Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Campaign to end the Oro ritual in Lagos State

From the Nigerian Guardian:

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Stop oro ritual in Ikorodu

SIR: I write to once again bring to the notice of the Lagos State Government, the obnoxious practice of forcefully preventing women from going about their normal activities in Ikorodu.

Every year, two days are chosen during the month of May and June when women are subjugated in this part of Lagos State. They are prevented from leaving their homes and engaging in their normal business activities.

On Monday, June 8, 2009, we witnessed yet another despicable and illegal act of oppression against women. There were no schools, market or any social activities because of this fetish worship of the Oro worshippers in Ikorodu.

A woman driving along Ayangbure road who was not aware of the Oro day was attacked by a group of half-naked boys wielding sticks, whips and other harmful objects opposite Honey Meal Restaurant. Her car was smashed and her necklace and wristwatch forcefully snatched before she managed to escape towards Ebute part of town.

In May after the first episode, I forwarded a message to the Executive Governor of Lagos State to step in and prevent a reoccurrence in June. It came to me as a surprise that the Oba of Ikorodu and his cohorts still went ahead to organise the second leg of this discriminatory act against women.

Is it not laughable that Lagos State that is geared towards attaining a Mega city status will allow this type of archaic tradition to continue unabated? Every Nigerian is free to practice whatever religion he or she so desires without infringing on the rights of others.

The Lagos State Government is culpable in this act against the womenfolk because most if not all of the senior officials are aware of this ancient practice. The Secretary to the State Government is from Ikorodu town. The attention of the House of Representatives member was drawn to this issue some years back via the newspaper articles I wrote.

The Oba of Ikorodu when he was interviewed opined that anybody that is not comfortable with the arrangement should leave his domain. They have all decided to play the ostrich by allowing this despicable act to continue.

As my very good friend Bolanle said when I narrated the experience to her and I quote "illegality ma pade illegality ni Nigeria yin" meaning (Illegality is always meeting illegality in Nigeria).

I have therefore resolved to toe the line of Dr. Priye Iyalla-Amadi who dragged the Nigeria Immigration Service to court over the condition that she needed a letter of consent from her spouse to secure an International passport.

My friends and I have briefed a law firm to immediately commence the process of dragging the Lagos State Government, the Oba of Ikorodu and his Council of Chiefs to court over this issue and by God's grace the women living in Ikorodu and environs will be free.

Titilayo Benson (Mrs.),
Ikorodu, Lagos State


SHE 1:24 pm  

This is quite interesting, But I do not expect Lagos state to wade in and stop the oro celebration in Ikorodu, especially in view of the recently celebrated Eyo festival which had the Government's full support.
That celebration also had a lot of rules that can be said to violate other people's rights.

But we will patiently await the outcome of the court case.

chayoma 1:54 pm  

The people of Ikorodu should be allowed to practice whatever rituals make them happy, but not to impose it on every jane, jill and meg.

awaiting its outcome

Anonymous,  9:43 pm  

ok the reality of the matter is there is not much d govt can do about this as no matter wat they do the practice would only go underground..... u c this thing they call culture its such a double edeged sword, if this is wat the ppl blive in and is a way of life 4 them who gives anyone else the legal and mora justification to stop them?? afterall it is democracy isnt it??? hmm it is really a tough one and d point i ma making is that it is not as easy to eradicate as d lady would like to think ...why??? because it is very difficult to rid ppl of their deep rooted beliefs without impinging thier own rights......

I would suggest muttal dialouge that is not partenalistic as a way to curtailing this problem.

Anonymous,  12:58 am  

Stupid woman! Oro is an Ijebu tradition, if she does not like it she should leave Ikorodu and go to Redeem Camp. I really do not have time for these overzealous religious types who wish to kill off our local customs due to sheer ignorance. Kai!! Its okay to perpetuate fraud, cheat and lie everyday so long as you spend 4 hours in church on sunday pretending. Damn hypocrite.

Anonymous,  9:34 am  

@ last anonymous12:58AM!

there's really no need to call the lady a 'stupid woman or a hypocrite'

if you were flogged, had your car bashed or were unable to go about your business because redeem/any other religion was having a 'day'AND because you were male,you wouldn't find it quite as stupid.

There's a need to be objective here, your right stops where mine begins.

What's this business about 'leaving if you are not happy?' here we go with all the indigenous not indigenous rubbish...by all means let there be oro festivals if they want but let be restricted to those who are adherents to the religion.

I think dialogue like someone suggested is the most pragmatic solution. The govt does have a duty to protect all its citizens regardless of tradition after all its tradition for little children to be turned into maids/nannies but any sane person would know that a Child protection Act supercedes such 'tradition'


Anonymous,  9:37 am  

i think trying to stop the culture of a people is wrong, the people of ikorodu have a right to their oro festival. after all because i'm not gay doesn't mean gaypride wont hold in brighton.
lets stop this self righteous attitude and lets obey the laws of any land we find ourselves in and if youare not comfortable leave

Anonymous,  12:03 pm  

People's right to engage/express their culture stops where it becomes criminal.

