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From Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
Lisabi was regarded as the liberator of the Egba people from the oppression of the then Oloyo (Alaafin) and thus freed Egbaland from being a vassal of the old Oyo Empire.
His heroic deed has since become a feat being celebrated every year, to bring to the fore, the patriotism of Lisabi as well as his penchant for freedom. This culminated into what is today known as Lisabi Festival. It is an annual event which serves as a rallying point for the people of Egbaland to commemorate Lisabi Agbongbo Akala’s heroism, hard work, patriotism and astuteness.
Though a warrior, Lisabi’s passion for farming, especially, cooperative farming (aaro), stood him out as not only a brave warrior, but a good farmer. Little wonder, the organisers of the 31st Lisabi Festival, in conjunction with Globacom, relived the legend’s legacy by focusing on agriculture, with the theme: “Self Reliance Through Agriculture for a Secured Future.”
This year’s edition kick-started with booming of guns on the historical Olumo Rock. Other activities like Ayo game, Woro dance, football competition, were organised and it was concluded with the ritual procession to the Lisabi Grove led by the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo. All these were to ensure the festival brought out the best in the culture and tradition of the Egba people. A seminar was organised to stimulate youth’s interest in agriculture as the best option out of poverty and unemployment.
Oba Gbadebo directed all social societies, clubs and council of chiefs in Egbaland, to formulate strategies to harness the huge export potentials in agricultural products common in the area. He said Nigeria should produce her food to shed the toga of “karikachop” it currently carries, adding that products like black soap, coconut oil, shea-butter, livestock and plantain chips were money spinners they could profitably invest in.
Speakers called for an agricultural revolution in the country where every household would be involved in livestock, fisheries, horticulture and food crop production, adding that the backyard of homes should be utilised for agricultural purposes. They urged government to make rural areas attractive to youths through provision of amenities and modern farm implements that can be rented by a cluster of farmers to leverage the advantages inherent in coming together.
The panelists including an animal scientist, Dr. Olukemi Adenusi, Prof. Lukman Aderibigbe, Prof. Funmilayo Adebambo, a director in Ogun State Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. A.O. Ajayi and the Ogun Area Manager, Globacom, Mr. Femi commended the partnership between Lagos and Kebbi states which birthed the Lake Rice initiative. Other states were advised to emulate such partnership to positively harness Nigeria’s vast arable and fertile land.
Wrapping up the one-week festival at Ake Arcade Ground, the Ogbonis, Ologuns and Oloroguns in Egbaland, dressed resplendently, while youths, social clubs and societies, all thronged the venue to make the grand finale a colourful event. Alake and several traditional rulers in Egbaland, also attended the event to celebrate Lisabi’s gallantry.
The sponsor of the annual event, Globacom, doled out freebies to the gathering, to add colours to the grand finale. In the goodwill message, Chairman of Globacom, Dr. Mike Adenuga Jr., restated the telecom company’s resolve to continue to support the promotion of Nigeria’s arts and culture.
He announced that propagation and preservation of cultural heritages were the reason for Globacom’s huge support for festivals such as Lisabi, adding that imbibing Lisabi Agbongboakala’s virtues of hard work, courage, integrity and patriotism by the next generation of Ogun indigenes would guarantee the progress of Ogun State.
He remarked that Lisabi Festival has been a platform for promoting the development of Egbaland, and commended the organisers of the event for picking “Self reliance through agriculture for a secured tomorrow” as theme for this year’s celebration.
He stated that agriculture was relevant to the efforts to reduce unemployment and end the present economic recession.
Governor Ibikunle Amosun promised to raise the profile of Lisabi Festival through the expansion and beautification of the Ake Palace Pavilion where the grand finale takes place. He described Abeokuta as a historic city, which should be given the required facelift by all indigenes. He called on individuals and institutions to support government initiatives through scholarships, provision of vocational trainings and various self–help projects:
“It is not easy to serve the people. It requires a lot of hard work. We want support from all Egba indigenes all over the world to further develop our state. We thank Globacom for their presence and support for Lisabi Festival and felicitate with all on the celebration of the festival this year.”
In his own remark, the Alake, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo, expressed joy at the continued improvement in the profile of the festival, noting that the 2017 edition was the best so far.
Highlight of the event was the honour bestowed on five prominent Egba indigenes as 2017 Lisabi Pillars at the Lisabi Royal Banquet held in honour of the Alake. They are Prince Bolu Akin-Olugbade, Chief Abayomi Jiboku, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole, Senator Lanre Tejuoso and Mikhail Kazeem.