The Lagos State University (LASU) Coconut-Breaking Festival stands as a testament to the power of tradition, unity, and cultural celebration.
It is a ceremony meant to annually celebrate coconut in reminiscence of the first coconut plantation in Nigeria established by the Roman Catholic Mission on the Topo Island in Badagry in 1876.
The coconut-breaking festival, which is an integral part of the university’s convocation, made its debut in 2009 in Lagos State. It is a part of activities at every convocation ceremony and organised by the institution’s alumni association.
With its captivating sights and deep-rooted symbolism, the festival brings together the LASU community in a joyous display of Nigeria’s cultural heritage; while it also serves as a reminder of the rich history surrounding coconut cultivation and highlights the significance of agriculture in the nation’s growth.
Like the previous celebrations, the 26th convocation ceremony/coconut-breaking festival, which held on Monday at the school’s Badagry Gate, was traditionally unique, infused with culture and tradition as the university community, including management, staff, students, alumni and members of Ibile Forum, among others, participated and prayed with coconut.
The climax of the event was the breaking of the coconut, with the water splashing and the shells scattered in excitement.
According to the Vice Chancellor of LASU, Prof. Ibiyemi Olatunji-Bello, the coconut-breaking ceremony is symbolic for reasons that include: praying for the general wellbeing of the institution, staff, students, the state and other stakeholders of the university; showcasing the rich cultural heritage unique to LASU and Lagos State; as well as promoting the unity, peace and development of the university.
The use of coconut for prayer, she said, is rooted in the history of the state of aquatic splendor, since the fruit abounds in all the nooks and crannies of the state.
“The coconut-breaking promotes mutual understanding, cooperation and a sense of oneness in the university. This is why this symbolic activity should be celebrated by all members of our university community,” Prof. Olatunji-Bello said.
This year’s ceremony is a two-in-one event, as it marks the 40th anniversary of the institution, which was established in 1983, and combines convocation ceremonies for graduands of 2020/2021 and 2021/2022 academic sessions.
The VC urged the alumni association to use its goodwill to attract further development to the institution through facilitating the construction of independent power plant, large lecture halls, and provision of security gadgets, among others.
The festival was followed by a command performance themed Belly Bellows (The Musical) by the famous Yoruba cultural activist, Akinwunmi Isola; a performance that took the viewers on a captivating musical journey filled with emotions and pure musicality; while the collective mastery of various instruments, coupled with exceptional stage presence from the Department of Theatre Arts and Music created a captivating atmosphere.
The play was about Ogun’s (god of iron) journey to the earth and how he decided to take along Oya (the river goddess), who is his betrothed.
It sure left the attendees in awe as casts appeared in stunning costumes.