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  • News - South West - Oyo
  • Updated: December 07, 2023

Oyo: UNESCO lists Sango festival as world heritage

Oyo: UNESCO lists Sango festival as world heritage

Sango festival in Oyo

It is a huge win for Oyo tradition advocates as the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has given global recognition to the annual Sango Festival and added it to the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

The enlistment will further strengthen the viability of the festival

Dr Wasiu Olatubosun, the state commissioner for Culture and Tourism disclosed this while briefing journalists after the state executive council meeting on Wednesday.

Allnews.ng gathered that the Sango Festival is an annual event in Oyo town which marks the beginning of the Yoruba Traditional New Year in August.

According to the Yoruba history, sàngó was the third Alaafin-(king) of the old Oyo empire. He took over from his brother Ajaka who was regarded as weak. During his reign, he was constantly fighting battles with other towns.

The crowning of the Alaafin is usually done at the shrine of àngó in Koso. However, as part of tradition, the Alaafin must not see Sàngó Koso while on the throne. The only time they have access to each other is during the Alaafin’s coronation.

The ten-day festival is strongly connected to the social, religious, cultural and political institutions of the Oyo State. It is held in commemoration of Tella-Oko, the third alaafin (king) of the Oyo Empire.

He is believed to be the incarnation of the mythical Sango, the Yoruba divinity of thunder and lightning. When the festival commences on Yoruba New Year’s Eve in August, Sango devotees and followers share and eat roasted new yam and palm oil.

People of all genders plait their hair and dress in red, wearing white and red beads around their necks and wrists.

The festival encompasses different rites and involves chanting, storytelling, drumming and dancing. Children acquire the related knowledge and skills by observing and imitating elders and attending Saturday worship at the Sango Temples. Sango magical crafts and rites, however, are transmitted through apprenticeships.

The festival unites the Oyo community, which views the practice as an expression of shared identity and social cohesion and as a means of reconnecting with their ancestor, Sango.

The festival which was rebranded as World Sangó Day by the Oyo State Government to signify its international spread plays host to devotees and tourists from all over the world, especially from countries like Cuba, Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean.

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