Was it for 'cultural' reasons the boys stole her jewellery?

Anonymous,  2:31 pm  

jADe, I do appreciate your point about tolerance, but i'm afraid i do not subscribe to the indegene or non-indegene thing. I simply get wound-up by people wishing to throw out a traditional event because it does not fit in with our new found religion or lifestyle that's all. I guess as with all things Nigerian or African, there was hardly any pre-planning to let people know the festival is on, and women had better beware. Proper preparation & planning. Lastly, child nannies are not part of African culture, its child exploitation, simple! I abhor it, and yes its hypocritical when religious zealots see nothing wrong with exploiting a child, denying the child a right to education in order that their kids do not have to lift their fat little fingers. Enough said!

Iyaeto 9:55 pm  

This is not surprising or shocking. I grew up in Ikorodu as a female , I know the score.These day, announcements are made on radio and tv to inform people of the oro festival.It's culture and tradition and I don't think the govt can do anything about it.Titilayo, I believe is from the Benson family of Ikorodu so she should know better. Her family house is at the centre of town (ajina). I dare her to go out during the liwe festival in August with her protest.The Ayangburen of Ikorodu has said it all.Not that i'm in support of it but how come during eyo festival, people are not allowed to take pictures of some eyo orisa?, wear shoes or head gear.. it's the same principle. Enough said

Anonymous,  12:23 pm  

Nobody shld stop the ikorodu pple frm practicing their rituals/culture but where it infringes on women's right is low and shd not be tolerated. surely they can find their way round it without physically abusing women... why shd a woman suffer bcoz a bunch of men are stuck in their cultural box? doesnt have anything to do with ignorance, its just an opportunity for those men to brush a woman and make her feel like she doesnt matter in our society... any govt that fails to protect the rights of their citizen, be it woman,man or child is a failed state... nobody is sayin they shd stop the cultural practices, im just sayin that it doesnt include brushin women does it?

Iredotp 6:06 pm  

The Hausa's, who by the way have thrown out their culture and have adopted the Islam religion as 'culture', pray the Jumat prayers on govt highways every friday causing traffic chaos and accidents. The people grumble and murmur,govt officials say nothing about it.
The oro festival is not new, and people have been told that women are not allowed to see this masquerade, media announcements were made to this effect.
Countless fatal accidents have been recorded due to the activities of Redeem Church camp along the Lagos-Ibadan expressway in Ogun state.
Ms. Benson's lawyers had better gather all these facts and their wits around them as they have a HUGE fight against almighty culture/religion(which means the same to most Africans) on their hands.
I wish them luck.

Anonymous,  11:20 am  

Very interesting that some people can not see beyond their noses. They clamour for freedom but turn a blind eye to injustice being perpetuated in the land. I feel sorry for Nigeria. Other countries are moving towards bettering the lives of their citizens while we are still dealing with mundane issues. Lagos should be a model state. Enough of backwardness!

Anonymous,  9:00 pm  

I here they equally kill minors and non-entities (i.e migrants) as part of the Oro festival. This is the bad side to our culture and this what has drowned the essence of our culture. Imagine in Agungi part of lagos, migrants were told to stay indoors for more than 24 hours and when I dare step out with my wife, the men we encountered were looking stern and troublesome but I simply blared my horn through them arrogantly and filled with disgust. Evil has nothing on me.

Anonymous,  10:38 am  

The worst of this so called 'tradition' is the killing involved. Please do not tell me that legitimizing murder in the name of custom should be upheld just because we want to be known as traditionalists. Even the so called worshippers must know that the law of the land is against murder. In Ajangbadi area where I stay, the Oro thing has been on for almost two weeks: people were not warned and except for the first few days when we were told it would hold for two days no-one had a clue this was going on. For reasons known to them, every other day when the child of the Baale dies there is an Oro and since the man has about 50 kids, we worry that another one may die next week. I mean, it is ridiculous. When the government decides that murder is a legality I think then everybody should have a right to arms to defend oneself. Because if your religion tells you to behead me to bury along with your dead as a rite of passage, mine tells me to defend myself by any means necessary.

Anonymous,  2:49 pm  

I'm very well aware that, the so called Mrs Titilayo Benson is NOT from the Benson Family. We the Benson's very much love Ikorodu and we are also very traditionalist to the core, to bann the Oro Festival according to Titilayo will amount to huge shame among us the Bensons. Our family House is located in Ajina Square (Centre of Excellence)where different festivesv are being celebrated yearly.

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