Chaos In Osun Community As Traditional Festival Turns Bloody Over Date Dispute, Leaves Scores Injured


May 25, 2024

The Otan-Ayegbaju community in Osun State was thrown into chaos as the 2024 Olua festival turned bloody, leaving scores of people injured. The conflict arose from a dispute over the date of the festival, which is a sacred and peculiar celebration in the community.

According to tradition, the Head of Elemu ruling house is responsible for proposing the date of the festival, which is then communicated to the priest, Aworo-Olua, and the king, Oba Lukman Fadipe. However, this year, the king adjusted the proposed date from May 23rd and 24th to May 22nd and 23rd, citing a clash with other religious activities.

The Elemu and other ruling houses rejected the adjusted date, citing tradition and the need to hold the festival on the community’s market day. Despite the king’s objections, they went ahead and held their own Olua Festival on May 24th, which led to a violent clash with the group that had celebrated the festival on the adjusted date.

Eyewitnesses reported gunshots and attacks by thugs, leaving many people severely injured. Tosin Akintunde, one of the injured adherents, recounted how he and seven of his friends were attacked and injured severely. “We were at the Olua’s forest on Thursday when I was hacked by thugs. I was equally stabbed to the extent on my chest. I nearly bled to death. About seven of us were taken to the hospital for treatment while others were detained in the police station. They claimed that what we are doing is a taboo. They are wrong, we are right.”

The police were called in to restore order, and several people were arrested, including elderly chiefs such as Chief Elemu, Jerome Omotoso, Chief Onigbo, George Adeyemi, and Rodiat Kazeem. Prince Tunde Adeleke, the spokesperson for Elemu and Onigbo Ruling Houses, alleged that the police took sides against them, leading to the detention of the chiefs for about two days before they were released.

The conflict has sparked tensions in the community, with both sides accusing each other of sacrilege and disrespect for tradition. The king and Aworo-Olua claim that the adjusted date was necessary to avoid inter-religious conflict, while the Elemu and other ruling houses insist that the traditional date must be respected.

Aworo-Olua, Chief James Egunfemi, denied involvement in mobilizing thugs to the other Olua Festival conducted by Elemu ruling house. “I stand for peace and want peace to reign in our community. The law is above everybody, there shouldn’t be crisis. The history of Otan-Ayegbaju is not complete without Olua festival because it has to do with the origin of the community.”

Oba Fadipe alleged that the Elemu and Onigbo houses are the ones fanning the ember of discord in the town by holding a separate festival, which is a taboo to the culture. “I am in charge of the custom and tradition in this community. Aworo is the priest who should lead the festival joined by me. It is unfortunate that those people gathered themselves to cause conflict in the town. I adjusted the day because I don’t want it to clash with other religious activities. One of the two days they shifted it to falls on Friday.”

The incident has raised concerns about the need for peaceful coexistence and respect for tradition in the community. The Osun State Government has been called upon to intervene and resolve the crisis before it escalates further.

As the community struggles to come to terms with the violence, many are left wondering how a celebration meant to bring people together could end in such bloodshed. The Olua festival, once a symbol of unity and tradition, has now become a source of conflict and division in the Otan-Ayegbaju community.

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