The Ooni of Ife, His Imperial Majesty Ooni Adeyeye Ogunwusi Ojaja II, has described Nigeria’s cultural heritage as a huge export potential, capable of igniting economic rejuvenation.
Ooni Ogunwusi said this at Ile-Ife during the joint celebration of Alafere, Oya and Ijugbe festivals which attracted a huge crowd of participants from within and outside Ile-Ife, especially the Bariba and Nupe people in Niger and Kwara states of Nigeria.
The African foremost monarch who is the spiritual leader of Yoruba race stated that the celebration is to give glory to God Almighty who he described in Yoruba language “Oba ti a ko ri, ti a n ri ise owo e”, meaning “The unseen God but whose impact is being felt always”.
The Ooni wondered why cultural festivals and heritage are not getting necessary attention from citizens of the country, saying this has been affecting the growth of the local festivals and culture in the country.
He also expressed displeasure that foreigners were beginning to appreciate the African culture, mysteries and festivals than indigenes of the continents.
“Our heritage is so strong. All the things that we are celebrating may be strange to a lot of people living in Nigeria and Yorubaland but in the Western World, I just returned from the UK where I met with the British Royal Family and visited the British Museum, they don’t joke with our culture. All these things are so important to them.
“They traced the origin of mankind to Africa and all these facts are displayed in their libraries and museums. They believe in the potency and power of all these festivals. It is about time for us (Africans) to nurture what we have.
“We should celebrate what nature has given to us. Our culture is a very huge export potential and tourism is one of the biggest trades in the world. It is bigger than a lot of investments that you can think of because it has a lot of people’s movement.
“With tourism, people are able to establish a common heritage and ancestral background”, Ooni said.
He called on government at all levels to improve the level of infrastructure, noting that the government needs to support the drive to project the Yoruba culture to the world.
“It is about time for us to focus on tourism by improving our infrastructure and for us to package these entire heritages. Most of the heritage and festivals are very timely and yield benefits.
“The government should pay serious attention to our heritage. We are blessed here because our tourist centres and attractions are natural.
“We don’t need to create any form of artificial tourism. They are very natural tourism potentials and that is why we need to display them.
“We hope that at one point, the government will appreciate us.” He added.