AMALA FIESTA: A QUICK DIAGNOSIS OF A MAIDEN FOOD-CULTURE GATHERING IN IBADAN
Recently, the media was awash with stories which ordinarily would not have taken hold of the headlines. I cannot remember the last time a story about food-related fiesta/event enjoyed media attention like it did when the Oyo State Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr. Toye Arulogun made a press statement few months ago that the State government through the Ministry he supervises will celebrate the largest gathering of food vendors, farmers and exhibitors called ‘Amala Fiesta’ in the ancient city of Ibadan.
Perhaps, this confident statement picked its sensational value from the ignoble truth that the Yoruba nation is so divided that development and promotion of all aspects of its culture, which includes Language, Food and Fashion are so sidestepped for other western culture, food and language. So, when the creative helmsman in the state’s culture made this pronouncement, people were made to ponder what this could yield. In our mindset, since this kind of ingenuity was never brought on board by any past administration, it sounded new and very catchy to the people of Oyo State.
I think Oyo State indigenes, both in the nation and in the diaspora should give a well deserved kudos to the present administration in Oyo State, led by the indefatigable Executive Governor, His Excellency, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, who has been steering the ship of the state matchlessly, for looking into cultural values and seeking to promote and resuscitate it. Let’s call a spade a spade, Mr. Toye Arulogun, the Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, is a round peg in a round hole who has used his ‘Mr Fix it’ midas touch to put the cultural-tourism sector of the State right. Toye Arulogun, who came on board as the Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism of the pace-setter state in June 2016 has to his cap two unique feathers already: the Aso-Ofi day in Iseyin celebrated on September 27, 2016 and the recently concluded Amala fiesta celebrated between December 15-17, 2016. His witty and intellectual ideas which were brought to bear in September, 201 6 have sought to bring back the lost self-worth of the cultural-tourism sector in the state, which he promised will be evenly distributed among the different zones of the state. He said it is expected to be a veritable source of internally generated revenue, which would be well managed by the state.
Permit me to quickly recall the Aso-Ofi day, which was graced by the wife of the Executive governor of Oyo State, Mrs. Florence Ajimobi. At the event, the traditional ruler of Iseyin, Oba Abdu-Ganiyu Ajinese 1 commended the Ajimobi administration for bringing World Tourism Day celebration down to Iseyin, which he described as first of its kind in recent years in the community. Same statement was made by the wife of the Executive governor of Oyo State, Her Excellency, Mrs. Florence Ajimobi, the Aare Alasa of Ibadanland, Chief Lekan Alabi, the Ezendigbo of Ibadan, the Akwa-Ibom community in Ibadanland, and other groups at the just concluded Amala Fiesta.
They all attested to the ingenuity embedded in the fiesta and made revealing statements that if well harnessed, the potentials in the culture sector of the state will be enormous and uncountable. There is a connection between the State’s culture and the agricultural sector, which was clearly revealed at the Amala fiesta, with the theme “from the farm to the table”. As it kicked off, 17 food vendors and 17 exhibitors enlivened the exhibition ground with their wares and sumptuous Amala meal with its accompanying condiments, the ‘orisirisis’ and made the event colourful, after which more exhibitors such as Airtel, Wema bank, et al joined.
The event showcased the nexus among culture, tourism and agriculture Unquestionably, Arulogun represents the quintessential Ajimobi dream cabinet member. Right from the time he took over the helms at the Information, Culture and Tourism Ministry, he clearly made it known that there were countless potentials embedded in the tourism and culture sector of the State. He never stopped publicly confessing that his priority was to tap into each of these opportunities, rather than eyeing them. Before his arrival on board, the ministry he oversees has always been a relatively invisible one in the socio-political scheme of things in the state. Indigenes of the state were not seeing any significance in the state ministry of information, culture and tourism, and denied that it is an important government apparatus in citizenry engagement, communication and promotion of our cultural values and tourism potentials. Let me intimate you that there are more interesting events in the offing which will be unveiled from the stables of Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, such as Twins Festival, Photo Exhibition, Ile-oko’ya, among others.
Even as the Ministry is still basking in the euphoria of the success recorded at the Amala fiesta, it has kicked off plans to bring together the largest gathering of people with multiple births in the world, and perhaps break a world record with the upcoming Twins Tourism which will be celebrated at Igboora very soon. Arulogun has always asserted that the beauty of the events organized by the Ministry is that they have always been modeled to come up at different geo-political zones in order to harness job creation, potentials to youths and artisans in the respective host communities they take these projects to.
There could apparently be an inter-working relationship between the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism and other sectors of the State as culture cuts across all spheres of life. This is just to wish Toye Arulogun, the king of boys, more successful years as the man in charge of Information, Culture and Tourism in the State, and may his candle light never go dim, even, at the twilight of his political career.
Olamide Adeniji, Media Officer Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism.
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