Archive for September, 2013
Ila Orangun community rolls out the drums to celebrate Isinro, a festival that traditionally signifies the beginning of a new year
By FOLASHADE ADEBAYO
He toured the town in an open roof vehicle, waving his horsetail in a perpetual fashion. A long line of dancing chiefs, princes, princesses and cultural groups leads his colourful train.
With the warmth of a successful politician, Oba Wahab Oyedotun, the king of Ila Orangun, a quiet town in Osun State, beamed at his people who lined the streets, waving and bowing in obeisance. Every few metres, the king’s entourage pauses, collecting gifts from the cheering crowd. He returned the favour by doling out crisp naira notes.
The grand procession was not a homecoming event. It is an annual royalty parade demanded by culture during Isinro, a festival that traditionally signifies the beginning of a new year and the biggest of its type in Ila Orangun. For Oyedotun, the stakes are higher this year. It is his 10th outing as king and the royal parade is symbolic of his popularity and acceptance even after a decade. “I am here to show appreciation to the king and the queen for being nice to us. What they have achieved in this town is too numerous to count,” said Olabisi Olajide, a resident of the town.
Indeed, sighting the king in Ila Oragun is a rarity. Therefore, the Isinro festival is a golden opportunity for both the old and the young to exchange smiles and prayers with their king. Oyedotun is emphatic that Isinro is a festival of thanksgiving to the people who have stood by him despite the rigour of traditional leadership. “It is an opportunity to thank the people for their cooperation at the end of the year. In Ila, we have 17 days forming a month and when you have 17 days in 17 places, it marks the end of the year in Ila. That is why we celebrate Isinro to mark the end of the year and show appreciation to our people,” he said.
The king has every reason to appreciate the town. Since his coronation in 2003, Oyedotun had faced litigations challenging his selection as king. It has been a challenging decade for the king and the lingering court cases almost overwhelmed his administration. However, Adeola Faleye, a traditional chief, remarked that the people supported the king throughout the trials. “There have been so many hiccups but he is still alive to witness today. The kabiyesi is loved and valued. The huge crowd here shows that Ila Orangun has not abandoned its culture unlike some other communities who have abandoned or absconded from aspects of tradition,” she said.
The Isinro was truly colourful and popular in Ila and its immediate environs. The magazine gathered that it symbolises a turn of the New Year and for the people, it is a major festival just like the way the Americans celebrate the Thanksgiving Day. Adeniyi Adeleke, a prince of the town, said Isinro usually coincides with the time new farm produce like yam and maize comes out. “It marks the beginning of a New Year also just like Muslims celebrate Hijjrah and Christians celebrate Christmas. So, it is a time of celebration when all the chiefs and people of Ila will come and pay homage to the king,” Adeleke said.
The colourful Isinro is however not exclusive to Ila Orangun. It is also shared by the neighbouring Oke Ila. And this is hardly surprising since Ila Orangun and Oke Ila enjoy a mutual heritage. History has it that the two towns used to be one until a little disagreement set them apart. Nevertheless, an enduring kinship still exists between the towns. Both Oyedotun and Adedokun Abolarin, the king of Oke Ila are addressed as Orangun while all compounds and titles of chiefs are also replicated in both towns.
In spite of Isinro’s larger than life status however, the festival is yet to achieve national popularity and attract sponsorship. Unlike the Ojude Oba festival in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State and the Osun Osogbo festival, Isinro is yet to enjoy a national acclaim. Faleye who is also a lecturer at the Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU, Ile-Ife, Osun State, attributes this to religious and external influence. “There are different reasons ranging from religion, cultural exposure and interference that may make some people say they will not be part of it. But we are creating the awareness using the Internet to educate people on the essence of Isinro,” she said.
Oba Oyedotun also told the magazine that he has set up a committee that will recommend how best to promote Isinro. “We are looking for sponsors all over the world to appreciate the essence of this festival. Already, it is a state festival and we are looking forward to making it a national festival,” he said.
