Ijaw cultural heritage on parade as Ayakoromo community celebrates Olorogun festival
By Asiayei Enaibo
To the people of Ayakoromo community, a coastal community in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta state, Saturday, January 28, will linger in their memories for a very long time as on that day, the sensibility of the Ijaw cultural heritage which defines the unique nature of the Ijaw people was brought to the fore.
Aside from being reputed for rich cultural heritages that promote oneness and harmony, the people of Ayakoromo joined the Okosuotu Masquerade Group to celebrate the famous Olorogun Festival. The festival is believed to be the promoter of peaceful coexistence among the people of Ayakoromo and its environs.
This year’s fiesta, which was marked with a mixture of traditional, spiritual and fun-filled social activities, saw indigenous people from both far and near come back home to partake in the celebration.
The event commenced in the early hours of Saturday morning with a two-lined procession by elderly men from the community, with Akasuwo Priest at the middle holding a plate filled with sugar, biscuits, ground nut, fanta among others gift items meant for gods so that Olorogun can come out in peace to perform. This is purely a spiritual activity.
For a better understanding of the celebration, Akasuwo Priest in Ayakoromo community is charged with the responsibility of reading the mind of the gods, interpreting consequences as well proffers solution to any wrong committed against the gods of the land.
On the social aspect of the celebration, the people present witnessed and participated in different social activities such as; Madiga and coke drinking competition, sack race, boys and girls 100 meters race, men and women canoe race to depict the Ijaw heritage.
Historically, the Olorogun Masquerade Festival was founded in 1937 and has been ceaselessly celebrated since that time. The name of the man who founded the Masquerade is Ayei. Ayei according to reports was a Fisherman distinguished for being committed to his trade (Fishing).
In one of his usual fishing sessions, it was reported that he caught a big fish that struck him as strange and awe- inspiring. So, he untangled the fish, led it back into the sea and rowed home. Few days later Mr. Ayei became ill and when the Oracles were consulted, it revealed that the strange fish (later named Olorogun by the Oracles) he caught was responsible for his illness.
For him to get well, he was told by the oracle that the fish, among other things,demands that he come up with a beautifully carved image of the fish and have it venerated annually as a cultural festival. Mr. Ayei carved the fish as he saw it and Olorogun became the cynosure of Ayakoromo Okoso-otu masquerade cult.
See photos below…