THOUSANDS of Osun devotees and tourists across the globe converged in Osogbo, the capital of Osun State to celebrate the 2019 edition of Osun Osogbo festival on Friday.
The peak of the festival could be said to be the moment a mermaid simply identify as Iko appeared briefly in the water. This threw the Ataoja of Osogbo, Oba Jimoh Oyetunji Laaroye III and other participants at the festival into ecstasy.
The appearance of the mermaid, according to the Ataoja, was as a sign of positive development as it last appeared seven years ago. He disclosed that the appearance of the mermaid signified prayers answered.
The monarch while speaking at the grand finale of the festival held at Osun sacred groove said further that “I am vindicated, Yemojoa sent the Iko to proof a point, especially to those with a negative impression about the event, they can now see that the goddess of Osun river is with us and will continue to bless our people.”
In his remark, Oba Oyetunji dispelled the rumour that he had sold the Osun-Osogbo deity, attributing the ugly trend to mischief being orchestrated by his enemies.
He thanked all the partners and sponsors, who made the festival a success as well as dignitaries, royal fathers and people, both from Nigeria and abroad, who graced the occasion.
Many of the devotee who saw the Iko went into trance while some used the occasion to pray and ask for blessings.
Meanwhile, Osun State Governor, Mr Gboyega Oyetola, in his remarks promised that his administration will support the development and promotion of Osun Osogbo festival to enhance its tourism potentials and sustainability.
The governor said he was honoured to attend the festival for the first time, saying his administration would continue to support the festival for its sustainability and growth.
Represented by the Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Dr Babawale Adebisi, he said the festival was important to his government and his administration intends to transform the annual event to a foreign exchange earner for the state.
He stated that the state was equally seeking partnership with the Federal Government to optimally tap into the tourism benefits the festival provides.
Culturally inclined personalities, including the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland Iba Gani Adams, Chief Mrs Nike Okundaiye, proprietor Nike Art Gallery, Oloye Jimoh Aliu, Erelu Funmi Rotiba, Erelu Asa of Nigeria and others joined the Ataoja of Osogbo to celebrate the traditional event.
Over 100 foreign tourists from Brazil, Austria and another country including Brazilian embassy consular all dressed in Ankara also fabrics also graced the occasion.