In the absence of corporate sponsors who can give the festival a national mileage, the community has resorted to self-help, raising fund to organise the festival. “My academic studies on cultural and tourism matters show that it has been challenging funding festivals like this. Some people are not interested because of religion. Some are more interested in politics than keeping tradition. But this community is interested in keeping tradition. Individual compounds tax themselves to show commitment to this festival. The state government has also given us some bright light to support us,” said Faleye.
Adeleke added that Ila has started the process of rebranding Isinro. “This is an age-long festival. Initially, there was this impression that it was occultic but since the ascendance of Oba Oyedotun we have been working harder to debunk that belief. The festival has nothing to do with occult and very soon we are believing God that many people will come to that realisation,” Adeleke said.
News & Views
News & Views / Social Justice & Activism
JUSTICE FOR TRAYVON:
Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton
Fate has a way of forcing razor-sharp turns in our lives, and Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, parents of slain teen Trayvon Martin, are dealing with the ultimate challenge. Within a week of the acquittal of the man who pulled the trigger on that rainy Florida evening, and though many would crumble under the weight of despair, they continued to turn their pain into a pointed argument for justice. Vaulted into a national debate over the issues of racial profiling, gun violence and “Stand Your Ground” laws, Martin and Fulton are buoyed by the wave of public empathy and rallies taking place around the country; they gain strength and conviction with each heavy step they take.
The pair agreed to meet with EBONY, along with their attorney and advocate Benjamin L. Crump, on a sweltering morning in New York City, just days after the acquittal of George Zimmerman. Ironically, our interview and cover shoot took place in the same hotel suite where a newly elected president Barack Obama stayed at the dawn of his first term in office, and on the same day of his very personal address on race in America. In those remarks, the president poignantly identified with the plight of young African-American men when he stated, “You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me, 35 years ago. There are very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me.”
But on this day, the room held a different energy. Obama’s post-electoral elation yielded to a family’s desires to make sense of a senseless tragedy. Holding firm to their convictions, they still seek to properly honor the memory of their son and to ensure the survival of all our children.
Read more in the September issue of EBONY
© 2013 EB
Saviours’ Day 2013
The Final Call | National News
America’s New Slavery: Black Men in Prison
By Charlene Muhammad -National Correspondent- | Last updated: Mar 20, 2008 – 4:56:00 PM
Bookmark and Share
What’s your opinion on this article?
Printer Friendly Page
Photos: AP/Wide World PhotosAdvocates note that the constitution’s 13th amendment, ratified in 1865, abolished slavery in the United States, but provided an exception in cases where persons have been ‘duly convicted’ in the United States and territory it controls, slavery or involuntary servitude can be reimposed as a punishment.
(FinalCall.com) – A new American slave trade is booming, warn prison activists, following the release of a report that again outlines outrageous numbers of young Black men in prison and increasing numbers of adults undergoing incarceration. That slave trade is connected to money states spend to keep people locked up, profits made through cheap prison labor and for-profit prisons, excessive charges inmates and families may pay for everything from tube socks to phone calls, and lucrative cross country shipping of inmates to relieve overcrowding and rent cells in faraway states and counties.
Advocates note that the constitution’s 13th amendment, ratified in 1865, abolished slavery in the United States, but provided an exception—in cases where persons have been “duly convicted” in the United States and territory it controls, slavery or involuntary servitude can be reimposed as a punishment, they add. The majority of prisoners are Black and Latino, though they are minorities in terms of their numbers in the population.
According to “One in 100: Behind Bars in America 2008,” published by the Pew Center on the States, one in nine Black men between the ages of 20-34 are incarcerated compared to one in 30 other men of the same age. Like the overall adult ratio, one in 100 Black women in their mid-to-late 30s is imprisoned.
“Everyone is feeding off of our down-trodden condition to feed their capitalism, greed and lust for money. They are buying prison stock on the market and this is why they want to silence the restorative voice of Minister Louis Farrakhan, because he is repairing those who fill and would support the prison system as slaves,” said Student Minister Abdullah Muhammad of the Nation of Islam Prison Ministry.
The report states that the rising trend stems from more than a parallel increase in crime or surge in the population at large, but it is driven by policies that put more criminals in prison, extending their stay through measures like California’s Three Strikes Law.
Prisoners from the Limestone Correctional Facility do a trash detail along I-65 in North Alabama near the Tennessee State line while working on a chain gang.
