THE Oyo State Government has said that henceforth the celebration of the Egungun (Masquerade) Festival in the state will be devoid of violence and hooliganism that usually characterise it.
The government said that machinery is being put in place to reform the celebration of the festival across the state in order to curb the excesses of Egungun followership, saying that the festival will rather be used to showcase the rich cultural values of Egungun in the state and promote it beyond the shores of the country.
The State Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr Toye Arulogun at a stakeholder meeting involving heads of masquerades across the state (the Alaagba), the Aare Isese from all the geographical zones of Oyo State and custodians of the masquerades held at the film Theatre of the Ministry on Thursday in Ibadan said that the era of using Egungun Festival to perpetrate violence is gone, stating that the entertainment and cultural values of the festival would be celebrated and promoted locally and internationally.
Mr Arulogun said “the Egungun festival is one of our heritage festivals and the ministry tasks with the promotion and preservation of our cultural heritage are set to project and package the
entertainment value in a non-threatening manner devoid of violence.”
The Commissioner said that the government has commenced the engagement of stakeholders in readiness for due collaboration to give the festival the prominence it deserves, urging the stakeholders to support the government in the reform process.
In his remarks, the Olori Alagba of Ibadan, Chief Ojetunde Akinleye Asoleke appreciated the government for the initiative, pledging their loyalty and showing their readiness to cooperate with the government on its reform process to curb violence and use the festival to promote the cultural values of Egungun.
He advocated that any masquerade that foments trouble should be banned for three years, saying that they have cautioned their members on the need to stay away from any conduct that can affect the reputation of the festival.
In his own speech at the meeting, the Aare Ise n Baye Saki Zone, Chief Sesan Onibode said that the meeting shows that government is very serious about security, stressing that the repackaging of the festival and the collaborative efforts of the government will bring sanity to street carnivals.
He appealed to the government to engage in sensitization and enlightenment at various levels, appreciating the government extension of the hands of fellowship to the masquerade during their festivals.
Also speaking, the representative of Universal Films and Communications Limited, Mr Yinka Ogundaisi said that the government is not taking away the festival from the custodians of the masquerade but working it with them to transform it to have a global appeal.