Friday, January 13, 2012

Ile-Ife: A Place to be

By Daniel Falonipe
an emese serving as tourist guide inside ile nla in the palace 

Do you absolutely adore travel?  Do you look up in the sky when a jumbo jet goes overhead and wonder which exotic location it might be heading to? If yes, then you are a few steps away from visiting one of the best places in the world.
Of course there are so many places you van visit and get carried away by the excitement, but, your tour wouldn’t be complete without taking a visit to the ancient city of Ile-Ife. Ife is indeed a place of interest because of the cultural history that surrounds it.
 Ife is predominantly inhabited by the yorubas or ifes; they are also regarded as Omo Oduduwa. Oduduwa is the progenitor of the Yoruba race which extends as far as South America. Although Ile-Ife is a medium size city considering the population and land mass but the tourist attractions – archaeological and monumental sites play a vital role in its consideration as a place of choice.

Annually, tourists visit the city of Ile-Ife in thousands to catch a glimpse and extol the virtues of the breathtaking sites and have knowledge of the mysteries which the ancient city encapsulates. As a result it has given birth to the hospitality measures taken to accommodate the teeming vacationers. There are numerous tourist centers but few will be discussed here.
Some tourist attractions in Ile Ife
police post inside the palace
Ile Oduduwa (Ooni’s Palace) is the home to the father and the first king of Yoruba race, Oduduwa. This place has being in existence as far back as 500 BC. It’s a symbol of power and pride. Unlike many palaces you see in other towns and cities, ooni’s palace is considered to be the palace of gods. Even with the modernization of the palace, traditional and cultural part of it is still preserved. The example of this is the presence of Emeses (traditional king’s guard) in the palace. Back in the days, emeses are known to be in service to the kings even after death. It was said after the death of a king, some emeses will be buried with the king to guard him in life after death. Today, emeses play a major role in the security of the palace and also serve as tourist guides in the palace. The most common feature of emeses are their hairstyle, it is divided into two equal parts with hair on one side and no hair on the other side. Inside the palace are many sacred places that need the approval of the emeses before you can go there. Among these places is the ogun ladin shrine and many other.
Emeses with tourists before the beginning of a tour


Oduduwa Groove which is different from ile oduduwa and oduduwa statue in Enuwa is believed to be the final resting place of odudwa. This place is located no too far from the palace and it is a sacred place which is not open to the public.     
Opa Oranmiyan is a granite monolith standing over 5metres above the ground. It can be found in an enclosed area around Mopa in ile ife. It is believed that it was the place where the great Yoruba warrior, Oranmiyan spent the latter years of his life and the spot where the granite is standing today was where he planted his staff in the ground and immediately turned into stone. On the granite staff, there are some metal studs which are described as a means of writing then and they signified the great events which occurred and the direction of his journeys in his entire life. The place is open on weekdays and there are tour guides to lead the tourist.
Moremi shrine is where Moremi is worshipped. Moremi Ajasoro, princess of Yoruba land was a figure of high significance in the history of Ile-Ife and Yoruba at large. She was a brave and beautiful woman who in her lifetime offered everything she had in order to deal with the problem facing the people of Ile-Ife then. She sacrificed her only son, Oluorogbo to esinmirin which was the price she had to pay when she returned from her mission in Igbo land. The Edi is a festival said to have been started as a means of celebrating the sacrifice she made for the people of Ile-Ife. The shrine is located at Okerewe in ile Ife.
oduduwa statue in ife. Note: the white building by the tower in the far left of the picture is world Temple of  Ifa, another tourist attraction in ile-ife. the tower itself is the transmitter of orisun FM radio station in ile-ife.
Oduduwa statue is a magnificent and elegant structure found inside Afewonro Park at the Enuwa square in Ile-Ife just in front of the Ooni’s palace. The structure stands tall among every other structure around it which gives it the visibility it requires. The structure is made of metal and it shows the legendary king in a single loin cloth wrapped around his left shoulder. His face is covered with beaded crown, “Are” and a clutching staff in his right hand. The Afewonro Park is also a center of attraction; the v-shaped enclosure is surrounded by ambience of beautiful rose flowers with sweet fragrance and also has sitting slaps for proper enjoyment. At the end of the park is a tower with clock on its four sides, it is believed that the clock signifies power. Horses are provided on special occasions for tourists who wish to take an extensive tour.                       
Ogun Laadin shrine Ogun is the deity worshipped at this point. Oduduwa was said to have descended from heaven with a chain on that spot. It is also the point where the legendary ironsmith, Laadin had his workshop. Today, tourists go there to offer prayers to the gods and they could just drop stipends in the shrine as a means of appreciation to the gods. It is believed that a person that says false or untrue things against a fellow human being will be punished by this deity within 7 days, a belief which people have borne witness to. Pictures are not allowed to be taken of this site because it is revered among the people of Ile-Ife
tourists at ile nla
Ile nla is an ancient structure built in the early 18th century. It is used by the past monarchs as their town hall in which the Ooni meets with His people. Unlike others structures in the palace, the ile nla is sacred because of the mysteries surrounding it. Inside the structure are some sculptures which depicts the history of the Ooni and at the rear entrance are elephant tusks which symbolizes power that the Ooni has. At the back of the hall is where the past monarchs are buried, which gives the place the kind of solemnity it deserves. It is located inside the Ooni’s palace.
 The Obafemi Awolowo University: the greatness and popularity of OAU is by no means an accident. The university is among the top rated in Nigeria and Africa. It is noted for its large land mass and gigantic buildings. Also one of the contributing factors to the university’s unmatched record is its success story, as it has produced graduates who have contributed immensely to the growth of the Nigeria and the world at large. An attractive landscape is seen on entering the school gate, a view which can hardly be found in any Nigerian university campus, this fact makes some wordings in their school anthem “Africa’s most beautiful campus” almost justified. A tour of the campus is highly satisfying as you will see a wide variety of incredible architecture which the university possesses. Some of these buildings are the Amphi theatre, the spider building which houses the department of civil engineering.
National History Museum, OAU is also in the university campus. It serves as a research center into the vast cultural and natural history of Nigeria. The museum has a herbarium which contains about 20,000 fully identified plants. 5,150 bird varieties, specimens and minerals of south western Nigeria. There are about a collection of over 6,000 archaeological artifacts like the famous Ife terracotta, ife glass beads, crucible and ancient tobacco pipes, potsherd pavements. In conclusion, it has the archaeological, zoological, geological and botany exhibitions.

Other places of interest
Yemoo grove at moore, Oluorogbo shrine at ilode, Baba sigidi at oke ijan, of these places are not open to non-initiates.

Having fun @ Enuwa During festival
The olojo festival:  to most visitors, the festival is all about Ogun deity, but for the custodians of culture, the celebration is an avenue for remembering the heroic contributions of ancient personalities whose actions have helped to preserve what is today known as the Yoruba race. The olojo festival holds on the 10th month of every year where people from different ethnic backgrounds are seen witnessing. One of the notable events that occur during the festival is the wearing of the ancient sacred beaded crown “are”. Several sacrifices are made to the gods for peace to continue to reign ife. Prior to this day, the Ooni must have been in seclusion for 7 days where he is believed to commune with his ancestors directly. It is also believed that on the last day of the festival other gods and goddesses comes alive to witness the occasion and whatever one prays for on such day is granted.
Hospitality
The traditional qualities cannot be mentioned without talking about the hospitality measures put in place to accommodate visitors. Ile-ife is blessed with sons and daughters who have invested their coinage in projects that add value to the ancient city. They have built hotels and guest houses, restaurants and bars, shopping centers that exhibit carefully selected arts, beautiful contemporary artworks, framed black art prints, African jewelry, hair braiding centres which is hard to find elsewhere in the world.

Hilton Hotels
Located in Ramon adedoyin way in Mayfair is a thrilling tourist’s paradise with modern facilities, unique in structure and designed for people who care for taste. Contact 08055517846 for details.
Xela hotels and resorts
Located in Ramon adedoyin way, via NITEL way Mayfair is at the prestigious heart of ile ife with modern facilities.  Contact: 036222056 or enquiries@xelahotel.com
Kris court hospitality ltd.
Located in OAU rd7 gate, Hezekiah oluwasanmi road ile-ife                                                                                                                                                    contact: info@kriscourtng.com or 08033137401
Others include; conference centre and guest houses OAU ife, hotel Diganga, celebration hotels and lots more.

Apart from hotels and guest houses, tourists have a choice of enjoying their time in outdoor restaurants and bars, under cool shade and extremely soothing atmosphere with pacifying sounds of African music. They provide drinks of different varieties and local barbecue.
Also tourists can also visit major eateries like Mr. biggs and captain cook for a taste of local and continental dishes. Transport services are easy to get and cheap in the city. Commercial buses and motorcycles are the major means of transportation and they are ready to take you to your destination.
Also sales of African contemporary arts like sculptures, jewelries and African clothings are provided by corporate bodies and individuals. 
Contact info@ifeooye.com for more details.


all pictures in this article were taking by the writer of this article and ifeooye. all right reserved