Aje is the spirit of market profitability. That is why this festival is very important to all humanity because nobody can survive without it. We do business, profit is expected, if you work you expect stipends at the end of the month, so that is simply Aje.” That was how the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi explained the essence of this festival.
Many Yoruba people, as part of daily routine recite Aje’s panegyrics while opening up their business with the belief that it will boost sales for the day. Aje Olokun gbere temi wa leni o, meaning Aje, the god of commerce, bring my goodies or business fortunes today is a common prayer in the Yoruba setting. Also, customers and neigbours in traditional Yoruba market setting, whether in rural, semi urban or urban communities would greet traders using Aje based on their belief that it is effective. Consequently, words like Aje a wa o, which can be translated to you will enjoy better sales has become a normal greeting in commercial places..
Since his ascension to the throne as the 51st Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi (Ojaja II) has been in the forefront of reawakening the consciousness of the people to the tremendous roles that Yoruba deities and gods play in creating an enabling atmosphere for the sons and daughters of Yorubaland, both in Ile-Ife, Yorubaland, Nigeria and in the Diaspora.
Apart from leading the campaign for peace, unity, building the bridge of cooperation and friendship within the Yoruba race and other ethnic nationalities, including the extension of such agenda beyond the shores of Nigeria, Oba Ogunwusi, regarded as the Arole of Oodua is passionate about celebrating the gods, with the conviction that it would go a long way in preserving African culture and tradition and also help in developing the economy of the people.
Addressing the crowd during this year’s celebration of Aje festival in Ile-Ife penultimate Monday, Oba Ogunwusi said that the survival of African people depends greatly on the sustainability of the traditional and culture, tasking the government and the people to collectively utilise the culture as a way to greatly record productive economic advancement.
While noting that Nigeria is abundantly blessed with cultural tourism potentials that is capable of turning the country to a viable economic nation, Oba Ogunwusi reiterated the need for the government at all tiers to tap into opportunities inherent in the tourism sub-sector, with a view to generating revenues for the nation, adding that “our cultural potentials should be productively showcased as culture does not affect religions”.
According to him, “as Christians or Muslims, we all need to respect our cultural heritage. In 2017, we prayed during the Aje Festival and we centred our prayers on the economic recession and within one week, we surprisingly experienced dollar crash from about N480 to N350. We have prayed and very soon, the economy will improve tremendously.
He, however, implored the youth in Yorubaland and Nigeria to be industrious so as to fulfil their destiny and desist from cutting corners out of desperation to achieve success in their endeavours and emphasised that hard work, honesty and commitment to earn a good living are virtues that aid individual struggle and dreams.
Oba Ogunwusi, who is also the co-chairman of National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria implored young Nigerians to be agents of peace and shun act of brigandage and thuggery as election period is drawing nearer, just as he prayed for the peace and progress of Ile-Ife, Osun, Nigeria, Africa and the global community.
He was particular in his advice to the youths, “don’t let politicians use you for thuggery or election violence as you too can be in their positions if you discover yourself and remain focused. With full determination, you have the potentials of being great leaders tomorrow. As we are gathered here today to celebrate Aje, the festival of wealth, the Almighty Olodumare (God) will answer our prayers, He will abundantly give us peace and economic progress in Ile-Ife, in Osun, in Nigeria, in Africa and the world at large”.
In her speech, the Iyalaje of Apapa, Lagos and the Chief Promoter of 2018 Aje Festival, Princess Toyin Kolade, said that Yoruba culture is too important and rich to be ignored if we must be seen as a serious people who care for the future generations because it depicts a significant perspective.
According to her, Aje is a festival of wealth which radiates on all the nooks and crannies of the world from its root at Ejigbomekun market, the world’s oldest market located at Ile-Ife, the cradle of Yoruba race.
She appealed to Nigerians to value their cultural heritage, rather than ignoring them in favour of foreign Culture and religion.
Veteran Yoruba thespian, Mrs Idowu Philips popularly called “Mama Rainbow” who led other Nollywood actors/actresses including Saheed Balogun in her remark lauded the Ooni for his unprecedented strides especially in fostering peace and commitment to cultural tourism revolution, stressing that other traditional rulers in Yorubaland should emulate Ooni who she described as the leading light of the world.