Olojo Festival Osun State


This is the biggest festival on the culture calendar of Ile-Ife. The Olojo (controller of time-Death) festival is celebrated in remembrance of Ogun, the god of iron who is believed to be the first son of Oduduwa as well as the creation of the world according to Yoruba mythology. The festival takes place annually in October and involves several elaborate ritual prayers led by the Ooni.

It is marked by a carnival-like atmosphere and is attended by people of all ages. Olojo has remained popular in Ile-Ife because it is the only day in the year believed to be specially blessed by Olodumare (the Creator of the Universe).


The celebration of Olojo usually spans two weeks, including seven sacred days of programmes of events scheduled for September which is the Idijo, meaning the determination of sacred dates. This is done during the first week of August, (Osu Ogun)-the month of the pathfinder deity. This is followed by Gbajure (signalling the commencement of Olojo Festival), a week before the actual date of Olojo.

Two days after these events, the Ooni of Ife, would go into a state of physical and spiritual seclusion with his ancestors, the esoteric beings and Almighty God for five days during which he does not interact with any mortal. The traditional ruler would come out of seclusion on a Friday, referred to as Ojo Ilagun, a day of earth cleansing with the Ooni’s terrestrial message to the world.


During the climax of the colourful festival, characterised by pomp at Oduduwa House, where the Ooni’s palace is located, a mammoth crowd converged to catch a glimpse of the Ooni of Ife as he meandered through the crowd from the Emese Court, while donning the mysterious “Aare Crown.” The crown is the only physical symbol of authority the Ooni of Ife inherited from his ancestors and it is believed to be the original crown used by Oduduwa during his reign in the classical era of Yoruba history.

Crowd of participants According to myth, it was made from many items, which included, among others, 149 undisclosed objects, cutlasses and hoes. It weighs 100 kilogrammes. The crown holds greater significance in the Olojo celebration. The Ooni of Ife is spiritually empowered to wear this sacred crown during the Olojo Festival, which is too heavy for him to bear on just any other day. The crown, which symbolises peace, unity, blessing and prosperity, is believed to attract people to itself when the Ooni bears it. But it is forbidden, as tradition dictates, for the reigning Ooni to have even a glimpse of the inside of the sacred crown. While the Ooni dons it, he is transfigured into its true nature, Orisa (deity).

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