*2022 Eid-el-Kabir in Ilorin: An Ileya Festival Like No Other*
By Abubakar Imam
Ileya festival, otherwise called Eid-el-Kabir or Eid-el-Adha, is an important religious festival in Islam; the religion subscribed to by the overwhelming majority of the people of Ilorin Emirate. It is a festival that is marked with the slaughtering of rams and other domestic animals as a form of worship in emulation of Prophet Ibrahim. The festival is also characterised by exchange of visits, merrymaking and sharing of good times among relations, friends, neighbours and colleagues.
Ileya is always a special period in Ilorin. The uniqueness of the period can be seen among children and youths who always parade the city in the best of attires their parents could afford. It is also not uncommon among adults who are always involved in every aspect of the annual festival.
Ilorin is always filled to the brim during the annual Ileya festival. Aafin segment,the eastern side of the city, is usually more populated with “Omo Olodun yera wo”(do not splash on me). Okemale,the western part, is equally, more often than not, filled to capacity with those we call “awa le wa je ifun”(devourers of animal intestines). It is a period one is likely to see family members from far and near that have not been seen at home for a year or more. Anyone who does not come home for Ileya is often seen as “broke”, “too busy with nothing”,”uncomfortable” or “still struggling”.
Because of its attractions for participation among the people of the community, many families and groups as well as subcommunities hold their reunions therein. Weddings are also fixed for the period. Issues of common interests are equally reserved for discussions during the period. Many also use the period to organise fundraising ceremony towards the execution of one project or the other. Resolution of intractable frictions among family members and members of a community or group are sometimes left for the period as it is believed that the “alenuloros” (those that matter) would find time to come home and therefore use that opportunity to settle amicably.
But this year’s Ileya which holds between Saturday, June 9 and Sunday, June 10, 2022 promises to be more memorable. This is because the city of Ilorin and its environs would be in a superlatively celebratory mood for a whole week with series of activities lined up . The bubbling would not just be marked by eating and “jollification” but also by several interactions and community development programmes already scheduled for the period. This would be greatly enhanced with the Federal Government’s anticipated declaration of the two subsequent working days as public holidays.
The most prominent pre-Ileya event is a special dinner for all the nine new honorarary title holders appointed last year by the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji (Dr.) Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari,CFR. The programme is being put together by the community’s apex sociocultural organisation, Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union(IEDPU). It shall be held at the Union’s Secretariat, Geri Alimi,Ilorin beginning at 4 p.m on Thursday, July 7, 2022. The event is to be presided-over by a former Grand Kadi of Kwara State,Honourable Justice Idris Abdullahi Haroon (b. 1948), while Alhaja Habeebat Anike Yusuf (b.1948) ,the Chairman of the Kwara State Civil Service Commission, has equally accepted to serve as the Chairwoman. All the new title holders have given their words that they would grace the event. It is also expected to be attended by the Executive Governor of Kwara State, Mallam AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq (b.1960) among other prominent sons and daughters of Ilorin Emirate. As expected, attendance at the programme, which the Union’s National President, Alhaji Aliyu Otta Uthman,fsi, and his colleagues on the body’s National Executive Council are working day and night towards ensuring its success through a Committee chaired by TPL Kale Yusuf Ikokoro (b. 1964), a retired Permanent Secretary in Kwara State, would be *strictly on invitation*.
The unveiling of the fifth in the series of book of readings on Ilorin and its environs by the Centre for Ilorin Studies, University of Ilorin, is also planned to coincide with Ileya. It holds on the same Thursday, July 7, 2021.The book, in which yours sincerely contributed a chapter, is expected to be reviewed by an outstanding media technocrat and former National Publicity Secretary of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC), Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu (b.1969). The event, which holds at the Banquet Hall, Opposite Government House,Ilorin, would begin at 9:00 a.m. One of those to be conferred with awards on the occasion is the pioneer National President of the renamed Ilorin Emirate Students Union (IESU), Engr. Muhammad Kamil Dauda,FNSE(b. 1968). Also to be honoured is a distinguished daughter of Ilorin, Miss Fatimat Bukola Alada (b. 1997). She is getting the honour courtesy of her exceptional performances at the Nigerian Law School last year where she not only emerged as the best graduating participant but also ended up garnering seven awards including the one instituted by the Chief Justice of Nigeria. Miss Alada,who is a daughter to a prolific scholar and administrator and the National President of the Physiological Society of Nigeria who previously served as the Dean, Postgraduate School, University of Ibadan, Prof. AbdulRazak Alada (b. 1959), is an exceptionally brilliant young woman who earlier made Ilorin Emirate proud with her graduation with a First Class degree in Law from the University of Ibadan and also finishing as the overall best graduand of the premier University in 2020. Prof. Alada is a nephew to a foremost statesman, former IEDPU National President and second republic Secretary to the Kwara State Government, Alhaji AbdulRasheed Salman Alada (b. 1938); while the mother of the young and promising lady,Mrs Ayo Shefiat Alada, is a niece to Alhaji Issa Malete, who served as an Honourable Commissioner in Kwara State during the second republic and under Governor Mohammed Alabi Lawal.
Friday, July 8, 2022 would also be a unique day. It is a day set aside for the display of the cultural artifacts of Ilorin. It would be used to celebrate the heterogeneity of Ilorin Emirate and its richness in terms of the things of the past and their abundant prospects. This programme, which is sponsored by the Ilorin Emirate Durbar Committee, would be particularly exciting for our younger ones. It would expose them to those materials that made Ilorin unique. They would equally learn about our arts and culture as well as those materials that were used in advancing them. The event, which holds at the Emir’s palace and begins by 9a.m, would be coordinated by Shaykh Moshood Mahmud Jimba (b. 1963); an industrious Professor of Arabic and Dean, Student Affairs, Kwara State University, Malete, and Chairman, Kwara State Arabic Education Board.
