It is one thing for a visionary to properly configure, conceive and conjure his vision. It is another business for the vision to germinate, grow, blossom and be of benefit to its target audience.
Brilliant visions, ultra development ideas which are potent futuristic solutions to poverty and development and emancipation of the society have been postulated and expressed even exposed, But some of these died at infancy or remained mere illusions, never to be attained because of the dearth of midwives and absence of crystallisers or platforms of expression for fruition, propagation and acceptability.
This was one of the palpable fears entertained by many when the new Ooni of Ife, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Babatunde Ogunwusi, Ojaja 11, exposed his tourism vision after his installation as the Ooni of the Source.
It is historical and a fact of the Yoruba that Ile – Ife is not only the cradle of Yoruba race but the spot where all nations of the world dispersed to the places they all occupy today.
Ile – Ife is the mother of all nations and the ancestors thus bestowed on the new Ooni the ancestral vision of ensuring the re integration of all the nations, particularly the Yoruba, back to their mother’s land.
Ooni Ojaja, on Saturday 2 January 2016, while receiving a delegate of Oodua Peoples ‘Congress, (OPC) and Oodua Progress Union, OPU, led by its leader, Otunba Gani Adams in his palace, Ooni Ojaja 11 remarked: “I will engender a cultural revolution in Yorubaland which will accentuate and showcase the pristine beauty of our tradition and customs so well that it will be irresistible to tourists, delectable to investors and enviable by all nations. I will, with support of all and seasoned Yoruba sons and daughters transform Ile–Ife to a tourism zone, a historical- cultural destination of reference not for global tourists alone but for the Yoruba in Diaspora.’’
He went further: ‘‘As the custodian of the House of Oduduwa and protector of the values of Yoruba race, I will not stand akimbo, watching with glee the progressive desecration of the culture and tradition of the race and its subsequent eradication from the annals of advanced culture. “It is our culture, tradition and custom that make us what we are as a race in the world. We should rise up as a matter of urgency to embrace, promote, protect, display and enhance our culture and tradition for the glory of the race and for trans -generational positivity.”
Ooni Ojaja 11, apart from being a powerful player in the tourism sector, believes that for such vision to germinate, blossom and achieve its purpose, he needs a stoker who does not only possess impressive track records on the tourism plane but a business minded professional who is passionate at doing what he knows best-vision actualization.
Putting on his royal periscope, Ooni Ojaja zeroed in on Ambassador Wale Akinboboye, the promoter of Motherland Beckons and founder of one of the best resorts in Nigeria, La Champagne Tropical Beach Resort, as the promoter of the vision.
Ambassador Akinboboye, the current the Secretary of World Black Mayors and proponent of Motherland Beckons, an endeavour which seeks to reunite and reintegrate Yoruba in Diaspora who were dispersed by the slave trade back to their root saw the engagement by Ooni Ojaja as the midwife of his tourism vision, a divine coincidence and spiritual call to action.
Thus, on Friday 15 January 2016, the spirit of Motherland Beckons lured Her Excellency, Maria, A. Figueiredo, to pay a historical and memorable visit to Ooni Ojaja 11, in his palace at Enuwa, Ile–Ife, Osun State.
Her visit signified a giant step in the crystallization of Ile – Ife as a tourism zone and her remark exposed the Ooni’s vision as not only apt but an awaited project of the Diaspora.
“I am happy to be here in Ile–Ife, the cradle of the civilisation and the source of Black nation. Brazil harbour the largest concentration of blacks in the world, apart from Nigeria. My coming here is not accidental. It is a home coming which I sincerely believe has been destined by the Lord Almighty. It will interest you all to note that Brazil was colonised by Portugal, which forced on us its religion which is Catholicism. Apart from this, the other major religion, which we practise in Brazil is African traditional belief which emanated and was traced to Ile-Ife. Majority of us are Catholics, but all of us still have our traditional identity. For me, I am an Osun worshiper. And I am in Ile – Ife, the source of the world in Osun State.
She congratulated Ooni Ojaja 11 not only for ascending the throne of his forefathers with glory, pomp and celebration but for his vision at revitalising the tradition, culture and values of the Yoruba race for economic and sustainable development.
Ooni Ojaja, in his response, said “My vision is to employ tourism and culture to empower the youths of Yoruba land, generate employment and facilitate wealth. We have started on this note as 20,000 widows have been employed in cleaning up the city. Just a few days after the visit of the Brazilian Consulate General, on Thursday 28 January 2016, the Cuban Ambassador to Nigeria, His Excellency Melva Pereze De Trejo, led his wife, accompanied by the Secretary of the Cuban Embassy, Mrs Miriam Morales Palmero, on a two – day tour of the ancient city.
The two–day tour which was facilitated by Motherland Beckons, served its purpose, as the Cuban team was not only thrilled but felt at home. It was particularly delighted by the spectacular cultural reception organised for them by the Palace and overwhelmed by the robust interaction with the brilliant and youthful Ooni Ojaja 11 .
“I am happy. I feel happy. I feel fulfilled. I am just feeling as if I am in heaven. Ife is home. The Ooni is cool, brilliant and youthful,” said the Ambassador.
Apart from the palace, Otunba Akinboboye conducted the Ambassador to other historical places: ongoing Ife Grand Resort, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, where he visited the Ife Museum of National History; Oduduwa Hall and Martins Aworinlewo Odeyemi Museum of Antiquities and Contemporary African Arts.
