ICIR to Host 10th Edition of Annual World Ifà/Orisa Pilgrimage & Festival in Ekiti from May 18

International Council for Ifa Religion (ICIR) has announced May 18 to 25 as the date for its annual World Ifà/Orisa Pilgrimage and Festival in Ekiti State.

According to ICIR President, Oluwo Solagbade Popoola, the 9-day activities would hold across the various spiritual heritage sites being visited yearly during the pilgrimage, except Isaba-Ekiti.

Oke-Orisa in Ara-Ekiti, Ijero Local Government Area of the state, according to Dr. Popoola, would replace Osanyin site in Isaba-Ekiti in this upcoming edition.

“Okerisa’ is a newly uncovered sacred mountain which Ara-Ekiti people used to visit for spiritual solutions to their individual and collective problems in those days.

‘Okerisa’, according to an authoritative source in the town, still possessed its rich spirituality.

This, the source explained, was one of the reasons Ara-Ekiti people still offerd their sacrifices to it and present their requests before it.

Oluwo Popoola revealed that he had visited the site to verify various research claims about Okerisa’.

This, therefore, explains why the site takes priority above Isaba -Ekiti in this year’s edition.

World Ifà/Orisa Pilgrimage and Festival has already been registered as one of the major heritage and spiritual tourism events being hosted in Ekiti State.

The 9th edition which was held in 2023 was attended by almost 5,000 participants, including tourists, ifa adherents across the world, foreign journalists as well as local and international members of ICIR .

Statistics reveals that over 10,000 people came to Ekiti State through their direct and indirect involvement in the various activities of the pilgrimage and festival.

The trade and services industry, including the hospitality sector in Ekiti experienced a boom within the 9-day period of the 9th edition.

Oluwo Popoola who recently added a new doctorate degree to his academic profile from the Federal University Oye-Ekiti (FUOYE), while speaking with some journalists recently, spoke on the various issues concerning the heritage festival.

He explained that the quest for the truth about Ifa led to the uncovering of Oke-Igeti (in Ado-Ekiti) as the home of Orunmila and Ekiti State as the spiritual home of majority of notable ancestral deities of the Yoruba people.

The major selling point of the World Ifà/Orisa Pilgrimage and Festival is the Oke-Igeti, which unfortunately, has fallen within the walls of Oke-Ayoba, where there is Government House.

He, however, expressed the hope that the Ekiti State Government would carve out the little sacred portion of Oke-Ayoba, which is the Oke-Igeti for use for the annual pilgrimage.

Though a native of Ibadan who was born and raised in Lagos, Dr. Solagbade has no blood link with Ekiti State.

He, however, leads the efforts to reposition Ekiti State as the home of Ifa which, in future, should have a world class institution for the study of Ifa.

Solagbade decried the apparent lack of coordination among practitioners of Ifa in Ekiti State.

This, he said, affected their ability to respond to developing issues with a common voice.

Part of it, according to Solagbade, was the agitation to move the pilgrimage to other parts of Yorubaland.

He declared that members of ICIR in the state needed to reconcile their differences and move on to their responsibilities as the father of all.

Dr. Popoola affirmed that Ifa was the voice of Olodumare and the surest means to mend our broken world.

He expressed appreciation to the chairman Ekiti State Council of Traditional Rulers, Oba Ayorinde Ilori-Faboro, the Olojudo of Ido-Ekiti; the Ewi of Ado-Ekiti, Oba Rufus Adeyemo Adejugbe and other members of the council for their immense surpport so far.

The Ifa scholar revealed that once Oke-Igeti was released, ICIR would be ready to partner towards developing the sacred site into a world class heritage grove.

This, he said, was because the belief, as well as the study of Ifa was spreading like wild fire.

Ifa religion, according to Popoola, had also been globally recognised among notable religions of the world.

Oluwo Popoola hinted that an 11-man Local Organizing Committee had been inaugurated to coordinate the 10th edition which would feature a symposium.

The theme of the symposium is : Our Culture, Our life.

Popoola called on the Ekiti State government to focus on optimal development of heritage sites in the state.

He said Ekiti State was blessed to have multiple tourism opportunities which could translate to huge economic advantage.

Popoola described Ekiti State as a tourism-rich state and, therefore, applauded the milestone attained in arts, culture and tourism development while commending Ekiti governor for appointing people who were well grounded to head the sectors.

According to him, the appointment of Barrister Wale Ojo-Lanre as Director-General of the Bureau for Tourism Development and re-appointment of Prof Rasaki Ojo Bakare as commissioner for Arts, Culture and Creative Economy had a positive omen for the development of tourism and creative sectors of the state.

Popoola described both sectors as mutually complimentary.

He said the period of the pilgrimage and festival would be dedicated to prayers for the peace and security of Ekiti State and Nigeria.

Popoola said necessary spiritual interventions that would usher in economic stability, peace and progress would be done by the International Council for Ifa Religion(ICIR) during the 9-day event.