Ceremonies and Celebrations:
The Symbolism of Hometown Links
The Council of Ijesa Societies–Ilesa First Merit Awards Day for Distinguished Ijesa Sons/Daughters and Corporate Bodies took place on a Saturday afternoon in April 1992. The large cafeteria of International Breweries was festooned with balloons and banners; the tables were set with white cloths and place settings, and a long table at one end of the room served as the “high table” where all the honorees and speakers were to be seated. By 2:00 P. M., when the occasion was scheduled to begin, many prominent Ijesa men and women had arrived and taken their seats. Some had traveled from Lagos and Ibadan for the weekend, others from Ife and other nearby communities, and others came from within Ilesa. The roster of those to be honored—twenty people, as well as four organizations—included some of the bestknown Ijesas in the country, including past government officials, academics, and businesspeople. A large glossy brochure, sold for N30 each, not only gave printed citations and photos for each honoree but also contained many congratulatory advertisements from other organizations and individuals.
Shortly after two o'clock, the honorees and speakers were called to sit at the high table. Later, both the Owa Obokun of Ijesaland and the deputy governor of Osun State, Prince Adesuyi Haastrup, who is from Ilesa, joined the others. A professional orator, Baba Ijesa, greeted and welcomed everyone; then a prayer was given by an Anglican priest, emphasizing our “fatherland” (Ijesaland) and the children of Ijesaland. E. A. Ifaturoti, the chairman of the occasion, read his speech, which was printed in the commemorative brochure. After greeting everyone, he began by saying, “What we celebrate today can be summed up in the word GREATNESS. ” He went on,
I have asked myself what the Council of Ijesa Societies is trying to tell us. I find that in a very objective way, they are telling us that we do have illustrious men and women in Ijesaland and