Ọyọ State’s Gov. Ajimọbi takes 2016 World Tourism Day to Ìsẹ́yìn to celebrate Yoruba’s Aṣọ Òkè (2) – Tola Adenle

October 29, 2016

Arts & Culture, Nigeria

 

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Photo Credit: whatsupibadan.com

 

On September 27, 2016, the city of Iseyin in the Northern part of Oyo State welcomed the celebration of the 2016 World Tourism Day (WTD), a day that Governor Abiola Ajimobi decided to hold in the ancient town that has become known beyond the shores of Nigeria as Home of Aṣọ Òfì/Òkè.

Long-time readers of this blog would recognize Aso Ofi as another name for Aso Oke which are also known as Aṣọ Aláwé or Aṣọ aláé in upcountry Yoruba dialects. Most older people simply refer to the textile as Òfì. In this essay, I will use  Aso Ofi as in the promotional project of the government.

In Nigeria, such days are always marked at the country’s capital, Abuja, or state capitals but the governor, knowing the encouragement and attention such would bring to Iseyin, decided that Oyo State would mark the 2016 WTD in the city, though rural to a great extent. He plans the event as a beginning of continuous and sustained focus on a textile that has brought Yorubas and Nigeria a lot of acclaim.  He realized what such a celebration would also mean to the different people who work along the production chain of the weaving industry at Iseyin: dyers, weavers, tailors, embroiderers (Ọlọ́nà), et cetera.

Ajimobi decided the best way to promote the indigenous artisanal trade that has continued to enjoy resurgence not only in Nigeria but across the world was to take a big event like the WTD to the people who have carried on this glorious legacy of Yoruba’s golden past. It’s also in line with the government’s plan of taking development to rural areas.

Aṣọ Ofi is so beloved all over the world that it is now worn not only across Nigeria but can be bought in stores in the USA, UK, The Caribbean and some other countries. It is the wide acceptance of reproductions of the ancient textiles which has garnered Yoruba high placement in the world of indigenous textile technology and led the Oyo State government to embark on planning the celebration of the WTD for Iseyin

Oyo State’s First Lady, Florence Ajimobi who almost always uses Aso Ofi for outings, represented the governor at the WTD, and delivered the governor’s address which stressed the importance of identifying and developing local tourism in an age of diminished oil and gas revenues.  This is in line with the government’s drive for diversification of the economy from oil and gas to develop our local produce which will help rescue the country from the current economic recession.

The governor sees a deliberate government policy for the production and marketing of Aso Ofi as one of the most effective ways to achieve diversification of the economy. Cultural tourism, which Aso Ofi represents, has great potentials beyond helping to develop Iseyin and the Local Government Area specifically, it would eventually translate into investments for the state as a whole.

Governor Ajimobi’s address also highlighted the national and international importance that  Aso-Ofi has attained as the fabric of choice for traditional as well as social occasions in and outside Nigeria.

The major thrust of the Oyo State government towards promoting this aspect of Yoruba’s rich cultural heritage which Iseyin has held on to for generations was announced at the WTD event: the establishment of an International Aso-Ofi Market in Iseyin as well as the setting up of an internet platform to market Aso-Ofi to the international community. Towards this end, the local government will be assisted in the establishment of more weaving centers so that expected increased demand can be met.

The occasion was witnessed by the Aseyin of Iseyin, Oba Abdul-Ganiyu Adekunle and his chiefs, traditional rulers from Iseyin area, top government functionaries, including members of the State’s House of Assembly and many others.

Other noteworthy recommendations include those by the keynote speaker at the event, including Professor Dele Olayiwola’s which enjoined Government to help in creating a modernized weaver’s loom which could be automated rather than the manual technology, which he described as laborious. Olayiwola, the Director of the Institute of African Studies at the University of Ibadan, called on Nigerian to produce work on producing local dyes instead of depleting our hard-earned and meager foreign exchange on imported dyes as a way to tap on the past achievement of dyeing which was intrinsic to old Aso Ofi’s exceptional beauty.

Finally, this blogger is excited at the push the Oyo State Government is giving Aso Oke/Aso Ofi, and it is my hope that areas such as encouragement and training of weavers to reproduce some of the older weaves and designs would be visited. The interested in the various categories of Yoruba culture, especially Aṣọ Oke/Aṣọ Ofi  has been so strong that the most-viewed category – Yoruba Engagement Aso Oke – has been viewed more than nineteen thousand times (19,000+), a figure that seems to continue to attract interest even more than 4 years after its posting. Starting slow in 2012 with 179 views, it grew to 4,949 (2013); 6014 (2014); 6417 (2015), figures that have finally seem to be slowing down in 2016 when it has attracted 2,165. [Source: wordpress.com]

The plan for an International Market at Iseyin by the Ajimobi Administration is of particular interest because the Oje-Ibadan & Oje-Ede Market days which this blog has posted since 2012 draw a lot of interest.

My only addition to the government’s laudable plan which I’m sure must be high on the government agenda is to suggest that work needs to be done on the Moniya-Iseyin Road. The road has been a discouragement to me and the few people to whom the blog has encouraged to visit the town, and when I last visited – October 2015, a year ago – the state of the road would discourage tourists.

