Osun-Osogbo 2014: Festival Celebrated Low Key
It will be recalled that few days to yesterday’s celebration, the Osun State government had invited stakeholders, including the traditionalists, the Osun devotees and worshippers to advise them to reduce the scope of the event because of the fear of the spread of Ebola.
The government said it would introduce a crowd control measure and also restrict people from outside the state from participating in the festival.
This year, the usual pomp and pageantry associated with the traditional festival was avoided, as only the Osun devotees and traditionalists from within the state took part in all the programmes of the festival.
However, all traditional rites associated with the festival were carried out under the supervision of the renowned Ifa priests, Chief Ifayemi Elebuibon.
Also, a cross-section of medical experts in the state had called for the postponement of the festival to avoid the spread of Ebola virus to the state.
But, the Osun Osogbo 2014 advisory committee insisted that the festival would hold at the scheduled date in accordance with the tradition and culture of Osogbo land.
However, Osun devotees who went to the groove yesterday went through serious medical scrutiny as medical experts stationed at the main entrance of the groove performed series of tests on the devotees.
Vehicles are not allowed beyond the major entrance of the groove while occupants of such vehicles were made to come down for screening and allow in one after the other.
The medical team of about 80 health personnel led by the Director, Primary Health Care and Disease Control in the state Ministry of Health, Dr. Kayode Ogunniyi, said 200 infra red thermometers were supplied by the state government for screening people before entering into the groove.
According to him: “more than 600 people had been screened around 12.30 pm.”
He disclosed that there was no record of anyone testing positive to the devise, saying the focus of the health workers were on those who appear sick and weak.
The health workers and security operatives at the event were wearing gloves to protect themselves from contacts with people in the crowd.
It was gathered that the security operatives arrested a middle aged man at the groove for allegedly carrying arms.
Speaking at the festival, the Director General, Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Mrs Sally Mbalefo expressed the readiness of the Federal Government to develop all tourist centres across the country.
She said the Federal Government would ensure that the Osun Groove was developed to attract foreign tourists.
However, despite the restriction order by the state government, some Osun worshippers still came from from many states to participate in the celebration.
Among whom were the Lagos- based Mr. Adeola Oshuniyi, who has been attending the festival for the past 40 years ago and Mrs. Abosede Modinatu-Ojo, a arts theatre practitioner.
They said they could not afford to miss the festival urging people to be conscious of the disease.
The Ataoja of Osogbo, Oba Jimoh Olanipekun thanked the state government, worshippers of Osun and people of the state for their efforts towards ensuring the success of the celebration.
In attendance were the representatives of the Federal Government, Mrs. Sally Mbani for who is the Chairman of the Nigeria Tourism Development corporation as well as representative of the Osun state Government.