“The meetings I had with the Ooni and other people in Ile Ife were fruitful. I visited many interesting places from which we can now depart for stronger and better cooperation in the future. The people here are very friendly. I felt more at home. I enjoyed the music, dance and other thrilling entertainment and hospitality at the palace and other places we went to during the tour,” the Ambassador said.
Ooni Ojaja pointed out: “I am happy that people are retracing their steps back to their ancestral home. It is a good development which should not stop. I want to thank the Ife–in–Council for supporting me and my agenda for the Yoruba race. The vision I have for the race is a task that must be achieved. We have to promote our language, culture and tradition. God deliberately created this race as a light to the world and we must do everything to unite the race, to reconnect our people back to their roots and to let the race take his position in the comity of nations.
The ‘home, sweet’ home experience of the Cuban Ambassador and the wonderful reception given him and his entourage both by the Ooni–in–Council and the ‘perfect host’ attitude of Ambassador Akinboboye paved the way for a grand reception of the Ooni at the Cuban embassy in Abuja.
At the Cuban Ambassador’s residence in Abuja, over 45 Ambassadors met minds with the Ooni. The event was witnessed by the Minister of information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and the Director – General, Nigerian Tourism development Corporation, NTDC, Dr ‘Mrs’ Sally Mbanefo.
It was a night of glorious encounter as the Ooni exposed his tourism vision in Yoruba land and its importance to Nigeria’s economy.
Ooni Ojaja commended Ambassador Akinboboye for not only fast-tracking his vision but ensuring a noteworthy sequential execution and propelling of his vision, making sure that the vision radiated where it matters most, like ‘This night of Diplomatic and Ambassadorial engagement.”
Ooni Ojaja11 emphasised the cultural- tourism interrelationship between Ile–Ife and over 50 countries in the world which are being beckoned on by a clarion call from their motherland. The Ooni revealed at the colourful engagement of the Ambassadors and Diplomats his desire to declare Ile – Ife as a tourism zone.
Ambassador Akinboboye packaged the event in three dimensions: academics, culture and entertainment. Believing that Ife is the home of academic via the status and location of the Obafemi Awolowo University, (OAU), which in itself a paragon of tourism, he organised a public lecture where international and local tourism stakeholders ruminated, analysed and fished out the tourism potentialities of Ile – Ife. The discussants at the public lecture which was held on Friday 27 February at Awolowo Hall came to the conclusion that the Ooni was not only right but should be commended for a rare vision which will raise the economy of Ile – Ife and its people from penurious to buoyancy.
In showcasing the entertainment front of Ife as tourism zone, on Friday 27, January, a stage play ‘O digbose ‘( Goodbye to wretchedness) was packaged and staged by the Atunda Entertainment group to the excitement of the Ooni and the visiting Yoruba in Diaspora who were invited by Ambassador Akinboboye.
Saturday 28 February 2016, withnessed one of the most glamorous programmes held since the installation of Ooni Ojaja 11, at the Enuwa palace, Ile Ife, with the attendance of Ambassadors of Ghana, Cote d’Ivore, Dr (Mrs) Mbanefo. Representative of Professor Wole Soyinka; Director–General, National Troupe, and the Ooni Ojaja declared Ife as a Tourism zone.
The Ooni, who metaphorically employed the word ‘Ile-Ife as a tourism zone, said that “It is not about the Ife town alone but a brand symbolization which is an effort at directing focus and attention of all Yoruba to the notion that Ile ife is not only the cradle of all nations but also that everything about the Yoruba emanated from Ile-Ife.
The declaration of Ile-Ife as a tourism zone is also to direct the world’s attention and tourism traffic to Ile-Ife to authenticate and view the hidden treasures of traditional relevance as acclaimed by the historical accounts of great historians and archaeologists like Leo Frobenius and those supplied and reinforced by the holy books.
According to the Ooni, “Ile-Ife is indeed the cradle of all nations. It is an enigmatic origin of the Yoruba race where most of the recorded events in the Bible before the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ happened. It will interest you to know that the Tower of Babel is in Ile-Ife as well as the ark of Noah. This is to prove to all that Ile-Ife is the centre of dispersal of all the races in the world.”
He revealed that “Ile-Ife is a place where the land expands to the world and being the motherland, it is traditionally and officially beckoning to all her children to come back home, re-integrate with the land, refresh their memories and re- unite in cultural brotherhood and vision. This is the real essence and the message of Ile-Ife being declared today as a tourism zone for all.”
The Ooni pointed out that the declaration was not exclusive to Ile-Ife, bearing in mind that all Yoruba race are Ife in origin. “What we are actually doing today is to officially register and formally kickstart a positive and productive cultural – tourism deployment and engagement of the inestimable heritage in the course of economic empowerment, wealth creation and employment generation. Since the declaration and with the clinically aggressive method of creating awareness of Ile – Ife as a tourism zone by Ambassador Akinboboye, the story of Ile – Ife as a sleepy historical city has changed.
It is no longer a sleepy town but Ile – Ife as a tourists destination, love by all , scramble at by governors, ambassadors, investors, distinguished personalities and individuals. The new aura and visibility created by Ooni Ojaja 11 and fast tracked by Ambassador Wanle via Motherland beckons you to Ile – Ife.
And according to Ambassador Akinboboye, it is just the begging of a whole complex of tourism initiatives by Ooni Ojaja, which is beyond the imagination of all. We haven’t seen anything yet, I assure you.’’
TOURISM: MOTHERLAND BECKONS STOKES ILE-IFE TOURISM INITIATIVE
Wale Ojo Lanre