by Ayangbayi-Bata

“It was the annual “Ayan Agalu” Drum festival held every year in the Ooni’s palace in Ile-Ife to honor Ayan, the female deity of drummers all over Yorubaland…..

“I was there with hundreds of other professional drummers who had gathered from all over the land of “karo o jire.” All the competing drummers did their turn under the watchful eye of his Imperial Majesty, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, the Ooni of Ife. But a moment came when a hush fell over the gathered dignitaries and spectators. Kabiyesi suddenly stepped down from the royal dais. As everyone watched, he took a drum from a collection on the floor. It had obviously caught his eye. He picked up this iya ilu talking drum, hung it over his shoulder and started to beat it with gusto and aplomb. It was an iconic scene for the ages, for no one had ever seen the Ooni play a drum in public. Later that day, this particular drum, a beautifully dressed saworo ede iya ilu festooned with tinkling brass bells, was declared by the Ooni to be the Symbol of Peace for Nigeria.

“But not many people present that day knew that this famous drum was one built by myself, Ayangbayi-Bata. After this Drum of Peace was returned to me, I knew I could not keep this drum after it had been handled by the royal hands of the heir of Oduduwa. So, the next day, I returned to the palace and made a present of the drum to his Imperial Majesty. So it is that my famous drum now belongs to the Ooni.

‘But that is not the end of the story. At that Ayangalu festival which ended on June 30, 2022, my group, the Ayangbayi-Bata group from Ibadan, won the Second Prize from among the scores of competing bata drumming troupes who had come from all over Yorubaland to contest for this prestigious prize. It was indeed for me, Ayangbayi-Bata, a fateful day at the Ooni’s palace.”

image of ayangbayi
Ooni at Ayangalu with female drummers