The Commissioner for Arts, Culture and Tourism in Ekiti State, Professor Rasaq Ojo Bakare, has revealed that the state has over 145 viable festivals that could earn the state national recognition and rejuvenate its economy if they would be promoted and given the right exposures.
Bakare said that the Poroye Masquerade Festival of Ijan Ekiti, Gbonyin Local Government Area, and those in other towns could be propelled to national status like the Osun Osogbo, the Argugun fishing festival, the Ojude Oba and the Udiroko, among others.
This came as the state government and International Council For Ifa Religion (ICFIR), partnered with the people of Ijan Ekiti to celebrate Poroye Festival with the intention to propel it to national and international levels.
The commissioner, who was represented by the Director of Tourism in the Ministry, Prince Banji Adelusi, spoke in Ijan Ekiti yesterday, during the Egungun Festival Pilgrimage 2022 marking the annual “Poroye Masquerade festival.”
Bakare said that several initiatives like Ekiti State Festival of Arts and Culture were invented by Governor Kayode Fayemi’s administration to bring Ekiti’s potentials to the front burner and make the state a tourism destination.
“The government is encouraging communities to start celebrating because of the economic potentials inherent in tourism. Our collaboration with ICFIR will help in promoting many festivals, particularly Poroye that stands for Yoruba history.
“Ekiti is so rich in culture and Arts. We have a lot of products. Investments in tourism can turn around our economy. Ifa, Orisa and Egungun pilgrimages are full of economic gains.
“As of now, Ekiti has 145 cultural festivals, but only a few of them had been of national status. We can achieve more if we try to demystify the myth, reduce insecurity and incidences of thuggery during festivities.”
Speaking on the significance of the Poroye Festival, the ICFIR President, Dr. Solagbade Popoola, who led a large number of Ifa devotees to the town, posited that the festival was unique and pivotal because it represented historical fact in Yoruba land.
Popoola assured that the festival would gain national traction if proper investment would be made to develop it, promising that this would be done in due course.
He said: “Poroye and Egungun Ire are the first set of masquerades in Yoruba land. They are documented as historical fact in the encyclopedia of the Yoruba people, which is the Odu Ifa. We only came here today to confirm the authenticity and reawaken history.”
Relaying the history of how Poroye emerged, the Olufon of Ijan Ekiti, Mr. James Dada, said: “Poroye was a beautiful queen that helped Orunmila, the father of Ifa divination. They later consummated and gave birth to Olomo that is today referred to as Egungun Ire in Ijan Ekiti.
“The Ifa divination encountered this history through Odu Ifa and realised that the two powerful individuals had their roots here in Ijan Ekiti.
“What we intend to do with Poroye Festival is to turn the groove to a tourist destination or pilgrimage that can boost local and Ekiti’s economies like we have in Osun Osogbo, Ojude Oba in Ijebu, Eyo in Lagos and Udiroko in Ado Ekiti.”
Chief Dada revealed that the masquerade was last seen in the public glare in 1942, saying it is now being kept in the groove where devotees and tourists made spiritual consultations over whatever affliction they are suffering.
Culled from THISDAY