Atty. Barbara Ratliff, a L.A.-based reparations activist, said the prison industrial complex’s extension of the slave plantation plays out in a pattern of behavior that Black people must study in order to survive. “I’m not talking about behavior of the individual incarcerate, but the pattern of treatment that digs into institutional racism. Corporate profit from prisons is no different than how slave owners received benefit from their labor, and that impact remained even after slavery. For instance, freed Blacks were arrested and put on chain gangs for their labor which continued to benefit slave owners, so this is no accident,” she said.
Inmates produce items or perform services for almost every major industry. They sew clothes, fight fires and build furniture, but they are paid little or no wages, somewhere between five cents and almost $2.
Phone companies charge high amounts for collect calls and inmate care packages can no longer be sent from families directly. Inmates must purchase products from companies to be sent in, which feeds capitalism, activists charge.
Although the costs of prisons is skyrocketing and consuming state budgets, money continues to be spent to push more Black youth into prison, activists assert. Many education and prison advocates charge there is a plot to populate U.S. prisons based on the dumbing down of America’s youth. Figures show those most likely to be incarcerated and to return generally have the lowest level of education. The report said, “While states don’t necessarily choose between higher education and corrections, a dollar spent in one area is unavailable for another.”
U.S. spending on prisons last year topped $49 billion, compared to $12 billion in 1987. California spent $8.8 billion on prisons last year and 13 states spend more than $1 billion a year on corrections.
The chain gang was re-established in 1995. Becoming one of the first convicts in perhaps a half-century to break rocks, William Crook, 28, of Gadsden, Ala., takes a swing with his 10-pound sledge hammer. Shortly after sunrise, 160 inmates at the Limestone Correction Facility marched a half-mile in leg irons from their dormitories to the rock pile.
Data from the National Association of State Budget Officers indicates:
• Vermont, Michigan, Oregon, Connecticut and Delaware spent as much or more on corrections than on higher education;
• For every dollar spent on higher education, Alaska spent 77 cents on corrections;
• For every dollar spent on higher education, Georgia spent 50 cents on corrections;
• On the average, all 50 states spent 60 cents on corrections for every dollar spent on higher education; and
• For every dollar spent on higher education, Minnesota spent 17 cents on corrections.
Between 1985 and 2005, Texas’ prison population alone jumped by 300 percent.
“All we have to do is follow the logic to see this connection between prisons and enslavement. When you look at prison costs and they say it cost $45,000 to house one prisoner, where does that break down? There’s only three square meals a day. The prisoners make their clothes and bedding in sewing factories and about 90 percent of the items they use in the prisons,” said Nathaniel Ali of the National Association of Brothers and Sisters In and Out of Prison (NABSIO).
He believes the majority of prison costs support guard unions and pay enormous base and overtime salaries of prison guards and other staff.
“They receive these exorbitant wages regardless of their education and training. You don’t have an I.Q.; all you have to have is the ability to be brutal” to command these wages through this new slave system, he said.
Mr. Ali said the public school system has become the feeder to prisons and their slave populations by increasing the heavy presence of school police and sheriffs on middle school campuses and penalties students face for often trivial offenses, other activists added.
Prison watch groups note corporate-owned prisons feed job-starved communities where businesses have disappeared. By incarcerating so many people, America deals with warehousing them and not finding out why they are incarcerated in the first place, advocates said.
“The fact is, it’s a business and a readily accessible, ‘free’ workforce removes prisons’ incentive to rehabilitate, especially those that are owned by corporations,” Atty. Ratliff said.
Laini Coffee, a self-described “unity activist” said, “At current trend, we could very well see the number of so-called free Blacks rival to the same number of those that are incarcerated. The answer is simple: Unity.”
The impact of high Black male incarceration rates (FCN, 11-07-2007)
Follow the Prison Money Trail ..to elected officials (In These Times, 09-04-2006)
Profits fuel prison growth (FCN, 03-03-2002)
Black incarceration rates tripled during Clinton Presidency (FCN, 03-06-2001)
The Prison Industrial Complex: Crisis and Control (CorpWatch, 1999)