The Yoruba are fond of worshipping the spirits of their ancestors. Like other cultural groups
who are animistic, the Yoruba believe that their ancestors play a significant role in the lives
of the living, hence their penchant for worshipping the spirits of their departed ancients.
Oderinde (2002), for instance, affirms this important aspect of Yoruba belief system when he
posits that “Ancestor worship is an essential aspect of Yoruba culture” (3). Since theatre
evolved from ritual performances, especially in an animist society like that of the Yoruba; it
can be said that ancestors worship among the Yoruba laid the foundation for theatre. Besides,
the popularity of the art stems from its acceptance as a medium that enhances mimesis of the
gods and other preternatural beings by humans. Among the Yoruba, like other African
cultural groups, festivals feature prominently theatrical elements. As a matter of fact, festivals
are conceived as part of theatre (Umukoro, 2007).
These festivals can be classified into three, namely: Festivals organised for the celebration of
agricultural products, such as the new yam festival and egungun festival. dedicated to
the memory of some powerful and historical figures in a particular community, such as
Ogun festival, Oranmiyan festival, Sango festival, and many more. The third category falls
under historical festivals which are organised in remembrance of a particular incident that
happened in a community be it good or bad.
The second classification in which festivals are held in honour of the gods captures the thrust
of this research work. These festivals, according to Umukoro (2007) are also known as
festival theatre, because of the immanence of theatrical elements that shape the performance
of the festivals. Songs, costumes, props and dances, for instance, are used to project
communal spirit and unique identity of a given god being celebrated. For worshipers of
deities, like Ogun, Sango, Obatala and other Yorùbá gods known collectively as òrìsà;
festivals help to transpose them from material world to the unseen world. The Yoruba
pantheon consists of hundreds of gods, worshiped for different purposes, each representing
natural or spiritual elements or human emotions. Some of the gods existed before the creation
of the earth and others are heroes or heroines that were deified after their death Other deities
are natural forces such as mountains, hills and rivers..
In Ile-Ife, these gods are honoured, reverenced and worshipped particularly during festivals..
One of the festivals celebrated in Ile-Ife and devoted to the memory of a Yoruba god is Olojo.
This Olojo is specifically about Ogun worship. The festival affords devotees of the god an
opportunity to offer sacrifices to him and receive his blessings. Ogun worship facilitates
relationships and intimacy between the Yoruba god of iron and his adherents.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Ogun is the Yoruba god of metallurgy. It is believed by his adherents that he once lived and
became deified after his death, hence the euhemerist study of the god in the pantheon of
Yoruba orisa. Considering the popularity of this god, many research works have been carried
out on him, with specific mention of his lifestyle, power, struggles and death. Besides, his
worship among the Yoruba has also received scholarly attention, though little work has been
done on his euhemerism in Ile-Ife, especially the use of Olojo festival to enliven the memory
of the god. This research, therefore, examines the image of Ogun in Olojo festival and the
contexts of drama that characterise the festival. The research seeks to identify various
theatrical elements that make Olojo a popular festival among the people of Ile-Ife and
beyond. Akporobaro (2005), for instance, believes that festivals, masquerading and ritual
Comment [E1]: What is the source of this information? Cite the source.
Comment [E3]: One of the festivals celebrated in Ile-Ife and devoted to the memory of a Yoruba god is Olojo.
performances can be described as the dramatic genre of African oral literature. Though the
foregoing oral elements are not drama per se, they possess dramatic elements. This explains
why this research picks up Olojo festival as a focus of study with a view to identifying those
elements of drama in it. The study carries out an extensive research on the place of Ogun
worship in Olojo festival. Since costumes are significant part of festivals as they reflect and
portray the characters, this research also explores the significance of each costume and the
prop used in the festival as it helps to reflect the hero (Ogun) that is being celebrated.
1.3 Research Questions
The research questions seek to explore the context of dramatic performance in Olojo festival.
This project is informed by five central questions:
1. What is the concept of dramatic performance in oral literature?
2. How is Ogun worshiped in Ile-Ife?
3. What is the cultural significance of Olojo festival in Ile-Ife?
4. What are the theatrical elements in Olojo festival?
5. What is the cultural significance of the theatrical elements?
1.4 Objectives of the Study
The aim of this research is to explore the contexts of dramatic performance in Olojo festival
in relation to Ogun worship by the people of Ile-Ife during the festival. The study also seeks
to explore the kind of relationship the descendants of Ile-Ife keep with their ancestors.
Consequently, the main objectives of this study are to:
i. Examine the historical origin of olojo festival in Yoruba land
ii. Discuss the nature of olojo festival through the dramatic performance.
iii. To state the context of spirituality in Aare crown and Osogun’s red regalia
iv. To explore the significance of each costumes and their relationship in Ogun worship
1.5 Significance of the Study.
While there are various controversial questions on whether the dramatic performance,
costumes, characters the props portrayed in festivals in Nigeria are in anyway significant.
This works therefore aims to investigate the significance of this African dramatic
performance. This will entail the dramatic performance carried out in the celebration of Olojo
festival and the mythology of Ogun. In effect, the research seeks to explore and establish
Yoruba Indigenous identities through cultural festivals and decolonize the minds of many
Yoruba about the traditional practice of Ogun worship. This work will also validate how the
Ogun worshipers relate with their god, Ogun (the god of iron), in order to prove that their god
still live in them.
Finally, While colonialism and the advent of the European in Africa has turned the Africans
away from there indigenous way of life, this work aims to show the supremacy of the African
gods as part of the uniqueness of the African culture.
1.6 Research methodology
The study employed a survey research, which according to Nwabueze (2013) “is very
valuable in obtaining data on a non-observable phenomenon in order to learn the status of
something” (7). This involves field work for collection of data. Interviews were conducted
for the custodians of the festival, including the Osogun and local chiefs, as well as many
individuals in Ile-Ife, so as to obtain first-hand information from them. The data for this work
was basically gathered from both primary and secondary sources. The primary sources are
mainly oral interviews, observations and participation in the festival. The secondary sources
are: textbooks, magazines, bulletins, newspapers articles, seminar papers and journals in the
area of traditional performance and traditional African art. Some of these were sourced
through library research while some others were downloaded from the Internet. In places
where there is conflict of information between the primary and secondary sources, the
primary source supersedes because they were obtained directly
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