Oronna-Ilaro Festival rebrands, targets tourists

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The 25th edition of the unifying annual socio-cultural event promises to be fun-filled, entertaining and exciting with its repackaging.
TWENTY-five years after it was first held, the Oronna Day/Festival has been rebranded into the Oronna-Ilaro Festival to take it to the next level as a national and international tourism event.

“The festival was celebrated formally since 1993 with Ogun State government participation in one form or another,” began the Olu of Ilaro and paramount ruler of Yewaland, Oba Kehinde Gbadewole Olugbenle, at a news briefing on plans for this year’s festival last week in Lagos.

“But in line with positive trends and the axiom that change is an inevitable aspect of human life, the Oronna celebration is now being rebranded and taken to the next level as a national and international tourism event with potentials to impact on the economy of Ilaro and Ogun State,” he said.

The traditional ruler, who was flanked by his chiefs, including Chair of the 2018 Festival Central Planning Committee, Alhaji Rafiu Akinola, gave a detailed history of the festival. He disclosed that it dated back to the foundation of Ilaro town in the 17th century by Aro, a prince from Oyo.

Oba Olugbenle listed the objectives of the festival which began yesterday with a carnival, and ends next Sunday, to include positioning Ilaro town as a rewarding tourist destination; bringing back Ilaro indigenes, as well as other people of African descent to trace their root.

Other objectives of the festival, according to him, include “collaborating with the state government in her effort to develop tourism potential of the state and also to showcase the growth and development of Ilaro town socially, structurally and economically. To identify talents for further development.”

Highlights of the week-long festival include a tribute to Oronna and other deities in Ilaro and Itolu; Egungun masquerade parade; Igunnuko display; Efe dance ceremony; medical check-ups; Gelede display and Onigba Aje ceremony. Others are Talent hunt/club and associations day; the celebration of the four ruling houses with Oba Olugbenle and Sisi Ilaro beauty pageant.

The Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, will be the special guest of honour at the grand finale on November 17 while the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed will also grace the occasion. The Atunluse of Ilaro and Group Executive Director, Dangote Group, Devakumar Edwin, will chair the event where different socio-cultural groups and associations in the town will pay homage to the King.

“Ilaro is ready to host the world, adequate arrangements have been made to ensure the safety of everybody. Our hotels are waiting to receive visitors,” Oba Olugbenle assured.

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