Keep your sermons within realm of moderation, modesty, Oyo Regent admonishes religious leaders

From ‘Bode Durojaiye, Director of Media and Publicity to the Alaafin of Oyo.

Religious and community leaders have been urged to preach and promote ethno-religious tolerance and accommodate opposing views, as parts of the mechanisms of deepening peaceful co-existence and harmony in the country.

The head of the Oyo Mesi and Regent, High Chief Yusuf Akinade Ayoola, gave the admonition today to mark the end of seven day Oro festival in Oyo town.

The Oyo Regent said in Nigeria, intolerance of opposing views by adherents of the major world’s religions has heated the polity and caused tension

According to him, “instigation of hatred in the name of religious practice in religious organisations is a negative attitude. While it is true that both Christianity and Islam profess the slogan

“Love your neighbour as yourself,” this is however observed more in the breach. This is a bad wind that blows no one any good. It is high time religious leaders
preach the genuine gospel of friendship and sincere love. This is the vehicle that will take mankind to the abode of peace and security”.

The Oyo Regent pointed out that all religious communities must understand that there is no alternative to inter-faith dialogue, as there can never be a universal religion or an exclusive society for adherents of a particular religion.

Admonishing Nigerians not to perceive religious diversity as a barrier to human relations and development, but rather a tool or resource for national development, the Oyo Regent noted that religious faithfuls in the country should, therefore, realise the fact that religious tolerance and harmony are both legally sanctioned and socially inevitable, as the world can never be composed of one religion or culture.

Accordingly, he stated that, “whereas every religious group has the right to uninhibited religious practice, this must be done with commensurate or reciprocal respect for the rights of other faithful to practise their own religious traditions; provided that such does not constitute any derogation to the right of others to observe their own rituals.

‘’This desirable scenario of religious harmony can be achieved in Nigeria only through the establishment and sustenance of a neo-religious educational praxis that would generate a culture and orientation of multi-religiosity in our children and youth, as well as a commensurate programme of re-orientation of the adult population.

“Hitherto, the dominant model of religious education in Nigeria has been faith-oriented and overwhelmed by religious indoctrination and dogma’’.

The Oyo Regent went further, ‘’religious education is used to get people to embrace Christianity or Islam, rather than as a process or formation for religious tolerance and dialogue. Consequently, most children and youths are educated within this framework and are thus inclined to adopting a blind faith. This religious pedagogic gives little room for inter-faith understanding and harmony; hence religious intolerance is rife even among school children’’.

He counseled all religious communities to educate their leaders or preachers on the need for religious harmony and the toleration of other faiths.

‘’While also educating their leaders on the need to keep their sermons within the realm of moderation and modesty, there is also need to strengthen inter-faith dialogue at the national, state and local levels in order to prevent future manifestations of religious violence’’, the Oyo Regent asserted.

The Oro Festival is a festival celebrated in South-West Nigeria by the Yorubas. It is an event celebrated by towns and settlements of Yoruba origin.

It is an annual traditional festival that is of patriarchal nature, as it is only celebrated by male descendants who are paternal natives to the specific locations where the particular event is taking place.

During the festival, females and non-natives stay indoors as oral history has it that Oro must not be seen by women and non-indigenes.
The festival lasts seven days and throughout its duration, women and other non-participants are expected to stay indoors.

Apart from that, Oro does not come to town unless it is its celebration. During the festival, Oro makes itself known by a whirring, roaring sound which can be heard in the neighbourhood.

It is said that Oro is clothed in a robe with shells and wears a white wooden mask with blood smeared on the lips. It passes alongside its followers. Its followers announce their presence by chanting incantations in loud voices.

There is a sacred instrument used to invite Oro and announce his coming.

Legend has it that women who see Oro do not survive. This is because they are visited by painful death. (Awo gelede l’obinrin l’emo. Ti obinrin b’a f’oju kan Oro, Oro agbe lo.)

However, it is claimed the main aim of Oro festival is to maintain peace , order and cleanse the society.

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