It has taken me a while to get to this article but here goes!
Everything you need to know about the first Day of my Trip to Osun State. Day 1 covers exploring Ife.
I decided to go on this trip because at N35k it was the cheapest Osun trip I had seen anywhere on Instagram and more importantly because it was planned by my friend — Victoria! What other reason do you need when supporting your friend is involved eh?
I also invited a couple of my friends on this trip and it was nice to have them tag along. We were 10 people in total on the trip and hired a bus with a driver that was quite familiar with driving around Nigeria and understood the many nuances.
After paying for the trip, I started receiving messages from some friends asking if I wasn’t worried about being kidnapped and the general insecurity in the country. To be honest, I was. At a point, I tried getting Victoria — our host to get us an escort vehicle to go with us — now that I think about it, this would have drawn a lot of unnecessary attention. I asked two of my friends who had recently made the trip to Osun what the journey was like and they both said the same thing — a lot of police checkpoints but quite safe and smooth.
Here’s a quick summary of all the places we saw if you want that.
Places we saw - Day 1
OAU Museum, Obafemi Awolowo Univeristy, Ile-ife
National Museum, Ile-ife
Moremi Statue of Liberty, Ile-ife
Palace of the Ooni of Ife
Places we saw - Day 2
Nike Arts Gallery, Osogbo
Nike Arts Gallery Workshop, Osogbo
Osun Osogbo Grove
Erin Ijesha Waterfalls
Nike Art Gallery Guest House, Osogbo
Leaving Lagos — Friday, April 16th
The trip was planned for Friday, April 16th — Sunday April 18th. Seyi and I met up and headed to Maryland Mall (our pickup point) together on Friday, April 16th. It was also Seyi’s birthday and Victoria had also been kind of enough to get him a cake.
The bus was scheduled to leave at 8am but again Nigerians will Nigerian time. Seyi and I got to the Bus park at around 8:10am. Victoria and a couple of other people had arrived and were ready to go. I asked Seyi if he wanted to get a tour of Workstation, Maryland Mall since he had never been there and he was down for that. We went up to the Workstation part of the Mall and the security guard on duty was kind of enough to give us a tour of the space. We even had time to take some pictures — trust us to always document.
Afterwards, we headed to Shoprite to grab some snacks before heading back to the Bus. Everyone else had arrived by this time. We sang the birthday song for Seyi and took pictures before we left.
We left for Ìbàdàn at around 8:40am. The plan was to pick up other friends who were part of the trip — Oyin and Josh — in Ìbàdàn.
The Gallivanter traventures provided us with party packs that had chicken and small chops inside with a drink and a bottle of water. We also got bracelets with our names on them!
Vivienne and Rupesh also got Krispy Kreme doughnuts for the group.
Traffic was very light and the journey to Ìbàdàn was smooth till we got to Toll-gate in Ìbàdàn. From there till we got into Ìbàdàn Town proper, there was quite a lot of traffic.
We eventually got to Oyin and Josh around 11:15am — 2hrs and 30mins after leaving Lagos.
Then, we started the ride to ilé ifẹ, Osun State.
Leaving Ìbàdàn to Ifè
The roads from Lagos to Ìbàdàn were actually pretty good. It looked to me like the road constructions on the Lagos-Ìbàdàn expressway have progressed a lot from what I remember. Those roads have been undergoing repairs since my childhood.
In contrast with the roads from Lagos to Ìbàdàn, the roads leading from Ìbàdàn to Ifè were a different story entirely. They were narrow and riddled with potholes. Thankfully, we had a great driver who seemed to know the roads well and had no issues maneuvering his way on the highway.
We eventually got to Ikire Town in Osun state. The town that the famous Dodo Ikire gets its name from. We make sure to buy some Dodo ikire on our way. What surprised me a little was how close to the police checkpoints road hawkers were hawking their goods. In hindsight though, it makes sense. The checkpoints force people to slow down, allowing for enough time to complete purchases via your vehicle window.
We also got freshly fried Àkàrà Osun with bread on the way. The Àkàrà was incredibly soft on the insides and very white on the outside. I’m used to seeing Àkàrà being golden brown but it looks like in Osun, they use whiter beans to get the whiter, brighter Àkàrà.
Finally, we arrived at our first stop — Obafemi Awolowo University, ilé ifẹ.
Our first stop was to see the Museum at the University in ife — OAU. After driving through the gates, the security guards stopped us and insisted that one person would need to go ahead to the Museum to get a pass for our bus to be allowed in.
While we waited for Victoria to come back with the pass, Seyi and a few other people in the group went on their own little walk to explore the town.
I was receiving agricultural lessons from Oyin about these plants that close up when you touch them because we had seen some of them on the ground.
We also took some pictures at the University’s entrance and just spent time getting to know everyone else in the group.
After that was sorted, we started the drive to the Museum. One thing that struck me about the University grounds was how nice the architecture was — to me, they looked timeless.
