Emir of Ilorin tackles Wole Soyinka over controversial Isese festival

Emir of Ilorin tackles Wole Soyinka over controversial Isese festival

The Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu-gambari trade tackles with Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka, as controversies emerge over the decision of the Emir to stop one Osun priestess from carrying out a traditional festival in the heart of the Muslim-dominated town.

Mr Soyinka had criticised the Emir for preventing the priestess, Ajesikemi Olokun, from holding an Isese festival in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital.

The Nobel laureate noted that the move by the Emir of Ilorin is an attack on civilised conduct.

Ilorin became a center of attraction in the media when an Osun worshipper announced a three-day traditional worship aimed at celebrating certain Yoruba deities.

But her plan didn’t go down well with some Islamic scholars who stormed her residence to warn her not to hold the festival in the Ilorin Emirates. They gave a chance to hold the event outside Ilorin in a video that has since gone viral.

In response to professor Wole Soyinka, the first class Emir, in a statement signed by his spokesperson, Abdul-Azeez Arowona, explained that the festival, if not cancelled, could have generated violent confrontations.

“To set records straight, Professor Wole Soyinka tends to be economical with facts, forgetting that war is what nobody wants,” the statement reads.

“This is to prevent a crisis and not wait until it erupts because the cost of managing crises cannot be equated to the wisdom or courage required to prevent it.

“Such proactiveness is necessary in order to sustain peaceful co-existence in the society. He said.

The emir was taken aback by Mr Soyinka’s perspective, describing it as “identical to someone who does not consider what might transpire if the program was hosted.


“It may result in issues which could also lead to reprisal attacks by sympathisers or promoters of such belief (Isese festival) in other parts of the country.

Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu-gambari stressed further that the priestess had lived “harmoniously” in Ilorin for years “until she decided to go beyond her boundaries”.


“There are many non-indigenes in Kwara who are serving and retired, including business owners who have vowed to move their families to the state due to the peace and harmony enjoyed therein.

Meanwhile, the Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union (IEDPU), has commended the decision of the Emir to prevent the controversial event from taking place, saying the move would “preserve the harmony of the community.”

In a statement signed by its spokesperson, Mallam Nurudeen Ibrahim, the IEDPU, said an “attempt to celebrate isese or any other paganic festival is alien to the culture of Ilorin and could precipitate an unnecessary crisis.”

He indicated that the “diatribe reportedly authored by a Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka and a few other commentators on the matter was unfortunate, incorrect and needless.”

“Freedom of worship, just like other liberty enshrined in the nation’s constitution, is not absolute, saying that only the ignorant would encourage an Imam to go to the Vatican with the aim of observing or leading the observance of Eid prayers or any other Islamic religious duty.”


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