By Richard Akintade, Osogbo
The Osun State Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Dr Obawale Adebisi, has described the state as the hub of culture and tourism in Nigeria, which must be jointly developed as a tourist destination, not only for Yoruba people but also for the whole of Africa.
The Commissioner reiterated this at a joint stakeholders’ meeting held in Lagos.
In his presentation, Dr Obawale maintained that, in terms of history, Osun was a place where every Yoruba could claim especially, Ile Ife, adding that, “the map of Africa is naturally engraved on a rock at Oduduwa Grove in Ile Ife which makes Oduduwa a significant person in the African History.”
He further stated that Osun was the source of slave trade in Nigeria, adding that Apomu was the first slave market.
According to him, “Osun is naturally blessed for what can be developed as eco-tourism like Ayikunnugba Waterfalls in Oke-Ila which has another two falls such as Ajimoloko and Onisooro with distintive features, Olumirin Waterfalls in Erin-Ijesha which also has seven layers, Owala Dam that runs to about Eleven kilometers from Eko Ende to Okinni to Ede to Asejire which is the boundary of Oyo State and Osun.
“There are also mountains with different characteristics such as Oke Iragbiji, Otan Ayegbaju Mountain, Oke Aaye, among others.
“The State is planning to engrave the faces of some of the Yoruba legends on rocks that are located in different localities so that, the history of those legends will not go into extinction which will be a very good attraction for the State and Yoruba race at large.
“Furthermore, Ogiyan of Ejigbo, which is the gods of Ejigbo people has over ten thousand followership in the world.
“The State is proposing to build Ogiyan packs and garden where people would come to relax and also practice their religion.”
Dr Obawale further disclosed that the State of Osun, under the administration of Governor Adegboyega Oyetola, was committed to building cultural and tourism Infrastructure “which includes Yoruba museum and World Heritage Centre which is to be cited in Ile Ife, Aragbiji Palace Museum, Healing Drums, Ogedengbe in Ilesha, Legends in Arts work, Owa Ooye of Oke Imesi, Ila Orangun Historical Museum, Gbongan Ancient palace and natural Museum, Ibodi ancient palace among others.”
The Commissioner also noted that Culture and Tourism were going into extinction stating that, this was the reason Government had created additional forty festivals such as: Agri-tourism, Sports Tourism, Osun Yoruba Arts and Rural Tourism, Yoruba speaking extension project to mention but a few, which would go round a year in other to revive the dying culture.
Dr Obawale therefore enjoined all the Investors to key into the programmes set out by Osun Government, assuring them of “bountiful returns if they do.”
In his response, the Divisional Head, Retails and Consumer Banking, Sterling Bank Plc, Shina Atilola, who spoke on behalf of other Investors commended the State for the level of preparation and commitment to the development of Culture.
He maintained that the bank would be interested in partnering the State to jointly promote culture and tourism, adding that the bank would “re-introduce wearing of Adire cloths for which the State is renowned.”
While speaking, Nneka Moses of Goge Africa described culture and tourism as the first thing that must be developed if it would not become a forgotten issue, adding that government must at all cost educate people on the beauty of Africa.
Nneka also maintained that all traces of colonialism, which had enslaved Africa, must be jettisoned so that the continent could reclaim its lost glory.
Madam Goge Africa however stated that there were lots of cultural heritage in Osun and she was ready to partner her in as much the State was ready to promote them.
Meanwhile, the discussion continues during the week in Osun,as the investors have signified their intention to visit all the tourist sites in the State.
The meeting had in attendance the Coordinating Director, Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Samuel Adeniyi, Senior Special Assistant to the Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Raimi Opesina, Ag. General Manager, Osun Tourism Board, Oluwatoyin Ajayi, Senior Administrative Officer of the Ministry, Femi Asiyanbi, Tourism Business Manager, Sterling Bank PLC, Abiola Adelana.
Others were: President African Young Entrepreneur who also doubled as the Special Adviser to Ondo State Governor on Entrepreneurship, Summy Smart, Nneka Moses of Goge Africa, Head of Business to Business, Union Bank, Anietie Bassey, Consultant to OSG who also doubled as National President, Nigeria Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Ifeyinwa Omowole, Consultant to Osun Government on Culture and Tourism, Adesola Jacobs, Chief Executive Officer of La Campagne Tropicana Beach Resort, Dr Adewale Akinboboye, among others.