Cultural festivals have again been identified as one of the crucial factors in bringing about the much needed peace and harmony as well as being ingredients for national development; and so, they should be given the necessary support to develop them.

This was contained in an address delivered by the Permanent Secretary, Kwara State Ministry of Social Development, Culture and Tourism, Alhaji Abdulganiyu Mustapha, on behalf of the Executive Governor of Kwara State, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, at this year’s Awon Mass Wedding Festival, held on Friday, 6th November, 2015 at Shao Community in Moro Local Government Area of Kwara State.

The Governor reiterated that the festival was a clear demonstration of the capacity of culture to unite people rather than disunite them, especially as it has to do with the marriage institution, appealing to State Governments and other stakeholders to always empower communities in their domains that are willing to showcase their rich cultural heritage.

Alhaji Ahmed seized the opportunity to assure the gathering of the State Government’s commitment to continuously support cultural activities in view of their immense socio-economic benefits to the state and the nation at large.

Awon Mass Wedding Festival is an annual festival of the people of Shao Community, which dates back to 17th century, when a hunter on expedition came home with a one-breasted woman, named, “Awon,” who, after nine days, disappeared leaving a directive that maidens be given out in marriage en masse annually on a chosen day to commemorate her emergence and in exchange for protection, fulfilment of the people’s hearts’ desires and bountiful blessings.

This directive, according to His Royal Majesty, the Ohoro of Shao, Oba (Dr.) Bamidele Alabi Adegbite, had strictly been adhered to since then as no year had passed in the history of Shao without the celebration of Awon Mass Wedding Festival.

This year’s festival, which witnessed the wedding of twenty (20) maidens, exhibitions, acrobatics, Ere Ode (hunters display), “Ekun Iyawo” and cultural performances, had a team from NICO North-Central Zone in attendance to cover the colourful event, the Director, Kwara State Tourism Board, stakeholders in the culture business, tourists, journalists and students from higher institutions of learning.

Ahmed Mohammed

NICO North Central Zone

Ilorin, Kwara State