Nigerians have taken to multiple social media spaces to express their displeasure about the recently cancelled Isese Festival scheduled to hold on August 20, 2023.
Isese is a Yoruba term for tradition, to denote the different kinds of festivals held by adherents of the Yoruba traditional religion in Nigeria and Cuba, Brazil, the United States, Benin, and other countries.
Last Tuesday, news surfaced that the August 20 planned Isese Festival in Ilorin Kwara State had been cancelled on the orders of the State Police Command.
A statement signed by the President of the Isese Council, Oluwo Solagbade Popoola, and made available to The PUNCH, states that the festival was cancelled by the police “as a result of what they called rising tension in the state.
“ICIR is not unaware that police authorities have the power to enforce laws and regulations, maintain public order, and ensure the safety and security of the community.
“They can also, under certain circumstances, impose restrictions or place a ban on specific events or activities if they deem it necessary for public safety, law enforcement, or other legitimate reasons,” the statement read in part.
Nigerians have since taken to social media to share their thoughts on this latest development. While some called the police and the state government out for their bias, a couple of others, mostly Muslims advocated the ban to remain permanent in the state.
Malcom Omirhobo tweeted; “Christians & Muslims in Ilorin celebrate their Christmas & Salah without disturbance but African Traditional Religion, Ifa/ORISA devotees & adherents are not allowed to celebrate Isese. They are coerced by the very police that are supposed to protect them. This is discriminatory.”
Yemi simply tweeted, “Ilorin is breeding extremists already. Na from Ile kewu e dey starts to reach MSSN. Everything about that Islam ideology na violence.”
Another Twitter user who goes by the handle A Little Kindness wrote, “A country where a certain part of the nation can not freely practice their own culture. Something must be wrong because all these things are not ordinary.”
Omo Nigeria also tweeted, “Islam or Christianity is not associated with any particular tribe or State. Ilorin which is a Yoruba state is predominantly occupied by Muslim Yorubas. However, Nigeria is a secular State and any citizen have the right to practice their religion without fear or intimidation.”
Oluwasegun Oluwajuwon on Instagram wrote; “When trouble sleep yanga go make am……. traditionalist all over should come to Ilorin on dat day and let us see what will happen. God no get religion, if u be a Christian or Muslim no say you must enter heaven. Come to think about it, these alfas buy and use things wey Isese dey use and na Muslim wives dey sell dem pass for the market. Who is fooling who? If the fight starts na juju d Muslim go use fight the Isese people .”
Emmanuel also wrote, “Afonja sold the community for gunpowder and horses and forcefully took over the community and introduced a foreign religion called Islam ☪️….you all been denying your origin and say you’re serving God..bunch of illiterate 😢.”
Ifa Funsho, an Isese Devotee commenting wrote, “The Isese in Ilorin will hold. All these noises coming from these groups of Muslims will not change anything. If Kwara is the city of Yoruba speakers. That translates to culture. Language is part of the culture. But Islam is Arabic & Arab culture. Common sense shouldn’t be hard.”
Muslim devotees have since joined in on the conversation as well.
Nana Juwairriyah a Muslim devotee on Facebook wrote: “It should be called off completely and never to be mentioned again in that Muslim city.”
Balogun Gbolahan, another Muslim devotee cursed Isese devotees commenting, “You shouldn’t stop it now. go there and do ur Isese oriburuku yin now.”
Facebook user Omo Ilorin, joined Gbolahan in cussing Isese Devotees saying: “Koni dafun gbogbo yin,” meaning it shall not be well with every Isese worshipper.
“Better,” Medina Usman, a Muslim devotee simply commented in support of the Isese festival suspension.
Ibeji Noble, a Christian supporting the Muslim stance on eradicating Isese worship from Ilorin commented as well saying, “If the Muslims in Ilorin say they no longer want the Isese festival to hold again Ilorin, we all need to respect their decision… after all, the land belongs to them…na dem be the landlord.”
The fight for the freedom of worship in Kwara state has been a continuous battle since June when The Punch reported on how Yeye Omolara Ajesikemi was threatened and bullied until her planned Isese Festival, scheduled to hold in the state was cancelled and later celebrated in Lagos state.
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