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Sunday, May 7, 2017

HOW I COVERED OSAARA FESTIVAL AS A MUSLIM JOURNALIST IN ILE IFE


By Sodiq Lawal

“What was it like being at Osaara festival on May 6, 2017 in ile ife as Muslim Journalist?”

Most of the time when I’m asked this question, it’s followed by something along the lines of: “I hear it’s forbidden as a Muslim to attend a traditional festival
over there.”

Here in ile ife, i am surround by some of the most compassionate Muslims I’ve ever met. I could go on for days if it is permitted for a muslim journalist to cover such festival.

It is more pressing than ever to have such experience or should I call it a task. I am thankful that I now have insight into such that I have been misunderstood for long time.

As a muslim journalist, I have returned from the festival with a deeper commitment to finding the truth, giving a voice to the unheard and embracing human
connection through news.

Going to the festival,  I knew wanted to better understand the religion of Islam so as not to be derailed and not to commit shirik. I phoned host of scholars  who lived next to my  neighborhood mosque. I asked if Islam permit Muslim journalist to cover the traditional festival.

They kept quite for some minutes, and told me if I don't have any choice rather than to go, I can go with the intention of only covering the event. When I was about to leave, they warned me not to feel happy when covering the festival.

No doubt celebrating such feast is actually imitating disbelievers.

Therefore, Muslim is neither allowed to celebrate such festival nor is he allowed to congratulate them for their feasts
because congratulating them for their feasts is synonymous of accepting their wrongdoing and
disbelief in Allah. It is also accepting their rites and rituals, which are nothing but disbelief.

At the beginning of the festival, I thought for a while, “I hope this is not forbidden as a Muslim". Looking back on what I was told by the Islamic scholars, I pave way and continue my coverage.

As a visual muslim journalist, I faced difficulties I had never faced before. I was so bored and lonely. Infact at first, conducting interview to the Chief Priest was nearly impossible not because I was scared but my mind was still not at rest as I was thinking if am not committing Shirik(Having partner with my creator). It was until when many journalists stormed the chief priest, that was when I developed eagerness to interview the chief priest.

My eagerness suddenly increased to over hundred percent as Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi led a multitude of Ife sons and daughters to the shrine for the annual celebration of the festival. Fortunately, I was able to interview him.

My eyes suddenly turned red when the OONI and the Chief Priest came out of the inner chamber of the shrine believed to be the source of the Lagoon with a
few doves and a bowl of water in his
hands with which he prayed for the
blessings of Ile-Ife and the entire black race.

I felt so sad as a muslim when Ooni sprinkled the water on the people and it fell on me, and I saw people struggled for the water to drop on them and fighting one another because of a water.

Not to waste much of time, after I  conducted interview with the Ooni, the chief priest, co- worshippers and the residents, i left the place immediately to my residence.

On getting to my house it was almost dark around 8pm, my heart was so weary and full of tears as I sent my news story to my editor for publication.

However, I prayed to Almighty Allah to clear my soul and forgive me. After praying, I  rest on my bed, before I could realised anything, I heard the cock of the hen.

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