“Ijero-Ekiti is a land of colourful and fascinating festivals. Except for the Rio Carnival in Brazil, no other festival can match Ogun Festival in the Ijero Kingdom in glamour, splendour, scintillating beauty, superb organization and methodical arrangement. The Ako-egigun masquerade, unique in design, ancient in origin, dreadful insight and frightening inactivity, has no parallel anywhere in Yorubaland”. – Bola Borisade, Ijero Kingdom (2012)
It is as a result of the wonders of the Ijero Festival celebrated annually in the month of August that all Ijero sons and daughters at home and abroad are usually nostalgic to visit the Ijero-Ekiti homeland and celebrate the Ogun festival.
Ijero Legend has it that the organization of the Ogun festival in the Ijero Kingdom was dated back to 1424 A.D after the reigns of Ajero Alaworo (reigned 1409-1424) who was a wonderful warrior and manager of people. He was absent on the throne for many years when he went to wage wars against the communities that threatened the peace and security of the Ijero kingdom. On the day he came back a new Ajero is known as Apa his younger brother has been installed and he, Alaworo felt insulted and left the town and began to run away. One of the men that overtook him and persuaded him that he should come back to the palace was made the chieftaincy title of Asaba of Ijero-Ekiti till today.
Traditions have it that Ajero Alaworo disappeared and enter the mother earth at a place called Igbo Alaworo (Alaworo forest) where the Ako begun (Chief masquerade) and Osun Ogilo (a hundred of masquerade also known as Alaaluyi) was instituted to commemorate the great monarch of the people, Ajero Alaworo who was deified and worshipped with pomp and pageantry during the month of August. Ogun (Yoruba mythology god of iron) is celebrated in many towns and villages in Yorubaland and in Ijero-Ekiti, the Ogun festival is also an occasion to celebrate Ajero Alaworo, hence Ogun festival in Ijero Ekiti is also known as Ogun Alaworo Cultural Festival.
The festival is celebrated for seven days in which hundreds of masquerades known as Osun Ogilo trooped in their myriad numbers. They are comprising the young ones and middle-aged ones who were in their palm fronds and covered their faces with well-carved wood. They were all everywhere in the town as they danced around the town armed with canes.
The festival brings reunion to the roots, all the sons and daughters of the town come together from other parts of the world, United Kingdom, United States of America and from far and near, and especially for prayer which is efficacious. The significance of the festival is to promote the spirit of sportsmanship among the youths, celebrate the ancestors and pray for peace and prosperity of the community and its inhabitants.
The ancient Ijero people devised the Ogun festival to promote their culture and heritage which is gradually losing its grip on religion and modernization. Ijero kingdom needs a new, modern, and attractive festival that can bring all its children together like the days of yore and for the development of tourism and economic development of the town.