Nigeria's Regional Public Holiday Explored and Defined.
When is Isese Day?
Isese Day is a regional public holiday that may be observed in the Nigerian states of Ogun and Osun on August 20th each year. The day is set aside for traditional worshipers to celebrate their deities. The day is observed as the culmination of a week of traditional religious activities and festivities.
About Isese Day
Isese (the Yorùbá word for Tradition) Day celebrates the Yorùbá traditions and religion in a display of culture and spirituality with parties, festivals, parades, lectures and display of other traditional apparels to attract tourists from other parts of the world. As well as in South-West Nigeria, Isese day is celebrated by Yorùbá diaspora communities around the world. Yoruba people are a large ethno-linguistic group or ethnic nation in Africa, and the majority of them speak the Yoruba language. The Yoruba constitute approximately 35% of Nigeria’s total population, and around 40 million individuals throughout the region of West Africa. The Yorubas are the main ethnic group in the states of Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, and Oyo, which are subdivisions of Nigeria; they also constitute a sizable proportion of Kwara and Kogi States as well as Edo State. While the majority of the Yoruba live in western Nigeria, there are also substantial indigenous Yoruba communities in Benin, Ghana, Togo and the Caribbean. The appropriate greeting for Isese Day is "Isese l'agba" and the response is "Isese l'agba gbogbo wa".
Isese Day in Osun
A former governor of Osun, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, in 2013, approved August 20th as a public holiday in the state for Traditional Worshipers, under Section 2 (2) of the Public Holidays Act CAP P40 Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 2010. Isese Day was first declared as a public holiday by the Osun State government in 2014. Banks, government offices and other establishments in Osun State will be closed on this day. Although the actual day is a state holiday, week-long festivities leading up to August 20th are celebrated in Osogbo, the capital of Osun state. Isese Day in Oyo In August 2023, the Oyo State House of Assembly passed and approved a bill to grant special public holidays for traditional worshippers in Oyo State to celebrate Isese Day annually. The lawmakers stressed the importance of dedicating a day for adherents of traditional religion to celebrate as it is for Christians and Muslims across the country. The lawmaker also noted that some states in the Southwest region had already done so, stressing the need to respect the beliefs of traditional religious worshippers.
Isese Day in Ogun
The holiday was announced in Ogun State following the approval of the State House of Assembly in July 2023.. This follows the adoption of a motion moved by the House Majority Leader, Yusuf Sheriff (APC – Ado-Odo Ota I), which was subsequently seconded by Lukmon Adeleye (PDP – Odogbolu). Adegoke Adeyanju (APC-Yewa North 1), who sponsored the motion, stated that the day was intended to promote the state’s people’s customs and culture. He read the amended resolution first, and Damilola Soneye (APC-Obafemi Owode) seconded it. Other lawmakers who accepted the motion believed the Isese traditional Day event would enhance Yoruba land’s traditional legacy. It was stated in the announcement that the state government would designate August 20th as a work-free day for the citizens. In his remark, the Speaker, Olakunle Oluomo (APC – Ifo I), stated that the Cultural Day would allow parents to pass on the culture and traditions of the kingdom to the younger generation.