Osun in Modakeke, celebrating the Yoruba Goddess of Beauty


In the pantheon of Yoruba gods and goddesses, there are four groups of deities. The supreme being consisting of Eledumare, the supreme creator, Olorun, the ruler of the Heavens and Olofi, the conduit between Orun (Heaven) and Aye (Earth). Metaphysical personifications or spirits consisting of Orunmila, the spirit of wisdom, divination, destiny and foresight, Ori, personification of one’s spiritual intuition and destiny. Male orisa consisting of Aganju, Orisa of volcanoes, the wilderness and rivers. Babalu Aye, orisa of the Earth and strongly associated with infectious disease and healing. Erinle, orisa of medicine, healing and comfort, physician to the gods. Esu, trickster, psychopomp, and orisa of the crossroads, duality, beginnings and balance. Ibeji, twin orisa of vitality and youth, Koku, a violent warrior orisa. Obatala, creator of human bodies, orisa of light, spiritual purity and moral uprightness. Oduduwa, orisa of humans. Ogun , orisa who presides over iron, fire, hunting, politics and war. Oko, orisa of agriculture. Osanyin, divine rainbow serpent associated with creation and procreation. Osoosi, orisa of the hunt and forest and Sango, orisa of thunder and lightning. Female orisa consisting of Aja, orisa of the forest, the animals within it and herbal healing. Aje, orisa of wealth, Ayao, orisa of air. Egungun Oya, orisa of divination. Mawu, creator goddess, associated with the sun and moon. Oba, first wife of Sango and orisa of domesticity and marriage. Olokun, patron orisa of the descendants of Africans who were carried away during Atlantic slave trade (middle passage). Osun, orisa who presides over love, intimacy, beauty, wealth and diplomacy. Oya, orisa of the Niger river, associated with wind, lightning, fertility, fire and magic and Yemoja, a mother goddess, patron of women and the Ogun river. Of all these, the Osun is the deity which presides over love, intimacy beauty, wealth and diplomacy. This says a lot about the place of prominence of the goddess in Yoruba culture, daily living, culture and tradition. As with other Yoruba deities, the Yoruba especially those in the Osun Division have special days when they celebrate this divine deity and thank her for the past year in readiness for another one. Especially in Osogbo, the reverence given to this deity has attracted international attention to this ancient town where many Osun devotees has called home. Many devotees and their dedicated work have further made the worship of Osun a global phenomena. Devotees like Adunni Suzan Wenger, Araba Awo Ifayemi Elebuibon, Baba Kayode Esuleke. On the other hand, in the Yoruba mythology, Osun, the goddess of the Osun River is believed to be an enormously powerful queen and the only female of the sixteen major Yoruba deities (Orisa). Her full appellation is Osun Seegesi Olooya Iyun which means ‘Osun the owner of the flawless, perfectly carved beaded comb.’ Osun is one of the most popular female deities in Yoruba culture. She was one of the Queens of King Sango. During her lifetime, she was noted for being kind, caring providing for the needs of the people. Queen Osun took her life after King Sango’s death in exile, by ‘becoming one with the river.” The river was named after her and deemed sacred by all people of Yorubaland. To celebrate this deity, festivals are held at different times in different Yoruba towns to celebrate and honour Osun for all she has done. Amongst these Yoruba towns is Modakeke Akoraye. Modakeke is a city in Osun State, South West Nigeria, with a population of close to 500,000 people. The indigenes of Modakeke call it the “Akoraye.” The 38th Ooni of Ife, Oba Akinmoyero gave the Modakekes who were displaced warrior of the old Oyo empire an extended land bordering Ile-ife. The area was home to the Storks, which are large, long-legged, long-necked wading birds with long and stout bills that storks eat frogs, fish, insects, earthworms, small birds and small mammals. The bird is call ‘Ako’ in Yoruba; hence the indigenous name Akoraye, which means the Stork found a space. The name Modakeke derived from the Ile-Ife’s terminology of the sound sometimes generated by the Storks which rhymes “Mo-da-ke-ke-ke-ke.” Modakekes were warriors of the old Oyo Emprire, who after its collapse, established themselves in an area bordering Ile-Ife. Modakeke in Osun will be celebrating the Osun festival in a big way in 2019 and there are many reasons for celebrating Osun, among which are: Traditional purpose of the Osun festival 1. To give offerings and prayers to Osun thanking her for her benevolences over the past year and to invoke her presence among the Modakekes for the year to come. 2. To acknowledge the healing power of the river and the Osun goddess. 3. As a thanksgiving for the abundance of water and benevolences. 4. To celebrate and uphold traditions local as well as displaying local talent. The OSUN FESTIVAL OF MODAKEKE, March 30th 2019 will hold on March 30th from 7 am to 6 pm (sunrise to sunset). During the festival, the initiates and indigenes will celebrate the annual Osun Festival of Modakeke to offer Osun thanksgiving for the year past and supplication for the year to come. According to the Yeye Osun of Modakeke, Chief Floxy Bee, M.D.K.One, this year the message from OSUN is “Peace”. So prayers for peace in the family, community, nation and world will be featured in the program. Performances emphasizing the traditional culture of the Yoruba and Modakeke are an important part of the festival “OSUN THE GODDESS” an award-winning movie by Chief Florence Trautman, the Yeye Osun of Modakeke, which illustrates the interconnection of Osun and women in the traditional culture will also be part of the performances. As part of the 2019 Osun festivities, special greetings must be given to the Ogunsua of Modakeke, His Royal Majesty, Oba Moses Oyediran, Anjobadi III for the role he has played in facilitating and ensuring that the festival sees the light of the day. MODAKEKE “AKORAYE”

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