human beings have been replaced by a sheep and a goat.
This is an annual festival in Owo which lasts a total of 17 days featuring a number of ceremonies including the blessing and release of new yams. The festival is in commemoration of the king’s wife who turned into a tree while being pursued by the king’s slave to return to the palace after her rival violated her taboos in her presence.
The Olowo, usually during this festival dresses in Coral Beaded Crown and in addition plaits his hair like a woman. It could be seen here that Owo has some traditional linkage with Benin.
The Olowo leads his people including the Chief Priest and the male youths from Iloro quarters to dance round the whole town. During this 17 days period of celebration, drumming is banned in Owo and instead, metal gongs (Agogo) are used. This was where the name ‘IGOGO’ was coined.
The Igogo festival which comes up in September annually is a cultural display of the culture of the people with its main aim as to align youths with the cultural norm of the land.