Travelogue: Why all towns should have a festival like Ùsì day – By Oyebisi Abayomi
I witnessed the 40th Usi-Day 2021 festival. It was a colourful and memorable event I greatly enjoyed and would not mind adding to the list of events I will by the grace of God attend come next year.
Attending Usi-Day opened my eyes to the need for every town to have a unifying event like Ùsì-Day seeing how cultural values and heritage of our communities are gradually being eroded. As we continuously embrace modernization and all its offers, we can preserve our unique cultural heritage with festivals like this with uniting potential.
Just like many go for pilgrimage in Jerusalem and Medina, many of our communities and towns have annual cultural festivals that can also morph into attractive tourist attractions if we invest in them. We have fascinating stories, rich cultural history, beautiful tourist site to achieve this. Also, stories and histories surrounding the creation of our towns and villages are rich and interesting to share. In fact, creative filmmakers could make blockbusting movies from them.
This brings me to my trip to Ùsì Ọrọ̀ Ekiti in Ido-Osi local government area over the weekend, when the town celebrated her 40th Ùsì-Day anniversary. The event attracted dignitaries from within and outside Ekiti State.
As a guest to the town, I enjoyed every moment of my stay at Usi. Her weather was fantastic and her people warm and receptive.
Out of curiosity and desire to know, I took out time to question young folks in the town about what informed the name Usi. To my dismay, many did not know how the name evolved.
First, I was told it is pronounced as Ùsì not Ùṣì as erroneously pronounced by many. But I pressed further to know at least little about the town. I offer to give my phone to some young guys I met to call elderly persons they know could be of help. Alas! Help came. I got the info. The town was named after her progenitor, I was told. I was also made to know that the full name of the progenitor of the town is Ùsì Kọ́rọ̀dé. That explained how the name, Ùsì-Ọrọ̀ evolved.
According to the lore, the progenitor of Ùsì initially settled somewhere around Ìpólé Ìlórò, but the dire need for water
made Ùsì Kóròdé migrated to where Ùsì is presently located. The present day Ùsì has five rivers; Ìjemo, Omi-Òsun, Akéréyùn, Ògùdù, Àpàlógbò, Ofe etal.
One question left unanswered for me was the one raised by Mr Ogunjobi Olarewaju, who engaged me on one of the numerous WhatsApp platforms where I shared my experience as a guest at Ùsì-day.
He said, “I’m still amazed as to the origin of the Oriki. Maybe you can find out. Ùsì-Ekiti, ọmọ amójú olóore gúngi It’s quite amazing.”
The grand-finale of the festival was greeted with beautiful cultural display, trilling music and much fun for visitors like me. On the same day, an award of excellence was presented to the Deputy Chief of Staff to Ekiti State governor, Hon. Tolu Ibitola.
The award reminds me of my previous visits to the town in time past as a member of Hon. Tolu Ibitola COVID-19 welfare and logistics team. For me, the award presented to him is well deserved. I see a lot of commitment from the part of the Deputy Chief of Staff in making his people and community better. If every community has a Tolu, things will be lot better.
This is a little digression from the discuss but it is important I speak of the good done by self-effacing Hon. Tolu who would never make news out of his huge efforts and commitment to development of his community.
Back to the discuss.
Many young indigenes who came to St. Andrews field Ùsì Ekiti could not answer the question raised by Mr Ogunjobi Olarewaju, but I hope I get an answer whenever I visit Usi or during Ùsì-Day 2022. Then, I will have more time to socialize, learn and also raise the question.
Ùsì day 2021 was massive and I hope other communities will prioritise the celebration of their towns, showcasing their rich cultural heritage to the world.
Ùsì-Day was fun!
Oyebisi Abayomi writes from Ado Ekiti and can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org