Here are a few photographs from how the WTD was marked. The first was taken at the state’s capital, Ibadan because the governor could not attend but sent the First Lady to represent him. The State’s Commissioner for Information, Culture & Tourism Mr. Toye Arulogun, and his Works & Transport counterpart, Mr. Wasiu Dauda are dressed in the Aso oke woven to mark the day.

The young man on the extreme right is attired as many young people are wont to do these days in a style that resembles more of farmers’ garb although with his fìlà, worn in the most traditional way – gọ̀bì – he believes he’s fully dressed, and we agree despite the blue jeans because without fìlà, long-time visitor here also know that a Yoruba man’s dresssing is incomplete. As an IT guy – he’s the Governor’s Special Assistant on eMedia – I’m sure Mr. Muraina is in step with the fashion for his generation!

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Above: The wife of the state’s Governor, Mrs. Florence Ajimobi (second right) is flanked on the right by Mrs. Adeyemo, the Deputy Governor’s wife, and to her right are (L to R), the Caretaker Chairman, Iseyin Local Government, Mr. Alaran; Cultural Ambassador to Alaafin of Oyo, Dr. Paula Gomes & Mr. Arulogun and Mr. Arulogun

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Above: The  Asẹyin of Isẹyin, Ọba Ganiyu Salau flanked (L & R) by Messrs Arulogun & Alaran

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Above: Weavers at work during the Weaving Competition

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 29, 2016.8:30 a.m. [GMT]

 

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7 Comments on “Ọyọ State’s Gov. Ajimọbi takes 2016 World Tourism Day to Ìsẹ́yìn to celebrate Yoruba’s Aṣọ Òkè (2) – Tola Adenle”

  1. adetoye adeyemi Says:

    In history of humanity, it takes determination and selfless patriotism of few Intellectuals and rational Thinkers with unbiased logics to rescue mankind from “mission to darkness”. Prof. Popoola has offered to serve the people of Osun State, Nigeria, the blace race and humanity in general at the time clueless leaders have moved us back to the world of medieval ethics. Yes! The challenges are enormous but considering “where there is a will, there’s a way” mantra, there is hope for a proper and appropriate redirection of education to the acceptable standards expected of modern civilization ala “information age”. May everyone and every tool he shall need to function efficiently and effectively be provided within the maxim of fiscal affordability. Congratulation.Adetoye.

    Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

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  2. Abdulsalam Ajetunmobi Says:

    Dear All,

    Assuming a position of leadership in higher education is no mean feat, so I offer good wishes to Prof Popoola in chorus.

    Higher education is a pivotal institution in society and, in the midst of increasing drive for a stronger enterprise culture by universities across the world, it is hopeful that Prof Popoola’s leadership will be a catalyst to any restructuring or reengineering envisaged for UNIOSUN.

    Many thanks.

    AO Ajetunmobi

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  3. tofadelight2002 Says:

    I congratulate our Prof. Nay God make the assignment easy for him and may Osun Uni attain’s the height needed in the comity of world leading citadel of learning. Once more congrats. Fatai Bakare. 

    Sent from my Samsung device

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  4. folakemiodoaje Says:

    Good to see people enthusiastic about Aso Oke. Here is also an amazing way of providing unemployed youths and investors alike opportunities and rewarding ideas.

    Glad you mentioned the importance of good roads to promoting local goods, Moniya/Iseyin road in this case.

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    • emotan77 Says:

      Dear Fola,

      Thanks for this and your suggestions.

      Yes, apart from having the same old people working the looms, younger people would not only find apprenticeship and job opportunities but would also bring in new ideas which are needed for designs.

      I was impressed with some young weavers who are shown in “YORUBA ASO OKE: A Tapestry of love and color …” Two of them told us they are secondary school leavers and went into weaving because they could not continue their education. Although I had a feeling they probably did not pass the finals, their literacy was quite good.

      The investor angle suggested is also quite good, and even if we are not talking of multi-million dollar/pound/… investors, small local investors can put money in a cooperative with which looms, wholesale weaving threads and other supplies could be purchased. At Iseyin, there are weavers who work in cooperatives; I visited two while preparing that book.

      There have been more than three occasions when people who tried to travel down to Iseyin got back to complain about the road, and I have personally gone to Oje-Ibadan SEVERAL TIMES in the last few years because the situation of the road after the late 1990’s and early 2000’s became very bad. If I really must get something specific and with cotton thread which are not common at the two Oje, then I was forced to travel down. That’s how I got “THAT sanyan” wedding gift, a sample of which I used for decoration at the London book signing.

      I feel excited about the direction the government is taking the textile because the people at Iseyin needs such assistance and web access to the Diaspora. From time to time, I get questions from Nigerian retailers in the States, especially through search engines or in the comments box asking where they can buy wholesale. Handling such queries is beyond my area of work but I try to help when I can.

      A good website by government should be able to assist with contacts, et cetera.

      Sincere regards,
      TOLA.

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  5. Adebayo OPAWOYE Says:

    Ajímọbi did well for this expo.

    >

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    • emotan77 Says:

      Dear Doctor,

      Indeed, he did, and it is a reminder to all of us that the legacy of excellence in mastery by our ancestors of this textile technology before the advent of the Industrial Age ginnery and other production method of modern textiles, must be preserved.

      It was a great pleasure when I got the information.

      Sincere regards,
      TOLA.

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