Veteran artiste and culture promoter, Yinka Ogundaisi, is partnering the Oyo State Government to position Egungun festival in the state as a harmless and major global cultural tourism in Nigeria.
The partnership deal championed by Ogndamisi’s Universal Films and Communications company and the Oyo State Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, Ogundaisi the festival will be revamped to form part of the educational activities of students in the state to deepen their cultural understanding.
He said the event which holds traditionally from May to September annually, will have the students observe the festival and, “in the post festival’s schools competition at the community and local government levels, they will mimic without masques, the songs, music and dances of Egungun of their choices.”
Ogundaisi traced the history of the festival to the 16th century, urging the people to embrace it as a cultural event worthy of celebration.
“Consider the sheer ingenuity of keeping the masquerades in the same forms they started with more than 600 years ago till date. If it were in any of the advanced countries, the masquerades would have by now been housed in a special museum with people from all over the globe, including especially Nigerians trooping out to see them and regaling us of their trips as a status symbol. Now just because the events are in our rural areas and because we have been oriented to see whatever is ours as backward and inferior, most people see the festivals in negative light. But we are set to correct this erroneous impression about one of the major cultural legacies and re-present the festivals as worthy cultural celebrations.”
He said the various masquerades are classified into three major groups. “The first and the most dreaded were those of wars and royal duties. They led their people into wars and carried out royal assignments for the monarchy, like information disseminations, chasing away from the towns, the unwanted and the banished, and carrying out executions of condemned criminals.