Odi International festival popularly known as the “ODI OGORI BA UGE” is undisputedly the biggest festival in the southern part of Nigeria which delight itself on promoting the wealthy cultural tradition of the community, state, region and Africa at large.
Odi town (“The sunshine city of the Niger-Delta”) is located in Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area of Bayelsa State and which is noted for its vibrant cultural ceremonies.
The annual Odi Ogori Ba Uge festival during the month of July lasting a period of seven days, records over 100,000 thousand visitors annually from across the state, country and abroad, it is a celebration to commemorate the historical killing of a wild Buffalo. The Statement “Ogori Ba Uge” Simply means celebration of the Killing of a Buffalo.
The famous ODI festival started in 1957 as a celebration to mark the killing of a buffalo that became a menace to the community for years, which eventually turned into an annual celebration. It is with so much excitement and glamour to see every community across the nation roll out their drums and dancers; their boats for regattas; and their flamboyant tradition and culture for an experience the eyes and cultural taste will for evermore cherish and behold
It is believed as the story behind the history of these festival that many years ago, precisely in 1953, an animal identified to be a buffalo used to appear in the community of Odi from a nearby forest. It would attack by destroying crops and terrorizing the villagers. It was so terrible that the people of Odi could no longer carry out their daily activities anymore especially fishing and farming which happened to be the staple source of livelihood of the Ijaw people .Woo, the road from Odi to the ferry point became a death trap and it was so dreadful that in a matter of weeks of the invasion, the feral buffalo had killed quite a worrisome number of people.
The situation became so alarming that hunting expeditions were mounted by both the indigenous and foreign hunters, but without any luck. Efforts were made to even seek out help from neighbouring countries and one Mallam of Tara from Benin Republic who was believed to be a powerful herbalist was consulted and negotiations were made for him to come rescue them with his herbal medicines.
0n his arrival, the charms were buried at strategic locations in and outside the town. But the people of Odi were still very skeptical and frightful despite their being assured of the efficacy of the charms. It is believed that on July 27th in 1957, the Buffalo was sighted grazing at a church compound and it was immediately apprehended and killed. This conquest ushered a new era to the fun loving people of Odi, as the town now returned to peace and tranquility. It was afterwards agreed upon by the people of Odi to set aside the 27th of July every year as a memorial to commemorate their victory over the invasion of the blood thirsty buffalo.
Because this day falls around the season of the fresh farm harvest, the people of Odi also decided to use the period to celebrate both the opening of the harvesting season of their new yams and cassavas, hold fishing competitions, wrestling brawls, and numerous other activities.
The festival is usually declared open for the One Week fanfare On the 27th of July with the dramatization of the history of the festival with the parading of a well masqueraded Buffalo which has often become the sensation of the festival and the fuel that stirs the minds of everyone in attendance, to be ready for an eventful week of fun and traditional entertainment and it sure is a delightful way to experience, enjoy and celebrate a people, their history and their rich cultural heritage.
It is a festival that is today used to showcase the tourism opportunities of Odi and her rich cultural heritage.