Ibadan Masquerade Series: Oloolu, the Father of All Masquerades in Ibadan
Masquerades literarily and ordinarily depict grotesque figures that should be feared, but in our clime, the Yoruba race in particular, they represent a bevy of beauty and colorful costumes.
Ibadan, with no fewer than 100 masquerades being ‘worshipped’ by devotees so to speak, the head of the Egungun clan in the city Chief Soladoye Fadeyi, lends more voice to the essence of these masquerades.
He said in the early years of Ibadan when the whole place was in disarray, scattered by war, crisis everywhere and nothing was working well in the land, “our forefathers consulted the oracle ýand the oracle said Ibadan will become famous and great only if the families can start worshipping masquerades. So that was how they started it at Ile-Lapapo at Ita Baale and each family in Ibadan contributed clothe for the outing of the first masquerade”
According to Fadeyi, there are over 100 masquerades in Ibadan and all the families rooted in Ibadan have a link with these masquerades one way or another.
Giving a brief background of the masquerades, Fadeyi said the first masquerade in the land was named Labala and it came out over 120 years ago. His coming, he said brought peace, progress, prosperity and goodwill to Ibadanland. And whenever that masquerade comes out, he said, no other masquerade or any other person crosses his path.
He listed the other masquerades including Alagangan, Alapasapa, Ogundeji, Oloolu, Olunlade, Atipako, Abidi-Elege, Godogodo, Ferebiekun, Anikulapo, Lobanika, Telebiitan, Gbebolaja among others.
These masquerades have different family backgrounds, costumes, rituals and taboos.
Recalling the history and importance of one of the greatest masquerades in Ibadanland, the head of Aje family where the Oloolu masquerade originated, Chief Raheem Oyerinde, disclosed that their great forefather, Ayorinde Aje, who was a warrior along with Ogunmola, Ogbori-efon, Ibikunle, Oderinde, Oderinlo went to fight in Ogbagi in Akoko, Ondo State and Oloolu was a great war masquerade in that town and was so powerful such that no one could confront him during the war.
”Nobody could defeat Oloolu during that war but it was our father, Ayorinde Aje that fought him and removed his regalia and costumes before he was brought to Ibadan as a slave. During his stay in Ibadan, there was famine, ill-health and crisis in the land and all the elders and chiefs were looking for a way out, that was how Ayorinde Aje suggested that Oloolu should be used to carry the ritual to appease the gods, so immediately he carried the ritual, there was rain and everything got back to normal in Ibadan.
Oloolu helped Ibadan to be what it is today. Since then anybody that is the head of the Aje family becomes the custodian of Oloolu masquerade.
According to Chief Oyerinde,”any area in Ibadan where the people try to fight the Oloolu anytime he is out, such areas will continue to experience bloodshed, and that is what is happening in Opopoyeosa area till date, because they tried to beat Oloolu there sometimes ago. Oloolu is so great that he gives the barren children, he provides for the needy, he prospers business among other good things he can give to an individual who is ready to serve him”
He further revealed that in time past and presently many politicians seeking elective positions have started coming to seek Oloolu’s assistance for victory at the polls, adding that their wishes are always granted once they can also fulfill their promises