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Isese Festival : Emir of Ilorin replies Wole Soyinka



Dr. Ibrahim Sulu Gambari, Emir of Ilorin, says Isese festival, a cultural ceremony held in the town, was cancelled “to prevent crisis”.

According to NAN, the monarch described the decision as “proactiveness”, saying it “is necessary to sustain peaceful co-existence in the society”.

In a statement on Friday signed by AbdulAzeez Arowona, his spokesperson, Gambari responded to an open letter addressed to him by Wole Soyinka, the Nobel laureate.

The dispute began when Yeye Ajesikemi Omolara, a priestess, was said to have announced the commencement of this year’s Isese festival from July 22 to 24.

But members of the Majilisu Shabab li Ulamahu Muslim group, in a video, warned the priestess against holding the event.

The group had claimed the order came from the emir.

Reacting to the development, Soyinka described the decision to cancel the festival as “a crime against the cultural heritage of all humanity” and “an assault on civilised conduct”.

He said Nigeria’s constitution guarantees freedom of belief, adding that the cancellation will undermine the country’s progress.

In response to the Nobel laureate, Gambari said the decision was taken to avert situations that might lead to “reprisal attacks by sympathisers or promoters of such belief (Isese festival) in other parts of the country”.

He added that the priestess had lived “harmoniously” in the town for years “until she decided to go beyond her boundaries”.

“In order to set records straight, Professor Wole Soyinka tends to be economical with facts, forgetting that war is nobody’s want,” the statement said.

“As he decided to settle with a factor that is capable of causing chaos in the society, if not quickly averted.

“This is to prevent crisis and not waiting until it erupt 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.

“It is therefore surprising to hear that the position of Professor Soyinka is identical to someone who does not consider what might transpire if the programme was hosted.

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

“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.

“Yeye Ajesikemi also confirmed that she has been living harmoniously in Ilorin for many years, not until she decided to go beyond her boundaries.”

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