Notwithstanding the ongoing industrial dispute currently rocking federal universities,indigenes of Ilorin Emirate in the services of the University of Ilorin operating under the platform of Ilorin Emirate Staff Association(IESA) with Prof. Suleiman Funsho Ambali as the Chairman,are prepared to hold its annual prayers on the Arafat Day at the Yidi praying ground. Since the prayer session,which begins at 10a.m, is meant to seek Allah’s favour on Ilorin Emirate and its people,other interested members of the community would surely not be turned back.
The “real day”would be Saturday, July 10,2022. It is the main Ileya day and that is the day we would all converge on the expansive Ilorin Yidi praying ground. The Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji(Dr.) Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari,CFR, as done by his illustrious forebears, would lead all of us to the sanctuary for the observance of the two Rakat prayers to be led by the community’s Chief Imam, Shaykh (Dr.) Muhammad Bashir Saliu,OON(b. 1950). The Ilorin Yidi Maintenance and Management Committee under the distinguished Chairmanship of the Za’ana of Ilorin, Engr. Yusuf Olanrewaju Sagaya, (MFR); (b.1946) has been working round the clock to ensure that the place is properly prepared for worshippers.
One other event slated for the same day as the above is this year’s edition of the annual get together of the popular Third Estate, Ilorin Emirate. The event, which would attract prominent personalities from all walks of life, holds at the Kwara Hotel, Ilorin, beginning at 8:00pm.The three decades old sociocultural organisation, which is peopled by first class patriots and leading professionals, had always used the programme to dissect the challenges as well as discuss the progress of Ilorin as a polity. This year’s edition wouldn’t be different!
The next day, which is Sunday, July 10,2022, is to be devoted to the *Ilorin Emirate Durbar.* Durbar, since its reintroduction by the Emir of Ilorin, has become a major cultural festival, which attracts multitude of indigenes, residents and tourists from far and near to Ilorin and particularly to the ancient palace of the Emir of Ilorin. The Ilorin Emirate Durbar Committee, which operates under the Chairmanship of the admirable Danmasani of Ilorin, Engr. Suleiman Ayinde Yahaya Alapansanpa,FNSE(b.1955), is perfecting arrangements towards organising the best ever Durbar in the history of the community. While the last edition did not hold, the mini one held the following day witnessed the unveiling of the latest in the list of honorary title holders in Ilorin Emirate that are being celebrated by the IEDPU. This year’s edition promises to be peaceful, colourful and exciting going by the increasing support it is attracting from stakeholders.
The third day of Ileya; Monday, 11th of July, 2022 would witness two events. The first would be “Bareke”, which is the homage the Emir and his Chiefs usually pay to the Governor of Kwara State,Mallam AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq(b. 1960), at the Government House, Ilorin. His Royal Highness and his entourage would leave for the Government House and return to his ancient palace in a convoy of cars.
The second event slated for Monday, July 11, 2022, which is no less important, is the annual meeting of the Board of Trustees and Stakeholders of the Ilorin Central Jumaat Mosque. The meeting,which would be presided-over by the Iyan Garin of Ilorin and a former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Honourable Justice Saliu Modibbo Alfa Belgore,GCON; (b. 1937), who is also the Chairman of the Mosque’s Board of Trustees, holds at the Women Wing of the edifice. The event would afford stakeholders to know more about and offer suggestions on the management, prospects and challenges of the Mosque that is generally described as the best of its kind in West Africa. Invitation letters have already been dispatched and that would be followed up with other means of communication to cultivate quality attendance. The Central Working Committee of the Mosque, under the Chairmanship of the hardworking Danmadami of Ilorin, Alhaji Shehu Abdulgafar, (OON) (b.1939), and the Alhaji AbdulRaufi Ayinla-led planning committee of the event are working tirelessly towards having a very successful meeting.
Would those who are not coming home for this year’s Eid-el-Kabir not miss a lot? I believe they will! None of these events deserve the indifference or nonparticipation of patriots . They are all important for the progress and survival of Ilorin Emirate as a unique community. If I were one of those who are not planning to come home, I would change my mind and begin to arrange to come with my “Ike Olohun”. This should be done not not only to enjoy the fraternity of relations and friends; but also to partake in the week long festivities as a “dahiri Ilorin”. Wish you all safe and protected trips in advance.
One thing that I have learnt is that the more patriotic one is; the more blessed he becomes! The Emir of Ilorin said much on that while addressing a delegation, which I was part of; a little over two decades ago,- that Ilorin is a sacred community and that no action put towards it would go unrewarded. His illustrious dad, Alhaji Sulu Gambari,CFR(1914-1992), who reigned from 1959 to 1992 as the Emir of Ilorin, also made similar allusion in his memorable Eid-el-Fitri message of 1982. The two just corroborated the timeless submission of the best of mankind, Prophet Muhammad, on patriotism!
Will you, therefore not join the train for you to earn more rewards and blessings?. Please, let us be part of the glory. May Allah ease our affairs and grant us all the wherewithal. Aamiin.
Happy Eid-el-Kabir festival in advance. I pray that we celebrate more of it in peace, sound health and greater prosperity. Aamiin.
Imam is National Secretary, Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union.