By Joshua Olomu
The historical ‘ Itakpo Festival’, popularly known as ‘Feast of Passover’, of Ososo community in Akoko Edo Local Government Area of Edo State, is set to hold after seven years after the last edition.
A member of the community age-group cultural fiesta, Mr Ajamah Afemikhe, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the septennial event was slated for Feb. 12.
According to him, the festival acclaimed to be one of the major drivers of tourists to the state, expected participants from within the country and from the diaspora.
“During the February 2024 edition of this festival, the flood gate to the hospitality and tourism potentials of Ososo people are to be flung open for the view and relish of over 500,000 expected visitors.
“The theme of the event is ‘Osunomogwo’, which is chosen to reflect the time-tested bond and unity of the three celebrating kindred comprising of Ubereni, Ukporikpo, and Ugbedu in Okhe quarters of Ososo.
“Itakpo fesitival is patriarchal age-grade initiation, a moment of graduation of boyhood to manhood, it is an elevation to the elder’s assembly in the society.
“It marks the end of the youthful milestone and years of service, labour, and protection of the community and is also the gateway to joining the critical decision-making body of the community,” he said.
According to Afemikhe, Itakpo, also known as ‘Feast of Passover’, also celebrates the historical migration of the people of Ososo from “Ogbe”, a quarter in the ancient Benin Kingdom to its present settlement.
He said the migration of their ancestors took several years as they stayed in many locations before the final settlement at their present location called Ososo.
“As a way of remembrance and to keeping to the promise of our forefathers, celebrants visit various sites and locations in the migration routes to Ososo.”
“These sites and locations are the epicenters of activities during the Itakpo festival, the closest modern-day depiction of the Biblical Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and their grand entry to the promised land.
“The festival did not just remind us of our travails, the tortuous routs to our present location, and the sacrifices of our heroes past, it reenacts our migration story and experiences.
“The Festival is an epitome of history reminding us of our existence, resilience, victories, courage, and pride, which is the reason erroneous stories written in ink cannot erase our rich history.
“The people of Ososo did not come to this present day location by chance but by sheer dignity which has been a sacred endowment by God and our ancestors,” he said.
Afemikhe explained that the festival was usually flagged off with sensitisation visits with drumming and dancing by families of participating age groups and collection of kola nuts from every member of the celebrating group.
He added that social activities were also lined up to making the 2024 edition of the festival unique and memorable, including various cultural displays.
This, he said, included cladding of traditional costumes, regalia and fantastic hair-styles adorned by the wives and families of the celebrants.
He added that the septennial festival would also feature musical concerts and the popular ‘Face of Itakpo Beauty Pageant’, among other and side attractions.(NAN) (nannews.ng)
Edited by Isaac Aregbesola