Monday, 12 October 2009
BY ANDREW IRO OKUNGBOWA
IJEBU Ode is one of the cities in Ogun state located in the South - western part of Nigeria. Although it is about the smallest cities of the eight cities that would host FIFA Under 17 Youth World Cup in the next couple of days however, it is the second largest city in Ogun State with Abeokuta, the capital city as the biggest city. Historically, Ijebu Ode is one of the famous ancient settlements in Nigeria. It once served as capital of the former Ijebu kingdom. It was one of the powerful and revered kingdoms then in Nigeria history. The indigenes of the city are a breed of Yoruba people called the Ijebus and are noted for their industry, austere and conservative outlook however their love for the good life and partying is something that set them apart from others. Traditionally, the people are farmers and traders with a rich traditional institution that is headed by the traditional a ruler known as the Awulale of Ijebuland. Visitors to the city would have a lot to savour as it is blessed with a warm tropical climate and is located within 100 kilometres of the Atlantic Ocean in the eastern part of Ogun State. The city’s proximate to Lagos and Abeokuta stands it in advantageous position as people can have the best of both cities even from their Ijebu Ode location. Access to both cities from Ijebu Ode is very easy with commercial transport available round the clock. As for the tournament itself, the players and officials should have a good tournament as Ijebu Ode stadium is reputed as one of the best and of course, the newest besides Teslim Balogun in Lagos. Part of its qualities are that besides the main bowl with Astro turf (Synthetic pitch), it has three training pitches, which are also synthetic and these training fields are all located within the large stadium complex unlike the other centres, which have their training pitches separate from the stadium and are sometimes in far flung areas of the cities. One of the distinguishing characteristics of the state, which many visitors would find very appealing is the fact of the historical antecedents of the state as it has suffusing and enduring history ranging from the political realm to religion. In teems of politics, the state is reputed as having produced awesome numbers of political and human rights activities. The endless list include the late political sage of Nigeria Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Ransome Kuti clan from which we have the late musical icon and Afro beat maestro, Fela Anikulapo. The immediate past president of Nigeria, General Olusegun Obasanjo is also from the state as well as the late Moshood Abiola, a former presidential aspirant that was believed to have won the botched June 12 Presidential election of 1993. The biggest Nigeria literary icon and symbol of political and human rights activism as well Nobel Laureate in Literature in Nigeria, Professor Wole Soyinka hails from the state too while the state is also popular for championing the Christian religion evangelism and the birth of modern journalism and printing in Nigeria. As one explore the entrails of Abeokuta, which is about 40 minutes drive from Ijebu Ode, one would certainly come across many of the footprints left behind y these historical figures. Also to be find in the landscape are various monuments and iconoclast heritage that have by raised by the people in honour of these men.
Checklist of attractions
Family Historical Heritage Museum In honour of these men and women the Gateway Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC), the government tourism board in charge of tourism development and promotion in the state, has put in place in a project to preserve and promote the various relics bearing the imprint of these historical figures. The first of such project is the Sodeke Bakare family heritage museum The Sodeke’s are noted for their war and religious exploits with the founding father of the race regarded as the man that led the Egbas to their present location in Abeokuta. He was also the first Christian convert in the town. Besides, one of the family members was also the first Iman of the town. Pastor Tunde Bakare of the Later Rain Assembly is from this lineage. His father’s house in Iporo – Sodeke that was built in 1921 has now been recreated and turn over to the state as the first family heritage museum. Other such homes to visit those of the Kutis and Soyinka.
Hill Top Holiday Resort
It is one of the foremost tourist attractions in the state and it currently being transformed from its present stage to a holiday resort. However, visitors to the resort, which is located in a vast undulating and hilly forested area of the state certainly do have a lot to savour. Golf enthusiasts have the challenging 18 – hole golf course to pay while conservationists can explore the forest for a fresh wilderness experience. The Rock beach, which is one of the latest developments of the resort offers opportunity to relax and feel the freshness of the environment while nursing a glass of your favourite accompanied with some of the local snacks. There is also a club house with a bar and a restaurant where continental and Africa dishes are served. There is also the bamboo groove section where one can relax and enjoy the bliss of nature. The lake offers avenue for sport fishing and boating. The lake section is one of the most appealing sections to many visitors to the resort. Alake’s Palace The traditional ruler of the Egbas is known as the Alake of Egbaland and his palace is located in Abeokuta. It comes with a lot of fascinating items and relics that tourists would found appealing and a pointer to the vast and rich history of the people. Besides the art and craft on display at the palace, there is the old bible encased in a glass compartment for public viewing. Olumo Rock Tourist Complex Also found within Abeokuta, the complex has come to signpost the tourist attractions of the state. It is a vast region with a massive and undulating rocky outcrop. It is one of the ancient sites in the city and tells a lot of the history and cultural heritage of the people. Visitors would find the complex an interesting and exciting place to catch fun. It has an escalator that leads to the topmost region of the rocky enclave. From this region one can have a bird eye view of the rocky city. The centre also has a museum, a fast food spot and other relaxation spots and seat out areas for people to explore nature.
