Annually, the Udiroko festival is celebrated in Ado-Ekiti. It is the only festival apart from Ogun or Oitado according to Ado-Ekiti tradition that brings all Ado-Ekiti citizens both at home and in the diaspora together.
This unique festival affords the Ewi, his chiefs, sons and daughters of this ancient kingdom to converge once in a year at the palace of the paramount ruler of Ado-Ekiti with their friends to jollificate and celebrate.
Udiroko was established at about 1310 AD during the reign of Oba Awamaro the first Ewi in the modern and present day Ado-Ekiti. It is the first day of Ado-Ekiti like the January 1st of modern calendar. It is a day the people set aside for individuals to give thanks for his or her creator OLORUN hence the nickname “OLORUNBORUN” festival.
The word Udiroko is derived from the venue of the festival which is converging under the Big Uroko Tree at the palace of the Ewi of Ado-Ekiti. The Iroko Tree used to shield the people from the sun and its effect in those days. The Ado-Ekiti people troop out on the first day of their traditional calendar year after they have treated themselves to delicious meal of pounded yam with egusi soup and undiluted palm wine ‘emu aroso’ and head straight to the palace to catch a glimpse of their Oba in their best attires. There they would be treated with cultural displays, War Lords from various towns and villages under Ewi’s territorial domain would come with gifts to the OLOKUNAYE. The gifts which were usually Asala (walnuts) obi (kola nuts) are freely shared by the people. Ewi would present his address after the war lords displayed their prowess and demonstrated their war exploits. The address usually contains the aspirations, developmental activities and budget for the New Year, it also contains past activities and review of events. The speech of Ewi is a general pointer or direction the people would follow in the New Year. It is the time the new year prayer is said otherwise known as “Iwure” and Ado-Ekiti people would not take their Obas prayer with impunity because of the adage which says Ohun Ewi aye bati wi ni Egba Orun n gba. “Whatever the Ewi of this earth says is what the Heavens accept”. Nobody would stay away from Udiroko in order not to miss the blessing from the representative of the Heavens as epitomized by the Ewi.
The festival provides an opportunity for all adherents to meet and chart a way forward for the community as it is not a fetish festival it is rather a contemporary values norms and ethics of the people devoid of any religious inclination and has become a modern day event that has been embraced by all.
The modern day development in Ado Ekiti can be traced to Udiroko festival as championed by the Ewi, the Ado-Ekiti Progressive Union and other eminent citizens of Ado-Ekiti in addition to government patronages. Each year festival has attracted sons and daughters from far and near. Launchings have been organized to raise funds for development projects such as the modern palace of the Ewi, the construction of the Great Fajuyi Hall, the Faculty of Law Administrative block at Ekiti State University and of course the ongoing imposing am-phi- theatre pavilion under construction in the palace etc.
Udiroko is a tradition of challenge and opportunity as evident in the hospitality and accommodation of all people by Ado indigenes who perform and exhibit their own cultures while paying homage to His Royal Majesty he Ewi of Ado-Ekiti during Udiroko.
Udiroko festival exhibits solidarity and communal efforts and discourages individualism. It serves as springboard for other activities that makes life more meaningful and exciting, despite its old age Udiroko has become a modern day event that has encouraged many people to contribute to the development of Ado-Ekiti.
Today 28th August 2012 is another Udiroko festival. It is going to be a competitive fiesta; where age grades would be re-lunched in accordance with our age long cultural setting for communal service to the town. On the political front, politicians would come from all camps to exhibit their apparels and show their love for the great city. It would be an opportunity too, for Ekiti State government to brief the community about the on-going projects because Ado-Ekiti has been turned to a large construction site in a bid to make the town a befitting State Capital. The duo of Ebullient Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi and his Deputy the Amazon of Ekiti, Moremi Funmi Olayinka JP would attend the programme with their friends from home and the diaspora to add glamour to this festival.
The Kabiyesi, HRM Oba (Dr) Adeyemo Adejugbe Aladesanmi III JP CON, Ewi of Ado-Ekiti would equally give his speech and Iwure from the throne. No doubt as usual this year Udiroko would be glamorous and exciting as various age grades, clubs and important dignitaries have shown their willingness to attend the ceremony not only to contribute to the development of the modern city but to solid arise with, the Ewi, the Ado-Ekiti Progressive Union and most importantly the State Government who has contributed more than any government in the past in improving the standard of lives of our people through their 8 points agenda.
I want to use this opportunity to greet the good people of Ekiti State and say happy New Year. To Ewi Oba (Dr.) Adeyemo Adejugbe Aladesanmi III JP CON – The Ewi of Ado-Ekiti and his consort Eyesorun Abosede Aladesanmi III JP, the chiefs the Elegbes, Efas and all omo Aados, which includes the president of Ado-Ekiti Progressive Union Chief Obafemi Ojo JP and other members of his Executive. E ku odun o, Aseyi samodun, Asamodun pepererepe.
Hon. ‘Sola Elesin
Last modified: August 28, 2012