Besides the architectural designs of the building that contained the museum, the museum experience itself was rather underwhelming. Our guide kept reminding us that we had to be quick as there was no light and he wasn’t sure how long the generator would last.
We got a tour of the Museum and took in the sights of the Old, not-so-well-maintained artefacts on display.
Once done at the museum, we couldn’t turn down the chance to take some great pictures in front of the Architectural masterpiece of this building. We found an old Peugeot 404 parked outside the building and we turned the entire thing to a set.
I must say though, the school grounds were very very clean.
We took some more pictures around the school grounds — this is where Citation — the film Tèmi Otedola starred in was shot.
Moremi Statue of Liberty, ile-ife
Next stop was the Moremi Statue of Liberty. This was about a 30min drive from the University grounds.
We got told the story of Moremi by one of the King’s guards from the Palace of the Ooni of ifẹ. He told us he couldn’t speak English and would tell us the story in Yorùbá. Somehow, I got to be the one interpreting the story for everyone. That was fun!
He told us the story of how the people of Ìfẹ were being taken as slaves and how Moremi moved to Ifè from Offa in Kwara state to save the people of Ìfẹ. She was also captured as a slave but the King of the Ugbos decided to make her his wife. While married to him, she found out the secret of conquering the Ugbo men who disguised as gods when coming to take the people of Ìfẹ as slaves. She eventually escaped and was able to leak the secrets to the people of Ìfẹ́ who realized that a torch of fire could set them free since they could easily light up the material the people of Ugbo used as a disguise when coming to attack the people of Ife.
There were a number of mud houses close to the location of the Statue and we decided to take some pictures there aswell.
The National Museum
After leaving Moremi’s statue of liberty, we headed to the National museum. It was right beside the Palace of the Ooni of Ìfẹ and was a 5min drive or less from the location of the Moremi statue. This was a special experience for me. Our tour guide gave very detailed explanations of the works that were on display especially about the Ooni, Odùduwà, Moremi and the first and only female Ooni — Queen Luwoo — A Queen who would never step on bare floor. Everywhere she went had to have special tiles laid for her to walk on.
It was a much much better experience than what we got at the OAU Museum.
We got lessons on the different religious groups in Yoruba land and how each family had a religion they practiced — Ifa, Osun, Egungun etc. We were told of how many indigenes still return home yearly for the Osun festival and we saw pictures of members of the Ogboni Fraternity. We saw the pots that were used to make Garri and were told of how Iron-bending was the most advanced technology at the time with each home having someone who worked with iron.
While we were getting this tour, Victoria weaved her magic to get us in to the Palace grounds of the Ooni of Ìfẹ — obviously, some money exchanged hands.
The Palace of the Ooni of Ìfẹ
At the end of our tour of the National museum, We headed to the Palace of the Ooni. The Palace is right beside the National Museum.
Our tour guide was one of the Emese (the palace guard). They had these interesting and distinct haircuts. They kept their hair very low — nearly bald and had different sections of their heads shaved completely bald. They are the only ones who know the whereabouts of the Ooni at any given time.
We got a brief History of the Palace and were told about the 4 courts/seats of Judgement for issues brought to the Palace. The Court of the Ooni is the 3rd court. We got told about the different Ooni’s with the current Ooni being the 51st — Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi.
The Ooni’s are never described as “dead” or said to “die”. Infact our tour guide told us that in ancient times, no one ever knew where the Ooni’s were buried. It’s only with more recent Ooni’s that this is known as they’re buried within the Palace grounds.
We also got told about Obalufon who is said to have lived for over 500years.
There’s a statue of him in the Palace court.
I got to interpret some of the Yoruba our tour guide spoke but mehnn some of the Yoruba he spoke was beyond me!
He told us about the Olojo Festival — a special Festival in Ife. On the day of this Festival, the Ooni wears a very very heavy crown that should be physically impossible to wear but it’s made light by performing certain sacrifices including getting the feather of a three-legged cockerel.
Our guide then went ahead to show us the fourth and final court which is essentially a court of prayer. You go in barefoot, say some prayers and drop some money (if you wish). It’s believed that any prayer you say on this ground will be answered. Our guide said that many people have testified of this. We also weren’t allowed to take pictures of this area.
Nike Art Gallery Guest House
At the end of our tour of the Palace, It was starting to get dark and we still had a 1hr+ drive back to Osogbo where our accomodation was. Opa Oranmiyan was the final sight we were supposed to see but getting there and getting back to the Hotel would have been a lot for one day and so we decided to head to our accomodation in Osogbo.
Apart from the many many mosquitoes, the Nike Art Gallery Guest House is such a serene place to be. They had turkeys strolling around in the garden and they seemed to feel like we came to take their spot :).
They provide complementary breakfast and dinner that they serve in these throwback bowls that I remember my Grandma having.
On our first Night dinner options were Jollof rice, chicken, vegetable sauce, egusi, pounded yam, plantains and watermelon.
And that’s the end of our first day! Pheww! Now that I think about it, the first day was a lot.
Watch Judith’s YouTube Video of our trip.