Located within the same Ake region as the palace of the traditional ruler, Centenary hall is a testimony to the historical antecedents of the city. Tie and dye market The market, which is located in the Itoku area of the city is very popular for the production of local fabrics others known as ‘Adire.’ It attracts a lot of following to the city on a daily basis. It is a must visitor market for tourists to view the various processes that the people go through in producing the fabrics and also to purchase some souvenirs. St. Peters Anglican Church It is the oldest church in the city and it comes across as a very massive structure. Even though the church has undergone some levels of transformation the old worship centre has been preserved over the years.
Yemoja Tourist Centre
A garden-like resort with natural ambience and a big river flowing through it. Offers opportunity to commune with nature and savour a blissful interaction with the locals. Some of the activities in the resort include swimming, boating, sort fishing and sports leisure. Sungbo Eredo There is a lot of historical tales surrounding this rampart (wall), which reminds people of the popular Benin moats, China walls and the city walls and gates found in the northern region of the country. Believed to be a defensive wall round the town dug by the legendary Bilikisu who is otherwise regarded as the Queen of Sheba. Measuring 14 metres high and stretching into 160 kilometres long, the wall, which connects all the Ijebu landscape, is fast disappearing. A visit to the shrine and grave of Bilikisu located in Erin – Ijebu less than 10 minutes drive from the main town is recommended for one to relief the tale of the famed queen. The state government plan to turn it into a flourishing resort some time in the near future. Omo Elephant Forest For a rich wildlife experience, the place to explore is the forested part of the state known as Area J4 where the Omo Elephant project is located. The wildlife sanctuary, which is few kilometers from Ijebu offers ample opportunity for tourists to have a feel of wilderness. The enclave, which is a rich rain forest estate has array of flora and region for nurturing forest elephant.
The traditional ruler of the Ijebu people is the Awujale. He is one of the most revered and powerful rulers in the state. His palace is a rich repertoire of the people’s cultural, art and craft heritage. Other areas of interest to visit in Ijebu Ode include Obanta Cenotaph; Suna Cultural Centre; Iwopin Beach (Ijebu Waterside) and Ebute-Oni Water (Ifo Area)
Lisa Memorial Arcade
For the Ota area of the state, Lisa Memorial arcade, site of the in-fated Bellview Airline crash has been turned to a tourist site with the memorial arcade and other facilities now put in place.
A very serene area of the state with a lot of water can easily pass off as the religious capital of the state. The site, which serves as the Headquarters of Celestial Church Of Christ Worldwide, is soon to be an acclaimed religious tourism site. Some other attractions in this area include Akarigbo’s Palace in Sagamu; Orisagamu Ewa Shrine also at Sagamu; Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo Mausoleum and Heritage centre at Ota
Winners Chapel Canaan-land
This is a massive worship centre built by one of the Christian religious group in Nigeria known as Living Faith Bible Church otherwise called Winner Chapel. Other attractions within this zone are the second storey building in Nigeria located within the premises of St. James Anglican Church, and River Jordan at Ijoka – Ota. Agbara Industrial Estate It is one of the foremost industrial estates in Nigeria and is built on an expansive land where you different types of industrial and manufacturing outfits.
Saam Health Farm
It is a beautiful and cute resort with different facilities for accommodation and leisure ranging from sport leisure to musical entertainment. Although it is far remove from Ijebu Ode area however, it would be nice for tourists visiting on a day trip to see this resort and enjoy the natural environment as the place is located within a forested region with pockets of streams running through it.
Hotels (Ijebu Ode)
Little Venice Hotel; Yisade Hotel; Hotel Wacus International; Joyse B Guest House; Batco Hotel; Erinlu Guest House; Ramdat Hotel; Banuso Hotel; Beverlys Hotel; Luvly Guest House; Aroboth Hotel; Christian Hotel; Deen Hotels; Scorpio Inn; Gateway Hotel; Lad Hotel; Golden Guest House; Thuraya Guest House and Don Emilia royal Hotel. (Abeokuta) Wenby’s Suite; Lisabi Court; Continental Suites; Wuraola Inn; Adesba Hotel; Charity Hotel; Gateway Hotel; Frontline hotel; Edola presidential hotel; Dusmar presidential hotel; Whitney Guest House; De – Bliss; and Maltina Guest House Dining out (Ijebu Ode) Little Venice; Mosun Café; Curry’s; Mr. Bigg’s; LA .T Restaurant; Pebble Restaurant and Golden Guest House (Abeokuta) Abeokuta Sport Club; Sweet Sensation; Mr. Bigg’s Treat; My Kitchen; Maranatha Tasty Meals; Maranatha Fork and Fingers; Madojutimi Restaurant; Ori Oke Restaurant; Guarantee Food Canteen; Tantalizer; Wanmore Bakery; and Mama Cass. Others are Hill Top Garden; Rock Beach; Super Foods; Wetlands and Joydate Beer Parlour. *Additional material and photos sourced from Gateway Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC)