September 2019. “Oga I no go pay. No! Never. I no fit pay big moni for dis small load.” The difficult nursing mother, Mrs Aisha taunted Mr Lagbaja, our self acclaimed international driver. Being a frequent commuter at the time, I understood that heated arguments were part of ‘bus parks equation.’ And it didn’t take too long before we were en route to Ile-Ife.
My itinerary today was really basic, visit the Natural History Museum in Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) and as many art galleries as I could within the city. But when it started raining cats and dogs, skepticism crawled into my economic plan. Even though this was the kind of rain everyone wished for, I wanted the clouds to suck it up!
Admittedly, it hardly took up to an hour before our bus driver cornered the last turn, a long stretch linking to Ile-Ife. In fact, we could have arrived the revered city earlier if not for endless checkpoints, there were not less than five officers stationed at each one and all they did was collect bribe from Mr Lagbaja. Naija Nawa.
By now, we drove through small communities dotted with ancient buildings, the road was also bordered by lush vegetation and I anticipated our arrival more often.
Take a Listen: TOP 5 APPS FOR GETTING AROUND THE CITY OF LAGOS | PODCAST #4
Arriving Ile-Ife in good time, I was shocked at the level of activity. Truth be told, it was a lot busier than Osun’s capital city – Osogbo and I think Obafemi Awolowo University was a major reason for this bustle. Public spaces such as restaurants, shopping centres, banks, student lodges and bus parks littered the historic city.
I kicked off my weekend adventure at the breathtaking Omidiran Art Gallery but before I get to that, my next stop was Clinton’s place, we’ve been buddies from high school and being a law student in OAU at the time of my visit, Ile-Ife was a place he knew quite well.
After a brief and jolly reunion, Clinton recounted some unique spots around the city including a zoo, sports centre, art gallery, museum and mountainous area located within the University, he added that it was a pretty big institution with distinctive features.
Places of Interest
Let me begin by saying OAU was much more bigger than anticipated, when Clinton mentioned it at first, the sheer size of Covenant University crossed my mind but no, this was something else.
I assumed I could walk to the Natural History Museum. I was so wrong. My legs started to complain soon afterwards and it was at this point I stopped an okada (motorcycle) heading towards the Museum.
#1. Natural History Museum
On entry, the staff welcomed me with a boisterous reception and even offered to slash the tour charges. I had a solo walk around the Museum with no necessary supervision and it featured animal body parts, skulls, dentition, full skeletal structures, natural minerals and much more.
#2. The University Hall
After a colourful experience at the Museum, I wandered down to the Museum of Antiquities and Contemporary African Art but along the way, I encountered a cardinal of alluring buildings. These were Oduduwa Hall (serenaded with a statue of Obafemi Awolowo), College of Health Sciences (noticeable for horizontal fins) and the impeccable University Hall.
The University Hall had a gigantic sculpture hanging over a walkway, it resembled an inverted piston but that’s my opinion. Let me know what you think of this piece in the comments.
#3. Martin Aworinlewo Odeyemi Museum of Antiquities and Contemporary African Art
Arriving at the Museum entrance, I saw it was locked. Such a disappointment. I recently surfed online and according to Zainob Fashola, an avid contributor for Guardian, the artefacts showcased within go beyond the works from Ife, some works from Benin, Benin Republic, and different parts of Africa are also on display there.
#4. Department of Dramatic Arts
Close by was the University’s Department of Dramatic Arts, the same creative space that produced an art mystro, Mr Omidiran Gbolade. In there, I discovered cutting edge sculptures that represented the department well. It was indeed a creative space.
#5. Omidiran Art Gallery
Back to my first stop, the Omidiran Art Gallery was founded by Mr Omidiran Gbolade who now gives back to his alma mater by lecturing art students with a dream!
The art gallery is perched along Ede Road, few blocks from the University and it had on display paintings, wood carvings, metal works, motifs and intricate furniture. Omidiran Art Gallery is also located in Gbagada Estate, Lagos and the Richland Washington States, USA.
To read my review of this art gallery, click here.
#6. Ori Olokun Head
So I skimmed this report about Sculptures from West Africa by Khan Academy, if you read it you’ll discover that “Ori Olokun” head was chosen as the logo for the All-Africa Games held in Lagos in 1973 and has been adopted as the logo of numerous commercial, educational and financial institutions.
The head is believed to represent a king and it’s symbolism to the ancient Kingdom of Ile-Ife is still evident today. During my little tour, I counted three Olokun Heads, the first was at a roundabout, second Omidiran Art Gallery and lastly on OAU’s logo.
#7. Forks and Fingers
I’m glad I got to experience Ile-Ife even if it was mostly from the OAU perspective, I called it a day with a sumptuous meal – jollof rice and beef at Forks and Fingers. The restaurant was a simple one with accommodating staff and meals were also very affordable.
After gaining some weight, I relaxed a bit in the company of my thoughts. I acknowledged that the trip was entirely worth my money plus OAU made me miss school days again.
More Places of Interest
With all the excursions and sightseeing, I wanted to explore much more of Ile-Ife. From…
- Dotun Popoola Studio
- Moremi Ajasoro Statue
- National Museum
- Ife Grand Resort
- Ile-Ife Town Hall
- Ile-Ife Palace
- Oduduwa Shrine
- Oranmiyan Staff
- Ooni of Ife’s Palace
- Yemoo Pottery Museum
Ah! It goes on. Unfortunately, time wasn’t too generous and I had to head back to Osogboland in a jiffy. Reminiscing again, I remember how I had mistaken OAU Foreign Links Campus for the institution itself, something Clinton and I laughed off. I also recall Moro Market and Ipetumodu, a town where I attended a friend’s wedding growing up.
The Return Trip
Turning back, it was so easy getting a bus from the OAU gate, I only had to wait for a couple minutes before it got full and zoommm we were off. The journey was seamless enough as the driver maintained a 80 km/h mark.
Hope this was fun to read? Here’s a complete list of my favourite articles about Osun state. Have a look.
- 5 TERRIFIC TIPS FROM MY FIRST TIME IN OSOGBO
- NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM: WHAT’S ON THE INSIDE?!
- OKADA SERIES: GUESS WHAT HAPPENED TO ME ON MY WAY HOME
- OSUN-OSOGBO GROVE: 10 MUST-READ TIPS FOR EVERYONE
- 5 THINGS NOBODY TELLS YOU ABOUT OMIDIRAN ART GALLERY
- THE COMMERCIAL BUS EXPERIENCE: OSUN TO LAGOS
- WHY SUSANNE WENGER’S HOUSE IS THE BEST CULTURAL CENTRE IN OSOGBO
I had a great time at the ancient and historic city of Ile-Ife and visiting again? Yes! That’s definitely something I am looking forward to. Wait a minute before you scroll cos I’ve got a bunch of things to ask you. Have you visited Ile-Ife city before? Which of these touristy sites did you like the most? Do you know anyone schooling in OAU?
Thanks for sticking around and make sure you have an amazing week.