By Oke Aruleba @ Deprof

At a very tender age, I did not understand the rationale behind the jibes Ikere citizens (men and women) threw at one another without restrictions during the Ogunoye Festival. In other words, no one, not even the elders in the town, was willing to shed more light on the reason bawdy words were used to mock the sudden ‘death’ of the female and male genitalia during Ogunoye. I promised to unravel in the future the reason for the reckless use of bawdy humour and satire in a society where mere mention of sexual organs was taboo!

Alexander Pope’s “Rape of the Lock,” a mock heroic poem in which the proud poetic persona Belinda lost her maiden head to Lord Petrel in mischievous circumstances, opened a vista of interpretation to Ikere Ogunoye Festival and freedom of expression (Liberty Day)!

Globally, festivals and traditions such as the ancient Egypt festival of MIN, Indian Linga and Yoni worship; the Ancient Greek and Roman Dionysian and Floralia festivals, the Japanese Kanamara Matsuri which is known as the “Festival of the Steel Phallus,” and Hōnen Matsuri, the fertility festival which involves the blessing of a large phallus-shaped object and is meant to ensure a good harvest and prosperity all celebrate or acknowledge male and female reproductive organs.

With the advent of the western religions, festivals specifically dedicated to taunting or mocking human sex organs are less common. Yet there are cultural practices and events where humour, satire, and irreverence regarding sexuality and reproductive organs play a significant role.
In many parts of Europe, carnival seasons (preceding Lent) is marked by festivities that often include bawdy humor and satire. This involves parades, costumes, and performances that make fun of sexual themes, including exaggerated depictions of reproductive organs. The atmosphere is one of temporary liberation from societal norms, allowing for humorous and sometimes irreverent expressions.

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Japanese “Kanamara Matsuri” is a festival celebrating fertility and sexual health. It features humorous elements. Large phallic statues are paraded, and various playful, phallic-shaped candies and souvenirs are sold. The lighthearted approach sometimes includes humour and satire regarding sexual organs.

“Saturnalia” is also a Roman festival that involves role reversals, feasting, and revelry. It allows for a temporary suspension of social norms, leading to lewd jokes and satirical performances that could include sexual themes. While this event is not specifically about taunting reproductive organs, the atmosphere is usually humourous.

Drag performances (Drag Shows) frequently incorporate humour and satire related to gender and sexuality, sometimes involving exaggerated or humorous representations of sexual anatomy.

These few examples of festivals like Ikere Ogunoye Festival reflect a broader cultural tendency to use humour and satire to address and sometimes mock aspects of sexuality and reproductive anatomy. Such expressions often challenge taboos, provide social commentary, or simply entertain through irreverence.

Alvin Toffler says, “the illiterate of the 21st century are not those who do not know how to read and write but those who REFUSE TO LEARN, UNLEARN AND RELEARN”

Therefore, permit me to heartily appreciate our Kabiyesi’s ingenuity and innovativeness in introducing a modern dimension to freedom of expression via IKERE LIBERTY DAY which is made manifest in free interactions devoid of vulgarism with one another irrespective of age, social status or disparity!

Kade pe lori, ki bata pe lese Kaabiesi!

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