Sango Festival is an annual festival held among the Yoruba people in honour of Sango, a thunder and fire deity who was a warlord and the third king of the Oyo Kingdom after succeeding Ajaka his elder brother. Rebranded in 2013 to World Sango Festival by the government of Oyo State, the festival is usually held in August at the palace of the Alaafin of Oyo and also observed in over forty countries around the world.
The Sango Festival celebrations can be traced back to 1,000 years ago following the departure of Sango, a popular Yoruba Òrìşà who is widely regarded as the founding father of present-day Oyo State.
Sango was a notable strong ruler and magician who became king of Oyo Empire after succeeding his elder brother who was perceived to be a “weak ruler”. Believed to bring prosperity to the people of the Oyo Empire during his reign, Sango’s death has been linked to different mythical stories. It is believed that Sango committed suicide by hanging himself in order to avoid humiliation from one of his powerful chiefs who ordered Sango to vacate his throne or face war.
Since its rebranding in 2013, the event which is usually held in August and runs for a week attracts over 20,000 spectators around the world including Brazil, Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean. The event which is recognized by UNESCO, is organized to facilitate the home-coming of the Yorubas in the diaspora and also celebrate Sango who is regarded as the greatest hero in the history of the Yoruba race.