Igogo Festival in Owo

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This ceremony, IGOGO,[IGOGO FESTIVAL] still exists, but the human beings have been replaced by a sheep and a goat.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.

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