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January 10, 2011

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Barack and Michelle Obama hail Kwanzaa umoja

December 27, 2010 |  5:44 am

Michelle and Barack Obama's Air Kiss 12-13-10

President Obama’s statement marking Kwanzaa

Michelle and I extend our warmest thoughts and wishes to all those who are celebrating Kwanzaa this holiday season. Today [Dec. 26] is the first of a joyful seven-day celebration of African American culture and heritage.
The seven principles of Kwanzaa — unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith — are some of the very values that make us Americans.

As families across America and around the world light the Kinara today in the spirit of umoja, or unity, our family sends our well wishes and blessings for a happy and healthy new year.
Photo: Jewel Samad / AFP/Getty Images


August 16, 2007


Yoruba Religion: 2005 Schedule* of Festivals

By Remi-Niyi Alaran
Yoruba religion (Irunmole) is a monotheistic religion with one almighty god. It is based on reverence of African ancestors who are celebrated as a heirarchy of about 401 chief and minor dieties. OLORUN or OLODUMARE, the only Supreme Diety, is not worshipped directly. Irunmole is an instrumental set of rituals by which critical individuals may resolve existential dilemnas in consultation with a distant God. It does not define a specific moralising code or have any sacred texts. Individuals can converse directly with their orisha and can effect changes in their own destiny. Irunmole is not concerned about a compiled and interpreted system of beliefs for group worship of an omnipresent God, as are other world religions such as Islam, Christianity or Buddhism.

February 26 – 27
OLOKUN festival:
Orisha of the deep sea [Nature] and protector of the African soul

March 21
ODUDUWA festival.
Celebrations of the Orisha of the Earth. Onset of the Yoruba NEW YEAR (2005 is the 10,047th year of Yoruba culture?)

March 26 – 27
OSHOSI festival.
Veneration of the Orisha of Adventure, patron of hunters
Also annual rites of passage for men

April 4
OGUN festival.
Veneration of the Orisha of War, patron of metal crafts [Engineering / Military]

Last Saturday of April, for 5 days (April 30 – May 4)
OSHUN festival. Celebrations of the Orisha of love [Biology]. Onset of Spring and the wet season.

Last Saturday of May, for seven days (May 28 – June 4)
EGUNGUN festivals. Celebrations of the Ancestral Spirits (Life forces), including royal sacrifices

June 21
SHOPONA and OSANHIN festivals.
Veneration of the Orishas of Disease and Medicine respecitvely.

June 25 – 26
YEMOJA festival.
Celebrations and fertility paegents of the Matron Orisha of the Yorubas
Also annual rites of passage for woman.

July 2 – 3
ORUNMILA / IFA festival.
Celebrations and recitations of the Orisha of Destiny / Divination [Science]. Also mass gathering of the Yorubas

First weekend in July, for three weeks (July 4 – 24)
OKO and ELEGBA / ESHU festivals.
Celeberations of the Orisha of Farming [Agriculture] and Sex [Power / Communications], respecitvely. Also feasting on new harvests of the Yam tuber crop.

July 24 – 25
SHANGO festival.
Veneration and celebrations of the 8th century Alaafin of ancient Oyo nation, who became diefied as the Orisha of Thunder and Lightening [Energy]

August 27 – 28
OBATALA festival.
Celebrations of the Orisha of Heaven [Creation / Culture]

October 22 – 23
OYA festival.
Celebrations of the Orisha of the Wind. Patron of flooding of the Oya river and guardian of the gateway between life and death. Onset of Autumn and the dry season.

October 31
SHIGIDI festival.
Veneration of the Orisha of Nightmares and the unknown dead of the AFRICAN people. Solemn parade by candlelight for unsettled spirits and ghosts. World Slavery Day?

December 17
OBALUAIYE festival.
Celebrations of the Orisha of Work [Business] and of the winter solstice.
Information adapted from various sources including: and A current discourse of Yoruba perspectives on religions may be found at

*This information is subject to change. Actual dates of celebrations may differ from indicated in accordance with religious practises in location and family.

Remi-Niyi Alaran writes on enterprise and social capital.
You may copy, transmit, or otherwise use this document provided the copyright notice is attached

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OGUN FESTIVALOgun the god of smithy and lord of Iron is celebrated annually in almost every town and villages in the state. The celebration is an annual remembrance and worship of the god of Iron who was believed to be a hunter who migrated from Ile-lfe to Ire-Ekiti on game search, but he ended up living permanently at Ire-Ekiti and disappeared into the ground when some people of the town deceived him with an empty keg of palm wine. He beheaded all of them with his cutlass according to oral history and disappeared into the ground. In Ire-Ekiti, the main festival in remembrance of the deity comes biennially and usually during the month of August.

Ogun is believed to be the god of all those using Iron in their professional work therefore; the deity must be worshipped in order to receive his favour. Ondo Town equally worships Ogun deity. In fact Ekimogun festival is fast assuming the status of a key festival of national interest. And in many towns and villages in the State, ogun festival is usually accorded with masquerades of different designs. During the festival the people also worship their ancestors and with the believe that the ancestors are on earth again to greet, inspect and bless their siblings. These masquerades are regarded as imitations of the ancestors. Dogs, Palm oil, Roasted yam, Palm wine, Cold water and cola nuts are the materials used by Ogun devotees to worship the deity.

OBITUNObitun is a bridal dance in Ondo Town. This dancing ceremony is supposed to be performed for every maiden in the town before she gets married. The people believe that if the ceremony is not performed for any particular girl, she might end up being childless. However, these days, very few families do perform these ceremonies for their daughters.

OROSUN FESTIVAL, IDANREAccording to oral tradition, Orosun was a woman and that she was one of the wives of Olofin Aremitan. When Olofin left Ife and got to Ipetu Ijesha where he stayed briefly, he met Orosun who was said to be very beautiful. Aremitan married her at Ipetu. After some years Aremitan left for Oke-Idanre which he founded.

Because of the strong tie between Olofin and Orosun she came to Idanre where she was welcomed to the palace. She stayed in the palace for many years but unfortunately, her marriage was not blessed with any issue. Her position in the palace was enviable. She was held in high esteem by the King to the annoyance of other wives. This developed into a domestic intrigue and Orosun fled the palace and entered into a cave near the present Orosun Hill.

The people of Idanre decided thereafter to appease her in exchange for fertility, peace, progress and health. She is worshipped every year. The festival is performed on 15th May of every year.

Picture showing the Olowo of Owo in his traditional regalia.
IGOGO FESTIVAL, OWOThis is an annual festival in Owo which lasts a total of 17 days featuring a number of ceremonies including the blessing and release of new yams. During the period of celebration, drumming is banned in Owo and instead, metal gongs (Agogo) are used. This was where the name ‘IGOGO’ was coined.

The Olowo, who during the festival usually dresses in Coral Beaded Crown, plaits his hair like a woman with Olowo’s dressing. It could be seen here that Owo has some traditional linkage with Benin.

The Olowo leads his people including the Chief Priest and the male youths from Iloro quarters to dance round the whole town it comes up in September annually.

OLOKUN, IGBOKODAThis is an annual worship of the Olokun deity who is the goddess of river and seas. The goddess is held in high esteem among the people of riverine areas of the state. This is because the deity has jurisdiction over nearly every important aspect of power to give children to barren women. She is also believed to be in control of ocean waves and could capsize, at will, boats of riches; she is believed to have the power to enrich her devotees.

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